When it comes to natural hair there are so many things to learn. It’s like a whole new life and a whole new way of thinking. People always say ‘my hair doesn’t define me’ but I don’t think this is true. Hair is part of your look and who you are and to a certain extent it does play a role in how you look at yourself. Your face is this first thing most people see when they look at you and the way you wear your hair ( especially for women of color) says something about you.
Today I will be talking about going natural. I’ve been natural for the past 3 years and it has been an up hill battle which I am steady winning. I am glad to see so many black women going natural and accepting their hair for what it is and what it looks like. I’m sure you figured out by now that hair is a political thing for me. Today’s post is for people who have been asking me about natural hair. I will be doing a separate post on my hair regime for any one interested.
My first point is : Before you go natural do as much research as you can about it.
I think you need to be sure that going natural is for you. Maintaining natural hair is not easy and it is an up hill battle of trying to learn what works for you and your hair. I have been natural for a while now and I am still trying to understand my hair. I learn something new everyday. I think before you go all out and do a big chop or start transitioning back to natural at least research about basic maintenance of your hair. A good place to start with would be what shampoo, conditioner and moisturiser you would like use and then you can build up your natural hair knowledge from this point.
Asses the state of your hair
I think it is important to asses the state of your hair . Is your hair damaged or thinner than you would like? What type of hair do you have? Damage hair needs extra care.I think an important area to pay special attention to would be your hair line. Our hair line is very sensitive and is usually one of the first places we start losing hair. The hair on our hair line is very fine ( baby hair) so excessive pulling and over styling result in stress and therefore breaking . Assessing your hair is important as it will assist you in your pre-going natural research. You will have some understanding on how to take extra care with damaged areas. For instance if you have thin hair or your hair has been thinning pre-going natural then researching on how to grow thicker hair will benefit you as you will come up with a regime that includes methods or techniques for growing thicker hair.
Here is a list of things you should consider investing in:
- Moisturiser of your choice
- deep conditioner
- leave in conditioner
- spray bottle
- wide tooth comb
- styling product of your choice
- Hair oil
Things I have learnt that may benefit you
DISCLAIMER : I am in no way an expert at keeping natural hair but these tips may be helpful.
Natural hair is not the easy option
1) It’s not easier to maintain than a relaxer believe me. Coming up with a regime is not easier it takes a lot of time and effort. When you go natural you will go through a number of products and try out different things. This is an inevitable part of finding out what works for your hair. There is a plethora of information out there about what you can use on your hair but the best teacher sometimes is yourself. Remember what works for some else’s hair might not work for your hair. For instance my first year being natural was a disaster. I think I actually killed my hair. How? I didn’t moisturise it at all and blue magic was my best friend. I will say this wax based hair for with mineral oil is BAD for natural hair ,it only causes build up. The wax and mineral oils in hair food prevent your hair from taking up moisture as they act as a sealant which means no product will penetrate the hair cuticle. I would suggest using coconut oil ( or any oil of your choice) to moisturise your scalp.
2) Styling product are not a moisturiser
I used to make the big mistake of thinking styling products would keep my hair moisturised. WRONG! You need to moisturise your hair before you use any styling products. Believe it or not figuring out what constitutes as a moisturiser took me a long time ( I’m embarrassed to say how long). A moisturiser is like your hairs food what keeps it from breaking and encourages it to grow. It is important to moisturiser your hair on a daily basis so that it does not become weak and break off. There are different types of hair moisturizer out there you simply have to do your research and pick one . I use a Shea butter and mango mix by elasta qp or a tree and Shea butter mix by olive oil. When moisturising your hair it’s not only your scalp that needs the product but your actual hair. Concentrate on the ends of your hair. I know most of us grew up concentrating on moisturising our scalps but it is the ends of your hair that are exposed and therefore more prone to breakage. That being said this does not mean you should neglect the rest of your hair and your scalp, as I already mentioned in my first point you can use an oil of your choice to moisturise your scalp. A good one would would be organics root stimulator for dry scalps. Remember to seal your moisturisered hair with an oil. Sealing keeps your hair mosituriser locked into the hair cuticle. For this I would recommend Jamaican castor oil. Do this religiously and your hair won’t break. Do not under moisturise or over moisturise. In colder months you will have to switch up your regime by either moisturising your hair more often or using a moisturiser with a heavy consistency.
