Andre Talks Hair!: With a Special Message from Oprah Winfrey

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For women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, this comprehensive hair care and style book by an award-winning stylist will make "bad hair days" a thing of the past. Photos throughout.
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For women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, this comprehensive hair care and style book by an award-winning stylist will make "bad hair days" a thing of the past. Photos throughout.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684838809
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 12/10/1998
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 7.15 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

Forward by Oprah Winfrey

Chapter One
Getting to Know Me

Chapter Two
To Thine Own Self Be True: What's Your Type?

Chapter Three
Care and Feeding: Pampering Your Hair Type

Chapter Four
Surgery: The Art of the Cut

Chapter Five
Messing With Mother Nature: Making the Chemical Connection Work for You

Chapter Six
Silver is Gold: Caring for Grey Hair -- Even if it's Hiding Under a Layer of No.5 Auburn Gold.
Chapter Photographs by Darcy McGrath

Chapter Seven
Damage Control: How to Handle the Hairy Curveballs Life Can Throw Your Way

Chapter Eight
Gilding the Lily: Expanding on What Mother Nature Handed Out

Chapter Nine
Matchmaker, Matchmaker: Finding the Perfect Hairstylist for You

Chapter Ten
Doing the 'Do: Taking Matters into Your Own Hands

Chapter Eleven
Ask Andre: Answers to Your Most Common Hairstyling Questions





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First Chapter

Chapter Three: Care and Feeding

Pampering Your Hair Type

More than ten years ago, before I ever took a comb to her head, I sent Oprah Winfrey flowers and a note saying, "I'm dying to get my hands in your hair." I wooed her. I'd been watching her show for some time -- before it was ever syndicated, before anyone outside Chicago ever knew who she was -- and I knew that she needed me. OK, maybe that sounds a little conceited, but I thought that she was an attractive woman in search of a look. She had a thick head of healthy hair; she just needed somebody to show her what to do with it. And I wanted to be that somebody.

After Oprah received my flowers, I was invited to style her hair for one show. I was a little nervous, because I wanted to do a good job. The scene at the studio didn't make me any calmer. Oprah didn't say much to me as I styled her hair. When I finished, she said she liked it -- and that was it, until I got a phone call from her secretary later that day, asking me if I could come back for an encore the following morning. Of course I said yes. The following day, I styled her hair again. Again, Oprah thanked me. And again, that was it -- until I got another phone call from her secretary, asking me if I could return for yet another encore. Of course I said yes. The next day, the same thing happened, and the next day, and the next day. This routine went on for over two weeks until Oprah asked me to come on board permanently.

Since then, my daily routine with her hasn't varied much. Every day, she's in my chair by 7:30 A.M. Because she works out so much, we wash her Type 4B hair -- she has very coarse, thick hair with a zigzag pattern -- everyohe whole process, not counting the thirty-minute session with the makeup artist, takes about forty minutes. It's easy. And Oprah always looks great -- if I do say so myself.

Now, I know that you're not going to have me standing in your bathroom every morning, making sure that you look as polished as Oprah does before you head out the door. But I can let you in on my tricks of the trade so that you can look just as good. (Later on in the book, I'll help you find a hairstylist that you can trust and afford.)

To have great-looking hair, you don't need to spend ridiculous amounts of time on your hair. Of course, the amount of time you spend depends on whether or not you're working against your type. If you're blow-drying it straight, or setting it in electric curlers to make it curly, obviously you're going to spend more time on it than you would with a wash-and-wear 'do. I believe in picking the path of least resistance when it comes to your hair. But that's a personal decision. As long as you look good, you're not damaging your hair and your beauty routine works for you, that's all that matters.

The trick is to come up with a routine that works. As I discussed in the lastchapter, a great haircut is the foundation of your look. But if your hair is dull, damaged, dirty or greasy, it won't matter how fabulous your cut is. No one will notice it -- they'll be distracted by your less-than-healthy hair. Oprah's hair looks good because she's got an unbeatable combination: a flattering cut, healthy locks and an easy-does-it beauty routine. People often ask me how she keeps her mane so healthy despite subjecting it to almost daily attacks from deadly heat appliances. It's simple: conditioners, cond itioners, conditioners. She's well-informed about the care and feeding of her hair; being well-informed is crucial to keeping your hair healthy and soft. And I'm going to help you get there.


