Because kinky, coily afro hair is prone to dryness and breakage, it's super important for us to keep it well-oiled and moisturized. Regularly sealing in moisture with oils is critical to any healthy natural hair regimen, and the benefits can be super-charged with weekly or bi-weekly hot oil treatments. But many naturalistas complain that they don't have time for hot oil treatments, which can last anywhere from half-an-hour to overnight. If you're short on time but still want to give your hair a boost, keep reading.
WHAT'S A HOT OIL TREATMENT?
Oils like coconut, castor, and jojoba are fantastic for locking moisture (water) into natural hair. They do this by repelling water molecules, thereby trapping them inside the hair shaft. When oil is heated, it helps the cuticles (scale-like coverings) along the hair shaft open up so the hair can better absorb the water and nutrients in the oils.
WHAT'S THE POINT?
As previously mentioned, hot oil treatments encourage our hair to absorb moisture and nutrients. If you use a light enough oil you might not have to rinse it out after, but one of the main advantages of doing the treatment is that it serves as an excellent pre-poo. A pre-poo is a treatment that's done before shampooing. Many shampoos contain ingredients that are very drying and strip the hair of too much oil, which can weaken the strands and lead to knotting and breakage. A pre-poo, such as a hot oil treatment, ensures enough oil remains in the hair and on the scalp to prevent dryness.
SO HOW DO YOU DO ONE?
There are many different ways you can do a hot oil treatment, but generally you want to use at least one carrier oil and, if you like, one or more essential oils. A carrier oil is necessary to dilute essential oils, which can be so potent they can burn you if used in high concentrations. For this reason, you only need to put a few drops of essential oil into a tablespoon of a carrier oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, etc.
Speaking of burns, be careful to not heat the oil too much. Ten to fifteen seconds in the microwave or 5-10 mins in a hot water bath should be enough. If it's too hot to touch with your fingers, wait for it to cool down. Spritz your hair with a moisturizer like water and/or aloe vera juice, then apply the hot oil treatment to your hair and scalp. Most people typically leave the treatment in for at least 20-30 mins, and some even wait until the next day to rinse it out.
WHAT IF YOU'RE SHORT ON TIME?
Waiting around for the oils to work their magic can be a deal-breaker for those of us on tight schedules. Here are a few ways you can speed up the process:
This may seem like a lot of steps, but with practice you'll likely be able to do the whole process in under ten minutes. Depending on how your hair is styled, you might even be able to get away with not taking your hair down before applying the treatment. Just make sure you focus on your scalp and your own hair, rather than any extension hair, and rinse it out properly to avoid product build-up.
How do you save time in your regimen? Share your tips in a comment below!
One of the best pieces of advice you will receive as a natural is: never do your hair in a rush. When we hurry through processes like detangling and washing, we risk damaging our hair by causing unnecessary tangles, snags, and breaks. However, we're all busy ladies and sometimes it's hard to set aside hours and hours to do a thorough job. That's why I've been researching the quickest ways of maintaining natural hair. Stretching your curls can be particularly time-consuming, but after some digging I've determined the following three techniques to be the most efficient.
What you'll need:
2. Twists + Bobby Pins
3. Roller Sets
What's your favorite method of stretching your hair? Share with us in a comment below!
MORE TIPS FOR YOUR NATURAL HAIR
Lemonade braids are still trending!
Five Ways to Grow Thicker Hair
Seven Dashing Ladies Who Are Taking Yarn Braids to the Next Level
Nothing is more aggravating than an itchy scalp. Whether it's caused by dehydration, allergies, or tight braiding it can be super embarrassing, and lasting solutions are often hard to come by. It's is an issue I've struggled with for years so I decided to put together this list of tips in case you're also looking to soothe an angry scalp.
It might be a few weeks before you start noticing results, but stay persistent and hopefully you'll get some relief. If nothing helps, though, definitely consider seeing a dermatologist.
Do you have a trick for soothing your scalp? Share in a comment below!
It's so easy to find a good hair dryer these days. A quick search on Amazon will result in thousands of matches, each boasting an array of attractive benefits. However, if you're specifically looking for hair dryers designed with curls and coils in mind, the hunt becomes a bit tricky. When shopping for a hair drier for your natural hair, you should consider the following:
Now that you know how to choose a proper blow dryer, here's a list of some of the best hair driers for natural hair (you're welcome!).
What's your favourite hairstyling tool? Share in a comment below!
