Whether you’re a newbie to the natural hair community or a long-time member there are key rules to caring for your natural hair. If you want to retain length, promote growth and maintain the health of your tresses; here's what you should be doing.
1) EAT HEALTHY: I know it sounds so clichè, but you really have to care for your body, which includes your hair, by eating fruits and vegetables in order to give your skin and hair the proper nutrients it needs to flourish. Our hair thrives off of nutrients from fruits and vegetables like avocado, spinach, strawberries, asparagus, beets and leafy greens. Eating healthy allows the scalp to produce sebum to condition the hair which increases hair growth, promotes luster and makes hair manageable.
2) DRINK WATER: I cannot stress this enough. Our body is made of 65% water and oftentimes people are not drinking enough to maintain a healthy body, let alone healthy hair. Water is like engine oil, it hydrates the body and gives it the boost it needs to function. It is suggested by health authorities that you drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day. You can easily achieve this by drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning and again before you go to sleep at night. It also helps to have a reusable water bottle to carry around to work or school during the day and requesting only water to drink when you are eating out before ordering any juice or soda.
3) USE SATIN ITEMS: As naturals you should try to use satin scrunchies, pillowcases and caps; no cotton. The cotton fabric draws out all of the moisture, you worked to hard to obtain, from your hair strands and that is someting you want to avoid. Natural hair needs as much moisture as possible in order to maintain it's health, so you should use silky satin fabrics that are soft and gentle on hair strands and won't dry your hair out.
4) MOISTURIZE: You should be moisturizing you hair everyday. Whether you do the LOC or LCO method or use any water-based moisturizer it’s still moisturization. This is a key factor in any natural hair regimen because moisture is what the hair thrives on. Our hair strands are very thirsty since the sebum that naturally comes from our scalp doesn’t travel down to the end of the hair shaft, therefore, we have to add it to the hair. So be sure to apply a water based cream or a little water and oil each day and give special attention to your ends.
5) LOW MANIPULATION STYLES: Low manipulation styles are fun, easy and any natural’s favourite to do because once styled it will last for approximately 3-5 days. These styles include braid outs, twist outs, three-strand twist outs or crown braids and buns. These are called a low manipulation hair styles because once done the hair does not need to be retouched the next day or if it does it is too a lesser degree. This helps you look great while keeping your hands out of the hair, thus saving time and reducing breakage.
6) KNOW YOUR POROSITY: All naturals should know their hair porosity because it makes it easier for you to handle your hair. Once you know if you have low or high porosity you will be able to moisture and style your hair accordingly. You can determine your hair porosity by doing the hair strand test. Once you know if you have low or high porosity you know which oils and ingredients to look for in products that will not work or that will effectively moisture your hair.
7) DUST YOUR ENDS REGULARLY: Breakage and split ends happen but in order to reduce dry damaged ends you can lightly dust or trim your ends. I hate to use the word "trim" because that oftentimes ends up meaning a "hair cut" when you go to certain stylist. Many naturals stress about shedding but it is a natural part of your hair cycle. Your hair sheds regularly especially if it brushes against your clothes or if you brush or comb your hair regularly. You can tell whether you are shedding or have breakage by looking to see if the white bulb on the end of the hair follicle is attached, if it is, then that is shedding, if not, it's breakage. There is nothing we can do to prevent shedding altogether but you can minimize the occurrence of breakage by keeping your hair tangle free, reducing the manipulation, adding continuous moisture and dusting your ends at least every three months.
8) USE NATURAL INGREDIENTS: Using all natural ingredients in anything you consume is always better, but when it comes to your hair it is extremely beneficial. Avoid toxic ingredients in your hair care products such as mineral oil, petrolatum or petroleum, parabens and sulphates. These ingredients damage the hair because it just sucks out the moisture from your hair or clogs your pores. So try to avoid using products with these ingredients or minimize the use and use natural products when you can.
9) WASH YOUR HAIR WHEN NEEDED: It is not mandatory to wash your hair everyday or every 3 days or even every week. The time when you wash you hair depends on what type of products you use, your lifestyle or your body but once it is dirty, wash it. Some naturals can go two weeks without washing their hair and it still looks and feels healthy. Once your hair starts to itch or look dry and dull then it is time to wash it.
10) AVOID HEAT: The continuous use of heat is not a natural girl’s best friend. Heat will break down the protein structure of the hair strands and damage it. There is a such thing as heat damage, where you've straightened the hair so much or used extremely high heat settings that you literaly fry your hair strands preventing the hair from reverting back to it's natural curl pattern. You can end up with some permenently staightened hair strands that have been damaged due to overheating. Especially, if your hair is thin it can happen faster than for others. So cut down your use for the year or avoid it altogether.
11) BE PATIENT: I know this is written in every blog post, but it's true. It's like everything in life that you plan for, and really you have no other options when it comes to hair growth, you must wait for your hair to grow. I know it seem like everyone else has discover miracle grow but you can look at other naturals, without envy, but as a goal you’re going to accomplish and know that you will get there eventually.
12) LOVE YOU NATURAL HAIR: There is nothing more beautiful that a woman who fully embraces and loves her natural hair. It shows true self-acceptance for who you are as person and embracing what you were born with.
These are a few tips to maintain your natural hair that you can start today. These are things you may not have considered with weaves or relaxers but not that you are natural you really need to pay extra attention to your hair and incorporate these tips to be well on your way to long healthy hair. I wish you a prosperous hair journey!
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