Whether you’ve just gone natural or you’re looking for ways to give your hair a little more love, the first step on any healthy hair journey is learning to love and cater to YOUR natural hair. While there are similarities between us, everyone has specific curl characteristics. Once you get to know your hair for how it is, you can better tailor your routines, styles, and products to achieve your hair goals. We’ve compiled a few simple tips that can help you to embrace your curls and have healthy hair.
Prioritize Health Over Style
It’s very easy to prioritize the look you are going for over the health of your hair. For example, getting really tight braids might look clean and last longer, but you can also experience a lot of breakage and stress on your scalp. Similarly, using toxic hair dyes and bleaches can permanently dehydrate your hair and leave it brittle and frayed. When styling your hair, try to be intentional in making sure that your style doesn’t compromise your hair’s health. You can take little steps that make a huge difference, for example, if you’re getting braids try leaving your edges out to relieve the tension. If you’d like to color your hair, consider mixing your color with conditioner or using henna-based dyes or clay dyes that don’t require bleach.
Get to Know Your Curl Pattern
While many of us may have an afro, our afros can be made up of a few different kinds of curls. In the natural hair world the term “Hair Type” gets thrown around quite a bit. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this yet, your hair type is a number and letter ( i.e 3a, 4b, 4c) that corresponds with where your hair falls on a spectrum of curls and kinks. Why is this important? Knowing your hair type allows you to pick routines and products that will work best for your hair. For example, while there are exceptions, people with kinkier textures (4a, b, or c) may use heavier oils like castor oil or shea butter, and people with less coarse textures (3abc) may lean more towards lighter oils like coconut or argan oil. Keep in mind that you can have more than one hair type! I personally have 4b hair on the crown of my head and 4c more towards the nape. Because of this, my hair tends to have a natural tapered look as my curls are slightly looser at the top and have less shrinkage. Knowing your hair type also makes it easier to find tutorials! Many YouTubers and hair bloggers give tips that are specific to what works for their hair type, hence for the closest results its best to get your tips from someone with hair texture closest to yours.
Find Low Maintenance Styles You Love
Protective styles like braids and sew-ins are great for when life gets busy and you need a break from your hair routine. However, protective styles should not be the only ways you style your hair as a natural. Protective styles often restrict access to the scalp and hair strands.This can cause stress, limit washing ability and cause breakage if done too frequently. It’s important to give your hair some breathing time and some direct TLC.
Healthy hair is good hair, and as long as you’re treating your hair well, you’ll look fabulous wearing your hair exactly the way it grows from your head. Find some styles that you can maintain for a few weeks at a time so that you can maintain a healthy hair routine. This allows you to consistently moisturize and cleanse your scalp, deep condition and most importantly get to know what works for your hair! With some practice, I was able to set up a wash and go routine that worked for me and allowed me to spend no more than 15 minutes on my hair in the morning. Once again, everyone is different, find out what works for you and take a break with a protective style when you need it.
Create a Regimen and Stick With It
Hair grows and thrives best with consistency. Once you’ve found the products and styles that work for you, create a regimen for yourself. Schedule your wash days, deep condition days, and benchmark growth checks. Using a large variety of products can make it difficult to know what’s really working and with all products, you must use them consistently in order to have the best results. For example, for my daily wash n go’s I use the LOCS method (liquid, oil, cream, sealant). I stick to the same oils and leave-in conditioners that give me the best results and make sure to use natural products if possible. I deep condition with a homemade mixture every other week and wash once or twice monthly depending on how much buildup there is.
When you’re consistent, it’s easier to find out what’s not working. Maybe you need to deep condition more often or find out if that shampoo is too stripping. When you change up your regimen make small adjustments and see how it affects the rest of your routine or if that product compliments well with the others you’re using.
If you’re repairing your hair or waiting on some growth, just remember to be patient. Try not to obsess over results or discourage yourself through your process. Be okay with meeting your hair where it is. You may need to focus on moisture for a while to be able to get your curls to form the way you want. If you’d like growth but your hair is in an awkward phase, be intentional about finding styles for your hair length and be patient with your hair growth products and regimen. All good results come from diligence and consistency, as long as you stick with your regimen and prioritize the health of your hair, you’ll get the results you’re looking for!
Know that Your Hair is Good Hair
While all the tips above are important, the most important thing to remember is that your curls are a crown. Healthy hair is good hair, no matter the texture and no matter the length. While there is still some negative stigma around natural hair due to eurocentric beauty standards, times are changing! That change is moved forward by people like you who are brave and unapologetic in loving and rocking your curls (with that said there is nothing wrong with getting a sew-in, we all love our bundles sometimes). So embrace you kinky-coily-bouncy naturalness and slay!
Ebony is a content creator working in the Inland Empire. She loves taking care of her natural hair as a form of self-care and exploring personal development.