How to do Natural Hair Care

The term “natural hair” encompasses a wide array of styles, from short naturals to thick Afros, from braids to locks. By natural it means hair that is not chemically treated, hot-combed, or weaved. The advantage of such styles is that they tend to work with the hair’s texture instead of against it, minimizing the potential for damage. It also reflects and proudly displays our ethnic heritage.

In recent years, these often low-maintenance styles have become more popular and accepted in our culture and in the mainstream. But don’t forget-having a “natural” hairstyle does not mean that you do nothing to your hair.

Hair Washing

Natural hair should be washed once a week. Look for shampoos that contain moisturizers as well as mild cleansers. Products formulated for “dry or damaged” hair may work best. Use a small amount of shampoo to cleanse the scalp and hair strands; rinse thoroughly. If you wear braids or cornrows, wash every one to two weeks, paying extra attention to the scalp. Women who wear locks should shampoo weekly or every ten days with products for dry hair.

Hair Conditioning

After shampooing, follow with an instant conditioner. Distribute the conditioner throughout the hair, especially on ends, then rinse. If your hair is dry and coarse, treat it to a deep conditioner once a month or so. These treatments will coat the hair shaft and give your natural tresses the shine they need to look healthy and lustrous.

Hair Styling and Trimming

Depending on your style choice, “natural” hair styling may take some time and patience. And you’ll still need to be careful not to damage your hair in the process.

Naturals

Whether close-cropped or Afro length, a “natural” cut probably requires the least amount of at-home maintenance. You can air-dry .hair or use a low wattage hair dryer. Use a soft-bristle brush, wide-toothed pick, or your fingers to detangle. A light hair oil or pomade can be used for moisturizing. You may want to also apply a light gel or pomade for styling. You’ll need frequent trims-once or twice a month-to maintain the shape of your hair. Wrap hair at night with a silk or satin scarf to prevent frizzing and drying.

Hair Braids/Cornrows

Hair Braids
Hair Braids

To tame fizzing of braids while air-drying, tie a thin scarf around them. Washing regularly is the key to preventing itching and dryness. Individual braids can be worn loose or pulled back in an elegant chignon. You will need to have your hair re-braided every two to twelve weeks. To protect your roots, make sure the hair braider is qualified and experienced. You’ll need to make sure she avoids two common mistakes braiding the hair too tightly and braiding with heavy extensions.

Either practice will put stress on your roots and may lead to permanent hair loss. How do you know if the braids are too tight? If you cannot move your forehead or temples or raise your eyebrows after the braids are put in, they are too tight. If you have a headache afterward, they are too tight. Too-tight braiding is responsible for the receding hairlines seen on many black women who have worn braided styles for years. Wrap hair at night with a silk or satin scarf to prevent frizz and drying.

Hair Locks

Hair Locks
Hair Locks

Locks take a good deal of work and they are not maintenance-free. You must be committed to their care and have patience. If you use twists to initiate your locks, you will need to re-twist hair frequently-several times a month as the new growth appears. To do that, divide just-washed or moistened hair into sections (the smaller the section, the tighter the twist).

Divide section in two and twist by either inserting a comb at the ends and turning the comb or by rolling the sections between your palms. Wrap hair at night with a silk or satin scarf to prevent frizz and drying. Variations on locks include yarn locks and silky locks. Don’t over-twist or twist too tightly as hair loss could develop. Avoid long, heavy locks, which could lead to hair loss.

Hair Twists

Hair Twists
Hair Twists

This popular style is a great way to give your hair a rest from chemicals, heat, and styling. Twists are also less permanent than locks and terrifically versatile. From flat twists and two-strand twists to corkscrew twists, you can experiment and find a style that suits your hair texture and length.

If you’ve never had your hair twisted, you might want to go to a salon for a professional twist or you can do it yourself. Avoid pulling on hair to while twisting.

Most twist styles last two weeks. Wrap hair at night with a silk or satin scarf to prevent frizzing and unraveling of the style. At the end of the two weeks, take the time to untwist your hair gently to avoid breakage and knotting. Wash with a conditioning shampoo and conditioner. Trim every eight weeks or so. Again, to avoid hair loss or breakage, don’t over-twist or twist too tightly.

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