A healthier lifestyle will result in healthier hair in addition to washing with a gentle shampoo, deep treatments to strengthen and frequently moisturizing your hair using water based moisturizers or coconut oil, and styling hair without breakage.
So what are the steps you should take?
Gently massage your scalp with your fingertips using your favorite sulphate free shampoo or black soap. Do not pull on your hair since African Hair is prone to breakage. Washing should be done infrequently about once every week. You can also try a conditioning wash which is just as effective. A conditioning wash is really just diluting your conditioner with water to cleanse your hair. Most shampoos use harsh sulfates to get the hair clean. These types of shampoos actually strip the hair of its natural moisture and strength and can lead to more breakage. A rinse on the other days will remove sweat and salt. Avoid 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioners which are unsuitable for dry hair. Be sure to apply the shampoo to the scalp not the length of the hair. I sometimes part my hair in 8 sections, because I have very thick hair, then I wash it that way.
Sweat- If you engage in daily activities that cause you to sweat, it is recommended that you rinse your hair out with water and only use shampoo on occasion. If you feel the need to use a mild shampoo, go ahead and do so.
a. When washing your hair rub only in one direction to avoid tangling and part your hair in sections if you have very thick hair.
b. Be gentle since your strands are quite delicate and will break easily under too much pressure
c. Shower with warm water; hot water can dry and/or irritate the scalp.
d. Avoid piling your hair on top of your head. This will tangle your hair and make it difficult to detangle without you losing hair in the process
c. Massage- your scalp on a regular basis- This will stimulate oil production and help reduce the dryness of your hair.
d. Oil your scalp after shampooing. With your hair still moist, massage the oil into your scalp and brush out to the ends of your hair.
e. Blot- Don't rub your hair dry with a towel; instead blot the water out of your hair. Rubbing will cause your hair to tangle and you'll risk breakage.
HAIR CARE ROUTINE
Do this once in a while to remove any excess build up. Clarify with:
a. Baking Soda- A tablespoon of baking soda with 2 cups of warm water. Apply either directly to the hair or place the mixture in a spray bottle. Massage into hair, rinse well then apply a conditioner.
b. Brown Sugar- To exfoliate your scalp (fight itching) Combine 2 tbsp. conditioner with 1 tbsp. brown sugar.
c. Apple Cider Vinegar- Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid a substance that breaks down any build up on your hair and scalp, left after shampooing your hair. It balances your hair’s pH level to give you more shine and to bring out the color. Also its ability to kill bacteria is a plus and adds to the look and feel of th hair. Appy a tablespoon of vinegar to your hair after shampooing and allow to set for 5 minutes. Rinse with warm water and follow up with cold water to seal the hair. Then apply your favorite conditioner as you would normally.
This is very crucial for Black Hair and should be done on a regular basis. Here in Jamaica we are taught that getting our hair wet too often will weaken the hair and cause it to rot. This is simply not true and maybe why Black hair is so unattractive to most people because it is not well kept. Hair should be rinsed in the shower and a conditioner applied afterwards. It will moisturize your hair, give it extra protection, add shine, reduce static, and make it easier to detangle.
The best option is a leave in conditioner which is great for moisturizing the hair. A leave in conditioner on your hair is the equivalent of moisturizer on your face. While a shampoo cleans the hair the conditioner is what helps to make the hair healthy. Skipping this steps means that you are not restoring the moisture that was lost as a result of applying the shampoo. Apply a generous amount of conditioner from roots to ends. Concentrate on the last ¼ of the length since this is the oldest part of your hair. Avoid getting the conditioner on your scalp especially if you suffer from dandruff or dry scalp conditions.
Get rid of the excess water and then blot with an old tee shirt.
A deep conditioner or hot oil treatment should be applied once a week which will moisturize your scalp and hair.
Protein Treatments- These are used to replace protein lost during chemical treatments. Since hair is 88% protein, the protein in hair keeps hair strong and helps to prevent breakage. If protein that is lost is not replaced, the hair will become weak and eventually break. This will limit the length the hair can grow.
