I thought being natural my whole life would make me an expert on my own hair. But this past year alone, I’ve learned so much about my hair and sometimes throw my hands up at the sky yelling, why didn’t I do this before?! When I first started embracing my hair a little over a year-and-a-half ago I jumped on bandwagons, tried products without researching and used methods and techniques on my hair that didn’t work. I thought that as naturals we all had to do the same thing!
That’s okay though, those days are gone. 2010 was good to my hair, even as I was trying to figure things out about it. The main things I’ve learned are:
– My hair needs to be cleansed with shampoo every 5-7 days, no matter the season. As long as I use moisturizing shampoos like Jessicurl’s Cleansing Cream or Curls Curlicious Cleansing Cream my hair does just fine.
– Since using more organic/”natural” products, my “naked” hair feels much silkier and smoother. I do use “drugstore” products like IC Fantasia gel but mostly sticking to organic products has made my hair “feel” better
– My hair isn’t much of a fan of castor oil. It loves coconut oil and jojoba oil.
– I cannot use shea butter by itself, it has to be mixed like Oyin’s Whipped Pudding.
– I don’t really *need* to DC after a henna treatment. I do anyway because it can’t hurt, but my hair doesn’t really dry out.
– Less is always best! All I really need to use is a leave-in conditioner, a styling product and seal with an oil no matter how I’m doing my hair. That’s it!
I’ve retained a lot of length just from the summer until now simply because I have realized these things about my hair. I don’t remember my hair (and scalp!) ever looking and feeling this strong and healthy.
Dang! I meant "In 2010 I learned.." Sorry! That's the senioritis in me coming out!
In 2011 I learned that my natural hair does NOT make my scalp itch. I haven't had dandruff since I BC'd in August & that was my BIGGEST problem while I had permed hair. Now I may scratch a little just to see if maybe I have some and I'm so glad to find that I don't. I KNOW my scalp loves me now, haha!
I also learned that my hair hates thick products and fares better with creamy or watery products. She loves oil but not too much, just about a quarter size amount for my entire head.
Although I love my satin pillowcase, I learned that I need to go ahead and buy a satin bonnet because my face is starting to break out from the products that sometimes come off on the pillowcase 🙁
Finally, I learned how to properly wash and apply product to my hair. I used to just roughly apply them to my hair and wonder why I had so much frizz, I now know that I have to be gentle and not so heavy handed as to not "frizz" up the curl as I go along lol!
I've learned that:
With proper care, I can have a head of hair like I've only ever dreamed of. Texture, curl pattern, everything is different.
There is no need for me to buy any products. I have everything I need right at home and I've never tried ANYTHING storebought that my hair likes more.
I've learned that with natural products for me, its all or nothing. Can't use gentle homemade soap based shampoo to remove cones, and a water spritz with natural oils cannot stand up to the damage inflicted by sulfates.
I've learned that the protein – moisture balance must be respected. I need to keep my hair soft AND strong at all times. The onus is on me to know what my hair needs when.
Technique is waaaaaaaayy more important than products. Handling your hair gently is vital, and you can learn to manipulate almost any products (except those that cause direct damage) to achieve the results you want. I've seen naturals with long healthy hair using a wide range of different products, even mineral oils, sulfates and cones. The common denominator was that they knew how to handle their hair and to make those products work for them!
Finally, where detangling is concerned, I have to have the right tools first (good comb, OR fingers in good shape – no raggedy nails snagging my hair) and then focus on being gentle, patient and thorough – those tangles are only going to get worse if I don't deal with them appropriately. Also, its far easier to prevent those tangles in the first place. Keeping my hair stretched and finger combing out any tangles I come across during the week will save me HOURS on wash day.
I recently ordered a sample of this from Jessicurl. It's very very gentle, and really doesn't produce much of a lather, even if I repeat the cleansing process. (So if you like lathering shampoos, this definitely isn't for you – however, I must admit, I only wash my hair every 3-4 days or so, so that may be why) It seems to clean my scalp fairly well, but I do have to use a bit more since I have pretty thick (and wavy) hair. It is runny and the consistency reminds me of egg white, not really a cream like the name implies, but overall it cleans and leaves my hair soft and moisturized. I even used it once without conditioner afterward and my hair was pretty easy to comb though, not typical for me. I love the Citrus Lavender scent and plan on reordering. I just wish is wasn't so pricey, but I am so particular about scents and love this one! Overall, a good, very gentle, sulfate free shampoo.
