Whether you’re a new natural or somewhere in between your hair journey, how to care for natural hair and maintain the health and growth of it has probably come to mind. Natural hair is beautiful in all of its shapes, textures, colors, and lengths. Taking good care of your tresses will lead you to even healthier, happier hair. Here are a few basic steps that should be at the foundation of caring for your natural hair:
1. Hydration is key
The use of water and a good moisturizer is imperative in how to care for natural hair. Like a flower, our hair needs water to thrive. It is recommended that you moisturize your hair at least once a day. This can be in the form of water, creams, oils, or other moisturizing agents.
Start by incorporating this into your night time routine. Separate your hair into sections, spritz with water, apply your moisturizer, and then twist each section. You will notice a tremendous change in the health of your natural hair as you make this habitual.
2. Know your hair
When it comes to “knowing” your hair, this means being mindful of how your natural hair may react to certain products/ingredients. Are your hair strands more coarse and densely packed together? Then you have high density hair, and you would want to try products that are more “thicker” – creams, butters. If you have hair strands that are a more fine texture and less densely packed together, or low density hair, then you would want to try “lighter” products – sprays, easy-slip conditioners. Porosity (ability to absorb moisture), hair type, or any hair damage you may have also play a role in choosing the right products for your natural hair.
3. Stop the heat & harsh chemicals
The primary meaning of going natural is stopping the use of chemicals. If you want to properly care for natural hair and have healthy, strong strands, this is where to start. If you’re like many other naturals who have never had a relaxer, and technically have always been “natural”, but used heat consistently, then eliminating or minimizing the use of heat is a necessity. Each time you apply heat to your hair, it is anywhere up to +300℉ applied to each strand, sometimes causing irreversible damage.
4. Deep condition routinely
If you were to ask any long-time natural what has helped the health of their hair the most, nearly every one would say deep conditioning. Deep conditioning replenishes the moisture lost from our natural hair by penetrating the hair shaft with proteins, natural extracts, and other moisturizing ingredients.
How often you should deep condition varies with each person due to our different hair attributes. However, in general you should deep condition with each wash day, or once a week. Using heat (hooded hair dryer, steam, shower cap) will help the conditioning treatment to be more effective, as it allows the formula to deeper absorb into your strands.
5. Be gentle
We have all been guilty of those times when its wash day, you’re tired, and just want to go to bed so you start speeding through your hair, unfortunately causing some breakage along the way. This can stunt length retention and cause even more breakage down the line. However, this is an easy fix. Finger detangling your hair first, and then combing will limit the amount of shed hair. Taking your time with how you care for natural hair and being gentle with it, will guarantee stronger, healthier strands.
6. Be aware of the ingredients in your products
We have all come across products with the “No Sulfates, No Parabens, No Mineral Oil” labels. There are certain ingredients such as these, that are typically viewed as “harmful” for natural hair. If you notice that a product with a particular type of consistency isn’t working for you, it may be the ingredients in the product.
However, there are some ingredients that are helpful and that you should look out for when choosing the right product. Oils such as jojoba oil and castor oil work well in restoring natural hair. Leave-in conditioners that are water–based are also helpful in retaining moisture.
7. Trim those ends
This is an iffy topic when it comes to natural hair. Some say trimming your hair is completely needless, while others recommend it should be done every few months. However generally you should trim the ends of your hair every 3-4 months, or when they are looking a bit dry and brittle. It gets rid of split ends, and surprisingly, helps to retain length. This is because trimming your hair is getting rid of the straggly ends and single strand knots that cause breakage and further splitting of the hair shaft. Your ends will also become and appear more fuller and improve manageability.