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Curly Nikki

Old School Practices You Should Consider Ditching

By January 27th, 202134 Comments

Old School Practices You Should Consider Ditching

by Tammy Goodson of Curlychics

1. Using “grease” to oil your scalp (Blue Magic, Ultrasheen, etc.)
This very old school practice was once considered a treat and darn near a religious experience to have someone “grease your scalp”. Most little girls spent Saturday afternoons between their mother’s legs with a jar in tow. It was supposed to treat dry scalp, add sheen and provide nourishment to the hair strands.
Reasons to Reconsider
• Clogs the pores
• Attracts dirt
• Weighs down tresses leaving a greasy feeling

2. Scratching dandruff

This old school practice often went hand in hand with old school practice #1. This is the act of going through the hair section by section with a comb and scratching the partings in the hair, thus lifting all the dandruff and dry flakes from the scalp.

Reasons to Reconsider
• Causes irritation to the scalp
• Causes damage to the hair at the root
It is also not recommended to scratch the scalp when shampooing or co washing. Gently massage the scalp without using fingernails is sufficient.

3. Brushing your hair 100 times per day
This practice was at one time considered the key to growth stimulation and blood circulation. What we know now is that nothing good can come from excessive brushing.

Reasons to Reconsider
• Causes split ends and breakage
• Causes permanent damage to the hair cuticle
Blood circulation can be achieved through scalp massages. In addition to aiding in stress reduction, scalp massages strengthen the hair shaft and follicle.

4. Referring to our coils as “good hair” or “bad hair”

Although this is very old school thinking, it is unfortunately still very much a part of our hair culture.

Reason to Reconsider
• Good hair is merely healthy hair and does not refer to curl pattern or hair type.

5. Teasing or backcombing

This old school practice played an essential part in achieving big hair. The act of holding the hair strand up with one hand while combing the hair down to the root with the other hand is the basic definition. It is still widely used when creating updos and big buns.

Reason to Reconsider
• While it does create volume, it can also cause massive tangling and stress on the hair strands leading to split ends.

Sharing hairstories and life experiences from a curl’s perspective. Find Tammy at her blog, Curlychics, on Twitter, and Facebook.

What old school practices have you ditched? Which ones are still in use? Why?


  • Unknown says:

    Stupidest article ever published. Each one to his own. My hair grows with my current greasy hair products that I put on my my scalp and hair. Geeez

  • missgigi123 says:

    Gina Smith: This is very good advice. I can't tell you how many times my mo had done the first two when me and my sisters were little! she would saturate our scalp and hair in blue magic! i hated it but she said it was needed. until we were old enough to do our hair we had hair grease in our hair! im glad i know now what not to do or use in my hair and when i have kids.

  • Anonymous says:

    If the black women from the old school like Madam C. J. Walker made hair products that contain petrolatum and that grew their hair long, why wouldn't it be applicable today? Black woman are too caught up with all these hair remedies and various hair products; when a simple method to growing and retaining hair length with just a jar of hair grease. Whatever your hair likes, go with it and stick to it!

  • Tomika says:

    @ Anonymous 12:36
    What is the name of the oil you get from Walmart? I never thought of applying oils to your shampoo…thanks for the tip.

  • Tomika says:

    I remember those days but I remember them as a traumatic experience every other day…it probably was a time of bonding but I was so tender headed I hated getting my hair combed and of course I had thick long hair that different family members loved to play in.
    I do have scalp issues dry and itchy and flakes after 8 days max…but I havent seen many articles addressing scalp issues. So I went hunting for a grease that had the good ingredients for my natural hair and thus far it has worked. I did think about trying oils but I don't know where to buy them.

