Odds are, if you’ve been out to Youtube, Instagram, Facebook or any of the other major social media channels lately, then you know there’s no shortage of advice, opinions and even debate about what it takes to care for and keep natural hair healthy and strong.
With the seemingly infinite list of pros and cons, and do’s and don’ts, it’s sometimes hard to decipher myth versus fact. The truth is: there’s no such thing as a magic bullet. What works for one person may not work for the next depending on a number of factors, including hair texture, length, overall health, environment … and the list goes on.
No matter where you go for your information, though, there seem to be a few natural hair care standards that appear in virtually every discussion or forum about the topic. So, here’s a list of the “10 Commandments,” or the most tried and true natural hair care practices that just about everyone in the cyberverse can agree on to keep hair healthy and strong.
The natural lubricants in our hair are meant to organically moisturize and clean the hair’s cuticles and follicles of bacteria on their own. So, choosing a shampoo that’s free of sulfates, “bubbling” agents found in a variety of cleansing products that chemically strip the hair of oil, dirt and grease, is critically important.
2. Moisturize to avoid dry, brittle tresses
Hydration, which is probably the most common factor mentioned when it comes to keeping natural hair healthy and strong, should be done on a weekly basis. Without much-needed moisture, hair tends to become brittle and weak, making it more susceptible to damage from breakage and shedding.
3. Deep condition as a preventative measure
Deep conditioning, a preventative measure for hair damage, is the process of adding moisture or protein to the hair to improve its elasticity. A daily leave-in is recommended for hair that’s prone to dryness.
4. Use the right tools to detangle
Wet hair is especially fragile and easy to break. Two of the most common methods to “get the knots out” after washing include using a wide-tooth comb or a Denham brush. To avoid damage, hair should be sectioned off and either combed or brushed starting from the bottom, or the tip, and working your way up the hair shaft. If needed, an extra moisturizing product like coconut oil can be used to help prevent damage associated with heat, color and combing.
5. Trim ends regularly
Split ends aren’t exclusive to women with chemically and color-treated hair. Other contributing factors include a lack of moisture, excessive heat and stress caused by pulling and combing. Once the protective cuticle at the end of the hair shaft is destroyed, it can’t be replaced. So, the only way to “treat” it is to clip it off.
6. Utilize protective styling
Protective styles are designed to do exactly that; guard the most vulnerable parts of your hair against breakage and moisture loss. However, in some circles, the jury is still out on whether protective styles like braids actually cause more harm than good. If done improperly, the result could be significant breakage once the style gets taken out.
Excessive heat from blow drying and flat ironing can result in a wide variety of damage ranging from dryness and a loss of flexibility to changes in curl patterns and in some extreme cases, hair loss. It’s widely believed that applying a heat protectant and using tools with protective plates will help circumvent damage.
8. Get the proper nutrition
Your hair is a reflection of your overall health and it starts from the inside. That’s why many experts believe that drinking water and eating a well-balanced diet promote overall strand health and vitality.
9. Choose weaves and extensions wisely
Although it’s a commonly held belief that wearing weaves and extensions can help hair grow, there’s no evidence to support it. Depending on the quality, synthetic hair can have the exact opposite effect and cause itching, irritation and inflammation. So, the choice to incorporate it into your protective styling regimen should be done so with care.
10. Love the uniqueness of you
Quin Brewington has been a natural hair enthusiast for nearly 20 years and recently launched her own blog, SisterLadyGirl.com aimed at helping women in their 40s and beyond navigate this thing called life with style and grace.