In the year and a half that I was natural, I earned a Master's degree in "Research about how to take care of Black Hair" from the University of Google and I graduated with high distinctions. I am here today to share with you what I consider to be the most important things I’ve learned about how to take care of your hair.
- Hair products matter. Seems like a duh right? Not so easy as a lot of the hair products marketed towards Black hair are actually not good for Black hair. Make sure to check the ingredient lists of the products before buying them and stay away from petrolatum, parabens, sulfates, mineral oil and the cones (silicone, dimethicone etc). These ingredients either dry out your hair or causes so much buildup that it prevents your hair from absorbing the good stuff you’re putting in it.
- Moisture, moisture, moisture Your hair is thirsty. Our hair by nature gets dry easily because the journey from our scalps to the ends of our hair is a windy perilous one that our moisturizers don’t always successfully complete...what I’m saying is due to the curly nature of our hair, moisturizers that are applied to our scalps don’t always make it to the ends of our hair (hello splint ends), and when it does, it doesn’t remain there for very long. Our hair and scalp need regular moisture, natural hair more so than relaxed but even relaxed hair can dry out if you don’t pay attention to it. You need to use a leave in conditioner after washing and depending on the texture of your hair, use a good hair cream at least twice a week (if you’re using the right products, buildup will not be an issue).
- Wash/Co Wash every 2 weeks if not in a protective style. When I had natural hair, I learned not to wash too often as harsh chemicals can dry out your hair. An alternative to washing with shampoo is co washing (washing with just conditioner) as there are enough cleaning agents in conditioner to clean your hair. Since relaxing, whenever I have my hair out, I wash every week if I’m chanced but I don’t go past 2 weeks and I haven’t had major issues with drying out (I use the good stuff). There are so many shampoos now that will not dry your hair out, so even if you have natural hair, you do not have to go the no poo/co-washing method if you do not want to.
- Avoid Heat as much as you possibly can. Air dry if you’re not going for a super sleek look or if you’re about to put in a protective style. Avoid flat ironing too often, that causes major breakage. If you do need to use heat, use protection first (some natural oils are good for this or use a store bought heat protection spray).
- Deep condition: this is like a spa day for your hair. You can use your regular conditioner or a blend of oils or a specific oil. Apply oil to scalp and spread to ends with your fingers or a comb (a scalp massage at this point would be great as it encourages blood flow to your scalp, which encourages hair growth), cover with a shower cap for a minimum of two hours (I usually do this overnight) then wash with shampoo and conditioner as usual. Doing this will help seal in moisture where a regular wash wouldn’t have and it also helps with dry scalp, if that is an issue for you.
- Do not leave braids/twists in for too long 4-6 weeks is good enough. The reason for this is, although single braids are a protective hairstyle, it is also one that is strenuous on your roots. The longer you have it in, the more stress is on your hair because each time you’re packing it up or styling it, you’re pulling on your delicate new growth, not to speak of your edges! Also, a lot of people neglect their scalps when their hair is braided. You're losing major moisture the longer you leave it in. If you have to leave it in for this long, make sure to wash and condition your hair while it’s in or get a spray bottle with some water and leave in conditioner and spray on your scalp regularly.
Lastly, please remember that Long≠Healthy. Focus on getting healthy hair, then give it time and watch it grow.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Happy Hair Days!