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 with me in a comment below!
The other day a friend of mine opened up to me about one of her fears. She explained that although her hair is healthy now, she heard it will likely get thinner when she's older. It turns out a lot of people have this concern. Female pattern hair loss isn't uncommon and can occur for many reasons, including natural causes like pregnancy and aging as I covered in a previous post. To some people this may seem like a frivolous thing to worry about, but the state of your hair can actually indicate a lot about your overall health. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to grow stronger hair while taking care of your general wellbeing.
1. Seal with Castor Oil - Many naturalistas swear by the effects of castor oil because of its ability to lock in moisture. Moisture is necessary for both softening hair and strengthening it against breakage. Because it's a thicker oil, it's easier to apply when slightly warmed up. Just make sure you use it only when your hair and scalp are damp in order to maximize its benefits. Castor oil is also known to treat skin problems like acne and dryness. Some people also use it for constipation and menstrual cramps. (HomeRemediesWeb.com)
2. Use Gentle Tools - One of the easiest ways to promote thicker hair is to prevent breakage while detangling and styling. Using your fingers and gentle tools like wide tooth combs and ouchless hair elastics will minimize the amount of tugging and snagging that each strand endures. The less stress your hair is under, the more it will flourish.
3. Practice Protective Styling - Another method of avoiding breakage is to keep your hair tucked away in long-term styles, such as braids, cornrows, and twists. These hairstyles greatly reduce the amount of manipulation your hair undergoes by allowing you to rock the same look for several days or even weeks at a time. Not having to fix your hair each day gives your scalp and strands a much-needed rest, thereby encouraging growth.
4. Get Your Fluids - We're all aware of how crucial it is for mental and physical health to stay hydrated, but did you know drinking water is an easy way to maintain healthy skin and hair? That's because the cells in the hair follicles at your roots require water to function properly. Water also staves off dandruff, itchiness, and other scalp-related issues by keeping the skin moisturized. While you may think it's enough to regularly spritz your hair with a water-based solution, it doesn't hurt to moisturize from the inside out, too, by drinking fluids and eating juicy fruits and vegetables.
5. Eat a Balanced, Protein-Rich Diet - Hair is made of keratin, which is a form of protein. Your body needs to take in protein regularly to grow new hair, and contrary to popular belief, meat isn't your only option. Broccoli, asparagus, kale, almonds and soybeans are all high in protein. (MindBodyGreen.com) You can also opt for fortified foods like soy milk and yogurt that have added protein, or try protein bars or supplements.
How do you keep your hair healthy? Share with me in a comment below!
With all the new regimens, month-long challenges, and novel products constantly being released, we naturalistas are able to enjoy a wealth of hair care knowledge that has never existed before. A few years ago it was impossible to find information online about how to do your own box braids. Now, I can't even count how many braiding tutorial videos are on YouTube. Better access to information about natural hair care has obvious benefits: it allows us to celebrate our natural beauty and indulge in self-love while rocking amazing hairstyles! However, sometimes it can be overwhelming to sift through all the advice －especially when some of it seems contradictory.
Take, for example, the issue of detangling natural hair. For the longest time the afro pick was the universal tool for getting tangles and knots out of kinky/coily hair. In fact I remember my Mom using an afro pick for all sorts of purposes. After detangling, she would use it to create parts, and while she was styling, she would even use it as a clip to keep stray hairs out of her way. Despite the incredible usefulness of the afro pick, it (and other similar combs) face growing competition from another school of thought: the finger detangling method.
Finger detangling is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of passing through your strands with a comb to remove knots and tangles, you instead create small sections of hair and gently pull each apart until, theoretically, every strand has been separated from its neighbours. If done properly the results of combing and finger detangling are pretty much the same, but not everyone agrees that these two methods are perfect substitutes.
As you can see, it's a bit of a tossup between the two. It's up to you to know what your curls need and to decide which option is best to maintain healthy, happy hair. Of course no one is forcing you to pick one, either. Many naturalistas (including me!) alternate methods depending on the circumstances. Regardless of what you choose you'll need the right tools to get started.
TOP DETANGLING COMBS
TOP DETANGLING PRODUCTS
Do you prefer to comb or finger detangle your hair? Why? Share with me in a comment below!
MORE TIPS FOR YOUR NATURAL HAIR
How to Keep Your Scalp Squeaky Clean Between Washes
How to Find the Best Blow Dryer for Curly Hair
Do You Need a Hair Mask?
