Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tips on Caring for Natural African Hair

Love your hair. What hair were you born with? The hair that grows out of your head is unique to you. Your hair is a part of you and you should not hate it or consider it to be bad hair. People will tell you your natural African hair should look a certain way. Appreciate it, take it as it is and keep it as healthy as you can.

I have been transitioning out of a perm. I had enough after my course hair was repeatedly over processed: my scalp was damaged, my hair was falling off. It’s been well over a year since my last perm. The physical transitioning is not hard; it’s the mental transitioning that is difficult. You really have to learn to love your hair for what it is to overcome the criticism. Gabby Douglas, first woman of color of any nationality to win the gold medal in the individual all-around gymnastics, was told on twitter that "She needs to get a perm" and “She needs a full head relaxer." Ignore such comments that will set you back.

It took me a while to get comfortable with my hair. All you really need to handle your African hair is to stay healthy, wash 2 to 1 times a week with a mild shampoo, moisturize with natural oil and a leave in conditioner, style gently and protect when sleeping or in the sun for long periods. It might take a while to find the products and tools that work best for your hair, but since African hair has some similarities this tips are helpful.


First thing you should do is live a healthier lifestyle. Your diet can go a long way toward improving your hair. Focus on eating fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, which can help strengthen your hair.  Drink at least eight glasses a day to stay properly hydrated. Taking a multivitamin is also a good idea to ensure that you cover any shortfalls in your diet.


Shampooing strips away the oils from your hair so shampoo once every 3 to 7 days. If you engage in daily activities that cause you to sweat, it is recommended that you rinse your hair out with water but leave out the shampoo.

Always use a mild moisturizing shampoo with a low PH level. Don't use a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner, use a separate shampoo and conditioner. Check the ingredients of your shampoo to make sure there is no isopropyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol (PEG), propylene glycol (PG), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), fragrance, imidazolidinyl urea and dmdm hydantoin.

When washing your hair rub only in one direction to avoid tangling. Ensure the water is warm; hot water can dry and/or irritate the scalp. Massage the conditioner into your hair and leave for 15 minutes. Don't rub your hair dry with a towel; instead blot the water out of your hair. Rubbing will cause your hair to tangle and you'll risk breakage.

Use a leave in conditioner, it will hydrate and protect your hair. Oil your scalp after shampooing. With your hair still moist, massage the oil into your scalp and brush out to the ends of your hair. Massaging your scalp on a regular basis will stimulate oil production, which will help reduce the dryness of your hair.


Use a wide-tooth comb or pick to detangle hair, a rat-tail comb for parting hair into sections and a brush with soft or medium bristles to smooth your hair. Look for natural emollients like coconut oil, apricot oil, almond oil, olive oil, lavender oil, avocado oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, and sunflower oil to keep your hair soft and supple. These should be 100% oil and can easily be found among cooking oil. Do not use moisturizers like mineral oil (baby oil) and petroleum (Vaseline), which can block pores and make your hair look dull.

It’s easier to comb if your hair is slightly moist so the comb can slide easier across your hair. If your hair is very wet, wait until it dries more; unfortunately hair is most fragile when it is wet. Always start at the ends of your hair and work your way up to the scalp. Never tag or pull. If you encounter a tough knot or tangle, use your fingers to loosen it and then continue combing. Comb your hair to remove any tangles before brushing it. Using a brush to detangle your hair will stretch your hair and may cause your hair to break off. Brushing will distribute the oil at the root of your hair and scalp to the rest of your hair.

Spraying hair with a mixture of one part oil and six parts water will make daily styling easier. This can also be carried in your purse in case you need to comb your hair.

Do not use "hot" items on your hair such as blow dryers, flat irons, and hot combs. If you chose to use these items, limit their use and use really low heat.

Deep conditioning

You may choose to do a hot oil treatment once a month. Hot-oil treatments help the moisture penetrate further into the scalp and hair, making it healthier and stronger. Massage the moisturizer in, which should help stimulate hair growth, and then wrap your Afro in a warm towel.


Hair can get caught on cotton pillow cases and break when you are sleeping, especially if you toss and turn a lot when you sleep. Use a satin or silk pillowcase so that your hair slides across the pillowcase without getting caught. You could also wear a silk or satin scarf over your hair before your sleep to prevent breakage.

Cover your hair when out in full sun for extended periods of time.

Written by Yvette Green

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