3) Reading what is in a product
This is a highly debated topic in the natural community. I do believe in being picky about what I put in my hair.When I first went natural I would have used anything in my hair but these days I am very particular about what I put in my hair. Sulphate, parabens ,alcohol and other chemicals are not good for your hair. This is because they strip your hair of it’s natural moisture leaving your hair dry which is a big no no for natural hair because dry hair equals breaking hair. Also Suplhates causes dandruff and that is something that you don’t want to deal with as you will have to wash your hair more regularly which means using more product to restore moisture to the hair and therefore spending more money. I use Tresemme naturals shampoo and conditioner . I am in love with the conditioner and I would definately recommnded it. It is good value for money as you get it in a big bottle.
4) Deep conditioning, protein treatments and hot oil treatments.
I can not stress the importance of deep conditioning your hair. Deep conditioning your hair adds extra moisture to your hair. If you don’t deep condition your hair you will slowly start to notice the lack of moisture in your hair. This happened to me. I didn’t deep condition for a while and my hair became very dry. Moisturizing didn’t seem to help the situation. Deep conditioning allows the hair cuticles to soften and take in more moisture and retain it. How often you deep condition will depend on you. Some people deep condition once a week, for some it’s twice a week and for others it’s once a month. As I said and will continue saying learning about natural hair is a trial and error game. I won’t lie I am yet to try a protein treatment but when I do I will be sure to let you guys know about it. I have tried a hot oil treatment but I think I did it wrong. I will try both this things and let you know all about them.
5) Washing your hair doesn’t necessarily need shampoo.
I used to dread washing my hair because of the shampooing part until I did some research and
discovered co- washing. Co- washing is basically washing your hair with a conditioner. I love co-washing as it means my hair does not get stripped of it’s moisture and my hair feels clean after. I also have taken to using black soap ( it has only natural ingredients) instead of a shampoo. There are so many substitutes for shampoo out there. I personally do not like shampoo and I will be trying out the many alternatives out there. So far I like the black soap. Let me know if you want to know more about this.
6) Think about protective styling
What is protective styling? Protective styling is the way in which you keep your natural hair in a style that does not expose the ends of your your hair. It can be in braids, weave, wearing a wig, flat twists and so on the list is endless. This is something I am personally not good at and the results are showing. If you don’t protective style your hair it will be develop knots and becoming a hot tangled mess. I’ve noticed with my own hair that it is more difficult to style and manipulate and detangling my hair takes forever and a day. I’ve decided to keep my hair in cane rows ( sometimes called corn rows) and I have noticed that my hair is always strecthed out and moisturised. ( It’s only moisturised because each time I refresh my plaits I moisturise my hair) Did I mention that not protective styling adds to the shrinkage factor ? Some people love having their hair our but in order to maintain length they have to two strand twist their hair at night. Protective styling is especially important in colder months as this is when your hair is prone to being more dry. Deciding what protective style you want to use… well that will be up to you entirely. I am still trying to figure out mine but what ever the protective style be sure to keep your hair care regime the same. I also thought I should add that having your hair in an up-do with a faux bun is another protective style. If you looking for more styles and ideas YouTube always has fabulous ideas.
7) Heat damage is real
There is a debate about using heat on your natural hair. All I will say is make sure you use a heat protector on your hair before you use any kind of heat on it. Natural hair is very fragile so my personal advice would be to use heat in moderation. Get used to air drying your hair rather than reaching for a blow drier all the time.
8)And one more thing DETANGLE YOUR HAIR OFTEN. Before you wash your hair, before your protective style , before you plait your hair at night ( detangle your hair).
Detangling you hair is extremely important I can’t express how important this is. In order to avoid breakage be sure to detangle your hair. If you don’t detangle your hair you will get knots in your hair which will eventually break off. Use a wide tooth comb and start from the tips of your hair working your way to the scalp. For better results you should detangle in sections. Also to soften your hair add coconut oil before detangling or your conditioner. Also use your comb free hand as a guide : as you go from the ends to the scalp, this prevents over pulling and makes the process less painful.When you have done this first step be sure to use a smaller comb to see if all the tangles have been released. You can also finger detangle your hair.
Finally tip ( I promise) learn natural hair jargon it will be useful as you will naturally gain some knowledge about natural hair as you learn the jargon. Remember to have fun with your hair. Concentrate on growing health natural hair rather than long hair and have a lot of patience.
I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions leave me a comment or you can email me ( firstname.lastname@example.org)