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 with me 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 me 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 with me in a comment below!
Dude, I've had it up to here trying to find time for someone to do my hair. In a previous post I mentioned that I would give myself a break from extensions, but with midterms starting at school and summer around the corner I think it's time for more long-term styling. But every time I look at my schedule I'm overcome with the desire to magically warp the calendar so that Monday morning can be adjacent to Wednesday night and then maybe, just maybe, I'll have enough free hours to have a protective style installed. I know there are stylists who generously offer to return the next day to finish the job, but I've never taken anyone up on that because it seems so cruel! So after agonizing over my schedule, I recently found myself at the local beauty supply store. I was originally hunting for grapeseed oil, but ended up walking out with several packs of Kanekalon hair instead (I know it's the cheap stuff, but I'm a beginner so cut me some slack!). That's right. Then and there, I decided I was going to take matters into my own hands and do my own darn hair.
When I got home I immediately Googled "fast, easy protective style tutorial" and variations thereof. Bless the naturals on YouTube for there was no shortage of helpful videos. After skimming through a few I figured box braids would be the easiest (my twists always unravel prematurely) and resolved to spend the next few hours putting them in. I was armed with conviction, the right tools, and a good window of time in which I could feasibly finish half my head, but even this amount of diligence could not prepare me for the lessons I was about to learn.
1. THE STYLE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR PARTS - Even though I have a metal rat-tail comb, I still suck at parting. Maybe it's because my hair is short, or maybe it's just that I need more practice. Whatever the reason, I must get better because my ridiculous parting job caused my box braids to look unkempt and haphazard.
2. KNOW HOW MUCH HAIR YOU NEED - This goes hand-in-hand with the quality of your parting. If you use too much hair for each section you'll put too much strain on your follicles, which could cause hair loss. On the other hand using too little hair (as I did because I was scared of running out) will make it tricky to blend your natural hair in with the extension hair.
3. THERE'S ALWAYS AN ALTERNATIVE - When I first started I tried to mimic everything I'd seen my hairstylists do, from fluffing out and sectioning strands of extension hair to applying oil on my scalp as I went along. All these tricks proved invaluable for the most part, but YouTube quickly showed me that there are several different approaches and none is necessarily right or wrong. This was welcome news, as I was growing increasingly frustrated with one method of starting a braid that seemed physically impossible for me to achieve. The technique I eventually settled on was far simpler and more intuitive than the first, yet garnered the same results.
4. DETANGLED AND MOISTURIZED HAIR BEHAVES BEST - I'm not a newb. The day before commencing this entire endeavour, I luxuriated in a hot oil treatment, cleansed thoroughly with shampoo and conditioner, t-shirt dried, detangled, and spritzed with a mix of aloe vera juice and oils. In other words, my hair was in prime condition to be styled... but this wasn't enough! As I broke each section into smaller and smaller sections, it became clear that more detangling and moisturizing needed to be done. A good chunk of my first braids were a hot mess. Giant puffs of hair poked out every which way as if the style was pushing six weeks. Unfortunately it wasn't until I reached my ears that I remembered the sight of my beloved hairstylist in Edmonton, Loius, running a fine-toothed comb over each tiny section of hair before wrapping the synthetic hair around it. Before that she would moisturize my hair with some sort of oil, which I now realize is what kept my ends from popping out like a ghost in the night.
5. TIME IS MONEY - The last thing I learned is that the longer you spend doing your hair, the more it would've made more sense to just have it professionally styled. I spent a few hours over the span of three days installing my braids, and admittedly they look terrible. If you're trying to save money by doing your own hair and you haven't got much experience, trust me, you're far better off paying someone who knows how to glam you up. That being said, I don't mind walking around for the next couple of weeks with this semi-disaster on my head because A) my hair actually is being protected, and B) I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish. Even though it feels like I spent 3.22 decades on it, I'm already looking forward to my next go-around so I can apply everything I learned.
Have you ever tried putting in your own extensions? Tell me how it went in a comment below!
About a month ago I attended a natural hair event hosted by the Caribbean Students Association and African Student Association. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was a fabulous opportunity to meet other naturals and hear their thoughts, experiences, and opinions. It was also my chance to get my hands on a bottle of conditioner by London Ivy Products, which, much to my delight, was on discount just for the event!
