Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How to handle Natural Afro Hair

Hey there, it's time for a new post again.

While thinking and reading and watching video's I've realized that one thing a lot of people with natural hair don't really know is what is the best way to handle and take care of natural hair to get the best results. With best results I mean healthy hair, with length as a bonus.
So I am gonna make a list of the things I've learned a long the way of my natural hair care journey.

For natural Type 4 hair moisture is the most important thing. Like I already explained a bit in my hair typing post, type 4 hair tends to be very dry and brittle and can break easily if not taken care of properly. Moisturizing  natural hair therefor is a must if you want your hair to grow healthy and long. How to moisturize? The best moisturizing agent is water; after moisturizing with water a sealant can be used to lock in the moisture you just got from the water. Sealants are mostly oils, lotions, butter etc etc.
And remember, just like our body needs water daily, so does our hair, so we have to moisturize our hair daily.

Don't manipulate dry hair
Last week I was talking to my mom about this. Back then and actually after my Big Chop too, I had the tendency to comb, detangle or brush my hair while dry. It was until I started with my research that I've realized that this is actually bad for my hair (actually I could see this too back then).
Your hair does not have to be soaking wet to comb it, just misting it a bit with a spray bottle is enough. After all detangling or combing wet/damp hair is way easier then while doing it on dry hair. You will realize that you will not have to pull that much on you hair and there for you will loose less hair.

Don't manipulate too much
Most of use have the tendency to manipulate our hair a lot while styling. I was one of those heavy manipulation ladies. I used to wear my hair in a pony tail a lot, and the tighter the pony tail the better. This is not good, choose styles for which you don't have to manipulate too much. Finger detangle is possible, make parts with your fingers if possible, if you wanna wear you hair in a pony tail, don't make a really tight pony tail, if you're braiding your hair, p.e cornrows, don't do them too tight, you might end up damaging your hair follicles and losing hair forever.
Another manipulation accessory you should try to avoid is a boar bristle brush (image below).
For me this was one of the hardest things to do. I was addicted to the boar bristle brush, since I always wanted to rock slick looks. But I realize now that I don't really need it, since I can do a lot with the palms of my hand. Of course there will be sometimes you'd want to use it, I understand that I still do sometimes, do it then preferably on damp/wet hair and hold to brush in a 45 degree angle to your hair so not too much of the brush will touch you hair. A brush with firm bristles with rounded ends is a good option.
And use with tooth combs or detangling brushes (like the Denman Brush, image below) to detangle your hair. 
Denman D41

Protective Styling
Protective styles are styles in which you protect your ends. Styles like braids, twists, bantu knots, tucked twists and on. 
Like said protective styles protect your ends. Most of the time it is due to split ends or broken ends why we cannot retain length to our hair. By using protective styling every now and then you protect your ends and therefore avoids them to break. Not only you protect your ends with protective styles, but you protect also you whole hair strand, which is good for like the colder months (if you live in a country that gets cold).

Don't overshampoo
I remember when I was little my mom used to wash my hair every 2 weeks. When growing up and hearing people say they wash their hair every week I used to think my mommy was kinda not hygienic, but now I realize that she was actually doing that good.
It is not good to wash your hair with shampoo every day or simply too much. Shampoo tends to strip our hair from their natural oils. And like said already, natural Afro hair is already kind of dry by itself. This is why it is not good to shampoo your hair on a too regular basis.
But I hear ya saying already, specially my sisters who work out a lot, that your hair tends to get messy. Ever heard of co-washing? Co-washing stands for Conditioner washing, which is a great alternative to shampooing your hair, when you feel you hair is getting a little messy. Instead of the shampoo you use a conditioner instead.
Now how often is good? I'm not sure, now I wash my hair with "shampoo" (at the moment I don't use shampoo, I use African Black Soap to wash my hair) every 8 days, but I wouldn't mind shampooing my hair every 2 weeks like my mother used to do when I was a little kid.

Avoid HEAT!
Heat, who have never applied heat to their hair? Well I did and a lot since I used to press my hair when I was tiny after that while relaxing I used to blow dry every now and then and use a flat iron. 
Heat, next to chemicals, is one of the worst enemies of your hair. So avoid heat as much as possible.
Now I know, one of the most beautiful things about natural hair is its versatility and maybe you want to rock a straight look every now and then and therefore as a alternative to the creamy crack, heat is the best option.
I am not saying you cannot use heat at all, but use it moderately and when you use it, make sure you use products to protect you hair from heat damage.

Trim when necessary
A lot of us are afraid of the scissors, but a trim every now and then is necessary for the overall health of your hair. Everybody should know for themselves when they will trim their hair, some do it every 3 months, some every 6, some do it when they see split ends, you decide as long as you trim it when it is necessary.

Choose the right products
My last post was about products already, so I will be brief on this. Choosing the right products is important. What the right products for your hair is should be determined by you, but there are some things that you should avoid in your hair.
Some chemicals you should avoid are for example, sulfate containing products, parabens, some types of alcohols, petroleum, mineral oils and there are some more. I will do my best to do a post on this, but since I want it to be a good post I will have to do some intense research first, but I'll do my best.
Choosing the right products for your hair can do a lot for your hair.

