This is what I’ve learnt over the 5 years of being natural. This is isn’t an exhaustive list and there are many things I used to do that I am not so strict on anymore. This is what I really want to explain everytime someone asks me what I do to get my hair looking as healthy as it is. I usually just give them the basics or awkwardly go with ‘it’s castor oil and washing with conditioner’ because I might leave them confused if I started gushing about natural hair, sulphates, all the do’s and don’ts and must haves.
Be gentle and patient. Contrary to what most people believe, ethnic hair is the most fragile of all hair types and although appears to be strong and unruly requires the gentlest of means to be tamed.
Cut out the products with sulphates. Sulphates are the ingredients in your shampoo (and sometimes conditioner) that hair care companies add in to make your shampoo foam and get all the dirt out. Their names on products range from sodium lauryl sulphate to ammonium lauryl sulfate. The problem is that these ingredients harshly strip coily hair of natural oils and this is immediately noticeable with that squeaky clean feeling you get after a wash which is followed by crunchy hair when you attempt to dry and comb your hair.
Always use conditioner. Conditioner is your best friend. Before going natural I didn’t think it made a difference whether I used conditioner after washing my hair or not. But now I wouldn’t even dream of getting my hair wet if there won’t be some kind of conditioner around for me to use.
Do not attempt to tackle and detangle/comb dry hair. Have a spray bottle handy to lightly spritz your hair. When combing your hair, finger detangle or use a wide tooth comb or paddle brush. I personally prefer a paddle brush as it untangles my strands effectively.
The best time to safely detangle your hair is when you have conditioner in it. Just don’t over-manipulate your hair for long periods of time while wet or you might experience hydral fatigue.
Do not compromise on quality. Read what goes into the product you are about to purchase/use. Most products will say something like olive or Shea butter on the front only to have that ingredient far beyond the 8th ingredient or worse not even have it included in the product.
Don’t become a product junkie it doesn’t help. You’ll only end up with drawers full of products and disappointment at your delayed hair growth. I’ve been there.
Do get your hair trimmed professionally regularly. I tried to put this off for as long as possible or trim it by myself and it just made my split ends worse that at some point I felt like my hair wasn’t growing anymore.
Try to be consistent with moisturising your hair this will help reduce the amount of hair that breaks when you comb your hair.
Keep it simple. Do not use so many different products that you can’t tell whether something is working or not. By simplifying your hair routine you can tell how everything is working for you. Always changing your hairstyle while neglecting it is a recipe for disaster. Give your hair some time to breathe after taking out a hairstyle.
Here are the must haves in my opinion. The other things out there are just things that will make your hair journey interesting and for those moments when you want to be a lil’ extra fancy:
A good shampoo and conditioner
A rattail comb, wide tooth comb or paddle brush
A good boar bristle brush or one with a blend
Heat protector protectant
A spray bottle for spritzing with water throughout the day
Metal-less hair ties
Hair oil: Coconut, olive or castor. I currently use the Caivil fusion oil which has a blend of all these oils and more. It’s amazing!
Satin head scarf or pillowcase
Hair dryer for days when air drying just won’t do or if you’re like me can never wait for hours till my hair dries.
So this is what I could think of of the top of my head and hope that it could help someone out who doesn’t know yet that this is the information they are looking for.