Teen Fashions: Hair Styles For African American Teenagers

Learn how African American teenagers can style and care for their hair. Relaxed or natural, many styles are attainable.

Being a teenager is an exciting time to explore different looks, whether in fashion, makeup or hair.For African-American teens, the myriad hairstyles they can wear allow them to express their individuality.

Afro-American teens should consider a hairstyle's manageability and convenience, especially for those who are active in sports or other extracurricular activities.It's not feasible to wear a style that demands constant upkeep for someone who is constantly on the go.

Most African-American teenage girls wear their hair relaxed; that is, a chemical straightener is applied to the hair so that the hair doesn't revert back to its natural curly state when shampooed.Relaxers can make the hair seem easier to comb and brush, but they do require regular upkeep.As new hair growth comes in, a touch-up (relaxer applied to the new growth) is necessary to keep that uniform look.This takes time and money.

For relaxed hair, there are short looks, such as the one actress Halle Berry made popular.The back and sides of the hair are tapered close to the head while the crown area is longer, ranging from one inch to four inches or so.The crown hair may be worn straight and spiked or curled.

Once hair is about ear-length or so, it's considered a "bob" style.A bob is one-length hair and can be ear-length to shoulder-length.It can be parted in the middle or on one side.It can be worn straight back or to one side; it can be worn stick straight or curled under.The possibilities are endless.

Longer hair can be worn in bob styles, and can also be worn in the ubiquitous ponytail.The ponytail is convenient for active girls who don't have the time to style their hair in complicated styles on a daily basis.

For special occasions (like the prom), updos are popular.The hair can be put into a French roll or similar style, where the hair is worn off the neck.Some girls incorporate a curly bang with an updo for more panache.

Natural hair is making a comeback in the African-American community and some teenagers are taking note.Natural styles do not depend on chemical straighteners of any kind and use the hair's natural curl or kink as a style in itself.

One style that's being seen more often is the two-strand twist.This differs from braids in that twists use two-strands of hair (instead of the three required for a braid) entwined around each other.Twists can be made using one's own hair or with added hair (extensions).

Braids are still a staple in the Afro-American community.Most often, braids are fashioned with extension hair for more uniformity.Like twists, braids afford sporty or active girls more freedom.The hair doesn't have to be "done" on a daily basis; there is no daily combing and brushing.Braids, like twists, can be pulled back into ponytails or left loose or piled into creative updos.The hair can be shampooed while in braids and twists.

Cornrows are similar to braids, but differ in one significant way.While braids hang away from the scalp, cornrows are braided to the scalp.Again, extensions are often added for length and versatility.More boys and young men have been seen sporting this style (minus the extensions), imitating popular musical artists.

More adventurous girls (and boys) may choose to just let their hair do its thing and wear Afros.These can vary from less than an inch to Jackson-5 like proportions.

Locs (also known as "dreadlocks," although most loc wearers prefer to escape the negative "dreadful" connotations associated with this style) are another hairstyle.Locs are formed when the hair isn't combed or brushed and allowed to mesh into hanks of hair that appear ropelike.Although some people think differently, locs do require care and upkeep to form correctly and not dry out or break off. Locs are able to be shampooed as well, and shouldn't be viewed as "dirty" or unkempt.

The teen years are when most girls begin to care for their own hair.They should be taught""either by a parent or knowledgeable stylist""how to maintain their hairstyle.Most likely, they will go through many styles.Whether relaxed or natural, they should know that regular shampooing and conditioning are necessary, as well as regular trims to rid the hair of split or dead ends.Natural hair needs extra conditioning, as well, since Afro-textured hair tends to be dry.

There are quite a few books (and websites) devoted to the care of African-American hair and any teenager would be wise to become educated on what is required to have a healthy head of hair.Establishing a good hair care routine now will last a lifetime and ensure that you always make a favorable impression.

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