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Oprah's Hairstylist Dishes On Kindky Hair, Argon Oil & Keratin Treatments

Source: Brian ZAK/Getty Images

Oprah’s hairstylist made her ‘do look picture-perfect for 25 years. Now, Andre Walker is dishing to Elle on embracing your natural hair texture, the downside to straightening & relaxing, and why argan oil is best for chemically processed hair.

Your motto is “Make peace with your hair,” but on hot, humid days, it can be more like full-on war.

It’s common sense, but you should know what your hair does best and not try to make it do something it wouldn’t naturally do. Fifteen years ago, Halle had shoulder-length hair that was hard to control because of its curly texture. I could straighten it and make it look great for her in the salon, but she couldn’t do anything with it at home. She wanted something easy that she could handle, so we came up with the short cut that’s now her signature look. I always recommend embracing your natural texture. Kinky hair can have limited styling options; that’s the only hair type that I suggest altering with professional relaxing.

From Brazilian to Japanese to keratin, there are a lot of in-salon relaxing and straightening options now, but some are controversial.

Yes. It’s not that all of the ingredients are bad—for example, keratin is great at repairing damaged cuticles and is found in hair naturally. But in order for these treatments to work, formaldehyde coats the hair and is then set with a flatiron. It acts like a cast on a broken arm to keep the strands straight. Breathing in the formaldehyde is what’s dangerous. If you experience strong chemical fumes or a burning sensation on your scalp, or if your eyes start to sting, chances are there are dangerous levels of formaldehyde and you should stop treatment.

What is the best way to transition from chemically straightened to natural hair?

A sodium hydroxide– or calcium hydroxide–based treatment is permanent, so it’s best to let hair grow four to six inches and then cut the straightened hair off; otherwise, it will eventually break. Using a moisturizing styling cream daily will keep new hair soft and manageable while preventing new damage. Brazilian and keratin smoothers, however, are temporary; the effects will wear off in three or four months, so it’s a good option during the transition phase. Just make sure the treatment isn’t a “straightener”—those are generally the ones that include harsher chemicals. Ask your stylist for “smoothing.” READ THE REST HERE!

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