If you've ever researched ways to grow long, healthy, and strong hair, you've probably come across advice suggesting you try a hair mask. In the past few years they've become an increasingly popular addition to hair care regimens for people with all hair types. Essentially, a hair mask is a blend of moisture-rich ingredients that is designed to deliver nutrients to your hair by penetrating the strands for a period of time.
There are a number of benefits to doing weekly(ish) hair masks. First, they're extremely easy to make. If you've got access to a fridge or a pantry, you can make a hair mask. Common ingredients include honey, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, mayonnaise, and banana. Here are some great DIY hair treatment recipes I've found. Hair masks are also quite simple to apply. Unlike other treatments that require professional expertise, hair masks can be made without non-toxic ingredients, which makes them much healthier and safer for you to try by yourself. Hair masks are also a great excuse to feel pampered! Many women in particular find the experience rather luxurious because it allows them time to soak in a warm bath or paint their nails while the mask sits. Lastly, but arguably most importantly, the results of hair masks can be seen pretty quickly. I personally have noticed that my hair feels softer right after rinsing out a hair mask. This means my hair is easier to detangle and comb after washing, which leads to fewer knots and split ends over time.
Regardless of whether or not your hair is damaged, hair masks are a great way to promote health and encourage growth. If you don't have the time or energy to mix your own hair mask you can find plenty of pre-made options in stores and online. In fact there are so many options out there the choice can be daunting, so I've done a little homework to give you a head start.
FOR HEALTHIER HAIR
Curl Therapy Softening Hair Mask by Carol's Daughter
Essential Shea Mask by Fekkai
Nourishing Mask by amika
DRY HAIR SOLUTIONS
Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner by Arvazallia
Deep Repair Mask by Macadamia Oil
Salon Grade Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner by Rio Cabello
OILY HAIR SOLUTIONS
Argan Oil Treatment by Agadir
Miracle Hair Mask by It's A 10
You Are Beautiful Fine Conditioning Mask by Ken Paves
FOR COLOUR-TREATED HAIR
Colorcaretherapie Color Bloom Masque by Matrix Biolage
Argan Oil 7 Moisture Healing Mask by Nelson j Beverly Hills
Do you have a favourite hair mask product or recipe? Share with us in a comment below!
I don't like to make generalizations, but I must say that Black women (and some Black men) really don't like to get their hair wet. Regardless of whether we're relaxed or natural, water simply doesn't play well with our kinks and coils. Even a humid day can wreak havoc on our painstakingly-achieved curl definition, not to mention the extreme shrinkage many of us experience if our hair gets completely drenched in the shower. When you consider how devastatingly quickly moisture can undo hours of hairstyling it's pretty easy to understand why people with afro-textured hair try to wash their hair as infrequently as possible. Of course there are other reasons we postpone wash day, including the fact that our scalps don't readily accumulate oil or dirt. We can't leave our hair unwashed forever, though. At some point we have to give in and get it wet... or do we?
Enter dry shampoo. Even though dry shampoo seems to have taken off in the last couple of years the concept has actually been around for centuries! According to Toni&Guy, Asians were applying clay powder to their tresses back in the 1400s. Dry shampoo has been commercially available for decades and has become popular as more people discover the convenience and styling advantages it provides. However, many of the people who love it so much tend to have type one or two hair (meaning their hair is quite straight). I Googled to see if I could find any curlier-haired people who have tried dry shampoo, and the results were interesting. While many ladies said they liked the product, I noticed four issues with the way it's supposed to be used and how it actually works.
PROBLEM #1: Dry Shampoo is Designed to Cause Dryness
The whole point of dry shampoo is to remove excess oil. This is a huge benefit for those whose hair gets oily quickly. However, the curlier your hair is the less likely it is to get oily, especially if your hair is long. This is because sebum, the nutrient-filled oil produced by your scalp, has a harder time sliding down the hair shaft. Applying dry shampoo to tresses that are already dried out will consequently strip them of what little protective oil they do have. I should mention there are dry shampoos that might work for people with dry hair, but I would only consider it if I had a tonne of product build-up and absolutely could not wash my hair.