FIRST IMPRESSIONS - The very first thing that caught my eye about this product is its ingredients list. This bottle is packed with some amazing ingredients I'd never even considered for hair care, such as broccoli seed oil for smoother, thicker hair, and camellia oil for nourishment. Because of these fantastic ingredients the company suggests the conditioner be used for co-washing so you can skip your shampoo entirely if you wish.
WHILE CLEANSING - It smells great! The conditioner lathers well and is neither watered-down nor too heavy when applied to wet hair. It delivers just the right amount of slip to facilitate detangling, too. I was pleasantly surprised to notice a gentle tingling sensation on my scalp, which I believe is thanks to the peppermint oil. I've read that peppermint oil is fantastic at stimulating hair growth by encouraging blood flow to the scalp, so this is definitely a welcome bonus!
AFTER CLEANSING - The product rinses out very easily and leaves my hair feeling soft and nourished. I've been having a hard time finding all-natural products that don't turn my hair to straw, so I'll definitely be keeping this conditioner around!
FINAL THOUGHTS - I feel good supporting this business because not only does it use natural and organic ingredients, but its products are locally manufactured too. Moreover, London Ivy Products is Black-owned and donates a portion of its proceeds to charity. Everybody wins!
Please note that I wasn't compensated in any way to write this product review.
What's your favourite conditioner? Share in a comment below!
Like a fine evening gown, kinky hair neither requires nor can handle frequent washing. Most naturalistas recommend cleansing no more than once a week, and some go as long as four weeks between washes! Personally, I need to at least co-wash my hair every seven days otherwise the itching drives me bonkers. It must be a combination of product slowly building up coupled with the gradual drying of my scalp, because by the end of the week all I can do is fantasize about what new oil mixture I'll use in my deep conditioning treatment. But what if there was a way to extend time between washes?
I've been researching ingredients to figure out what can combat the effects of product build-up and dryness, and it turns out there are quite a few. The best part is they're all natural, so you don't have to feel bad using them as often as you like - or even eating them if you dare! So without further ado, here are the top six scalp refreshing ingredients that you can add to your spritzes, deep conditioners, and salads.
I should mention that an oily scalp can still be considered clean. That's because your scalp needs a certain level of moisture in order to be healthy and facilitate hair growth. A clean scalp has just the right amount of nutrients to encourage growth without being so oily or full of product build-up that it starts to get itchy or flaky.
How do you keep your scalp clean between washes? Share your tips in a comment below!
My hair was inexplicably lush when I was a child. Each individual strand was imposing in its thickness, and they were all so densely packed together that my hot-combed afro was nothing if not newsworthy. Unfortunately, that's not the case today. While it's still a total jungle at the crown, my nape looks like it's been weed-whacked and my temples are in even worse shape. It's taken me a while to piece together what has changed in my life to transform my hair so drastically. I didn't pick up any bad habits in adolescence or adulthood, so I can't point to the usual lifestyle red flags as potential indications. So if it wasn't binge drinking or harsh narcotics that messed up my mane, what was the problem?
In a previous post I discovered that one of my fatal mistakes was over-manipulating my hair. Towards the end of the year 2013 I ignorantly and daily combed my hair without respecting the laws of moisture retention. Although this hair loss was relatively recent, it shed some light on what might've been at least a couple of ongoing issues. Fortunately the hair faithfully grew back just in time for my partner's brother's wedding and I was able to have gorgeous Marley twists installed for the big event.
I was super pumped to check out how much my hair had grown after taking down the twists a few weeks later, but to my horror it seemed to have stayed the exact same length! #BreakageAlert. I had been moisturizing it religiously and obviously there was zero manipulation going on, but alas, something more sinister was afoot.
In despair, I thought back to how I had cared for my hair while it was in extensions over the past decade (which was pretty much 99% of the time) and made the following realizations:
With all this in mind, the answer to my hair loss woes was suddenly apparent. My hair was at its healthiest during my childhood because that was the only time I absolutely never wore extensions! Without all these potential issues to worry about, it was able to flourish with relatively little care. It hadn't had a break like that since the days when I collected Pokemon cards. Don't get me wrong; I still think protective styling with synthetic hair extensions is perfectly fine. In fact, I've heard many people say their hair grows best when it's in extensions! But to be honest my hair is thriving now, and so instead of relying on extensions (as I have for the majority of my life) I'm going to start celebrating and nurturing my own natural hair.
Have hair extensions been more helpful or harmful in your experience? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
I took my flat twists down last night. Although I followed the exact same routine as always, my hair was not very cooperative this time. It didn't feel very clean despite thorough shampooing, and after it dried it had the texture of straw. Perplexed, I decided to rehydrate my hair before sectioning it in two-strand twists for the night... And that's when I saw the dandruff.
