Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tips For Healthier Natural Hair

I will say the biggest lesson my natural hair journey has presented to me is the patience to understand my hair and love it for what it is. As I mentioned in my previous posts, natural hair in its entirety is not an easy task, it however, becomes easier when you learn to work with your hair type. I have had to learn how to wash my hair and the products that go with doing that, combing technique, styling, and even how to maintain moisture on a daily basis. I will say though, that I made some mistakes here and there in the past when it came to my hair because of my unfamiliarity with my hair type. I have heard that my hair type which is a 4b/c (kinky, very coily) is the most difficult natural hair type to maintain because of its coarse texture, but after I took the time to do my research on how to care and maintain my hair, I find it more manageable than my relaxed hair. I know those of you out there think natural hair is difficult to maintain compared to relaxed hair, and I will say it’s all in the mind if you think that. It’s all in the mind due to the fear of the unknown and what people have led you to believe. Remember only you can say whether or not you can manage your hair. I had that fear before I became natural, and I use to lye to myself that I would look scruffy because I wouldn’t know how to maintain my hair in its natural form. Having that preconceived notion, I tried to convince myself that relaxing my hair was the best way to tame my kinky tresses and not understanding the damage I was inflicting on my hair back then. You will never know until you try and trust me when you come to understand and love your hair for what it is, everything will fall into place.

Here are some helpful Natural Care tips:

Natural hair combing

First off, unlike relaxed/straight hair, natural hair is NOT to be combed from roots to tip. It should be combed from the ends and gradually move down to the roots; this piece of advice is very important because if hair is combed incorrectly, serious breakage will occur. To make matters worse, you’ll inflict unnecessary pain on yourself. Also, NEVER comb your hair when it’s dry. Combing dry hair can lead to breakage. It’s vital that you only comb your hair when it’s wet and has conditioner in it. If you need to detangle and you’re not in the process of washing your hair, try using a 50/50 mixture of glycerin and water in a spray bottle to help soften up your hair so the comb ( always use a big tooth comb) can easily slide through your hair.

Moisture is Key

Since natural hair, hair type 4 especially, tends to break quite easily, moisturizing your hair is vital to hair growth. As the ends of your hair are the oldest part, it needs to be handled with care in order for it to retain its length. Raw Shea butter is a staple product to retain moisture.

Avoid direct heat

Please try as much as possible to stay away from heat because too much heat can damage your hair. i.e., If you straighten your hair with a flat iron/ blow dry regularly, you may incur some heat damage that might straighten your hair permanently. This means that when you wash or no-poo (absence of shampoo), your natural curls will not revert back to its natural state and you’ll have to cut off the damage ends. A good alternative is air-drying. For example when you wash your hair, you can plait it in a few braids and leave it to dry. When you do blow dry or straighten your hair, use a heat protectant and use a low heat setting on flat iron and/or blow-dryer.

Protective Styling

This method is very important in order to retain your hair length. Leaving your hair in an Afro for long time will damage your hair because loose hair is more prone to the harsh elements (cold winter winds, snow, hot sun etc). Also, if your hair is in a loose state, it can easily rub against sofas, the collars of clothing and cause hair breakage. Two strand twists, weaves, braids, are considered protective styling.

Other basic care tips include:

Condition your hair every week with a moisturizing conditioner or hot oil treatment.

Treat your hair and scalp with a light conditioning oil every day.

Protect your hair when you swim by wearing a cap. If you do not use a cap be sure to shampoo or use a conditioner rinse after every swim session.

Be sure to trim your hair every 4 to 6 weeks.

Make sure you sleep with a silk/ satin bonnet or pillow at night.

Here are some websites to visit to find out the basic care tips to keep your hair healthy:

Here are video clips on healthy hair tips:

(Visit the link below to access this video)

Note: Video clips and websites will be updated periodically.

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