  • Anonymous says:

    It just amazes me at how different we all are & what works for us! One Anon said that the old school greases did not grow our hair, and that is true!!! A lot of the girls I grew up w/struggled to grow hair, while I had more than I could handle & I could NEVER tolerate scalp greasing! It has always made my scalp cake up & itch something horrible! Any oils I use go in my products or on the hair, NOT MY SCALP! Heaven help me if I did. Olive oil treatments work wonders too. I have a great tea tree oil blend I get from Wal-mart for around $2 & adding that to my shampoos prevents any dandruff. Sometimes I add some mint also for a tingly treat. Another thing I haven't heard any1 discuss is making an herbal infused water/tea rinse (just b sure to let it cool!). Rosemary, mint, like herbs are great for scalp issues & rejuvenation. They could help any scalp issues if tried. I remember feeling so vendicated when Oprah's hair dresser said not to oil the scalp; The blocked pores keep u from naturally producing your own oil. Who knows? Do what works best for you! Good luck, my natural & curly sisters! :-)

  • danielle o. says:

    my grandma tells me that when my baby gets older I'm going to straighten her hair. and I always tell her no i'm not. she says her mom did it and because of her hair type it needs to be straightened and if i don't she will be teased. it's a different age now!more and more people are going natural and letting their little girls stay natural. we were born with this hair, we have to let everyone know we are proud of what God gave us. I don't care if other people want her hair straightened. i don't!it doesn't matter what other people think.Just because you're curls are less defined and look more kinky does not mean that you should get a relaxer or always straighten your hair.putting heat in your hair is not healthy and causes breakage.I always have white people tell me they wish they had hair like mine.our hair is versatile!!it is beautiful.i love it.we don't need to use the hot comb, and personally i think we never did.

  • Anonymous says:

    I used to love having my grandmother scratch my scalp with a rattail comb. When she would finish, there would be white flakes ALL OVER my shirt. I noticed, however, since I made the decision to transition and leave the "creamy crack" alone, I haven't had as much dandruff. I have to admit, it felt really good and would put me to sleep. I guess all "good" things must come to an end…..

  • Jeanna says:

    I've heard and done every practice mentioned over the years, while my hair was relaxed. Surely, some of us remember our moms raking (very harshly brushing and combing)through our hair "'cuz it's so nappy/rough/hard". I hesitate to let relatives do my daughter's hair because of that attitude. I confess that I still scratch my scalp, but not hard (lol). I love this article!

  • tonia b says:

    # 3 is hilarious and brought back a crazy childhood memory. My older cousin – who had less hair than I did, told me to brush my hair 100 times a day if I wanted it to grow longer. As a child, I focused on the "want it to grow longer" part and didn't think "how would she know this is true?!" So of course, I commenced to brushing my hair 100 times per day only to find my brush looked as if it had more hair than I did on my head!

  • tajainwe says:

    A practice that I remember, is my grandmother washing my hair with shampoo until it was "squeaky clean." She believed that when she rung the water out it should squeak in her hands, I guess not realizing that she had just washed all of the moisture out of my strands. She then would proceed to add the mouisture back by applying TCB hair grease and spraying on Sta-Sof-Fro.

  • Anonymous says:

    It was the old school time, you see black women with healthy thick long back natural hair.
    Nowadays you don't see that any more.
    stay put to what works for your hair.
    our hair don't want too much products.
    Natural products can dry out your hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    Because of all of the natural hair propaganda that is used to sale expensive "all natural" products, which do not work half the time! Personally, I feel one should use whatever works best for their hair, if grease works for you, use it!! I would not grease my scalp with it but, let's be honest grease works as and excellent sealant, as well as mineral oil! I'm about to unlike all these hair sites because I'm so tired of someone trying to tell me what's right and wrong for MY hair!

  • Erika says:

    I still grease my scalp. Back then Ma used castor, coconut or bergamot oil hair grease (Isoplus, Blue Magic etc)–today I use a mixture coconut, castor and bergamot oils to massage into my scalp. I simply hated the weight of the grease but I dare not abandon the practice of oiling my scalp. That said, I don't have dandruff.

    My hair care regime comes straight from my great-grandmother. Though brushing 100x's per day and teasing are new to me. I don't recall this ever being done to my hair, nor seeing anyone in my family practice it. Seriously, I thought only White women did that.

    As far as good and bad hair, well that goes without saying.

