I daresay African hair is demanding and difficult to manage compared to hair of other races yet countless women look at their unruly mane every morning and confidently say, “Challenge accepted!” Here are five tested and proven steps to your dream hair, no matter what the texture is presently.
Moisture is not to be confused with the many African hair products on the market these days. These products are loaded with cheap oils such as petroleum, petrolatum and mineral oil which, when applied, give the illusion that they moisturize textured fibres. As opposed to the text plastered on these miracle jars, regular use of these products can lead to chronic dryness. Petrolatum leaves a dangerous film that blocks more than 98 percent of moisture entering or exiting the hair shaft and is difficult to remove without harsh sulphate-based cleansers. Next time you shop for hair moisturizers and creams, be sure that they do not contain petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, silicones and their variants. Alternatively and preferably, African hair can easily be moisturised with water and humectants like glycerine then moisture sealed in with oils like olive oil and/or coconut oil.
It is important to wash hair regularly to prevent product build-up on scalp. Depending on your regimen and daily activities you may wash your hair once a week, every ten days, to nothing less than twice a month. Use only sulphate-free shampoos as sulphates are harsh and strip hair of natural oils, upsetting the balance.
3. Protective hairstyles
African hair is just as fragile as it is coarse. Reduce day-to-day combing, styling and manipulations with flat irons and blow dryers to reduce hair breakage and retain length. Long hair should be worn away from the shoulders to prevent splitting and cracking of hair follicles. Shorter hair can be protected simply by reduced-exposure to heat and regular moisturising and sealing.
4. The bigger, the better
Some believe that African hair should never be combed but detangled with the fingers. Others believe combs can be used but not frequently. If you choose to camp with comb-users, be sure to comb with wide-tooth, snag-free combs. Too many teeth equal too many opportunities for breakage. The fewer the teeth, the better. Most detangling should be done gently and with the fingers then with a wide-tooth comb.
The average hair grows ¼ to ½ inch per month from a hair follicle. Some may experience more or less growth each month but all experience growth every month. Solange Knowles didn’t take a couple of months to grow out her afro. Be patient with your hair and resist the urge to check length every week. Focus on retaining length by low-manipulation techniques and protective styles.