You are what you eat; take good care of your body
A lot of us do not realize that what we eat, what we drink and how we treat our bod is also essential for our hair (and nails). The body is a very complicate machine, it depends on all it's organs to function good and if one organ fails you will realize that sooner or later other organs will fail too. It is also so that if for example your body lacks vitamins and nutrients it will make sure that you vital organs will get most of the nutrients first and if something remains the rest will go to your skin, hair and nails. This is why it's important to eat healthy and live healthy 'cause if your insides are healthy your outsides will be healthy too.
So apart from eating healthy, sleeping enough and get enough body exercise is also important to grow healthy and long hair.

Treat you hair with love and give it time
My last but for not least point. Treat you hair with love, make time for your hair and most of all give you hair time to grow and grow strong. I mean none of us went from a baby to a grown up strong adult in just 2 days right? Why would you want your hair to grow in just a couple of weeks? So give it time and during that time treat it well, give it the attention needed and then soon you will see the difference.

So, I hope this post will help all of you out there to know how to treat your hair better. This knowledge has helped me a lot since I started my hair awareness journey. I will try my best to in my next post put some pictures of my hair journey since I went natural and if I can find some from before too.

Stay natural and stay true and remember; Nature got it right the first time...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What products to use on my hair?

Hi there everybody. It's been a while since my last post...Yeah I have been busy and didn't have much time to create a new blog post, but I'm back.
While I was still busy to post a new blog I wasn't too busy to keep taking good care of my hair.
Today I'll be posting about what I think is the biggest dilemma for everybody who has hair, not just the ones with natural kinky/curly hair, but also people with naturally fine hair, relaxed hair, waved hair and so on. This is the choice of products to use in your hair.
Since we all know there are gazillions of hair products out there, some are more famous then others, some more expensive and of course some work better then others. But how to know which one to choose?
Sadly I don;t really have the answer to this question, because choosing the right product for your hair is a case of trial and error. But what I will be doing in this post is write about which products I use and how I came to the idea of using these products.

My Old Products
Right after I decided to go naturally and I had my big chop I continued with some of the products I used to use when I still had my Jheri Curl or my relaxed hair.
When I used to have my Jheri Curl my staple brand was Sofn'free. I was especially hooked to the Curl Activator Lotion. After I had my big chop I continued using this product, because it moisturized my hair (at least I thought it did) and it kinda gave me curl definition on my hair.
Another staple brand I used to use, specially on my relaxed hair was Motions. I used relaxer from motions, shampoo, conditioner, leave in and moisturizing lotion. It kinda gave me the effect I wanted on my hair, so I continued using them after my big chop.
Another moisturizer I used to use was the Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion. It was a good moisturizer even though sometimes my hair would get too greasy from it.
I had more products I used every now and then but I won't be mentioning them.
The products I used to use were oke, they were not bad for my hair, but they were not that fantastic either.

Transition to all natural
Everything started with my desire to get my kinky 4A in a more curly way. I started looking on the internet, came across tutorials on YouTube and a whole new world of hair products opened up for me. I was hearing brand names I've never heard before and the most important things about most of these brands was that they were all or mostly natural products, composed of natural ingredients and without chemicals that might damage your hair.
I also discovered some all natural products my mother and grandmother actually used to use in our hair when we were young and after some research I realized how good these products actually are for our hair.
Some of these products are: Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Aloe Vera Juice. Besides these products I discovered the mighty Shea Butter, and this is a product I think I will never live without again.
So I threw all my old products away, in a matter of speaking, and started my journey of all natural hair care.
Next to these all natural ingredients I found some natural brands I started using too and for an animal lover like me it is a big relief that these brands do not test on animals. These brand are Eco Styler and  Shea Moisture.

So if I had to make a list of the hair products I am using now it will look like this:
1- Staring with the most important of all: H2O. I never realized how important water can be for my hair, actually I always thought too much water would cause hair breakage, not knowing that as long as it's used correctly, water is a daily necessity for our hair. I mean, your body needs water daily, doesn't it? So does your hair.
2- My main moisturizing product is my homemade Shea butter whipped cream, which is a mixture of shea butter as main ingredient, coconut oil, jojoba oil and an perfume oil ( since Shea butter can have a really penetrating smell). Next time I will be making more of this cream I will be adding olive oil and maybe almond oil to the mix. And I will write a blog on how I make this mixture, stay tuned.
3- Next to my homemade Shea butter mix I also use my Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie as a moisturizer. I use this one mostly when I want to do a wash and go and I love the result I get.
4- As from now on my staple gel will be my Eco Styler Olive Oil styling gel. I use this gel to define my curls on a was and go, to slick my edges when need it and every time I want some hold for a style I'm doing. The thing with gels is that you have to use a good sealant or moisturizing agent under it, otherwise your hair will feel crunchy after it dries. I found out that the combination Shea Moisture and the Eco Style Olive Oil gel, works perfectly; I get the definition I want and no crunchiness after it dries.
5- My (leave in) conditioner at the moment is the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner. I haven't really use it too much, so I can't really say what it does to my hair, but so far I like it.
6- One of the most drastic changes I made in my hair care routine is taking out shampoo and starting using African Black Soap to wash my hair. I've used it like 6 times so far and I love what it does to my hair. With other shampoos my hair would feel stripped and dry, but not with the African Black Soap.

This is in a nutshell what products I use on my hair and how I decided to start using only all natural products or mostly natural brands on my hair.
Like I said before, everybody should know for themselves what product is best for their hair. Choosing the right product is a matter of trial and error and the only way you will find out if a product works is by trying it, since everybody's hair is different.

In my following posts I will elaborate on every one of the natural products I mentioned in this post and put out their pro's and cons next to each other, so stay tuned.