PROBLEM #2: Dry Shampoo Must be Brushed or Blowdried Out
Because our hair is so dry, it's also quite brittle. It's a good idea to avoid manipulating it too often so it grows healthy and strong. Manipulation involves anything from braiding and brushing to twirling your hair out of boredom. Any kind of tension or friction exposes the hair shaft to the risk of breaking. That's why you should be careful about how often you change your hairstyles and the tools you use. The trouble with dry shampoo is that it can't just sit on top of your hair. It works best when evenly distributed by either brushing or blowdrying. Even if your hair has been straightened, brushing your hair too regularly or applying heat through a blowdryer can cause irreversible damage over time.
PROBLEM #3: Dry Shampoo Can Cause Itchiness
Your scalp might get agitated and itchy if you accidentally spray dry shampoo too close to your roots. Some people say their scalps get itchy if they apply excessive amounts of dry shampoo to their hair, too. One way to alleviate the itching is to massage your scalp with a light oil, but ironically, the best solution for a super agitated scalp is to actually wash it with water and conditioner!
PROBLEM #4: Dry Shampoo is Supposed to Add Volume and Hold
This is less of an issue and more of an undesired feature, in my honest opinion. My hair grows upwards and outwards instead of downwards because it's so kinky. You've probably noticed that your hair has a natural tendency to grow large if you also have type four curls. Unless you have very fine strands or you want even bigger, badder hair, you probably don't need a product to add more volume to your afro. Similarly, our hair texture is fabulous for holding styles without requiring much product. Whereas people with straight hair need cans and cans of hairspray and a million bobby pins to hold their hair up, ours pretty much stays put wherever we leave it. As such, I think the volume and hold dry shampoo provides are wasted benefits.
With all this in mind, dry shampoo doesn't seem ideal for afro-textured hair. I'm not a hair expert, though, and I'm not trying to refute any existing reviews of dry shampoo; if it works for you, great! I just wanted to write this post because there isn't a lot of information online about how dry shampoo truly works on kinkier hair and drier scalps. If you still really want to avoid washing your hair, check out my other post on how to keep your hair and scalp clean between washes.
Have you used dry shampoo before? Share your experience in a comment below!
I really do love me a good hot oil treatment. By coating my strands in rich, nutrient-packed liquid gold and letting the warm oils soak in, I'm ensuring my hair stays as strong and healthy as possible. I like to heat up a blend of coconut oil, grapeseed oil, castor oil, and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and sit with the mixture in my hair for thirty minutes to an hour. I rinse it out afterwards and either shampoo or co-wash.
That was my weekly routine until about two months ago when I got box braids. Knowing how messy hot oil treatments can be even on short hair, I asked one of my hairdressers what she thought about continuing the treatments with the extensions in. She stated, "I wouldn't recommend it." I figured this made sense because the oils would probably be wasted slipping down the length of the extensions rather than focusing on my hair. So when it came time for me to do my regular hot oil treatment, I skipped it and instead went straight to co-washing.
I did this for about two weeks, but then I noticed my scalp was starting to dry out. It was flaking without the boost of nutrients and moisture from the oils. Even regular spritzing couldn't alleviate the problem. Despite getting professional advice against doing a hot oil treatment I couldn't ignore what my body was telling me, so I gave it a shot. I did tweak some things, though. First, I used much less castor oil than usual. This is because castor oil is incredibly thick and I was worried it might be hard to wash out of the braids. To make up the difference, I added a little more grapeseed oil and EVOO; they're not as viscous. When applying the oils, I focused more on my scalp and first inch of hair. This allowed any excess oil to travel down to the ends of my natural hair without bogging down my braids.
Unsurprisingly, I noticed relief within a few days. My scalp retained more moisture after co-washing and soon the flakes were gone. I'm glad I figured out a way to continue my hot oil treatments while protective styling, otherwise I'd probably have to take down my box braids after only a couple of weeks!
How do you switch up your regimen when protective styling? Share in a comment below!
Growing up, I was always reluctant to get my hair wet. After all the time and effort my Mom spent hot combing my hair straight, there was no way I was going to undo it with a dip in the pool or a walk in the rain. On humid days I would cringe as I watched my curls popping back into shape right before my eyes. Don't get me wrong, I've never really minded having kinky hair, but it was always disappointing to see how quickly Mom's hard work could be reversed by water.
As I got older, however, I stopped caring as much. My natural hair didn't stay straight for very long anyway, so what was the big fuss if it got wet? Slowly I began to venture back out into the rain and swim whenever I darn well felt like it. Lo and behold, my hair began to flourish!