All hair needs to be shampooed regularly, no matter what your type. End of story. It's a myth that daily washing will dry hair out. It's a myth that daily shampoos will make hair oilier. Plain and simple, shampooing hair washes away dirt and oils and actually returns moisture to the hair. If you don't shampoo it, styling products and other debris start to build up, clogging the hair follicles and preventing vital nutrients from reaching the hair and scalp.

When that happens, it's not attractive. Let me tell you about Cindy, a regular client of mine. Once, between my crazy schedule and hers, Cindy couldn't come in to see me for several weeks. She wasn't thrilled with styling her relaxed hair on her own, so she simply didn't shampoo her hair until I could squeeze her in for an appointment. By the time she sat in my chair and I pulled a comb through her tresses, Cindy's hair was disgusting: filled with oily white flakes and emitting a very, unpleasant odor. She was embarrassed, and I felt bad for her. After that, she never pushed things that far again; I convinced her that going so long without a shampoo couldn't be healthy for her hair. Think about it. I can wash my car in the morning, and by the end of the same day, it will have a fine layer of dust on it. If that much dirt and debris can accumulate on my car in one day, imagine what is happening to your hair over an extended period of time.

Of course, just how frequently you need to shampoo depends on your type. In the past, you'd flip through a beauty magazine and decide your hair type/shampooschedule based on whether it was normal, oily or dry. It's not quite that simple. No two types are created alike, but your hair texture and how you style it will play a role in how often it needs to be shampooed. Let me explain. Type 1 hair tends to look oilier than the other types simply because the hair falls from the head in one straight line, making it easier for nutrients to slide down it and attract attention. You can be a Type 4 and have an oily scalp, but it almost always looks and feels dry because the hair's kinks and coils prevent nutrients from the scalp from distributing evenly throughout the hair. So there's never a need for anyone to oil the scalp; instead, it creates a vicious cycle. The oil clogs the hair follicles, making it even harder for the hair to get those natural lubricating oils and nutrients, which makes the hair even drier, which means you end up oiling the scalp even more. (The solution to this dilemma is more moisture, not more oil, but I'm getting ahead of myself again.)

So if you're a Type 1A with fine, limp hair, then you almost always have to shampoo daily, especially if you're going for that fluffy, bouncin' and behavin' effect. Daily sudsings with the appropriate shampoo will give your hair volume. What do I mean by appropriate? A gentle shampoo that's specified for oily hair or for daily use. Look for ingredients like tea tree oil, sage oil and chamomile. Don't use a conditioning shampoo; they deposit a slick film on the hair, weighing it down and making it even softer. With this type hair, you want the opposite effect: a shampoo that quite literally will leave your locks s queaky clean. The cleaner your hair is, the more body it will have, so forget about those shampoos that promise to give your hair body. Just use one that promises to get your hair clean. That's really all you need.

Types 1B and 1C, medium and coarse textures, have more body and should be washed either every day or every other day with a gentle shampoo. Some people think that their hair looks better when it's a "day old," a day after washing it. But if the hair tends to be oily, by all means, scrub it daily. How can you tell if it's oily? Your hair looks greasy; it's slick to the touch and to the eye. Type 1 hair is rarely dry -- unless it's very coarse or is color treated. In that case, it benefits from a good moisturizing shampoo formulated for chemically treated hair every other day.

Type 2 hair tends to be normal, neither oily nor dry. Generally, all it needs is daily to every-other-day shampoos with a product formulated for normal hair. Finding a shampoo that says "for normal hair" is a little tricky these days, what with all these "miracle" shampoos out there that claim to do everything from giving your hair "energizing body" to balancing your checkbook. Just look for a frequent-use shampoo that smells good (after all, you have to live with the scent until the next shampoo) and will clean your hair without stripping it dry. Period.

