Tips I Wish I Knew When I First Began My Natural Hair Journey
Ashley and I can both attest to how hard the natural hair journey can be especially in the beginning. I get tons of questions on how to survive transitioning or the big chop and the list of answers is almost endless. Here are a few tips I wish I was told at the beginning of my natural hair journey instead of having to learn them over the years of constant struggle.
Do Your Research – Obviously if you ended up on this post you’ve already started doing your homework. When I first began my natural hair journey in 2010, it was only the beginning of the natural hair guru take over. Now, there are thousands of YouTube tutorials and blog post dedicated to caring for natural hair that I wish existed when I first started. YouTube is your best friend & no matter the question, you’re sure to find the answer.
Low Porosity or High Porosity? – This is something I wish I knew about years ago. Knowing your hair porosity level can help determine what kind of products work best with your hair. It will ultimately save you time and money. Ever since discovering that I actually have very low porosity hair, I have adjusted my hair routine & have seen a huge difference in my curls and the way my hair behaves. Click here to learn how to test your porosity levels.
No Sulfates! – Curly and kinky hair is naturally much dryer than straight hair because the sebum from the scalp isn’t able to travel down the hair shaft in a fast enough manner to moisturize the full length of the hair. Sulfates pull out all the oil and nutrients from your hair and can create damage and stunt hair growth over time. Using a co-wash in place of a shampoo preserves the moisture in your strands. If you must clarify your hair/scalp, opt of sulfate free shampoo or the method I have switched to: an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse, Castile soap, or Black Soap. The more natural the ingredients the better.
No Mineral Oil! – Just the thought of mineral oil or even the smell of it makes me cringe! Mineral oil actually coats your strands preventing any moisture from penetrating your hair or scalp. It’s an ingredient found in many old school hair products. When you think about it, even though they seemed to work when you were little, using those products probably only made your hair greasy or even stunted your hair growth. About two years ago, I accidentally used a product with mineral oil as one of the first few ingredients listed and ultimately had to do another big chop due to crazy breakage and damage. The ends of my hair actually stopped absorbing moisture completely, even after clarifying. There are many other harmful ingredients in some hair products to avoid, but this is my number one least favorite. If you do need a thick pomade/sealant try Raw Shea Butter and/or Pure Castor Oil.
Liquid, Oil, Cream – the LOC method has been adopted by many natural hair gals as a way to lock in moisture for hours or even days. As you can see, I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your natural hair moisturized. The products you use for your regiment will actually be a lot easier to choose once you figure out your hair porosity.
Deep Condition Regularly! – I used to be hella lazy when it came to washing my hair and would probably only deep condition my hair once or twice a month. I know that sounds crazy. My hair became extremely hard to manage, looked dull, & I would get a lot of breakage. You should deep condition your hair at least once a week after washing. Adjust your deep conditioning routine according to what your hair needs at the moment whether it be a protein treatment, moisturizing treatment, or a hot oil treatment.
Invest in a Wide Tooth Comb – as well as other styling tools, but I honestly think the wide tooth comb is the most important. Wide tooth combs make detangling and styling kinks & curls 100x easier.
Dusting/Search and Destroy Method – I’m the type to get scissor happy once I seem to be getting a little bit of damage or feel my hair is in need of a trim. Sometimes all you need is a deep condition to fix those ends but other times it’s actually time for a trim. However, before chopping an inch or two from your hair you might want to just “search and destroy”. This means, as you go through your usual detangling/moisturizing process, feel around for single strand knots or just snip the individual strands that need it. It can be time consuming but ultimately your hair will feel healthier and you will end up saving your length.
Patience is Key – This is something I’m still learning 5 or 6 years into being natural. Growth takes time, styling takes time, and oh yes washing takes time. One of my favorite tips I picked up from Whitney aka Naptual85 is to never do your hair when you’re tired. All your patience will go out the window and you’ll end up hacking at your tresses causing breakage and/or half-assing a style. Patience will actually help your hair to flourish in the long run.