Friday, March 28, 2014

"How I Poo: My Wash Regimen & Other tips on maintaining healthy natural hair" - Part 1

I've been receiving a lot of compliments since my big chop and a lot of questions about how I get my hair to curl and stay curly.  So I thought I would share some information with all those who may be curious.  First I just want to say that I am not  an expert on natural hair care or any hair care for that matter.  The information being presented here is some information I've gathered from reading other natural hair care blogs/websites and watching youtube video tutorials.  I took what information I felt would be beneficial for my hair and incorporated it into my wash/hair care regimen.

Here are 13 tips on Growing & Maintaining Healthy Natural Hair:

1.) Stop using heat.  This means no more flat-iron, no more hot comb, & no more dominican blow-outs!  Most women with natural hair that wear it straight on a regular basis claim to have "trained" hair that stays straight throughout washing.  When in reality, that so-called "trained" hair is actually heat-damaged hair.  Repeatedly using heat on your natural hair and/or using heat that is too hot leads to scorched hair that loses it's curl pattern, becomes straight & stringy, and may eventually break off.  Below is a picture of my daughter's heat damaged hair.  The bottom almost looks as if it's permed.  This was caused by using heat on her hair less than 10 times in a 2-3 year period.  

Again, I'm no expert but I wouldn't recommend using heat on your hair more than 1-2 times a year.  "Banding" is an alternative to using heat to straighten or stretch your hair.  I haven't tried this method myself but there are several youtube tutorial videos available.

2.) Do not detangle dry hair.  Curly and Kinky hair textures are a lot more fragile than straighter textures and require gentler methods of detangling to prevent breakage.  Saturating your hair with water and conditioner softens the hair and provides slip that will make detangling a lot easier and safer for your hair.  This is why I only detangle on wash day.

3.) Sulfate-free shampoo or no-poo conditioner wash.  If you decide to use shampoo to wash your hair, try to stick with a sulfate-free shampoo.  Sulfates are harsh and strip hair of its natural oils.  Try co-washing (conditioner washing) instead of shampooing when possible.  You can choose to buy a co-wash or just use regular conditioner and massage it into the scalp to loosen dirt just as you would shampoo.  Currently I wash my hair weekly and I only use my sulfate-free shampoo 1-2 times a month; most times I just use my co-wash or conditioner.  When I do use shampoo, I dilute it (1 part shampoo & 2 parts water).  I put it in a dye applicator bottle and use the tip to apply the mixture directly to my scalp.  The main part you should focus on cleaning is your scalp.  Applying shampoo directly to your hair can dry it out.

***If you really want to go for an all-natural regimen, look for products that do not contain silicones as well.***

4.) Incorporate a pre-poo into your wash regimen.  Pre-poo is short for pre-shampoo and is basically giving your hair a treatment to strengthen it prior to shampooing or co-washing.  You can do a hot oil treatment using any oil of your choice (olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, etc.) or conditioner or an oil/conditioner mix.  Apply it to your hair, then place a shower cap or plastic bag on your hair and let it sit for 30 mins before washing/co-washing your hair.  For added benefit, sit under a hair dryer or wrap a towel around your shower cap/bag.  The heat will help the oil/conditioner soften hair and make detangling easier.

***If experience product build-up on your scalp or hair due to strictly co-washing for a long period of time, try using an apple cider vinegar rinse to clarify prior to your pre-poo.***

5.) Weekly deep conditioning treatments.  Currently, I use Shea Moisture Deep Conditioning Mask each week after washing/co-washing my hair but any regular conditioner can be used.

6.) Protein treatments.  The amount of protein our hair needs varies from person to person.  I use the Aphogee 2-Step Protein Treatment every other month.  Too much protein can lead to hard, brittle hair easily prone to breakage and over-moisturized hair can become too soft and lead to breakage.  There are tests that can be done to test your hair's moisture/protein balance as well as it's porosity and ph level.  There are many youtube videos available on how to perform these tests.  However, if you are just beginning your natural hair journey or transition, I would recommend you hold off on those things as it can become overwhelming.

7.) Satin scarfs, bonnets, & pillowcases.  Be sure to protect your hair at night with a satin or silk scarf, bonnet, or pillowcase.  Cotton will dry out your hair and cause friction that can lead to breakage. 

8.) Wash with warm water and do your final rinse with cold water.  Hot water strips hair of it's natural oils and leaves hair overly porous.

9.) Finger detangle prior to comb detangling and comb detangle prior to denman/paddle brush detangling.  Also when using a comb, make sure it's a wide-tooth comb and detangle gently from the ends to the roots.

10.) Use the pads/tips of your fingers instead of your nails to massage the dirt from your scalp when washing.  It can be very temping to scratch your scalp while shampooing but scratching can be damaging to your scalp.

11.) If you have medium to long natural or transitioning hair, it will benefit you to section hair prior to washing.  Working with smaller sections makes detangling easier.  During my transition, I sectioned my hair into 4 sections to wash it.

12.) Don't become a product junkie.  When trying out new products, try to stick with one or two new products at a time.  This will make it easier to observe if that product works for your hair.

13.) Keep hair well moisturized.  Water is the true source of moisture so if your hair feels dry, you'll want to be sure to add water or a water-based moisturizer (meaning water is the first ingredient listed).  Then you need to seal the water in with an oil, cream, or butter.  Many naturals choose to use the L.O.C. method to moisturize; I use the L.C.O. method which I'll discuss further in my wash regimen.

Stay tuned for my next post..."How I Poo: My Wash Regimen & Other tips on maintaining healthy natural hair" - Part 2

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