Back in the 70s natural hair used to be the trend and majority of women rocked the afro. However, several years back, one could count the number of women walking in public with their natural hair. Interestingly, the afro trend has resurfaced.
It’s only natural for people to wish that their hair would grow faster. However, growing healthy natural hair successfully requires good maintenance, knowledge and an understanding of one’s hair. It plays a role in understanding why particular hair responds to certain products and why it doesn’t respond to others. It’s also very useful in understanding which hair styles are best for one’s hair and how to take care of such hair.
According to Kumbi Short, a member of the Natural Hair and Beauty Expo organizing committee, natural hair ranges from type 1 which is the very straight Asian hair to 4c which is the afro kinky, coil and very curly hair. Type four is further divided into 4a, 4b, 4c and black people’s hair usually ranges from type 3 to 4c.
However, a hair and beauty blogger Nekwaya Iileka says that although it is important to know one’s hair type, it is more crucial to understand your hair porosity. “Hair type does not necessarily impact the way your hair retains moisture or how it reacts, rather your hair porosity refers to your hair’s ability to retain moisture. Hair porosity helps you understand how your hair retains moisture so that you can moisturise in accordance to that,” she explains.
Maintaining natural hair
Kumbi says the manner in which people maintain their hair and the products they use differ from person to person, depending on how curly or how less curly their hair is. “Personally, Castor oil works for me, but my friend likes coconut oil and anothers likes a mixture of coconut and avocado oils. But we have all gone through a journey where we have discovered what works for us as individuals,” said Kumbi.
She added: “Once you’ve discovered what works for your hair you need to establish a maintenance routine inclusive of cleansing, moisturising as well as styling. Some of the key things that you need to do is to keep your hair and scalp clean, but in doing so, avoid striping your hair of its natural oils. The best way to avoid striping your hair of its natural oils is to do a ‘pre poo’ before you shampoo. ‘Pre pooing’ is when you apply your oil of choice in your hair so that when you shampoo, the natural oils are not striped from your hair. Also, be careful with the kind of shampoos that you use.
After shampooing you need to condition, however with conditioning watch the kind of products that you use. Read labels and ensure that you really infuse moisture back into your hair. Upon deep conditioning you need to seal the moisture in by using something heavy like shea butter or another type of butter.”
Nekwaya also cautions that people need to realise that hair grows better when it is not over manipulated. Washing your hair once a week or once every two weeks is sufficient. “However if you have a protective hairstyle you do not have to wash your hair as often but do try and cleanse your scalp. Protective hairstyling is when the ends of the hair are tucked away from being exposed to damaging agents such as sun, heat, and constant manipulation. Protective hairstyles help you from manipulating your hair, it stops your hair from getting dry and it gives your hair time to chill, rest and grow,” she says.
When you don’t take good care…
Kumbi says when natural hair is not well taken care of, the hair gets dry, it breaks and it becomes difficult to style. “As a result you don’t look your best, you don’t look like the queen that you are,” she says.
She continues to say that when people use too many products, when they don’t wash their hair carefully and when they allow their hair to get too dry are things that contribute to hair breakage. “Beware of the products that you use, some products are made for straight Caucasian hair and they will take a lot of oil out of your hair because they are designed to stop your hair from being greasy,” urges Kumbi.
Nekwaya also adds that, when people use protective hairstyling incorrectly such as having braids and letting them stay in for too long without moisturising, breaks the hair. Heating hair incorrectly or too much could also be harmful because heat is very damaging to our hair type. We also have to bear in mind that we live in a dry country and that’s why we always have to pay extra attention to moisturising our hair. Hair moisture and the water in our hair obviously evaporates faster than if it was in a more humid climate. Climate does have an impact, you just have to see when your hair is drying out so that you can adjust your hair regimen,” she concludes.
A person’s hair is their crown, it’s kinky, curly or coil and requires the right maintenance. From identifying the products that work for you and those that definitely don’t, to keeping the moisture and to deciphering ones hair type. Treat your hair right and it will reward you.