Jessicurl's Cleansing Cream – This is probably the best sulfate-free shampoo I have tried yet. I have hair that is highlighted, long and dry and this is nice and moisturizing. My scalp is also sensitive and this doesn't irritate it at all. I would buy again but Jessicurl is very hard to obtain in the UK now and very expensive when it is (the standard size of this cost £11.95).
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1. My hair needs protein..thought since i was natural i should focus on moisture..wrong! i experienced breakage. Now i deep condition once a week with a light protein conditioner (ors hair mayonnaise) breakage stopped!
2. Be really gentle with your hair. it helps, reduces damage that can be done with combs, brushes, even fingers.
Anon @ 2.00p
my hair feels waxy when i use oil. it almost feels drier when i use them, but i wouldn't say it feels hard or brittle either. and i don't use a lot either. it's weird and i wish my thick strands liked oil… like i said before, castor and Vatika oil seem to be the small exceptions, but i have to be careful about mixing up DTs and just throwing oils in. my hair will be mad.
oh, and for me, less manipulation has been key!
Great tips, thank you!
I have 3c/4a hair that is fine (I've got a big head full of hair, but very thin strands.) I've learned a heck of a lot this year, and I've got a long way to go…
1. shea butter is nice, but mostly when mixed with other oils, and too much is a GREASY DISASTER.
2. for a twistout to look full and voluminous on my fine hair, I MUST do the twists big. That means no more than 12 twists on my head. This yields juicy twists that unravel into cute ringlets.
3. coconut oil is great for softening & adding shine!
4. deep conditioning with any store bought conditioner is not always necessary, and sometimes futile. a hot oil treatment yields the same, if not better, results because coconut oil and olive oil are two of the only oils that actually penetrate the hair shaft… if im looking to restore intense moisture to my hair, a hot oil treatment is the way to go.
5. wearing a twistout nonstop at my length can be bad, esp in the winter wind! protective styling is definitely for me the way to healthier hair with healthier ends
& Jules above mentioned something about not twisting your hair up at night… Amen to that! 🙂
PLEASE PLEASE can someone explain to me how you know if your hair doesn't like oil. I have a feeling mine doesn't because the oils just make it turn into fuzzy-city but it doesn't make it hard or brittle or anything. Same thing with shea butter, and I think it makes my face break out! Please tell me how I can know for sure those of you who don't like oils. And I guess it I did the whole typing thing my hair is kinky curly 3c or 4a
I've learned that "real" wash and go's don't work for me as my hair has grown. They were great for my TWA. But not as cute on me as the hair grew. I like the look of the wash and go but I hate the shrinkage. So I mini-twist my hair and let it unravel over time giving me wonderful spriral curl definition as it gets older. To style my hair for the day I start with a spritz of water, leave in conditioner and a moisturizing lotion. It has a look of a well defined wash and go and I get to keep my length. I did my mini-twists the week before thanksgiving and here it is almost Christmas and the style just gets better. It's time for a shampoo but the style looks so great, I don't know if I'm ready for a wash and re-do yet. (Toot-Toot)
I've learned that no-sulfate shampoos (particularly the Curls Cleansing Cream) and weekly deep conditioning treatments (preferably overnight) with a monthly henna treatment (overnight) are giving me AMAZING hair. It's like I have a different head of hair. Unbelievable.
Lessons for 2010: I have Type 4c hair. It is thick but the strands are thin.
1. Eliminate combing and brushing all together for thicker hair and length retention.
2. Washing every 3 days is awesome for my hair and scalp. I mostly co-wash and shampoo once a month.
3. Weekly deep conditioning is NECESSARY! My hair improved so much once I started deep conditioning with heat.
4. For my hair, protective styling is a must. I am on a wig regimen. I keep my hair cornrowed at all times and re-do it every 4 weeks. I have the longest and healthiest hair that I've ever had in my adult life.
