Illustration credits to Jonathan Mwanzia
I did not realize the huge obsession that there is to hair until I cut my hair and went natural. There are SOOO many groups, so many blogs, and so many terms especially among women with natural hair; that it’s almost insane. Let’s not even go to all the sorts of hair regimens and routines that are out there, and the numerous products that there are for women with natural hair.
It becomes even more unreal when you go to social media, and get slapped by the numerous uploads of women’s natural hair photos. You are literally forced to search the numerous styling options and hair regimens on various websites and YouTube channels, especially when you see the length and body that some of these bloggers and vloggers have. And I must say the sisterly discussions on other women’s hair journey is quite encouraging and adorable. And I cannot fail to appreciate how easy the journey is becoming for me because of the access to these tips and masses of information being posted. Now that I’m part of this movement or should I call it obsession, I can help a sister out and give some basic information that every newbie needs to understand on natural hair.
Did you know that natural hair textures actually have names? Yes, I was also shocked to find out that hair textures have names. So you can either have: type two, which is wavy hair, type 3 which is curly hair, and type 4 which is coily hair. Knowing which hair type you are, will help in choosing the most suitable styling needs or required special attention for your hair pattern. The way to determine your hair type is after it is washed and dried out without product.
For instance, mine is 4c type of hair which is coily and jiggly. It is hair composed of very densely packed strands, and most people say that it is the most challenging of the hair types. Additionally, it is extremely susceptible to hair breakage, damage and dryness. But because i understand my hair type, i know that i need to keep it moisturized well for the day; more than girls with other hair types actually have to.
illustration credits to http://www.blacknaps.com
Natural haired girls have various styling options. They include using flexi rods, wearing the afro, Bantu knots, the pony puff, the wash and go, twist outs and braid outs. The afro and the wash and go may be the simplest styling option, because all it needs is washing the hair, applying the hair product and combing out. The afro requires simply applying product, and combing the hair out. However what you need to do to achieve the twist out is to basically to apply your moisturizer, an oil, leave in conditioner, then twist the hair in sections. Allow the hair to completely dry, unravel the twists and fluff. The braid out is almost similar to the twist out, however the second last step for the braid out includes plaiting the hair in sections and undoing the braids when dry, rather than twisting the hair and unravelling the twists.
Depending on the length and texture, styling may be a tedious daily process. For this reason, you can opt to take a break by trying out other protective hairstyles such as: hair crocheting, or doing cornrows with your natural hair. Basically, you need to avoid hairstyles that will put a strain on your hair and hairline such as: braids, weaves and tight ponytails. If you have to do braids, protect your hairline by plaiting cornrows with your hair and finishing off with braid extensions then plait the rest of the hair as usual.
I have done a basic collage of styling options for girls with natural hair from some photos i found on the internet.
Must know basics for every girl with natural hair
Keeping your hair moisturized at all times is an integral part of your hair journey. This is because Natural hair needs lots of moisture to avoid breakage due to manipulation, and heat in the atmosphere. You do not need to feel pain while combing your hair out for whatever reason. If it is painful to manipulate, and if it feels hard it just means that it lacks moisture; therefore it is not fit for manipulation. Water is the best moisturizer for natural hair. Get a spritz bottle; mix in some essential / natural oils of preference. I normally mix in some coconut oil, olive oil, and glycerine in my bottle for everyday use. My hair keeps moisturized all day, and is a lot easier to untangle. The ratios shouldn’t worry you, but I make sure that my water to oil ratio is 1:1. Also make sure to invest in a good leave in conditioner for daily use, or on alternate days depending on your hair texture and length.
You need to switch to more hair friendly shampoos and conditioners. Avoid those with sulphates and alcohols that dry out hair, and make it brittle. In my opinion a weekly wash would suffice, especially for women with hectic schedules.
When it comes to oiling the hair avoid greasy oils. They clog the pores and weigh the hair down. Instead, invest in hair moisture butters such as Cantu shear butter or beautiful textures moisture butter. Alternatively use edible oils such as unrefined coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, glycerin or essential oils of choice.
Unlike common belief, hair treatments are also meant for natural textures. One option is to do a protein treatment at least once a month, with your house hold edibles. An example is a mixture of avocado, banana, an egg and unrefined oil. Blend them/ mix until it forms a smooth consistency and use as your treatment. You can also do deep conditioning treatments with essential oils. Select the essential oil of choice, such as unrefined coconut oil that is edible. Warm it and use as your treatment.
Drying the wet hair
Avoid the use of heat application on the hair. This includes: blow driers, tongs and hair dryers. You can dry out you natural hair in other interesting alternatives. These include twist outs, braid outs or just applying a leave in conditioner and letting it to dry on its own.
Have a diet rich in proteins. Also take in a sufficient amount of fruits and nuts. Basically, eat a balanced diet but also make sure you take plenty of water during the day. Some vitamin supplements such as biotin would also aid in healthy hair growth. At the end of the day, you actually are what you consume.
Protect your hair by tying it with a silk scarf, or sleeping on silk pillow case.
Where to get your hair done
The best part of keeping natural hair is that you can do your own hair at home. Just purchase the hair products that you prefer, and maintain a weekly hair appointment with yourself. If this option is not for you, you can look for a hairdresser who understands your hair goals as a textured haired girl, and commit to his or her hair appointments.
A special thank you to my illustrator Jonathan Mwanzia for the cool illustration.
All the best in your hair journey girls, cheers and have a lovely week ahead!