The natural hair movement has taken the world by storm. However, doing the big chop and maintaining your natural hair can be challenging at first. There is so much information out there that one no longer knows where to look. Here are a few pointers on how to begin your natural hair journey,
1. Moisture, moisture, moisture The most important thing for curly hair and kinky hair is to moisturizs, and the best way to moisturise your coiled locks is with our old friend: H20. Because, curly hair and kinky hair types are naturally dry, it is important that natural hair products for curly hair or kinky hair contain water. However, after wetting your hair, you should always seal the moisture in with an oil or a butter.
2. Never (ever) brush or comb your hair when it is dry Curly and kinky hair can easily tangle and thus lead to breakage. Before passing a comb through your hair, ensure that your hair is wet and conditioned. You will be able to detangle your hair with more ease and avoid unnecessary breakage.
3. Avoid shampoos that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) SLS is a foaming agent that is contained in many shampoos and acts as a cleaning agent. Basically, it’s a detergent for your hair. Although it does indeed get the ‘cleaning’ job done, it is also extremely drying to the hair, as it strips it of dirt as well as the natural oils it needs to remain healthy and moisturised. This is particularly harmful to curly/kinky hair textures as these hair types naturally lack moisture and natural oils and thus cannot afford to be stripped of the little moisture and oils that remain. You should, thus, opt for a shampoo that contains no SLS.
4. Clarify Clarifying your scalp is extremely important in balancing the Ph of your hair and scalp (yes, they have their own Ph) and, if the former is compromised, it could lead to a lack of shine, dullness in the hair and overall poor hair health. Clarifying should be done every three weeks with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Clarifying your hair with ACV gets rid of the gunk on your scalp (that has accumulated from using various hair products), closes the hair cuticles, adds shine and balances the pH of the scalp. After clarifying your scalp, rinse off the ACV and proceed with a conditioner.
5. Care for your ends In order to avoid split ends (and having to trim your hair often), make sure that your ends are always moisturised and protected. Your ends are the oldest part of your hair and therefore the most fragile, to ensure that you do not need to trim your hair often, and to therefore retain more length, you should seal your ends regularly.
6. Avoid direct heat styling Regularly styling your hair, using direct heat, leads to split ends, dryness and breakage, which probably means you need to cut your hair more often than one who steers clear of heat. If your hair has undergone a chemical process, it is even more prone to breakage than natural hair. A great way to style relaxed hair, without exposing it to direct heat, is by setting your hair in curlers and sitting under the dryer. Although there is some heat exposure, it is not direct like a flat iron or blow-drying, which is the lesser of the two evils. The best approach is to not expose your hair to any heat, and let your hair air-dry.
7. Know and listen to your hair Whether we accept it or not, our hair speaks to us one way or another. If you’re experiencing abnormal shedding or breakage, you know something is either wrong with your diet, your hair regimen or your health. Either way, your hair (like your skin) will react, and this serves as a sign that should not be not ignored. You should, therefore, learn to listen and develop a sense of familiarity with your hair; it may be trying to tell you something you are overlooking. Continuous use of detrimental products or a regimen that is not suited to you can lead to breakage. What works for one may not work for you, our textures are so diverse. Learn more about your hair and it will reward you for it.
8. Do your oil treatments weekly Doing an oil treatment once a week really goes a long way, whether you wear your hair in locks, braids, twists, a weave or an Afro. We recommend doing your oil treatments on days that don’t require you to be out and about. We love doing our hair treatments on Saturday mornings, we call them ‘Spa Saturdays’. After washing your hair with sulfate free shampoo, add 3-5 pumps of oil to your hair mask . Once you’ve covered every strand of your hair, put on a plastic cap and keep it on for at least one hour. For extra penetration, wrap your head in a hot, wet towel. This will open the cuticles of your hair and it will allow the hair treatment to better penetrate your hair. Once you’re done, rinse your hair with warm water.
9. Low manipulation and protective styling Protective styling is an excellent way to retain length in your hair, as brushing and combing your hair too often can lead to unnecessary shedding. Sometimes putting your hair away in braids or twists for a couple of weeks (never exceeding six weeks), can be extremely beneficial in giving your hair a break from often being manipulated.
10. Stock up on omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs)! There is no doubt that a healthy diet is probably the most important way to maintain healthy hair and skin. Certain foods, however, are extremely beneficial in allowing our hair to grow well and long and omega 3 EFAs are one of them. Omega 3 EFAs can combat dry and brittle hair, hair loss, dry, flaky scalp and reduced circulation to the scalp. The benefits of omega 3 EFAs include adding lustre, sheen and elasticity to your hair. Foods that contain omega 3 EFAs are avocados, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and salmon.