Here are 25 things you can do to improve your natural hair and prevent damage. The goal here- to keep your hair on your head!
Not including the obvious elimination of chemical treatments, this list contains all you need to maintain a healthy head of hair. They are categorized by care/maintenance and styling.
Cleansing, Conditioning, and Drying:
- Nix shampoos with sulfates. Sulfates strip the hair of needed moisture and natural oil, drying it out.
- Pre-poo (pre-shampoo) your hair with coconut oil or olive oil. Coconut oil helps hair retain its protein levels, thus preventing damage. It also limits the amount of water the strands absorb, preventing wear and tear (from expansion and contraction) over time. Both natural oils protect the hair from being stripped when you shampoo.
- Deep condition your hair with a moisturizing deep conditioner after every wash. Consider using a gentle heat source like a microwave cap or by wrapping a towel around your head (or rocking a wool cap) to generate some body heat of your own.
- Use an old t-shirt for drying. No microfiber or towel drying. Contrary to popular belief, microfiber rips the hair out. It acts like velcro to our tresses! Towel drying frizzes the hair. Either air dry or use an old t-shirt.
- Refrigerate your leave in conditioner. A cold leave in will help to seal your hair’s cuticle after washing. This is extremely helpful if you can’t take a cold water rinse. It will also increase the shine in your hair.
- Oil your hair with a light natural oil daily. Jojoba is light and helps keep the hair tangle free.
- Seal your ends with Jamaican Black Castor Oil. I have found this oil to be the best at protecting the ends from splitting. It’s so thick and protective, causing the ends to clump together. Seal after every wash and before styling.
- Moisturize your hair as needed. Use your sense of touch to tell. If it feels dry... moisturize!
- Don’t use too many different brands. When your hair begins responding, you want to know what’s working. In other words, curtail your PJ (product junkie) ways.
- Do a henna treatment. I’ve been giving my hair henna treatments for about 6 months as of the writing of this post. My hair health is improved along with an amazing strength and shine.
- Clarify monthly. Hair products build up on the hair and every now and then the hair needs to be thoroughly cleansed. Especially, if you only co-wash (condition wash). You can either use a clarifying shampoo once a month or add a tablespoon of baking soda to your hair while shampooing. Apple cider vinegar is another option.
- Stop heat styling completely. Air drying is the best thing you can do to keep your hair on your head. Limit heat styling to rare, special occasions.
- Comb hair from the bottom up. When your hair is soaking wet and coated in conditioner, you can comb it with a large tooth comb or Denman brush to detangle. Do so carefully, working from the bottom up. Of all the detangling gadgets on the market, your 10 fingers remain your best tools.
- Never ever tease your hair. This is a cardinal sin against highly textured hair (well hair in general but some don’t know it).
- Don’t pull hair apart like a wishbone. If your hair is tangled, gently pull it up and apart in stead of pulling it apart like would a wishbone.
- Use hair accessories with no hanging parts or exposed metal. Banana clips, Satin Scrunchies, Goodie Flex Barrettes, Ouchless bobby pins & Ouchless elastic bands are the best for styling hair so that it does not get damaged.
- Avoid pulling hair tight at the hairline. Doing so will recede your hairline and damage the follicles permanently. Not a good look.
Extra Care and Maintenance
- Clip your nails before detangling. Hanging nails will damage hair. Always make sure your nails are smooth and even before hair styling.
- Get a protein treatment once a month. For maintenance, you can do this once a month or more if your hair is breaking.
- Trim away split ends as necessary but don’t get a trim for the sake of trimming. If your goal is to retain length, you’ll only be cutting off perfectly good hair. The less you do to damage your hair, the less you’ll need to trim it.
- Massage your scalp to stimulate your hair follicles 2-3 times a week. Some believe this encourages hair growth. I have not found it to be, but it certainly can’t hurt and it does increase the blood flow to your scalp.
- Take a multi-vitamin with Methylosulfonylmethame (MSM). MSM is believed to extend the lifespan of your individual hairs while also alleviating dry scalp. Always ask your doctor before taking vitamins to make sure it's right for you.
- Tie up your hair at night. Never sleep on your hair loose. It’s more prone to tangling and breakage.
- Make satin your hair’s best friend. Sleeping in a satin scarf, bonnet or on a satin pillowcase prevents your hair’s moisture from being robbed. It also prevents unnecessary tangling.
- Eat a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Good for your hair and skin too. Keeps both pliable.
This article was originally published on June 2013 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.