For an effective protein treatment, add a raw egg to your favorite conditioner and apply to wet hair after shampooing. Cover with a plastic cap and allow to sit for 30 to 60 minutes. Egg treatments are effective protein treatment for black hair and usually stops breakage immediately. A protein treatment should be used every other week (for chemically relaxed or damaged hair). If using an egg treatment, heat should not be applied. The treatment should be applied to the hair and covered with a plastic cap for 60 minutes. If using another type of protein product, it should be applied and covered with a plastic cap for 10-15 minutes. For healthy hair, a protein treatment should be used every other week, alternating with a moisture (conditioning) treatment.
Conditioning or Moisturizing Treatments- These are used to build hair strength and moisture.
Moisture treatments are used to keep hair soft and supple. They must be used when protein treatments are used to combat the dryness that can be caused by too much protein. For an effective moisture treatment, apply virgin coconut oil to wet hair and cover with a plastic cap. Sit under a hooded dryer for 10 to 15 minutes. If protein treatments are done without balancing it with moisture, the hair can become dry and break.
Moisture and Length
Keeping hair moisturized is key to growing black hair long. If black hair is not moisturized properly, it will become dry and eventually break. Water based moisturizers are capable of penetrating the hair. Coconut oil is the only oil that can penetrate the hair and moisturize it from the inside. Coconut oil also helps prevent protein losses and keep black hair strong.
You can also try applying your oil moisturizer after rinsing the moisture treatment to combat dryness. Use a light oil moisturizer following the application of a water based moisturizer to seal moisture in the shaft.
Light, Natural Oils
Unlike oils such as lanolin and mineral oil, lighter oils such as avocado, almond and olive do not clog pores and block hair follicles, which slow hair growth. Also, normally, your scalp produces enough oil to nourish and protect your hair. But in some cases, the scalp may need a little help, which light, natural oils can provide. If you apply these oils to your hair after a leave-in conditioner or moisturizer, they will seal in moisture even more to protect hair from dryness and breakage.
Use a wide toothed comb or pick to comb your hair. It makes it easier to comb if your hair is slightly moist so the comb can slide easier across your hair
If your hair is anything like mine you probably have trauma in this area. I have to detangle my hair every time I wash and I dear not try to do that when it is dry. Ensure that your hair is wet and has the conditioner in it; which will make it pliable. I plait my hair into 8 sections after de-tangling and wash out the conditioner with the plaits still there, so I don’t have the knots when I am ready to style. It’s a good idea to use a wide-tooth comb for combing natural hair textures but make sure the hair is wet. Otherwise, use your fingers for day to day styling and a comb to make the parts in the hair.
Don’t rub your wet hair instead gently pat your hair dry with a towel. Rubbing the hair will tangle the hair or cause breakage. Use a wide-toothed comb to work out any tangles, starting at the ends and gradually working your way up to the scalp to avoid tugging too hard on the tangles. It’s best to air-dry your hair, but if you blow-dry, keep the dryer moving and hold it at least six inches away from your hair. Also avoid alcohol based products which dry out your hair as well.
Avoid Heat if possible: Use dryers, flat irons and curling irons as little as possible because heat damages hair.
If you feel you need to relax your hair, please ensure that you chose a stylist who understands your hair type.
a. Using a brush to detangle your hair will stretch your hair and may cause your hair to break off so comb your hair out before brushing
b. Use a soft boar hair brush on your hair daily; this will distribut the oil at the root of your hair and scalp to the rest of your hair. Dampen the brush slightly before brushing.
a. Hair can get caught on cotton pillow cases and break when you are sleeping,especially if you toss and turn a lot when you sleep. Using a satin or silk pillowcase so that your hair will slide across the pillowcase without getting caught.
b. An lternative to the silk pillowcase is to wear a silk or satin scarf over your hair before your sleep to prevent breakage and friction. This helps your hair retain moisture.
Wear protective styles to minimize breakage and retain moisture, try wearing your hair in a protective style at least 3 days a week. Protective styles are those which do not expose the ends, such as buns and French twists.