DOs and DON’Ts for Long, Healthy Natural Hair
Many people return natural (we say return natural because we are born natural and not with perms) without information on what they should and shouldn’t do. In fact, many who have been natural since birth suffer from this same lack of information. This can make the journey tiring and painful. Unfortunately, lack of information has led many a lady to the creamy crack. To help natural hair newbies and life-long naturals who are looking for information, we have compiled a list of natural hair dos and don’ts. We hope this makes your journey a lot easier and a lot less painful.
Diet and Exercise: These are very important in growing healthy hair. Ensure you eat foods rich in protein to help your hair grow from the inside. Exercise increases blood circulation in the body, including the scalp. This may allow for more nutrients to reach the follicles, which helps them to flourish.
Drink a lot of water: This boosts moisture in the hair, adding luster.
Be patient: Hair growth is usually about six inches a year. Don’t expect too much from your hair or expect it to grow over night. Relax, take care of your hair and let it do its thing.
Read ingredients: Never buy products without reading the list of ingredients. Ensure you stay away from products that contain petroleum, mineral oil. It only coats your hair and does not moisturize.
Moisturise! Our kinky, curly and coily hair needs moisture to be healthy enough to grow. Moisturise with water and invest in a good leave-in conditioner and other natural hair products.
Use a satin or silk pillowcase, bonnet and/or scarf when sleeping. This helps to keep hair from drying out.
Use a moisturizing and sulfate-free shampoo: Sulfates strip your hair of its natural oils. Ensure you clarify hair of buildup every 6-8 weeks with a clarifying shampoo (especially if you use products with sulfate).
Start your wash day with a pre-poo: Use penetrating oils like olive or coconut. This protects the hair from being stripped of moisture.
Apply a leave-in conditioner after washing and conditioning hair. Follow with oil such as coconut, olive, avocado and cream such as Shea butter to seal in moisture.
Do a protein treatment every 4-6 weeks or when experiencing shedding. Do not overdo the treatment so as not to distort the protein-moisture balance.
Use a wide-tooth comb when detangling or alternatively, finger detangle. Ensure your hair is coated with conditioner or a mixture of water and oils before detangling. NEVER detangle your hair when it’s dry. Start detangling from the tips and work your way to the roots.
Always be gentle with your hair: Afro kinky, coily and curly hair is very fragile and needs to be handled delicately. De-tangle with care. Respect your hair and pamper it. Frequent harsh treatment of your hair will lead to dryness, breakage and sometimes permanent damage.
Use Chemicals: Avoid the so-called natural relaxers and texturisers as these destroy the natural hair curl pattern. Avoid hair care products with mineral oils, parabens, petroleum, “cones” (i.e Silicone, Amodimethicone, Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, etc.), dyes etc. These chemicals attack the keratin in your hair, strip moisture from your hair or prevent moisture from being absorbed by your hair. This leads to your hair thinning out and breaking.
Tie your hair too tight: Tying you hair tightly and installing tight protective styles causes breakage because of the continuous pressure applied on the roots. Watch your edges! Too much pressure on them causes edges to recede.
Use too much heat: it has been proven that excess use of heat on natural hair leads to breakage and dryness. Don’t use the highest temperature on your blow dryer and avoid placing the blow dryer too close to your scalp
Don’t towel dry your hair: This damages the hair. Instead, use an old T-shirt to wrap your hair after washing.
Don’t clog the scalp with products: As much as possible, use light penetrating oil like olive, coconut or avocado oil and water based leave-in conditioners. Remember; never use petroleum or mineral oil as they just sit on your scalp.