Curly Type 3 hair needs to be kept as moist as possible; when it dries out, it starts to break. Generally, if you're wearing your Type 3 hair natural, it should be washed every three days or so with a moisturizing shampoo, but it should be rinsed daily to keep the hair moist and to let the curls spring back after a night of tossing and turning in your bed. I'm a Type 3 myself, and I find that daily shampoos leave my hair a little too frizzy. My hair looks best a day or two postshampoo, when the oils have had a chance to build up a bit and calm the curls down. But on days that I skip the shampoo, I always rinse my hair in the shower; it keeps my hair fresh and removes product buildup.

If you're wearing your hair blown-dry straight, you might find that it appears to get oilier faster. In that case, step up the shampoos. Never pile hair on top of your head to shampoo. Squeeze a small amount of shampoo -- about the size of a dime to a quarter, depending on your hair length -- and gently stroke it through your wet hair and scalp. Rinse, rinse, rinse. You won't usually need a second scrubbing. (This applies for all hair types, by the way.)

Type 4 hair must be shampooed at least once a week. Personally, I prefer twice weekly shampoos for this hair type, and even more often than that if you've got an active lifestyle. As I said before, shampooing adds much needed moisture to the hair. Why? You're wetting the hair. Water is the ultimate moisturizer. Oprah's hair always looks and feels the driest when it needs a good shampoo. Not just any shampoo will do for this type. You need a good protein-based shampoo with natural ingredients that will cleanse the hair without robbing it of moisture. Because your hair is made up of protein, adding more protein strengthens and builds elasticity into the hair shaft. So look for a protein-based shampoo that contains shea butter, glycerin, sulfur or carotene. Read the label; protein should be one of the first ingredients listed. If your hair is relaxed, look for products formulated for dry or chemically treated hair.

Natura l hair that's cropped short can be shampooed daily; longer natural hair won't need to be shampooed as frequently. If you've got braids or dreadlocks, wash them as you would ordinarily, paying special attention to the scalp. Follow up by putting water-diluted conditioner in a spray bottle and spritzing the mixture on your braids. Or buy one of the many "braid sheen" sprays available on the market. Dreadlocks, in particular, need to be lubricated with oil to keep them from getting too hard and breaking off.

A final note: all hair, regardless of type, benefits from a good clarifying shampoo every six weeks or so. It removes buildup and returns shine and life to your hair. Follow up with a good conditioner afterward. Which brings us to...


A good conditioner can forgive a lot of sins; it can strengthen damaged hair and keep healthy hair from getting damaged. It works by moisturizing and adding protein to the hair shaft. What it cannot do is repair hair that has already been damaged, although it can stop the abuse in its tracks. Once the hair's been damaged, however, there's nothing you can do to make it as healthy as it once was -- except cut off the damage and start all over again.

Because it tends to be drier, Type 4 hair needs the most attention to conditioning treatments. Conditioners will strengthen kinky hair by keeping it moist and supple and therefore less likely to snap under pressure. Deep-condition hair twice a month; if your hair is relaxed or color-treated, make sure it is a restructuring conditioner that strengthens the hair. Following every shampoo, use a moisturizing conditioner with ingredients like lanolin and protein. Moisture is th e key word here. People think hot-oil treatments moisturize the hair, but they don't. How could they? Oil and water do not mix. All a hot-oil treatment does is lubricate the hair, making it a little softer and shinier. But it will never saturate the hair with moisture.

Type 3 hair follows a similar conditioning regimen. Like Type 4 hair, you want to keep it moist. Depending on how damaged the hair may be, deep-condition it either once or twice a month. When you do, use a heat-activated penetrating conditioner; heat swells the hair shaft, making it easier for conditioners to penetrate. Use a heat cap or a hooded dryer with a plastic bag. Don't have either? Run hot water -- as hot as you can stand -- over a towel and wrap it around your head, leaving it on for twenty minutes. (Type 2s, 4s and damaged 1s can do this as well.) If your hair is healthy, you won't need to condition it during your in-between shampoo rinses in order to untangle it.