Flakes and fluffs stubbornly clumped amongst the roots of each strand, blanketing every square centimetre from my hairline to my crown! (I apologize for the graphic description, but trust me, it was worse in real life.) With the winter air growing drier and colder, it's no surprise that my scalp was less moisturized than usual, but what I witnessed last night was beyond reason. It'd only been a week since I co-washed and I was spritzing daily, so why the sudden explosion of dead skin cells?
As I thought more about it, a few things dawned on me. Lately I've been wearing lots of toques and beanies that sit halfway past my forehead - y'know, the way the cool kids do it. With that much of my scalp exposed to the wind, it's no wonder all the dandruff accumulated there. Another thing I realized was that my flat twists had been thickest in the bang area. Of course the water-aloe vera mix would've had great trouble reaching my scalp when I spritzed over the thicker twists!
Based on this intensive detective work, I've come up with a strategy to solve my problem. Next time I'll make smaller twists so that it's easier to spritz my scalp. I'm also going to start oiling my scalp in between each section of hair. My Mom used to do this for me all the time. It felt amazing, and now I realize it had practical benefit too. I'll try coconut oil to begin with and upgrade to castor oil if it doesn't last long enough. Lastly, I'm going to avoid exposing my bangs and go back to wrapping all my hair in a silk scarf underneath my toques until the weather warms up. Then I'll go back to being a cool kid.
Have you ever had trouble with dandruff? Tell me how you fixed it in a comment below!
Chapping and windburn and frostbite - oh my! If these are the effects winter can have on your skin, imagine what it's doing to your hair. Fortunately there are easy ways to avoid incurring any serious damage, and the first step is knowing what the causes are. In my experience, natural hair has had to fight against three enemies in particular:
1. DRYNESS - I've got a relatively thirsty head of hair. Daily spritzing has done it wonders, even with high humidity during the summer. If your 'fro shares the same personality, then moisturizing in winter is especially crucial. Denying it the hydration it needs leaves it more susceptible to splitting and breakage. This is because moisture boosts the strength and elasticity of each hair strand. Dry hair is especially vulnerable to the next two enemies, so don't skimp on the deep conditioning!
2. COLD TEMPERATURES - While the lower temperatures in and of themselves probably don't hurt my hair, I have noticed that many of the products I use function differently in cold weather. The best example I can think of is liquid coconut oil. It melts gloriously into my locks if I apply it while it's warm. However, if I don't stay indoors long enough for the oil to properly moisturize my hair, it slowly begins to solidify and become more like a gel! I sidestep this by making sure I only use coconut oil at night in the winter so that by the time I awaken, pretty much all of it has been gobbled up by my hair. Some of the products you use may also be temperature-sensitive, so it's important to tweak how you use them in the winter in order to continue achieving optimal results.
3. FRICTION - I'm wearing a toque as I write this blog post knowing full well that it could be breaking my hair. This is because wool, cotton, and other fibres that make hats and earmuffs warm are also notorious for tugging at kinky hair. The friction these cozy accessories cause by rubbing against our strands dries out and weakens our hair. If you like chunky cable knit scarves like I do, be sure to protect the hairs at the nape of your neck by hiding them away in braids or twists. Right now I'm wearing my hair in flat twists and I've got them wrapped up in a silk scarf underneath my toque - just to be safe!
What's your winter hair care trick? Share in a comment below!
Did you remember to turn off the stove? Lock the door? Feed the hamster? Life throws a lot at us to remember, and sometimes it's a little overwhelming to keep track of it all. As I learn more about keeping my hair healthy, it seems like the list of products, methods, and tricks only continues to grow. Despite keeping my routine as low-maintenance as is socially acceptable, there are three things I often forget to do to take care of my hair.
1. Drink Water - I'll give you a second to grab a glass of water before you continuing reading.... Alright, now that you've got some hydration let's talk about how immensely important it is. You've no doubt heard over and over that roughly 70% of the human body is made up of water and that it constantly needs to be replaced due to bodily functions such as sweating and urination. Of course your internal organs take priority, but did you know that some of the water you drink actually makes it all the way up to your scalp? That's right. And when it gets there, it works hard to combat dryness and keep your strands from growing brittle. The body sure is a wonder.
