While writing my column on my natural hair journey, I realised that my hair regime needed an update. My hair was looking dry and my curls felt knotty and straggle.
Because I chose to transition back to my natural hair rather than to brave the big chop, this process came with two major challenges: working with two different hair textures and trying to prevent demarcation breakage, i.e. where the two textures meet.
Because our hair can become immune to a certain kind of method, product and styles after extensive use, I spoke to Kasuba Sikamo, a fellow naturalista and co-founder of Rockin' Naturals about what to incorporate into our natural hair care regimes.
Her advice left my hair looking extra kinky and feeling moisturised. But allow me to let you in on our chat because there is so much to know:
Once you start working with your hair’s natural texture, it’s the best time to build a healthy hair regime using great products and methods to use; but where should we start?
“As they say, moisture is a curl’s best friend”, says Kasuba. “Years of false advertising have convinced many a natural that heavy mineral oils and creams moisturise our hair.” Contrary to popular belief, Sakimo feels that products often clog up our hair cuticles and the pores of our scalp, causing brittleness and dryness. The only true moisturiser of hair is water.
Though that is true, using oils and creams help to retain this natural moisture. Here’s how:
1. Pre-poo – the night before you shampoo, apply an oil or a conditioner to your hair and put it under a plastic cap. This will ensure that your strands are protected from the harsh, stripping properties of the shampoo.
2. Deep condition – once a week (or more if your hair feels particularly dry), apply conditioner to your hair as normal, but instead, keep it on for about 20 to 30 minutes under a plastic cap. This will help restore your cuticles, control the pH of your hair, and ease detangling. More complex deep conditioning treatment may include oils and other natural ingredients such as aloe vera juice.
3. Seal in moisture – this is where oils and butters come in. Having said that, avoid mineral oils, because they are heavy and suffocate the hair. To seal in moisture, apply a water based leave-in conditioner (the first ingredient is ‘aqua’) to your damp (not too wet that it’s dripping and not too dry), then apply an oil such as olive oil or coconut oil. If you hair is much coarser, it is worth adding a natural butter as well, concentrating on the tips.
4. Spritz it! - if you braid or twist your hair before bed, or if you have braids or extensions in as a protective style, invest in a spritz (a water based spray) this is also a good way to keep your strands moisturised and healthy.
Check out this amazing method that really helped me define my curl pattern:
Here are some of the best oils to use to really lock in moisture:
• Coconut oil - one of the few oils that can be absorbed into our strands. It improves shine and seals in moisture.
• Olive oil – a heavier oil that you can use if you don’t want to use a butter. It also works as a pre-poo oil.
• Lavender essential oil – prevents hair loss and alopecia, repels lice, adds fragrance.
• Shea Butter – softens hair, seals in moisture, protects against heat, and has healing properties.
Preventing demarcation breakage:
The secret to length is keeping it, says Sikamo. Here are a number of ways to avoid any breakage:
• Protective styles – these can be as simple as rolling, tucking, and pinning your hair or as complex as extensions or weaves. The aim is to keep the ends of the hair tucked away and less susceptible to friction and tangling.
• Proper protective styling - avoiding styles that are too tight or too heavy improves retention.
• Avoid heat- heat damage can cause breakage and enough of it may result in a haircut.
• Wash, condition and treat in sections – the longer your hair, the more possible and necessary this becomes. Tackling hair care in sections makes it easier and minimises damage.
• Protect your hair when you sleep – wear a silk or satin bonnet or use a satin pillow case to keep your hair protected. It’s also worth braiding or twisting your hair before bed to keep it from rubbing against itself and tangling.