Types 1 and 2 hair require much lighter conditioning. Type 1 hair needs a moisturizing conditioner only once a month to keep it in shape, while Type 2 hair benefits from a once-a-week moisturizing session. Tame dry, bushy Type 2 and flyaway Type 1 locks with a "finishing" rinse, which is just a fancy name for the good old-fashioned cream rinse/detangler.

Don't Believe The Hype

Over the years, Terry has finally found the perfect styling products to control her Type 3 hair -- a mixture of leave-in conditioner and lightweight gel. The combination works for her, leaving her curls shiny and frizz-free. But is she satisfied with the status quo? Of course not. Terry's a product victim, haunting drugstores and beauty supply stores, en dlessly searching for the perfect product -- anything that claims to be a straightening balm, defrizzer, no-frizzer, curl enhancer, curl get the picture. She believes the hype. The products never work, so they're currently taking up space in her bathroom for all her guests to experiment with. Meanwhile, she returns again and again to her tried-and-true formula, broker but not wiser.

Still, finding the perfect styling product is a trial-by-error proposition. There are hundreds upon hundreds of products out there; only a handful -- or maybe just one -- will work for your hair. Something might work for someone who appears to have the same exact type hair as you but fail miserably on your own tresses. A curl enhancer might work wonders for Terry, but for you, that little miracle worker actually might be a moisturizing hand and body lotion. That's right, lotion. There's nothing wrong with dabbing a little on your hair. If it moisturizes your locks and gives you the look you want, then go for it. Many of the ingredients are identical to that expensive hair cream that's currently busting your budget. Look for a body lotion that contains natural ingredients like aloe vera, wheat protein, glycerin, and vitamin E. (Type 1s with ultrafine hair should skip this trick.)

Don't get me wrong; I believe every type benefits from the finishing polish that styling products can give the hair. Even if you've got the ultimate in minimalism -- crew cut -- a little dab of pomade or gel polishes off your cut, adding interest and texture to even the most ordinary 'dos. The trick is knowing which goop is going to best work for your hair.

This isn't always the easiest proposition. Enter any beauty supply s tore and there are literally dozens upon dozens of different gels, mousses, defining lotions, shine enhancers and other products crammed onto the shelves. There are products out there that promise to fight frizz, straighten hair without chemicals, undamage the damaged, thicken the thin, seal the split, add shine, enhance color, put in curl, take out curl, sculpt it, protect it from the sun, protect it from the blow-dryer...the list goes on and on. Apparently, the folks making this stuff never heard about truth in advertising.

We've all seen the ads for the product that promises to "ease" frizz. (No names!) They all feature dramatic before-and-after photos. In the before shot, the models sport whacked-out, Bride of Frankenstein hair and sad-sack faces. In the after shot, the frizz has been transformed into glossy ringlets and the models took like they just won the lottery -- all thanks to the magic product. (Oh, please!) I know women who ran -- ran -- to the store because they couldn't wait to try this product. And it didn't work. Why? Because my friends didn't have that little something that the models in the photos did have: a hairdresser styling and setting their curls just so, right before the photographer clicked the camera. These antifrizz products contain dimethicone, a silicone-based substance that can add shine but does little else to the hair. (Except make it look really greasy if you use too much.)

And then there was that infamous hair relaxer sold through infomercials that promised to give women straight hair "naturally" -- without chemicals. This product was supposed to be so good for your hair that you could apply it over your old relaxer. The result? Dozens upon dozens of w omen literally lost their hair -- some of them permanently. The company went out of business in the wake of the lawsuits. But all the money in the world can't replace your precious hair.

My point is, if the product sounds too good to be true, you can bet you're going to waste your hard-earned money if you buy it. Most of the products out there are dreamed up by clever marketing professionals dead set on getting you to buy, buy, buy. The fact is, gels, mousses, pomades and setting lotions can alter the look of your hair slightly, maybe even make it a little easier to control, but they're not going to make dramatic changes in your hair texture.