2. Seal in Moisture with Oil - So let's say you're drinking your eight glasses of water a day. What use is all that hydration if you let it evaporate? The same holds true for spritzing your hair or washing it with conditioner. They key to locking in moisture is applying an oil or butter afterwards. Here's an awesome video that scientifically explains why this works.
3. Trim as Needed - When's the last time you trimmed your hair? If you have no idea, you should probably get on that. Regular trimming prevents split ends from traveling up the hair shaft so each strand remains strong and length isn't compromised. Your ends are the oldest and most delicate part of your hair, so the longer you go between trims the more likely your ends will start to suffer. This is when you'll start noticing dryness, frizz, and other unsightly issues. This is a great guide you can use to properly trim your hair.
Many people mistakenly believe that all oils are created equal. Because the vast majority of them are plant-derived and do an excellent job of sealing in moisture, it's commonly thought that any one oil can be substituted for another. However, each oil has properties that make it unique. Characteristics such as the viscosity and ability to penetrate the hair shaft can determine whether or not an oil is right for you. It's getting colder outside, and the weather can also have a big impact on the effectiveness of certain oils in your hair. Keeping that in mind, here are the top oils to use for your natural hair this winter.
What is your favourite oil to use when the temperature drops? Tell me in a comment below!
As a hippie and a rebel, I'm a huge fan of DIYs and homemade products. Below is a formula that will assist in the post-wash detangling process and to keep my hair moisturized and temptingly soft long after it dries.
If you have oilier hair, skip the jojoba and olive oil. That way you'll get the moisture without weighing down your strands or overwhelming your scalp.
THE FUN PART
If your coconut oil is solid, warm it up in the microwave or in a hot water bath until it liquifies. Combine all ingredients in a squeezable bottle or a bottle with a pump so that you can easily apply the mixture to your hands. Give the bottle a rigorous shake until all the ingredients have blended together. Because this mixture is fairly oily, a little will go a long way. If you have a TWA (teeny weeny afro), you can probably get away with a penny-sized squeeze for each section of your hair. For longer hair or large sections, use up two bottle pumps.
I wasn't able to finish the whole bottle, so I stored the remainder in my bathroom cupboard. It's important to keep essential oils away from sunlight so they don't lose their helpful properties. Because there's aloe vera juice in the mix, I'm also going to try to finish up the bottle within the next couple of weeks so it doesn't go bad. Nobody wants a stinky bathroom!
I accidentally broke a glass while washing the dishes yesterday. As I scooped up the shards, an odd thought occurred to me: these little pieces of glass are just like my natural hair! First of all naturally kinky, coily, and curly hair is very fragile. It can break and snap under myriad conditions, most notably when it's very wet or very dry. Furthermore, when natural hair gets dehydrated it can feel straw-like... almost sharp. Of course it's not sharp enough to draw blood or anything, but when it's super dry or caked in product build-up it eventually develops a texture similar to steel wool.
It's not all negative, though. Like tempered glass, natural hair can be strengthened through specific treatments. For instance when you apply a hot oil treatment or use an effective leave-in conditioner, you're reinforcing each strand of hair. Breakage can also be avoided by handling with care and minimizing manipulation. Protective styling is an awesome method of reducing manipulation because it keeps your strands safely tucked away. So if you want stronger, healthier hair, treat it like glass!
We're always hearing about how fragile our natural hair is. "Don't comb it when it's wet or it'll break." "Don't comb it when it's dry or it'll break." "Don't comb it at all - only finger detangling can truly prevent breakage!" Everyone's talking about all the "don't"s, so I decided to make a list of "do's" to help you on your path to stronger hair.
1. Hot Oil Treatments - This is one of the easiest ways to fortify your tresses. By administering hot oil treatments routinely, you ensure that your natural hair is receiving the nutrients and moisture that it requires to thrive.
2. Regular Trimming - The ends of your hair are the oldest and therefore the weakest. This is compounded by the fact that the natural oil your scalp produces to protect your hair has a harder time reaching your ends, especially if you have very kinky hair like I do. The best way to keep your hair strong is to trim your ends as soon as you notice any knots or splitting. This will prevent these problems from getting worse and causing hair loss.
3. Quality Conditioner - Regardless of whether you're riding the pre-poo bus or the no-poo train, conditioning your hair is very important. Good quality conditioners will minimize frizz and assist in detangling, which will save your hair from damage.
4. Protective Styling - I can't say enough about the benefits of reducing manipulation through protective styling. Keeping your hair in braids, twists, etc gives your strands a much-needed break from daily pulling and tugging, which in turn prevents breakage.
