Do you need guidance? Do you want to know how to GROW, RETAIN, and STRENGTHEN your hair like I did? Then please KEEP READING! (…and take notes!)
MY JOURNEY: I have been natural for TWO years now! Happy napturalversary to me 🙂 Firstly, it was byfar one of THE best decisions I have ever made. It wasn’t really popular when I first cut it, so of course I got some backlash…BUT, I am so glad I stuck through it. I’m here to help all my sistas out there to come to the bright side, or if you’re already here…I want you to stay, be happy, and most of all FLOURISH!
Overview: As you can see, I can soooo much growth in my first year of being natural. Simply because I dedicated more time, and did less manipulation than in the following year. From ’15 to ’16 I got my first silk press, and colored it not once…but TWICE! I didn’t retain as much length so I had to trim a bit. My hair grew past my collar bone (almost BSL) in only 2 years! I’ve recently just dyed my hair back black and cut about 3″ off. My curl pattern has changed a lot since ’15 and I’m journeying back towards my 4c hair!
LET’S GET TO IT!!
I’ve gathered tips from lots of other natural sistas as well. These tips are a mixture of my knowledge and the research I have done!
1. MOISTURE, MOISTURE, MOISTURE!
As my sista @anaturalbeaut143 (insta)/ anaturalbeaut.com told me…YOUR HAIR IS A PLANT! I like to think of hair growth as a “Chia Pet!” In order for a plant to grow, it needs what? Good ole’ water!!
- Keep a spray bottle with WATER, OIL (coconut, jojoba, olive, etc.), and CONDITIONER (optional)…This is a quick modification of the L.O.C method, which stands for Liquid (water), Oil, Cream (moisturizer or conditioner).
- Use this mixture on your hair whenever your hair is dry. I usually do it in the morning and at night before bed.
2. DRINK MORE WATER!
Healthy, moisturized hair comes from the inside as well! In order for a plant to grow, you have to not only water the plant, but water the soil as well! Your body is the soil of your hair! You HAVE to drink water! It hydrates your body, gives you energy, keeps your skin smooth and fresh, and definitely helps your hair! If you are dehydrated, so is your hair!
- Water for your hair:
- 1. Better blood circulation for stimulating hair growth.
- 2. Keeps your follicles nutritional and properly hydrated to stop dry hair and brittleness. Moisturized follicles=healthy hair strands=luscious and strong hair!
- 3. Flushes away bad toxins to keep your body clean and your crown fresh!
- 4. Assists in providing necessary nutrients to your cells so they can receive any hair vitamins you may be taking. (Vitamins with no water is like trying to digest marbles.)
- 5. Can be a major factor in curing dandruff, thinning, and dryness.
- 6. The only way your hair will grow is if your hair ROOTS are hydrated, which only comes from drinking water! A plant in dry soil will not flourish!
3. NOT ONLY ARE YOU WHAT YOU EAT, YOUR HAIR IS WHAT YOU EAT!
I cannot exaggerate this enough, a healthy diet plays a HUGE role in healthy hair. A plant’s soil must be healthy for the plants to be healthy. How do you get healthy garden soil? With healthy organic matter. The food you eat is the organic matter to your hair!
Genetics may play a role in hair type and growth but, It is NO coincidence that most of the naturalistas you are subscribed to on YouTube are super healthy eaters. By healthy, I mean low amount of processed foods, sufficient water, foods with iron, potassium, all vitamins, and PROTEIN (capitalized because your hair is a protein!)
I will do another blog post in depth on hair and healthy eating.
4. DETANGLING AND TRIMMING!
These two go hand in hand! You have to detangle regularly, and trim AS NEEDED!
Detangling: I notice that many people don’t know how to properly detangle. Here are some very useful tips and advice.
- 1. NEVER detangle your hair when dry. Make sure your hair is either damp/wet or very very moisturized with a creamy moisturizer or conditioner before reaching for your coils!