So beware before you buy a shampoo that purports to thicken your hair. It can't, so it won't. But as I said, you can use gels and mousses that coat the hair a little and give it a little extra oomph. Mousse doesn't provide as much hold as gel, but it works well for baby-soft Type 1 hair in need of a lift. For natural, not stiff-looking, volume, squirt mousse (about the size of a golf ball) into your hands, distribute it through the roots of your hair and then blow-dry. (Applying products after blowdrying will just flatten the hair.)

While those "relaxing balms" that claim to straighten hair might make it a little easier to blow-dry, that's about all they can do. Using them repeatedly can actually cause buildup that can damage your hair. But if you want to control frizz, some heavier gels can and do weigh the hair down, making it look a little less voluminous.

In general, it's a good idea to avoid styling products that contain alcohol. Alcohol will dry hair out, so that over time you'll be left with a head full of straw. There is one case in which alcoho l actually makes a product perform better: holding hairsprays. Hairsprays, which contain "memory" resins that hold your style in place, require alcohol. Why? Non-alcohol-based holding sprays spritz on wet, making your hair revert to its natural texture. Curly hair will frizz; straight or relaxed locks will flop. Alcohol-based hairsprays dry quickly on the hair, preserving the style and desired texture of the hair. Still, I'm not fond of them, and I rarely use them on Oprah's hair. If you must use them, prevent product buildup by using a good clarifying shampoo afterward. Never comb or brush hair after styling products have dried on it; you'll risk breaking your hair. Wet hair first before combing. And remember: with a good haircut as your base, you won't need a lot of styling products to maintain your hairstyle.

Homemade Help

Some of you will be tempted to pinch pennies by whipping up a conditioning concoction at home. Proceed cautiously: store-bought products have been tested for effectiveness in a laboratory; homemade concoctions have not. I believe that store-bought products are superior, but in a pinch, there are a few things you can try. For dry, brittle hair, give yourself a hot-oil treatment with olive oil. Pour about half a cup in a small glass, then put the glass in a saucepan filled with water. Heat the oil until it is warm, but not scalding, to the touch. Apply the oil to your hair, wrap your hair in a warm towel and leave it set for twenty minutes to half an hour. Then shampoo. The oil (you can use other oils such as coconut or peanut) will add shine to the hair, lubricating it so that it is softer. But remember, an oil cannot moisturize your hair. It's also difficult to wash out, so you might end up overshampooing to compensate. The result? Hair that's even drier than when you started. This method works for some hair types; others will find it a waste of time. Inexpensive hotoil treatment packets are more effective, since they contain oils that are lighter than anything you could find at home. Because the oils are lighter, they are easier to wash out.

Mayonnaise is fine to try as well; the cholesterol from the vegetable oils and egg yolks conditions the hair and adds protein. Again, mayonnaise won't do anything to moisturize your hair, since it is mainly an oil. Apply it to your hair and let it set for about half an hour, then shampoo. Another trick to try is mashed-up avocado. (Make sure to skin the avocado first!) Avocado contains vitamins A, C, D and E and potassium, ingredients that are good for your hair. It will soften, lubricate and add a nice touch and feel to your hair. Mash a very ripe avocado in a bowl and apply the pulp to your hair. Wrap your hair in a plastic bag and leave the avocado in overnight to penetrate the hair. Follow with a light moisturizing shampoo -- and make sure you get all the avocado out. Be careful about using a heat cap on these homemade conditioners; you don't want to end up with hair that smells like cooked food.

One More Thing

I prefer products that contain all-natural botanical ingredients. I'm no chemist, but in my experience, botanical ingredients leave the hair looking and feeling better. Products containing all-natural ingredients are more expensive to process than products containing synthetic ingredients, so obviously they are going to cost more. Three-dollar shampoos a re not going to be "all natural" -- how could they be so cheap without some cost-cutting synthetic ingredients tossed in there? I'm not saying that synthetic products are bad for your hair; I just think that they're not as good as those containing botanical ingredients like chamomile, comfrey and rosemary.