5. WATER on the inside and out. I'm not sure if I am imagining things but when I drink a lot of water, I feel like I don't have to moisturize my hair as often. Anyone else experience the same thing?
6. Became aware of the little things that had the potential to break my hair off. The combs and straps inside of wigs (I always cut them off), the elastic on satin bonnets which isn't covered in the same material (had to switch to all silk bonnet).
I've learned that less is more. The less products I use to style, the "lighter", fluffier, and bouncier my hair is.
I've also learned that I, too, have to mix shea butter with something like coconut oil — using it alone leaves a greasy film on my hair and leaves it stiff.
I have to shampoo my hair with a moisturizing shampoo once a week. I have dermatitis so just co-washing will leave me with an icky-feeling & flaky scalp.
I've learned that my hair thrives with wash and goes and a consistent regimen. My hair loves butters, and creamy conditioners. Twists are my friends, twistouts not so much, well not for too long, because my hair gets tangled.
I've learned that not every combination of water and product will create a desired base for styling in a specific way. My hair is pretty strong and resilient in harsh weather, but can get dry pretty quick if I don't style it or treat it with an oil based product. I've also learned that I can style my hair best with water and the right product (as I said before, not every combo of water and product works for me).
My hair loves me to co-wash with Deva Care One Conditioner, followed by a deep treatment by Joico along with Jojoba oil on my scalp, and finally wash n go with Komaza Curly Pudding or twisting/twist out with good ole shea butter.
– there is nothing wrong with wearing a wash and go instead of protective styles. i've exclusively worn wash and gos and have had more growth than my protective style counterparts.
– know there is a difference between having thick hair versus having thin strands.
– cones are okay, as long as i wash with shampoo.
– my hair doesn't care for oils. castor oil seems to be the exception, but in general water based products work best.
– drinking plenty of water is just as important as using plenty of water on the outside.
My 2010 Lessons:
1. Shampoo and condition in sections. I lose much less hair in the detangling process.
2. Keep an eye on your ends. I recently had to chop off some badly damaged ends that I had been ignoring, but what a difference it makes. It's so much easier to style!
3. Cowashing-only is not for you!
4. Give wash-n-gos a rest.
5. My hair is growing, I'm just not retaining the length. Focus on that and chuck all the supplements and wonder-oils!
6. You don't have a use for LIs now that you've quit W-n-Gs, so stop trying to persuade yourself to buy one b/c it smells delicious!
7. Deep conditioning is important.
That I don't need to touch my hair everyday, that finger combing works, that leaving it alone is ok. I have learned that I don't need to try every product known to man, that my hair is not like your hair it's unique. I love every kink and curl.
ITA with your shea butter comment-I applied shea butter alone and mixed with aloe vera for several months-only to realize it does not absorb into my hair and leaves it greasy. And what everyone says about cutting split ends-i just cut about 2 inches this past weekend and cannot believe how much thicker my fine,thin hair looks.
-If you deep condition with a great conditioner like (Organix Cocoa Butter, etc) – it is helpful to melt down natural shea butter and add to the mix.
-For TWA peeps – Not combing hair when you co-wash (daily or every other day) retains growth.. Just fingering thru is good. I only combed (while conditioning) my hair once a week & noticed the difference.
-Never got to sleep with hair in a puff.. Always twist it up.. Even if you are tired.. Twist it up! and slip on the satin cap.
-Stop looking at 3c (non kinky) hair and following their regimen. Be honest with yourself and follow bloggers who actually have a texture similar to yours. This will help you save money on products & time. 🙂
– There is so much information out there about natural hair. I follow about 20 blogs covering different topics within being natural. No excuse to feel you can't continue.. Youtube tutorials are the best and much appreciated.
– Natural oils are the BEST products for natural hair.. Nothing in this world is better than Shea, Coconut, Jojoba, Almond, Castor, Tea Tree, EVO0
– Vitamins are a MUST.. if you want to accelerate growth
– Drink lots and lots of water
– Protective Styles are great and help accelerate growth.