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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  • Vicious Delicious

    1.) Black doesn’t crack. However, it depends on the environment, lifestyle, the amount and intensity of sun exposure, and other factors. Makeup does act as a sunscreen. Just be sure if you do use sunscreen to stay away from the ones that have Vitamin A or it’s derivatives added, it actually speeds up skin cancer growth. Skin cancer often goes unnoticed in darker skin, so it can be deadlier.

    3.) I had long hair as a child, and it’s been around shoulder length more or less for most of my adult life. People think black hair doesn’t grow, and that’s just so silly. Ask any black woman that dyes, braids, weaves, or relaxes her hair, how often she has to touch up her style due to “NEW GROWTH”? People really don’t think. I had to have surgery on my head, and had a spot shaved. And it grew back at almost exactly 1/2 inch a month if not a little quicker.

    If you don’t know about long black hair, natural or not, just google long hair care forum, or the big chop, or natural hair. You will be proven wrong. The issue with black hair is retaining hair growth. Unfortunately, too many women with kinky or curly hair do not know how to style or care for their own hair. And it’s not only black women with these hair textures that don’t know how to care for their hair, but others too. There seems to be sort of a movement to me of women defying the notion that they should change their natural state. Many women are embracing their natural textures. There is lots of information about this online. I’ve learned alot myself.

    Another myth is that relaxed hair is more manageable. Actually, it takes far more effort. And why do people think that if they don’t take the effort to care for their natural texture, that all of a sudden when they have silky straight they are all of a sudden going to start caring for their hair. Well, that just doesn’t happen. And how insulting is that to your ancestors?! It goes without saying that if you know how to care for your hair, you have manegeable hair.

    5.) I am so glad that black woman are paying more attention to what we put in and on our bodies. There are lots of organic products out there that are just as good if not better. And black women are forming their own businesses and even producing organic skin and hair care at that. I just hope that blacks in Africa are benefiting from the sales of shea butter and tea tree oil.

    • Ballerina girl

      I absolutely agree with everything that you have said.
      The biggest problem we have as black women is educating ourselves and doing away with our longheld misconceptions.
      It’s 2011 people!

    • Chocsie

      Yours is the best response to the article.

      Black is very slow to crack. However, to keep those good genes performing even longer (and at their best) we should wear sunscreen.
      My hair is past my bra strap. It’s natural and I take good care of it.
      As far as the “dirt” thing. What that idea has always been is that we shouldnt stripped the natural (or added) good oils from our hair by washing it daily. Once a week is by no means frequent and it’s acceptable.

  • ericka

    as far as sunscreen, i would agree that some african-americans may need it only due to some having lighter complexions, but for the most part believe that sunscreen could POTENTIALLY be harmful to black people…we are people of the sun…..the sun is full of vitamins and nutrients esp. for Africans and African-Americans. I think it depends on the individuals complexion not their race.

  • ericka

    and i have yet to see black crack!!!!!