For many African- American women the thought of not perming or relaxing their hair is as scary as The Exorcist was in the 70’s. But the truth is the natural hair movement has become more practical and prevalent than ever before. Whether you’re going for a new look or trying to combat damaged hair there are tons of new products that make rocking your natural hair a possibility. With some awesome new innovative formulas on the market and some tips from Houston native Dr. Ysidra Kyles, author of Your Hair, Your Way: No Apology Necessary you can now feel free to embrace and easily manage your God-given hair texture.
1) BE COMMITTED: Natural hair isn’t necessarily for everybody. According to Dr. Kyles “If the idea of going natural is treated like a fad, then quite simply, it won't work. In reality it requires a great deal of work, sometimes even more than when the hair is relaxed. As with any other venture that is successful, natural hair requires attention and dedication.”
2) MOISTURE IS KEY: Dry hair is brittle hair and the fact of the matter is, it will not grow. I often relate natural hair to grass - the more you water it, the more it will grow. As African-American women, we have been "programmed" to believe that water is damaging to our hair when in all actuality our hair needs water in order for it to grow. The key point to remember is that after the hair has been "watered," a moisturizer has to be applied to the hair to seal in the moisture and keep the hair from becoming dry.
3) OIL IS GOOD: Contrary to popular belief, shampoo is not necessary, at least not on a regular basis. Instead try "co-washing." That is, foregoing the shampoo and instead washing the hair with a moisturizing conditioner. Shampoo - especially those containing sulfates - are extremely drying and ingredients in shampoo that actually clean the hair are also present in a good moisturizing conditioner. The idea of washing the hair until it is "squeaky clean" should not be the ultimate goal. In fact, the "squeaking" is a sign that hair's essential oils have been eliminated.
4) DEVELOP A NIGHTTIME REGIMEN: Although the hair is natural and "free," it still needs the proper bedtime attention. Applying a moisturizer at night and sealing the ends with an oil, i.e. olive oil or castor oil, will protect the hair and ultimately result in stronger hair. Also incorporating “protective styles” into your weekly routine will help in the restoration of your hair.
6) DEEP CONDITION: Twice a month, deep condition those locks with a hair mayonnaise or cholesterol. Cover hair with a plastic cap and leave it covered overnight. The deep conditioner will strengthen the hair and prepare the hair for styling.
7) LIMIT THE HEAT: Flat ironing, pressing, and blow drying the hair can all be damaging. Prior to using any heat instruments, protecting the hair with a thermal protectant is highly recommended.
It can be difficult finding products that work, especially for those ladies who are new to the natural hair community. We found some spanking new products made to help manage natural hair. And in addition to her book and excellent advice, Dr. Kyles has developed a line of natural products that has proven to make the transition less stressful.
Motions “Naturally You” - The brand has been around for years but in 2012 Motions launched a new line of hair care products geared towards the “naturalista”! Their focus is on helping women make the transition from relaxed, treated hair to a natural and healthy coif. And best of all you don’t have to break the bank...”Naturally You” products range from about $6-$8.
www.curlBOX.com - This is the GiltGroupe of natural hair! It’s simple and a great way to try new products that cater to the naturalista! Just log onto curlBOX.com, enter your e-mail address and voila! For the price of about one product you will receive 5-7 samples each month of different highly recommended products for natural hair. Find a few you like and order the full-size product. So simple, and it gives you so much variety!
Ysidra's Ysentials - Products for Natural Hair are designed to provide moisture to the hair while also aiding in the styling process. The "Twisted Brazilian", her personal favorite is made from a blend of Brazil nut butter, African Shea butter and coconut oil, along with other ingredients that protect and moisturize the hair. All of Ysidra's Ysentials are free of mineral oil, petroleum, and sulfates.
By Maya Cooper