5. Drink Water - Moisture is essential to the health of your hair and scalp. Daily spritzing and the LOC/LCO method are great ways of preventing dryness. However, did you know you can also deliver moisture to your follicles by drinking water? That's right: what you put inside your body is just as important as what you put on it, so be sure to stay hydrated in order to guarantee your natural hair is receiving as much moisture as possible!
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 are your tricks for preparing your hair for cooler weather? Please share 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:
It seems every naturalista and her cat is touting the benefits of hot oil treatments. Regardless of hair type or length, they are a fantastic method of deep conditioning, restoring moisture, and adding shine to your natural hair. The process is simple: once a week you warm up a combo of some of your favourite oils, apply them to your hair and scalp for 30 mins, cover your hair with a warm towel / steamer, rinse with warm water, then condition your hair. Hot oil treatments aren't just good for your hair; the whole experience can be quite therapeutic and luxurious. While many natural hair experts insist on weekly hot oil treatments, though, there are times when it might be better to wait. The three worst times to administer a hot oil treatment are:
1. Right after you've gotten a protective style installed. This is because your scalp is still tender, and rinsing out the oil will agitate it. Moreover, washing your hair will age the hairstyle prematurely. Doing a hot oil treatment right before you visit your stylist is a great idea, though.
2. When you're short on time. The ideal amount of time to leave the oil in your hair is 30-45 minutes, after which you need to hop into the shower as soon as possible. Some people claim leaving it overnight has the most benefit, but the majority of sources agree your hair is usually already saturated by the 45 minute mark. If you don't have time to rinse out the hot oil you risk experiencing product build-up, and your hair might start to smell bad (especially if you're using castor oil!).
3. If your last hot oil treatment was only a few days ago. This may vary from person to person, but generally you shouldn't be deep conditioning your hair with hot oil more than once a week to every two weeks. The main reason is because you must thoroughly wash your hair following the treatment, and washing your hair too often will leave it dry and brittle. Secondly, the treatment works best if it's given time to work on your hair. If you're constantly saturating your scalp and strands in oil, you won't give them time to truly benefit from the treatment.
When's your favourite time to do a hot oil treatment? Let me know in a comment below!
Having grown up in the hot, dry Canadian prairies, I know firsthand what it's like to struggle with dryness. If you're living in a desert-like climate with high temperatures, relentless sun, and limited humidity, this post is for you! Years of experimentation have revealed to me three main tricks to keeping natural hair moisturized in dry summers.
1. Spritz Regularly
You can't afford to cut corners on this one, even if you're worried about shrinkage. You don't need to douse your hair completely, but applying a mixture of water and aloe vera juice with a spray bottle every so often will definitely help quench your hair's thirst. I do this once a day to every other day because my hair dries out fairly quickly. You may only need to spritz once or twice a week if your hair more readily holds onto moisture.
2. Use Light Oils
As I mentioned in The Best Natural Hair Oils for Hot Weather, you should opt for runnier oils during the warmest months of the year. Coconut and jojoba oil are two examples of light oils that are great at sealing in moisture without weighing your hair down. In the heat, thick oils like castor oil will feel heavy on your scalp and clog your pores. (Remember to apply a small amount of oil after every spritz, otherwise the water will simply evaporate leaving your hair as dry as it was before!)
3. Avoid Humectants
This tip is huge. Humectants are products like vegetable glycerin and honey, which absorb moisture from the air and release it into your hair. Sounds good, right? Usually yes, but when humidity is low it can spell disaster. This is because humectants will also transfer moisture from your hair into the atmosphere if humidity is low. They essentially like to create balance, shifting moisture from an area of high water content to an area with less. That's why humectants are your worst enemy in dry weather - they will literally suck the moisture right out of your hair!
How do you combat dryness in the summertime? Tell me in a comment below!
Ewwww. Hair balls are 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!
MORE HAIR TIPS FOR YOU
The Biggest Natural Hair Mistake I've Ever Made
Your Nails Might Be Damaging Your Hair
Treat Your Natural Hair Like Glass
What's your secret to preventing breakage? Share it in a comment below!
THE SMART WAY
THE NOT-SO-SMART WAY
So the next time you have to pack your pool bag, don't fret. Remember this advice to narrow down your styling options and have a happy beach hair day!
How do you prep your natural hair for the water? Share your tips in a comment below!