Of course, these days, just about everyone is on a budget, so I know that sometimes it's hard to justify spending twenty dollars on a conditioner. You don't have to go broke caring for your hair; still, I believe that you do get what you pay for. So watch the bottom line, but do spend as much as you can afford on quality hair-care products. Just be smart about it. Do a little sleuthing, and look at enthusiastic advertising claims with a skeptical eye; ask your stylist for help in your search. Trust me, very few miracle discoveries are being marketed right now. The moral of this story? Experiment by all means, but if you find something that works for you, stick with it.



It's possible to blow out any texture of hair for a straight look. The tighter the curl in your hair, however, the trickier it is to do it yourself while your hair is in its natural state. Still, it's not impossible.

First of all, your hair must be clean and sopping wet; if you want to wear your hair straight, only blow-dry your hair after you've shampooed it. Blow-drying dirty hair just bakes in the dirt -- a surefire recipe for damaged locks. Use a moisturizing conditioner every time you shampoo to restore elasticity to your hair. Blow-dry your hair no more than three times a week; twice a week is optimal. To start, you'll need several hairclips, a gun -type blow-dryer and either a round bristle brush or a Denman brush with plastic bristles. The larger the circumference of the round brush, the straighter your hair will be. Obviously, if your hair is supershort, it won't fit around a large brush, so pick your brush size accordingly. Flat paddle brushes are good for straight hair or wavy hair, but they won't work as well straightening Type 3 or Type 4 hair. If you're all thumbs and can't coordinate using a blow-dryer and a brush, you can get virtually the same results with a blow-dryer equipped with a brush attachment.

If your hair is medium length or longer, divide it into four sections -- two on top, two on the bottom -- and secure each section with a clip. Unclip one bottom section; from that section, section off a chunk of hair -- say, about an inch wide. Start at the scalp, rolling the brush through the hair as the dryer follows the brush down the length of the hair to the ends, pulling the hair straight until the section is completely dry. (Make sure the dryer is at least one to two inches away from the brush.) "Dry" is the key word here. When the hair is completely dry, it will have a shine to it; if it doesn't shine, that means the hair is still damp and will dry puffy and frizzy. This is why it is important to dry one section at a time, until each section is completely dry, smooth and shiny. The heat from the blow-dryer will mold the hair like wax into whatever shape you put it. When you've completed your entire head -- the process should take no more than thirty minutes for shoulder-length hair of average thickness -- shake your hair out, brush it or run your fingers through it. That's all you'll need to maintain your style. If your hair is relaxed, however, it might need to be touched up with a curling iron to polish the look -- unless you're deliberately going for a look that's stick straight.

Keeping the Curl

If you're a curly Type 3 and want to relax some of the curl without straightening it, here's a drying trick for you. Shampoo and condition your hair and blot it with a towel until it is damp but not sopping wet, being careful not to disturb the curls. Apply your favorite styling product-gel, mousse or pomade. Let your hair air-dry until it is almost but not completely dry. Then take your blow-dryer (you can use a diffuser attachment, but it is not essential) and grab a chunk of hair. Blow the roots dry and then very, very gently pull the curls down as the dryer travels down the shafts of the hair. Be careful not to pull too hard on your hair, as doing so will straighten it too much. Continue until your entire head is completely dry. Do not section the hair off. When you're done, your curls will look longer and smoother and will have lots and lots of body.

Whichever technique you opt for, be careful out there: blow-drying your hair straight puts a lot of stress on it. You're pulling the hair when it's at its weakest -- when it's wet. Don't be aggressive; blow-drying can really damage your hair. Please, please, please proceed with caution. Your hair is the only hair you've got.

