How to Care for Natural, Short African-American Hair

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Natural African American hair can be difficult to manage, especially when most hair products are made for Caucasian hair. Luckily, when you cut your hair short, its natural texture is more able to shine through, and the kinky curls of most African American's hair can be coaxed into submission by using the right products and styling techniques. Take tips from top hairstylists who work mostly with African Americans to learn how to best care for your hair.

Wash your hair only once per week. African American hair is typically drier than other types, and most shampoos use sodium lauryl sulfate as a detergent, which can often dry out hair. Once per week is enough, since kinky hair doesn't allow oil to travel down the shaft like straight hair.

Pat and squeeze your hair dry after getting out of the shower. Never rub your hair, which will cause frizzing. Instead, pat dry with a towel and then use a hair dryer with a diffuser attachment, suggests Tippi Shorter, hairstylist to singers Alicia Keys and Rihanna. This will give you soft definition with shorter hair.

Use a gel made especially for African American hair to hold your style. Other gels can dry out hair or leave flakes behind. Choose from the African American hair care section in a drugstore. These products have been formulated especially for those with coarser, drier hair and are a good way to keep short hair looking styled, rather than messy.

Apply a hair oil to your hair halfway through the week once you've styled it. After three or four days, you might notice your short style falling flat. But a pomade, oil or wax can help bring it back to shape without having to do the washing, drying and styling process again. Just avoid getting the oil on your skin, as it can cause breakouts.

Avoid using chemical relaxers or heated styling tools like straighteners. Shorter African American hair is more prone to frizzing, since it doesn't have the weight of more hair to pull it down and make it smooth. If you're planning on leaving your hair natural, it's best to experiment with your natural kinky texture, rather than trying to tame it into a style that is unnatural and even damaging to hair.