    I kind of expect metaphorical "scalp greasing". Truthfully, though I think natural hair sites are running out of interesting material. I think this would have been a better read if it also offered modern day healthy "remixes" of old traditions maybe then reading it would seem less like watching someone beat a dead horse. *shrugs*

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with all of them except #1. Any product that is being applied to the hair constantly that does not absorb into the scalp or that is not removed properly will clog pores, attract dirt & and weigh down the hair. Natural Shea butter is absorbed by the scalp, but the Africans and anyone who uses it regularly will tell you that after about 3 days of continual use you need to wash the hair because it will build up. There is no product that you can just continually use without having to wash your hair to remove residue or build up. What causes the pores to become clogged, attraction of dirt & weighed down tresses is poor hair

  • Anonymous says:

    Respectful & healthy debate is cool, that's what the comment field is for.These are things to "consider", not rules to live by.Read, take it in and keep it moving. No one is trying to "tell you what to do".

  • Unknown says:

    eh….I agree with #2-#5…but I'm not a licensed cosmetologist or a biologist. I don't have scalp issues, thank God…but I do seal with the "blue" grease.Mineral Oil PERSONALLY works for me. I have highly porous hair that needs help holding moisture, and blue holds it in. I wash once a week, shampoo wash to get it all out. I believe that #1 is a personal preference. When I x-out all the mineral oil products I struggled with dry hair beyond belief. It was when I was like "f-it" I'm going do what's go for me…did my hair come back to life. take advice and articles with a grain of salt. Do what's good for you!

  • Erika says:

    Lol! I agree with everything here! When you know better you do better. No sense in doing something just because you've always done it in the past : )

  • Lilac says:

    Oh wow! I remember when I used to sit between my mothers knees and she would comb my hair and put it in a ponytail lol, she'd have a comb, a brush, a cup of water and some blue magic coconut oil, and when she'd finish I used to think I was the flyest thing on the block, weren't those the days… every time my cousin would braid my hair she'd grease my scalp, and I never had a problem with #2, but unless someone else was greasing my scalp i'd never do it, and its been forever since someone else has done my hair lol

    also never had a problem with #4 or #5… but #3 wasn't just a white girl thing lemme tell you, when I was in middle school once I'd comb through the kinks and what not I'd just brush it back and forth, and back and forth every day, I was seriously ocd… not the best thing I've done, I don't do #1 or #3 anymore

    this is pretty sound advice, thanks for the tips =]

  • KalleyC says:

    I agree with everything here. But instead of grease, you can use oils on your child hair (like jojoba) and still have that bonding moment.

    About #3 I thought that was for people with naturally straight hair (white girls)…

  • Unknown says:

    Grease, which contains mineral oil MAY clog pores however SOME natural oils such as coconut oil are great for dry scalp and have high absorbancy.

    My So-Called Corporate Life

  • Anonymous says:

    It kills me when people claim that "grease is okay because my hair was long and healthy as a child." Grease does not grow hair. Where I was from most of us did NOT have hair down our backs and we were using the very same grease y'all were (Bergamot, Blue Magic, etc.). It's less about products than it is about hair care practices. In my case, it wouldn't have mattered what kind of grease was used…it was the fine-toothed comb that did my hair in! lol

    These days, when I wear styles that show scalp I do oil it (natural oils only!) just to keep it from looking ashy (because I have dry skin in general and that includes my scalp). Other than that I don't put anything extra on my scalp.

    Whenever there's a post like this of course people are going to disagree with some or all of it. Why people feel the need to chastise others for expressing their opinion, I honestly don't know…I haven't seen anything above me that's out of pocket. It's okay to disagree and still maintain "positive energy"!

  • J says:

    This article is very informative and lists only a few things that may not be considered healthy now we are all embracing our hair.I must say i did all five! lol The best thing to do is to replace the old with new otherwise you will just go back to doing it.Here's my five:

    1- Grease replaced for oil i use EVOO and it works wonders so that means i don't really have dandruff!
    2-As my scalp is more healthy there is LESS scratching/dandruff
    3-I don't brush my hair unless it is straightened and only a few times at that
    4-I correct people when they use the word good n bad and say healthy hair is good hair :)
    5-I have natural volume so i don't need to backcomb

    Lets not get our fangs out over this the spirit of the article is to help and not condemn people's hair practices.

