**Before I delve into this article, I want to let you know that I am not an expert. These are tips I learned throughout my years of being natural. These are things that worked for me. I just would like to share what helped my hair become healthier in hopes that maybe you could be inspired. Thank you, now onto the tips.
- MOISTURIZE. Moisture is muy importante. In our natural state, our hair requires moisture because it is naturally dry. Without moisture, my hair tends to break off and my ends become dead. I moisturize my hair by using the LOC method. I’ll go into more depth about it in another article but it stands for Liquid, Oil, Conditioner. I spritz my hair with water. I run a leave in conditioner or shea butter in my hair while detangling my hair with my fingers. I then seal in the moisture with an oil. I love using coconut oil but you can also use oils such as olive oil, jojoba oil, and castor oil.
- SHAMPOO LESS, CONDITION MORE. Why? Well as a natural, when you shampoo your hair too often you strip your hair of the necessary oils it needs. Washing with conditioner or “co-washing” should occur more often than shampooing simply because it keeps the moisture in your hair because you’re using conditioner in the place of shampoo. I’ll write another article about co-washing. I shampoo my hair 1-2 a month but I co-wash my hair 1-2 times a week. I like to think of it this way: For every bottle of shampoo, you should have 3 conditioners.
- PROTECTIVE STYLES. Protective styles are hairstyles that protect the ends of your hair. People often underestimate how important it is to protect your ends. When you constantly have your hair out, you expose it to harsh weather, brushing against your shoulders and back; that’s especially a problem during the winter when you’re wearing sweaters that your hair can get caught in, breaking your ends off. Protective styles help keep your ends safe, promoting growth. Examples of protective styles would be braids, buns, sew-ins, roll and tuck hairstyles, etc. Examples of non-protective hairstyles would be twist outs, braids out, flat twists out, etc.
- LOW-MANIPULATION. What I mean by low manipulation is that in order to keep your natural hair healthy, you have to be gentle with it. When you do hairstyles that put a strain on your edges and ends, that puts your hair at risk for breakage; styles such as tight cornrow braids that pull on your edges. Along with hairstyles that are gentle on your hair, is the fact that you should give your hair time to breathe. For example, going from straight hair to cornrows to sengalese twists to straight hair again would be an example of high-manipulation that puts your hair at risk. In between hairstyles, give your hair time (a couple of days to a week) to breathe and rest. Then proceed to do your next hairstyle.
- TRIM YOUR ENDS. When your ends are torn, tattered, they break off along with the rest of your hair which hinders hair growth. I know experts say to trim your hair once a month but my logic is this: if you’re constantly trimming your ends, when do you see the growth? I only trim my ends when I actually need to which is every 4-5 months and when I trim, I only trim the very ends, maybe an half an inch.
- DOWN WITH COTTON, UP WITH SATIN/SILK. It doesn’t matter what hairstyle you have, even if you have braids, you need to protect your hair while sleeping by wearing a silk/satin cap, scarf, or a satin pillow. Cotton pillow cases and sheets tear off your hair when sleeping. Also when you’re drying off your hair, use an old t-shirt instead of a towel. Just like cotton pillow cases, towels will tear at your hair. An old t-shirt will be a lot more gentle on your hair.
- LESS HEAT. I’m not about to become a natural hair Nazi but using heat too frequently can take a toll on your hair. You should keep flat ironing, blow-drying, hot-combing, things of that nature, to a minimum. Heat breaks off your hair especially when you don’t use a heat protectant. Try to find other methods of stretching and drying your hair. I’ll do an article about it if you’d like.
All in all, be gentle and loving with your hair. Treat her right and she’ll reward you with growth, shine, and great health all together. These steps helped my hair, hopefully they’ll help yours as well.