Blow-Drying Straight Hair

If you want to enhance the smooth shine of your Type 1 hair, pick either a Denman brush with plastic bristles or a boar-bristle round brush. The boar-bristle brush is a good choice if you want to disguise frayed ends; it helps smooth out the hair, giving it a consistent texture wh ile shaping the ends into the desired style. The smaller the diameter of the brush, the more volume you'll achieve with your hair. Longer hair can achieve that swinging sixties look with a flat paddle brush.

To reduce blow-drying time, towel-dry freshly shampooed hair. If you have a simple, long, layered cut, you won't need a brush at all. Simply work the blowdryer through your hair until your hair is dry. If you want to accentuate the smooth texture, separate your hair into four sections: two on top, two on the bottom. Start brushing each section from the roots first, working the brush down the length of the hair until it is completely dry. Aim the dryer at the moving brush, keeping it moving in the same direction as the brush. The idea is to smooth the hair out so that light will reflect it for a high-octane shine.

Spend time getting moisture out of the roots of your hair while spending as little time as possible drying the ends. A lot of people make the mistake when drying their hair of putting too much heat on the ends, which are the oldest parts of your hair. That's how damage begins; the ends don't have the same moisture content as the roots, which are the youngest part of your hair.

If your hair is shorter and layered, take big sections of it, drying a section at a time. Experiment, using different brush sizes on your hair to lock in volume and shape. Again, be gentle with your hair; don't rip the brush through it, and be careful not to get hair tangled in the brush. The less you yank on your hair, the healthier you keep it.

Curling It

Rollers are great for putting in curls -- and for taking them out. If you've got Type 1 or Type 2 hair and want to add some volume, Velcro rollers are a great option. After blow-drying your hair to the point where it is almost but not completely dry, roll it with the Velcro rollers. Spritz with hairspray and then set the curls with a blast of heat from the blow-dryer. Remove rollers and style. This trick is great for giving fine or medium Type 1 hair some volume without a lot of bend. Since straight hair tends to be stubborn, it won't curl much, but the rollers will add some movement. If your hair is coarse, it will be even straighter and more resistant. There's also more hair to handle, so you'll need to section off smaller amounts in order to fit it on the rollers -- which means that you'll have more rollers on your head. If you've got wavy hair, you can use Velcro rollers to make your hair even wavier.

I'm not fond of electric rollers at all. I think they're highly damaging and give hair a dated, overly done look. Hot rollers will not straighten curly hair. If you insist on using them, keep them in for only a minute, and be sure to use some sort of holding spray or hairspray to give more support to your curls.

Although less damaging than hot rollers, curling irons still have the potential to hurt your hair. They're versatile, work on any hair texture and are great for adding a lot or a little curl. If you want to add just a little bend at the ends of your hair, use a big-barreled iron. The tighter the curl you're going after, the smaller the size of the barrel you'll need. Curling irons are also good for smoothing out or straightening highly textured hair, sealing the hair shaft with heat. So if your hair is very curly or kinky, you'll need a hotter curling iron formulated for textured hair.

Whatever your h air texture, it is important that you keep the curling iron inyour hair for only a few seconds. Yes, seconds. Some people will twirl their hair around the iron and let it sit there. That cooks the hair, leaving it fried with those burned-off white ends. Section off the hair, spritzing it with a holding spray. Run the iron down the shafts of hair, twisting the ends under. Then take the iron out. This way, you're only putting heat on the hair for a matter of seconds. Continue through your entire head of hair until you have the desired effect.

Don't want to use heat on your hair but still want a curly look? Many women turn to sponge rollers. They're easy to sleep in and set the hair well, but they're horrible for your hair. The hair gets caught in the spongy texture and breaks off. If you must use them, remove the little plastic clamp -- it just leaves a telltale crimp in the hair -- and wrap the rollers with end paper or tissue. Roll the hair and stick a bobby pin through the hole of the sponge You'll get a smoother set and healthier hair.

Pin curls are another option. They're easier on your hair, too. Using end paper on the ends of the hair, wind the hair round and round itself, until it is rolled up to the scalp. Stick a bobby pin in it to secure the curl. The size of the pin curl will determine the degree of curl. It will take an hour and a half to two hours for pin curls to set on dry hair. They're easy to sleep in, and they don't damage the hair.

