The Top 10 (Fixable) Things That Damage Natural Hair
By Jacqueline Samaroo
Natural hair care can often seem like rocket science!
You have to keep in mind:
- Your hair type and how best to cater to it.
- Ingredients to seek out in natural hair products.
- Natural hair product ingredients to avoid like the plague.
- A plethora of hairstyles that help or hinder your natural hair growth, depending on how you use them.
No wonder we often mess up and end up with hair that’s damaged and not living up to its full potential! There is good news, however.
Plenty of the things we do that damage our natural hair are totally fixable.
How we damage natural hair with the things we do:
Here are five things we quite often do without a second thought to the damage they cause to our hair. Don’t worry – we’ve included some suggestions of how to fix these actions!
1. Using products with harsh ingredients
Ammonia in many hair dyes and hydrogen peroxide in bleach are notorious for how they can damage natural hair. Also damaging is the overuse of sulfates and silicones found in many natural hair care products.
The fix: Check ingredient listings for “bad ingredients” in natural hair products and steer clear of them.
2. Shampooing too often
Along with removing dirt, shampoos also strip natural oils from your hair. Shampooing too often can leave your natural hair dry, brittle, and susceptible to breakage.
The fix: If you really feel the need to wash your hair often, go with dry shampoos or co-washing sometimes.
3. Excessive heat styling
A little heat is good for opening the cuticles of your strands and letting hydration in. Excessive heat, however, can seriously damage natural hair. High heat can cook wet hair (super fast!) from the inside out. It can also fry dirty, greasy hair to a crisp!
The fix: Air dry your hair when you can and use no-heat methods for stretching natural hair.
4. Over-manipulation of your strands
Brushing and combing too often can weaken the strands of natural hair. So, too, do the rough detangling sessions that tend to follow wearing your textured hair loose. Constantly brushing, smoothing, and gelling your edges can damage your delicate baby hairs, too.
The fix: Reduce how often you do the wash and go hairstyle and how often you wear your curls loose. And, work on keeping your edges full and healthy.
5. Often wearing too-tight styles
Tight braids, ponytails, and buns cause a lot of tension on your hair, especially at the hairline. Apart from being painful, they can lead to tiny bumps at your edges – a risk factor for hair loss.
The fix: Give your hair a break! Go with styles that don’t cause so much tension on your strands.
How we damage natural hair with the things we don’t do:
Now, let’s take a look at five ways in which our inaction (intentional or not) damages our natural hair. As before, we’ll follow up each one with a fix.
1. Neglecting hydrating and moisturizing your hair
Natural coily, wavy, and curly hair thrives on being properly hydrated and moisturized. But, it is difficult for sebum (natural scalp oils) to make its way along the strands of textured hair. It’s why so many natural haircare products focus on hydrating and moisturizing hair.
The fix: Practice regular conditioning of your natural hair. Use leave-in conditioners, deep conditioners, and hair oils to maintain your hair’s moisture balance.
2. Not washing your hair often enough
Dirt does NOT help your hair to grow! Dirt, grime and product buildup clog your pores and hinder hair growth. They also make your hair more difficult to style.
The fix: Make time for a regular wash day that includes weekly or biweekly deep conditioning.
3. Forgetting silk and satin work best
Cotton and similar materials can dry out your hair, making it more brittle and in danger of breaking. Their fibers can also snag your strands, leading to split ends and, yes, more breakage.
The fix: Treat your hair to the luxury of silk or satin. That goes for pillowcases, scarves, and headbands, as well as the inner linings of your hats and caps.
4. Not taking enough care of your ends
A lot of the damage to natural hair starts at the ends. A split end, for example, can travel up the hair shaft, weakening it and causing breakage.
- Get regular trims – every 6-8 weeks is usually recommended.
- Take extra care to oil the ends of your hair to seal them and keep them supple.
- Practice wearing natural hairstyles that safely tuck away your ends.
5. Not nourishing your hair inside and out
Your hair follicles and scalp need nutrients so your hair can grow healthy and strong. Nutrient deficiencies can slow hair growth, as well as cause breakage and hair loss.
The fix: Use products that contain natural oils, butters, and extracts that are rich in beneficial vitamins and antioxidants. Eat a balanced diet and consider taking a multivitamin for hair growth if you think you might have a deficiency.
Share with us! What do you do to prevent damage to your natural hair?