While there is no doubt that black women are forward-thinking trendsetters, there’s a plethora of misconceptions in our community about what it takes to maintain our beauty. We’ve gone into myth-buster mode and are giving you the true information you need to maintain your pretty and your sanity.

1. Black don’t crack.

While it seems as though brown skin is resilient to age lines and wrinkles, this is largely in part to proper skincare. Having skin that can stand the test of time takes more then good genes. It’s true that dark skin produces melanin which helps prevent aging due to ultraviolet light (UVL) and melanin also provides a natural SPF of about 14. However, you should know the minimum requirement for dark skin is SPF 30. There are new developments in sunscreen that contain minerals, antioxidants and plant extracts which can all enhance your skin’s aesthetics—no matter the shade.

2. The tighter the style, the better.

I shutter every time I see a woman with a head full of super-tight braids or twists. For some reason, there’s a false standard set that the tighter the style, the longer it will last and the better it will look. A hairstyle that’s too tight could contribute to severe hair loss and scarring. Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA) is a type of permanent scarring hair loss which is seen primarily in African American/Caribbean women who may have a family history of hair loss. Most of the affected have had hair relaxers for many years or report having very tight extensions with “add-in” hair that puts additional weight on the already stretched and weighed down hair follicle. Scarring and permanent alopecia usually ensues as a result.

3. Black women’s hair grows slower than women from other races.

The rate of growth for black women’s hair is no less than women of other races. On average, every person’s hair grows at least 1/2 inch per month which is about 6 inches per year. Yes it’s true that you can experience more or less growth depending on how you take care of your hair, but growth doesn’t discriminate based on skin color.

4. Dirt don’t hurt.

There’s an urban legend in our culture that says black women shouldn’t wash their hair frequently. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Dirt makes your hair grow.” It drives me crazy! It’s true that oil is healthy for hair but product build-up and dirt are far from beneficial to your scalp and tresses. Hair should be washed at least once every 7-10 days. This isn’t a rule that’s set in stone. You know your hair better than anyone else so if you have to wash your hair more often during this timeframe, then go for it. It’s true shampoo can rid hair of beneficial oils so try a sulfate-free, well ph-balanced formula to avoid dry, brittle results.

5. Labels don’t matter.

You only get out what you put in when it comes to treating your hair and skin. That’s why it’s important to read the labels of the products you use. Just because there’s a black face on the packaging, doesn’t mean that the people behind the brand look like you. It also doesn’t mean that all of the ingredients are ideal for your beauty needs. Do your research and avoid products with harmful ingredients.

What are some other beauty myths you’ve heard or even believed in the past?

-Margaret Francois

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