  • Honey B. says:

    I think as much as we hear on this hair forums not to do this and that if its working for you why stop because someone said its bad. I actually don't do any of the above, I stop once I started my hair journey, however recently I started greasing my scalp again with grease, I got really bad dry itchy scalp that nothing could stop the itching except for some blue magic grease on my scalp and yes I tried everything from teatree oil, eucalptus to rosemary oil. As for clogging the pores part, I think its find as long as you wash your hair, focusing on your scalp with a good clarifying shampoo. If you think of it, when we were kids with hair down our back ( i was one of those kids) we shampooed every week or two eventhough we used grease. So our pores could not be clogged with grease.

  • Anonymous says:

    Calm down, relax, its not that serious.

  • Anonymous says:

    That's rather sily. Children's hair isn't in a constant growth cycle. You might want to take a biology class if you actually believe that. It isn't backed by basic science, just like the idea that hair grease "clogs the pores." I'm not sure who started that myth but as someone already said, if it works for you, don't let a stranger on the internet convince you otherwise.

  • Anonymous says:

    Our hair growth as a child is very different from adulthood. Of course we (most of us) had hair down our backs. We were smaller, hence the "long hair", we were in a constant growth spurt, we didn't have wild hormones that can affect our hair growth. We also did less to our hair. Just because mommy used Royal Crown on our hair when we were children, doesn't mean its good for us now.

  • honeybrown1976 says:

    Ah, I miss the bonding. While it was damaging to some, my hair was long, despite it all.

    But, I'm an adult now and left the past behind. Yet, I never did #3. I really only thought white girls did that.

  • He's Faithful says:

    Sitting on the floor between Mommy's knees with the smell of bergamot in the air was the place to be! There is something very special about that kind of bonding.

    I can't really argue with old school methods #1 and #2 because my hair was healthy and always down my back as a child. The products we used during that time were drying and the grease Moms laid down while I was watching Soul Train on Saturday mornings saved me a world of itching and flakes. It also extended the wear of a press since it wasn't dirty with flakes as often.

    It's a different day and I no longer have those issues but I can see why others might still choose to grease their scalp.

  • Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty says:

    Ahhh, all I can handle except the scratching the scalp. I can't help it. I get itchy scalp so I itch. I don't get dandruff though so who knows why it's itching.

  • MsDorsette says:

    1) Let's try to remember that this is a space of community and positive energy. We respect everyone's opinion, but let not throw salt- the world does that to us naturals enough already!

    2) Those things are objectively bad for our hair. And note, the lines "Reasons to Reconsider" instead of "Don't do this crap!"

  • Anonymous says:

    @ Anonymous 3:43

    How is calling our hair "good" or "bad" helpful? Also most if not all of those thing mentioned are absolutely not helpful for our hair. Some of them things are the reason so many black women are unable to retain length(if that's what they want). Also I'm pretty sure a dermatologist would advise against scratching and putting grease on your hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I hate posts like this. If something is working for you keep doing it. Please don't stop just because an "internet guru/expert" says don't do this or that. I know my body/hair better than a stranger on the internet.

  • Sophie says:

    good advice!
    This reminds me of the time I got my hair pressed and cut at a salon that caters to black women and it was awful! I thought that they would know what to do because their hair was like mine, and their clientele's hair is similar too. Ha, no. They would probably have relaxed my hair wonderfully, but they were really struggling with my natural hair. The scratching part is what reminded me of this trip, because my scalp was burning from the stylist digging her nails into my scalp as she washed it with harsh shampoo!! When I cringed she said I must be tender headed. Then she straightened it with a hot comb, blow dryer, AND flat iron then greased it until it was this greasy flat sheet. Never. Again. At this point, I feel confident enough in my knowledge of my hair to speak up if someone approaches my hair with three instruments of straightening but then, I thought that was what people did!

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