- 2. BE CAREFUL WITH WHAT YOU USE TO DETANGLE! If you feel that you need a tool (which you won’t if your hair is properly moisturized and healthy), always use a wide tooth comb or a denman brush. Hide all of your hard bristle brushes, rat tail combs, small tooth combs, and “white girl brushes.” These tools will snag your hair causing unnecessary breakage. I, like most naturals, finger detangle instead.
- 3. ALWAYS GO FROM END TO ROOT! Never try to detangle your hair starting from the root. You WILL rip your hair out, literally!
- 4. SECTION YOUR HAIR! It will a lot less of a hassle to detangle and style in sections. I usually do 4, sectioned off with plastic butterfly clips. Once you have finished one section, twist it and move to the next.
Trimming: Trim when your ends are breaking and snagging, your hair is frizzing, and when it becomes nearly impossible to detangle. Split ends will travel up your hair shaft and cause damage.
Some may only have to trim every 2 years, others every 4 months. It depends on how much you manipulate your hair and how well you take care of it. Which leads me to my next tip…
5. PROTECTIVE STYLING: LOW MANIPULATION OF COURSE!
(see blog post on moisturizing dry hair for this look)
I will not go too in depth because this is a lot of info calling for a blog post of its own. Protective styling is key to length retainment (healthy ends), because the more stress you put on your strands, the more prone they are to breaking. But, here are some brief tips:
- Detangle and make sure ends are properly trimmed before and after protective styling. This is how you keep your ends strong and in check.
- DO NOT PULL YOUR TIGHTLY! This means no tight braids (loose or sewin), keep your headband and ponytail styles to a minimum. This can damage your follicles and permanently stunt your growth around your edges (sometimes even cause your hairline to recede).
- Keep moisturized and cleansed while protective styling, which I will further explain how to do so in the individual blog post.
- Always deep condition before and after you protective style. Never do a style on dry, breaking, hair.
- Be careful with what type of accessories you use. I didn’t notice until @Naptural85 (Ig, YT) pointed it out. Metal clips, non-slip bands, tight ponytail holders, etc. all lead to breakage if used excessively!
- YouTube and Instagram will be your best friend. There are so many women sharing wonderful ideas and methods of protecting your hair that its unreal!
6. LITTLE TO NO HEAT!
Most sistas like to limit themselves to what they know their hair can handle. Some is a press once a year, others may be more or less. It all depends on the health of your hair. IF you are unsure, just opt for an air drying method!
Instead of getting leaveout, use closures. Get braids, faux locs, or twists. Wear wigs! Air dry your roller set. There are many ways you can avoid heat. Of course, they may seem inconvenient in comparison to the heat method, but health is what we are striving for here!
This is the one everyone hates! Haha! It is quite important though. It goes hand in hand with drinking water!
Exercising keeps your blood flowing to your follicles, cause you to sweat, and relieves stress (causes hair loss). Sweating releases those toxins and results in a healthier scalp and skin!
If you can not exercise, opt for an oil massage. It also increases blood flow, soothes your stress, and opens clogged pores as sweating does.
Product knowledge is very very necessary when going natural. The most frequent question I get as a natural hair enthusiast and hairstylist is: “What are some good products to use?”
- 1. Everything does not work for everybody. For example, Olive Oil eco styler gel works great on my hair while my friends may have to use the pink one or an entirely different brand of gel! You have to spend time with your hair and pay attention to how it responds to different products.
- 2. Figure out what your hair needs. If it is dry, look for products for moisture. If it sheds, look for products that provide anti-breakage and strength.
- 3. READ THE INGREDIENTS! Your first ingredient should always be water, of course. This means that the product is water-based. You should also be able to read the ingredients (this is with food as well). If it is laced with chemicals, sulfates, parabens, silicons, etc. then 9/10 it will dry your hair out.
- 4. Learn about the ingredients and what NATURAL products are good for your hair. Buying things such as mayo, honey, acv, jojoba oil, olive oil, shea butter, etc. etc. will save you lots of money and make your hair healthier!
With that being said, here are some product lines(all water based) I have found to be beneficial.
- Shea Moisture: Marketed to be all natural. No parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrance or color, mineral oil,etc. These products are NOT animal tested so if you are vegan these are a go! I swear by these products! They do exactly what the container tells you! They can be found almost anywhere!
