Your healthy hair journey starts now
African American hair is not the most easily manageable hair, it does require a little bit of extra TLC because of its curl pattern and structure. To be perfectly honest, not knowing how to properly take care of and manage hair in its unprocessed, coarse and curly state can drive anyone up a wall. Being frustrated with the maintenance requirements that go with being natural is one of the main reasons why a lot of African American women tend to relax and perm their hair. Do not let this discourage you if you're transitioning to natural hair. There are steps you can take in order to get healthy, fuller hair without having to use chemicals or excessive heat to do so. If you want to find out how you can acheive length and healthy strands keep on reading.
Proper Care is Key
Dry, curly and coarse hair need the most tender and gentle care. If you have this type of hair you want to treat it just as you would a collection of fine fibers. If you want to grow your hair longer and you want to acheive great volume, then its best that you treat your hair with the most tender, loving care. The very first mistake that most women make is whilst the hair is still wet or damp. Your strands is the most vulnerable and brittle in its wet state so it very important to use the right kinds of products and tools in order to take care of your tresses.
Shampoo and Condition
Remember to always apply a moisturizing conditioner after you're done shampooing. You also want to use products formulated for dry, coarse and kinky-curly hair. Avoid using shampoos that are labeled as being '2 in 1', since these types of shampoos plus conditioners will actually cause frizz and dry out your strands. In order to prevent tangles, its recommended that you section off you strands in 4 or five twists before hoping into the shower, while in the shower, you want to untwist each section by itself, wash the hair in a downward motion, rinse and twist it back up. This helps to minimize the chances that you'll end up with lots of tangles and knots.
After you've shampooed and conditioned your hair, always apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner since this will help to keep your hair well moisturized and frizz-free. Pat your head down gently with a towel in order to blot out any water. Never rub your head with a towel as this can cause nightmare tangles and will ultimately result in breakage.
Dealing with Buildup and Dandruff
If you want to clarify your hair and are fed up with build-up and other gunk on your scalp regular product use, apple cider vinegar makes an excellent scalp rinse. Forget clarifying shampoos that can strip your strands of more moisture that you bargained for, apple cider works well at clarifying your scalp and adding shine to your strands without stripping your strands of much needed moisture. Just dilute it with some luke-warm water and apply it directly to your scalp using either a spray bottle or drip bottle before you shampoo in order to get rid of any build-up that you have.
Curly hair tangles very easily and a wide-toothed comb is a must have hair tool for detangling the hair. Using a regular comb will result in excessive hair loss and breakage and must be avoided at all times. Never run a comb through your strands while they are still dry. Use a wide-toothed comb on your strands when its damp and after you've applied the conditioner. If you have to absolutely comb your hair, make sure to use a spray bottle to wet your strands, then gently use a wide-toothed comb. When shampooing, make sure that you use a sulfate-free shampoo since shampoos that contain sulfates can strip the hair of its natural oils and cause your hair to become extremely dry, leaving you more susceptible to breakage and hair loss.
If you are experiencing too many tangles, you might want to detangle while still in the shower. While in the shower, you can just use your fingers in order to get rid of the knots, start by detangling the ends and follow up to the roots. This helps to minimize the chances of breakage as well as decreases your chances of pain in case you're tender headed.
Limit Heat Styling Tools
Using tons of heat on your hair is also not a good idea, neither is it recommended as you're transitioning to natural hair. Using a flat iron or a blow dryer will be very tempting for you if you've gotten used to having straight hair and now have to adjust to your natural hair curl pattern. Its a true fact that a good blow dryer and flat iron will give you smooth looking, flat hair that's LAID, in the long run however, frequent and regular use of such hot styling tools can leave you with extremely brittle, damaged hair and never-ending split ends.
Hot Oil Treatment
If you don't end up doing the cutting the relaxed/permed ends of your hair and want to instead transition by growing out your relaxed strands, you can use a few methods to smooth out any damaged ends and draw moisture back to your strands. Use some warm almond oil or olive oil once a month as part of your hot oil treatment. All you need to do is warm up the oil (not too hot as you'll risk burning yourself), massage it into your hair and wrap your head with a warm towel. Leave the warm towel on your head for around thirty minutes, shampoo and condition your strands as you usually would using a moisturizing shampoo and deep conditioner.
Use a shea butter hair mask once every two weeks in order to manage and moisturize your strands. Using a moisturizing mask will help to minimize any frizz that you have as well as combat any dryness.
Styling and Trimming
-> You should dust your ends every 2-3 months in order to bypass split ends and maintain healthy growth.
-> Use a small round brush and a hairdryer to style the edges.
-> If you wear braids, make sure that you wash your strands once a week using a moisturizing shampoo. This helps to clean the scalp as well as bring moisture back the scalp.
->To combat shrinkage, you can style your hair in a braid out or twist out since this will stretch out your hair and help retain length.
Make sure that your hair is protected against breakage by using a satin pillowcase whenever you're sleeping. Most people toss and turn a lot during their sleep, if that's the case with you, then you risk hair breakage and tangling. So always keep you hair protected even while you're sleeping. You can also tie a silk scarf around your head if you don't like the idea of a satin or silk pillowcase.
Natural Hair Tips for Healthier Strands
=> Avoid using metal tipped ponytail holders or cotton elastics or headbands. These cause major breakage. Instead use satin headbands and hair elastics.
=> It is very important to also keep your scalp well oiled as this will help to promote circulation which in turn helps support and stimulate growth.
=> Avoid over-washing and instead wash your strands and your scalp twice a week once a week using conditioner and towards the end of the week using a conditioning shampoo.
=> Remember to apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair after you've washed it. Keeping your hair well conditioned is important while transitioning. Natural hair tends to be very dry so it can lack moisture and dry up if its not moisturized.
=> Avoid using any products that have alcohol as part of their ingredient list. Alcohol can be extremely drying. You want to instead use natural products as this is what will enable you to acheive healthy strands.
=> Always sleep with on a satin pillowcase or with a satin scarf wrapped around your head. This helps to prevent split ends which can be caused when your hair rubs against your pillow case.
=> Make sure that you're eating the right kinds of nutritious foods. Vitamins, minerals and proteins are essential for your healthy hair journey as well as for long hair growth.
=> Lastly, work with your texture not against it. The more you fight against your hair texture and type, the more likely to damage your strands and even end up with female hair loss, traction alopecia and overall breakage.
=> The above tips are easy to follow when embarking on your healthy hair journey and even if you're transitioning to natural hair, these tips will help to ensure that you acheive beautiful, lustrous and healthy hair.