I have received a couple of questions and emails from some lovely readers who have asked me about my natural hair and what I do to it. I’ll go ahead and be very frank with you all. It’s a journey. Sometimes I wonder why I went natural. I mean, who wants to have hair that you can cut off and use to wash a sufuria (pot for my non-Kenyan friends)? Lol. I kid, I kid. I love my natural hair, would not trade it for a relaxer/texturiser even if I was paid to do it.
Moving on, I thought I should share with you my knowledge on the basics of natural hair:
1. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise
Our hair is naturally curly. This means that we are prone to having dry hair. Unlike people with naturally straight hair, we often have to moisturise hair because oil applied does not travel down the hair shaft. Note that water is a moisturiser, when you need to moisturise your hair, you use water to moisturise and not oils. Oils and creams are used to seal in the moisture (water) in our hair. I personally use a spray bottle to moisturise my hair before I seal it with an oil of choice.
2. Seal in the moisture
As a natural (or depending on how you wear your hair), it is imperative that moisturised hair should be sealed. I use either EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), EVCO (extra virgin coconut oil) or JBCO (Jamaican Black Castor Oil), a mixture of the 3 oils or whatever I have on hand to seal. Natural oils are best because they are best absorbed by the hair and scalp and they leave no residue. This is best because there is no build-up and your scalp and strands don’t get suffocated by oils that sit on the strands and weigh your hair down.
3. Keep your hair and scalp clean
To encourage hair growth, a clean scalp is necessary. This goes back to the point above. A dirty scalp clogs pores and leads to slow hair growth, but a clean scalp that is well moisturised and sealed will enable faster hair growth. Massaging the scalp regularly also improves blood circulation to your head also helps.
It is also advised not to shampoo your hair often as shampoos usually strip the hair of it’s natural oils, thereby drying the hair out more. If you are going to shampoo, it is recommended to pre-shampoo your hair with oils such as EVOO or EVCO to prevent stripping the hair. If not, use a sulphate-free shampoo as it reduces the harsh effect of ordinary shampoos.
4. Deep condition
It is essential to deep condition (DC) your hair every so often. I personally deep condition my hair at least every week to ensure that my strands are well moisturised and strengthened. I usually make my own DCs for this. I usually alternate between moisturising and protein treatments. (Should I make a post on this? Please comment.)
5. Minimise heat usage
When I had relaxed hair, I used to flat iron, blow dry, tong and curl my hair every time I went to the salon. With time, my hair became so thin and lifeless. This is the main reason as to why I went natural. I was tired of having lifeless hair and spending hours just to get it retouched. When I discovered how to care for my natural hair, I decided to minimise heat usage. I now only use heat on my hair when needed, which is usually before I braid my hair. I blow dried my hair about 5 times last year, and have only blow dried it twice this year. Minimising heat usage has helped my hair so much! My hair is now visibly thicker and much stronger.
6. Use a wide-toothed comb/your fingers to detangle
I honestly don’t remember the last time I used a thin-toothed comb on my hair. Wide-toothed combs are recommended because they help detangle hair faster with minimal hair breakage. In fact, using your fingers to detangle the hair is even better. Less breakage and pain because it’s DIY. No pain caused by other hands manipulating your hair. 🙂 Would you believe in the
picture selfie below I had just taken out braids and had only finger detangled? No comb used.
7. Find out what works for you
When you get introduced to the world of natural hair, there’s a whole load of information out there. So many products that work wonders for your curls, that prevent that ‘poof’ and tangling, that prevents single-strand knots, and so on. When I started out on my journey, I armed myself with coconut oil, olive oil and castor oil. I could not afford to be a product junkie so I stuck to what I could afford then. In essence, as you continue to learn your hair, you’ll tend to stick to what works and what doesn’t. I prefer to listen to my hair as opposed to sticking to a schedule/regimen and this works well for me.
8. Basic tools
A a natural hair girl, I feel that there are basic starter tools that you need to arm yourself with: a wide-toothed comb, conditioner, bobby pins (for securing/styling), water (or a spray bottle to spritz), oils (either EVOO, EVCO and so on), and a satin/silk scarf (because other fabrics tend to absorb oil from the hair). I also use hair ties to secure my hair when I divide it into sections. I had crocodile clips but they all broke so I need to get others.
9. Be patient
This should be the rule of thumb for natural hair. For those who have either BC’d (big chopped), are transitioning or continuing with their journeys, patience is key. I know a number of people who expect their hair to grow overnight or to cooperate when they want it to. Truth is, my hair cooperates probably about 50% of the time. As for the other 50%, the hair just behaves the way it wants to. What matters is essentially how you treat your hair. If you’re good to it, it’ll be good to you.
Note that natural hair also shrinks to about 75% of it’s actual length when it comes into contact with water or any other form of moisture. So when you feel as if your hair is not growing, it is probably twice the length it appears to be. 🙂
10. Be content
I always get asked questions like, “sure you won’t relax your hair at some point in future?”, “Anita, your hair is so hard, how do you manage it?” “Your hair is not as soft or as thick as ABC’s hair. Why?” It all comes down to one thing: be content. Your hair may not be as thick, as long, as strong or as curly as fellow natural’s hairs but it’s what God gave you. Why not embrace it?
Thank you for bearing with me in this super lengthy post but somebody had to do it! I’ll have another post on how I’ve been styling my hair lately, because I’ve been asked that too.
Keep warm and be safe loves!