Caring for African natural hair can be daunting for some, but with the right tools and treatments it can be a breeze. I get asked a lot how I manage my hair, hence this post. In the future, I would be putting up posts as to why I decided to go natural, how I managed to transition from relaxed to natural, hair styles I have been able to achieve with my length, to mention a few. Stay up to date by clicking the follow button in order not to miss them.
Here goes a typical wash day routine….. It’s really a wash day (could take up your whole day, so make sure you’ve got a lot of spare time on the day you choose). Find below steps I take every wash day:
Step 1 – Prepoo: This simply means prepping your hair before you shampoo. At this point you want to detangle your hair after you’ve taken out your protective style. Always detangle your hair when it is damp, not dry or dripping wet to avoid breakage. There are loads of options for prepoo mixtures, but personally I use v05 conditioner + coconut or olive oil + water all mixed together in a spray bottle. Divide hair into sections (always work in sections from start to finish), spray mixture into one section, detangle with fingers or a wide tooth seamless comb and braid or twist that section. Do the same for all other sections. Once done, cover hair with a plastic cap and leave on for an hour. This step is highly beneficial to the health of your hair. It helps detangle hair with minimal breakage and also moisturizes your hair strands in preparation of the actual wash.
Step 2 – Shampoo: using lukewarm (not hot or cold) water, apply shampoo into the scalp on one section and give it a good lather. Using warm water helps open up hair follicles and allow products work better. Do not scratch scalp, rather use your finger tips (not finger nails) to massage scalp. Gently wash your strands afterwards, rinse off and braid or twist that section. Do the same for all other sections. Work the shampoo real good once, no need to wash a second time, you do not want to strip your hair of all that moisture and natural oil. Be sure to use only a sulphate free shampoo, always check the list of ingredients on bottle beforehand.
Step 3 – Tea rinse: skip this stage if you are not experiencing breakage. Brew some good old Lipton tea (black tea), 2 bags or more depending on the length of your hair. Allow to cool and pour into a spray bottle. After shampooing and rinsing, spray black tea on each section and allow tea to sit on hair for 10 – 30 minutes. Always move on to next step if you are doing a tea rinse. Tea rinses tend to make the hair stiff.
Step 4 – Deep conditioning: Generously apply deep conditioner to your hair. Concentrate on the tips as it is the oldest part of your hair and needs more nourishment and strengthening. Use a wide tooth comb to work it into each strand then braid or twist that section. Once done with all sections, cover hair with plastic cap and sit under a hooded dryer or heat cap. Follow instructions on the bottle for timing. Without heat, cover hair with a plastic cap then use a cotton t-shirt or towel over that. Do some activity to build body heat to help with the deep conditioning process.
Step 5 – Rinse off deep conditioner from each section with cold water. Cold water helps to close the hair follicles and lock in moisture.
Step 6 – LOC: LOC is an abbreviation for leave in conditioner, oil and cream. It is basically the order in which you apply products after rinsing off deep conditioner. It maximizes moisture retention and Afro hair thrives on moisture. Always use a water based leave in conditioner. Personally, I mix one part of water to two parts of leave in conditioner in a spray bottle and spray onto my hair and scalp. Next I apply oil to my strands and then seal strands with cream (shea butter).
Finally, protective styling: you may want to braid, twist, flat twist, cornrow, bun, etc your hair afterwards and let hair rest till next wash day. Remember to moisturize your hair everyday by simply mixing your leave in conditioner with water and favourite hair oil and spritzing your hair every day. Yes even on your protective style.
NB: Repeat wash every week or two weeks to avoid product build up. I cannot over emphasize, always work in sections to avoid ouch moments occurring repeatedly and having chunks of hair coming off your gorgeous head. Finally, always use a satin bonnet or silk scarf at bedtime.
Phewww, and it’s a wrap. It seems like a lot of work, but trust me….. you would love the outcome. There is so much more information I have skipped out on in this post, but this is just a guide to your discovering what works best for you and your hair type. You would find links to blogs that I have learnt a great deal from.
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