- Aunt Jackie’s: No sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, or petroleum. If I don’t have my shea moisture, I use this. They are very creamy and moisturizing. Even the shampoo moisturizes my hair. These are a little harder to find. Most local beauty supply stores, walgreens, and even dollar stores carry this brand. Target no longer carries it.
- As I Am: Marketed to be all natural. Sulfate and Paraben free. This line is pretty decent. They are quite pricey. They don’t work as well on my hair as Shea Moisture or Aunt Jackie’s. As I Am can be found almost anywhere.
- Homemade, Natural Products: This is my first resort. When doing treatments I use homemade everything! Every now and then I will use Shea Moisture only if I am lacking ingredients. A wise man once said if you cannot eat or digest it, then why use it on your skin and hair? The only time I always use store-bought products is shampoo. I am resorting to all Apple Cider Vinegar cleanses.
Now, some product lines I believe all naturals should stay away from are ones such as Herbal Essences, Garnier Fructis, Pantene, etc. Yes, they may “work” for you, but this does not mean it will benefit your hair in the long run. These products are intended for non-black women and usually contain a motherlode of alcohol because those women have greasy hair. We need moisture, strength, shine, and hydration!! Why not stick to products that were MADE for you and your hair?
9. LESS SHAMPOOING, MORE CONDITIONING!
STOP shampooing your hair every week! You may not even need it every 2 weeks! Shampoos strip your hair of its nutrients! It is already hard for our natural oils to travel down our kinky/curly hair shaft (which is why we have dry hair). Some relaxed women (like myself when I was relaxed) NEEDED a shampoo every 2 weeks. This is simply because when your hair is straight, your oils from your scalp go straight from root to tip!
Instead, opt for Apple Cider Vinegar rinses. 1/3 ACV, 2/3 Water, spray on your scalp before or while you condition your hair! Watch how shiny and healthy your scalp and roots look afterwards.
Condition, Deep Condition, Protein Treatment, Hot Oil Treatment, etc. are all things you should be doing regularly. Dont go a full month without rotating through each of these.
10. PROTECT YOUR HAIR AT NIGHT AND ON WASH DAYS!
Never, I mean NEVER, go to bed without protecting your hair with satin or silk. This means use satin/silk bonnets, scarfs, and pillow cases. Anything else will dry your hair out.
On wash days, use cotton materials to dry your hair. I used to do this (I am currently starting back) and I now notice the difference in using a towel and a cotton t-shirt. Towels cause frizzing, mash your curls together instead of only retaining the excess water, and may cause breakage if you are too rough.
11. PATIENCE, LOVE, PROSPERITY!
You must be patient with your hair at ALL times and in all aspects. Don’t rush your wash days. Don’t rush your styling. Don’t rush your detangling. Mainly, don’t rush your journey. It is called a journey for a reason.
If you have kinky hair, EMBRACE IT! If you have curly hair, EMBRACE IT! I promise the last thing you want to do is try to manipulate your texture and pattern to be something else. I guarantee you there is always someone else wishing they had hair like yours! Your hair is unique. No one else has the same exact hair as you. Type 3 girls, instead of loathing on what type 4 girls hair can do, venture into knowledge of what yours CAN do! And vice versa! Find out what works best for it, and find your comfortable places. Even if it takes you 2 years of protective styling to be comfortable, let it be! I tried so many things in the past year to change my curl pattern, and it has definitely change. I have been so close to shaving my head!! You have to LOVE your hair! GOD GAVE IT TO YOU! HE DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES.
In order for you to prosper, you have to realize that we are natural SISTERS. In the words of @Naptural85, “we are not in a race, we are in an [endless] marathon!” As soon as you realize you will never have the hair like the youtube guru or your best friend, you will be a lot more content with your journey. We are a family, not enemies. There is no competition here. This is YOUR journey with YOUR own strands.
Thank you for reading! I hope you learned all you need to know. Give me some feedback! – Peace and love, Yasmine 🙂