When I first joined the natural hair community a few years ago, I saw many vloggers and bloggers grow their hair to long lengths right in front of my eyes. Their testimonials about their successes got me hooked! I soon became obsessed with watching length checks and hair journey videos and I believed that if they could do it, so could I.
So after watching many YouTube videos and reading a few books and articles on African hair care, I eventually cracked the code on healthy African hair care. To my surprise, this secret code involved 3 simple steps which I was already doing, but not effectively due to my busy schedule.
So, for all the busy naturalistas out there, here are those 3 steps to help guide you to happy & healthy hair.
Step 1 – Cleanse
When your hair and scalp is cleansed often they will be able to function at their optimal capacity. This means that a clean scalp will be free to grow as much healthy hair as possible. Similarly, hair that is cleansed often will be free of unnecessary dirt and grease which often lead to dry hair.
For the hair to really thrive, it’ll need to be washed at least twice a month with a gentle and moisturizing shampoo. You can also cleanse your hair in between these shampoo washes with a conditioner; this method is known as “co-washing”.
You’ll know when its time to wash your hair, when your scalp starts to feel itchy or flaky, or when your hair doesn’t have a pleasant smell or when it feels greasy and excessively dry. This will help guide your hair treatments and help you with healthier hair everyday.
Step 2 – Condition
One of the reasons why it’s harder to grow African hair texture to long lengths is because its coily nature makes it difficult for the natural oils produced by the scalp to be evenly distributed to the entire length of the hair. As a result, the natural moisture on the hair shaft evaporates quickly, leaving the hair feeling dry. That is one of the reasons why tightly coiled (type 4) hair is known to be notoriously dry and vulnerable to breakage.
Before going natural, I never used a deep conditioning treatment and I would only use a conditioner to help detangle my hair. And when I washed my hair in braids, I never used a conditioner since I didn’t need to comb my braids. But after reading about the importance of deep conditioning treatments for the health of my hair, I made sure it was deep conditioned on a WEEKLY basis.
A deep conditioning treatment can be done by applying a store bought hair masque to freshly washed hair and leaving it in for at least 20 minutes. Hair that is chronically dry and damaged needs to be deep conditioned on a weekly basis. You can reduce this frequency as soon as you start to see major improvements in the health of your hair.
Conditioning the hair also includes applying a leave-in conditioner on the hair after you’ve washed it and before styling. This will help to keep the hair soft days after the hair has been washed and conditioned. Think of how soft your skin feels after applying lotion.
Step 3 – Style
Aside from cleansing and conditioning, another reason why it seems like African hair is so difficult to grow is mainly due to the type of hairstyles that the hair is styled in. Hairstyles designed to make you forget about your natural hair will only lead to more damage. Tiny and heavy hairstyles are particularly damaging to the scalp and should be avoided. This is because damaged hair can be cut off and regrown, but a damaged hair follicle (the tiny roots that produce hair) might never heal. This means a damaged follicle might never regenerate new hair again. So it’s best to stay away from styles that compromise the health of the hair and scalp.
For a stylish hairstyle which will also help you retain length, I recommend low manipulative hairstyles such as buns, flat twists, twists and pin up styles. You’d be surprised at how much your hair grows with these simple hairstyles.
If these 3 simple steps are done properly and consistently, you should start to see results in the overall health of your hair in just a few short months.
Tell me Naturalistas, what is your healthy hair routine?
Photo Credit: Dreamstime/PhotographerLondon