It's sad to think that the one thing curly hair needs most is the same thing we're taught to avoid: moisture. Back when I refrained from wetting my hair, I robbed it of the precious moisture that would have kept it even stronger and healthier. Now that I'm constantly spritzing it and sealing in the moisture with deeply penetrating oils, it's growing strong and I'm retaining length.
This is the very reason why I don't wear a shower cap anymore. When my hair is in a protective style, shrinkage is minimized because each strand is already braided or twisted up. In other words even if my hair gets soaking wet, the style won't necessarily be destroyed. So when I jump into the shower all I do is gather my braids/twists up in a bun and let the steam do its magic. Since the warm steam hydrates my natural hair, it saves me time from having to spritz. When I get out of the shower I can go straight to applying the oil to lock in that moisture. It's a win-win that has truly eliminated my need for a shower cap.
What's a natural hair care practice you've abandoned? Tell us why in a comment below!
If you live in the northern hemisphere, you may be noticing some changes in the weather. Here in Toronto the sun isn't shining as brightly, the days are a bit cooler, and the wind is definitely picking up. It's important to pay attention to these atmospheric changes because they have a great impact on your natural hair. As the temperature and humidity drop, you should focus on how your hair looks and feels. Here are the top three ways you can update your natural hair regimen for autumn:
What are your tricks for preparing your hair for cooler weather? Share in a comment below!
Hair balls may be unsightly, but taking a closer look at them can tell you a lot about the health of your natural hair. Is there a lot of hair caught in your comb? Is the hair dry? Taking note of these characteristics will help you figure out what your hair needs to be as healthy as possible.
First off, let's talk about why hair falls out in the first place. It typically boils down to either breakage or shedding. How can you tell which is which? Examine the ends of a single strand of hair. If you see a white bulb at one end, that hair has been shed. (The white bulb is from the hair root and came out of your scalp.) Shedding is a natural process that occurs in order to make room for new hair growth. You'll probably shed around one hundred hairs on any given day! If you think you're shedding significantly more than that, start by improving your diet. Drink lots of water, make sure you're eating enough protein, and exercise regularly. Hopefully that does the trick, but you might also want to visit your doctor to rule out other underlying reasons for the excessive shedding.
And now for the big bad B-word: breakage. The absence of a white bulb at the end of a hair indicates that the hair broke somewhere along the shaft. There are many reasons for which this might have happened, including:
These are the three things you can control to prevent breakage. By keeping manipulation to a minimum, you reduce the number of times your strands are subject to pulling and tugging forces, as well as friction. Since hair is composed of the protein keratin, it's also imperative that you eat enough protein. Even if you're a vegetarian, you can still stock up on nuts and greens that are packed with protein, such as almonds, cashews, broccoli, and spinach. Lastly, don't forget to moisturize your natural hair as needed. When it dries out it snaps like a twig, so keep those strands hydrated. Avoiding breakage will keep split ends at bay and ultimately allow you to grow longer, healthier, and stronger hair!
What's your secret to preventing breakage? Share it in a comment below!
Did you know our hair grows slightly faster in the summer than in the winter? But before you scrap oils and butters from your natural hair care regimen, realize that not all oils are created equal. Some oils are very light and they run like water. Others are so viscous you need to heat them up in order to pour them. If the temperature is hot where you live, be sure to opt for lighter oils. Some of the best options include:
Each of these oils will lock moisture into your hair without suffocating your scalp during the warmer months. As such, they are also less likely to cause product build-up.
What oil do you use on your natural hair during the summer? Let us know in a comment below!
Did you know that most of the damage your hair sustains is likely caused by UV radiation? Natural hair is pretty susceptible to the elements. Even under the best conditions it still requires a lot of TLC, and if you live in a sunny clime you must take extra precautions to avoid frizz, dryness, and even bleaching (unless you're striving for that look, in which case a hair coloring product might be a healthier option).
Ultraviolet radiation weakens the external part of the hair shaft, which is made of a protein called keratin. Keratin is sensitive to UVB rays and thus begins to degrade when overly exposed. You might notice your hair isn't as shiny anymore, and it may seem less elastic. Not only is this bad news for the structural integrity of each hair strand (hello split ends!), but the accompanying UVA rays can also strip the hair of melanin, which is responsible for giving hair its colour. The ultimate result is dry, brittle hair that looks fried.
Luckily this damage can be avoided. Here are a few tips to keep your hair safe while you have fun in the sun:
How do you keep your hair sun safe? Tell us about it in a comment below!