Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Au Naturale! Natural hair care for beginners
Hair… The crown of our glory and the center of our frustration. A good hair day will have you feeling fly and fierce, but a bad one may leave you down and distressed. Changing your ‘do can impact your entire lifestyle and the transition back to your natural hair can be downright frustrating. Many black females have had relaxers most of their life (including myself) and the first 2 times I reverted back to my natural texture, I didn’t have the capacity to understand that I couldn’t treat my hair the same way. A different mentality is needed all together and once you wrap your head around the fact that Natural doesn’t mean “nappy”, taking care of your hair is a breeze.
Whether you are transitioning to natural hair or have newly crossed over or even if you have been natural for a long time but find that your hair care is lacking, below are a few pointers or principles that all naturals should adhere to:
* Natural Hair Needs Moisture… way more than any other type of hair. As I sit with conditioner in my hair as I type, I cannot stress this principle the most. If you want healthy hair, you need moisture, moisture, moisture. The curlier your hair, the more moisture you need. This is so, because at every twist and turn at the curl is a week spot in the hair, I place where it can break off. Keeping your hair moisturized will limit breakage which will inturn limit the amount of trims or cuts and help with length retention. Detangling your hair should be only on wet and conditioned hair to prevent excessive breakage. Doing styles at night (braids or twist) will also help to keep moisture inside you satin scarf while you sleep.
* Know your ingredients… because the front label does not explain what is inside the bottle. I have gotten used to immediately flipping over the tube and looking through the ingredients. A lot of products marketed for African Americans i.e. grease, contains mineral oil and petroleum. This two ingredients are cheap fillers with unfavorable properties. They clog the pores and stifle new growth. There are other chemicals in hair products that are linked to illnesses like parabens, which unfortunately are in most hair products. Find a hair database that explains the uses of each ingredient in your beauty products. If you don’t like their purpose, I suggest throwing it out. On the flip side of this, find what products make your hair feels the best and what ingredients gives your hair the most moisture. The most abundant ingredient is first on the list, hence you want the moisturizing properties first and the gunk last.
* Stop using Sulphate shampoo… unless you like stripped, dry and suffering curls!! Most shampoos contain Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate (SLS) which is a harsh cleaning agent and it is responsible for soapy lather you find in the shower. Yes, it does clean your hair, but it takes the good moisture out a well. Bottom line, you don’t need it. There other methods one can use to cleanse the hair. A popular methods most curlies use is to conditioner wash. This is to put conditioner in the place of shampoo. It cleans the hair and adds moisture to your hair. If you decide to quit using SLS cold-turkey, you have to be conscious of a few things. SLS shampoos were developed to combat the tough chemical, ingredients in hair products. Therefore, if you want to use alternative methods of cleaning your hair, you must find other methods of conditioning, moisturizing and styling your hair. You don’t want to clog your pores by using heaving products that your conditioner or non-SLS cleanser can remove. Reminder: healthy hair comes from a healthy scalp.
* Everything in moderation... or pay the price in the long run. Your hair has a natural balance and it will remain its healthiest when it is closest to its own equilibrium. That means, you can’t wear your hair in a tight puff everyday and think you won’t have thin edges a couple of months later. That means you can’t have a wash-n-go all the time and not expect knots and tangles ends. Provide your hair with protein along with moisture and vice versa. Don’t overdue a particular technique because your hair will go far left in result.
* Know your hair type… Girlllll you got that good hair!!! Just kidding, there is no such thing. Everyone’s hair is beautiful and remember, the grass is always greener. You need to have an intimate relationship with your hair and getting to know your type and texture will greatly improve how you treat her. The LOIS hair classification system is an intricate description of your hair which will help you to better understand your hair and how it will respond to different products. However, let your hair roam free and do its thing. You have to find hair styles that allow your hair to be healthy and she will remain cooperative in future endeavors.
Most importantly, know that learning your hair takes time. Don’t expect it to look like everyone else because that only leads to more frustration. Embrace your natural texture first and get used to the idea that it will NOT look like the next girl’s hair. Which is good, because who wants to look like the next chick?