The Wet Set

Setting hair wet with old-fashioned rollers isn't antiquated. In fact, if you have textured Type 3 or Type 4 hair that you want to straighten, it's one of the easiest and most lasting ways to get h air straight -- if you have the patience to do it. You use minimal heat from a dryer and you're not yanking the hair straight with a brush while using high heat. And you won't have to use a curling iron or blowdryer once you're done. The idea is to reshape the natural curl to the size of the roller. It works well on natural Type 3 hair, loosely kinked natural Type 4 hair and relaxed Type 4 hair.

Shampoo hair and condition as usual. Apply a styling lotion while the hair is still sopping wet. The styling lotion will give the hair more control; if you want a fuller look, don't use lotion at all. If you want a straight look, use as large a roller as possible; for shoulder-length hair, use rollers the size of beer cans (or use that old standby from the sixties, frozen orange juice cans). Smaller, rod-sized rollers will just frizz the hair. Magnetic plastic rollers are the best.

Section off hair, making neat parts. Roll the top part of the head so that the rollers face backward. If the roller is two inches wide, section off a piece of hair that's the same size. Comb the hair until it is smooth, and then smooth it around the roller, starting at the ends and then rolling the hair up the scalp. Then take a roller clamp and secure the curl in place. Remember that the larger the roller, the larger the size of the curl, and vice versa. Use pronged clips to secure the rollers in place. Don't roll the hair so tight that it pulls the scalp, but don't roll it too loose either. If it's too loose, the hair will crinkle, enabling it to revert to its curly state. Dry hair under a hooded dryer until it is completely dry -- a process that usually takes anywhere from an hour and a half to two or three hours. Always ma ke sure that your hair is completely dry before removing the rollers. If it's not, you're defeating the purpose. The hair will frizz. As long as your hair dries completely around the roller, you will get a smoother, straighter look.

Another old-fashioned option is the wrap set. This works well on most types of natural Type 3 hair and on relaxed Type 4 hair only. Begin with sopping-wet hair and apply a styling lotion. With the wrap set, you will need only two large-sized rollers. Section off a chunk of hair at the crown and roll it with the two rollers, stacking one under the other. Secure them with pronged clips. Make sure the hair is rolled taut. Then take the rest of the wet hair and brush it around your head, smoothing it as you go. Secure with clips. The idea is to use your head as one giant roller, thereby straightening the hair. Sit under a dryer for about forty-five minutes until your hair is completely dry. If your hair is very thick or long, you'll need to take it down and then reroll it in the opposite direction so that the hair underneath can now dry on top. Secure with clips. Sit under the dryer until the bottom hair that's now on top is completely dry. Take your hair down, brush and you've got swingingly straight hair. (With short hair you won't need to use the rollers. just brush it straight around your head and secure with clips.) This method is amazingly gentle on your hair, and it works.

Copyright © 1997 by Andre Walker

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2011

    This book is still good after almost 10 years!!!

    I loved how Andre states what most stylist tell their clients. TRIAL AND ERROR! No one stylist can automatically say oh just use this product because what works for one person will not work on the other. Good book to keep in a salon, that's where I read it and let me say it opened up my eyes. WaY TO GO ANDRE WaLKER!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2001

    I loved it!

    I bought the book three years ago and still refer to it today (Dec 2001). I think it gives practical information on how to care for your hair type. This is not a book that will tell what products to buy, in fact it's the opposite. 'Great for product junkies'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2001

    No help to me

    Pretty book. Little information. Few direct answers despite supplying a Q and A section in back of the book. No product recommendations, no stylist/cosmetologist recommendations. Ever try calling a salon and asking if they have someone who'd specialize in type 'whatever hair'? No fun. Pretty book, though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2000


    I was very disappointed in this book. It gave limited information. When consumers want to know the key to healthy hair, stylist should tell them more than just saying buy protein enriched products. GIVE PRODUCT NAMES!!

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