Now that my hair is all natural I couldn't be happier with the decision to stop chemically processing my hair. Below you will find a guest blog post from Toccarra Felitz, she shares the ins and outs of transitioning your hair and how to keep it healthy naturally along the way.
Going natural has never been easier thanks to the world wide web and all the hair care advice available at our fingertips. However, with all this “advice”, a new challenge arises... information overload! Drowning in a sea of options, it’s hard to make a decision. Paranoia starts to set in and you wonder is this site credible? Are the product reviews biased? Does this technique work for my hair type? Whose advice is better? The concerns go on.
But not to worry! As a natural hair veteran, I’ve made the mistakes, explored the answers, and, through trial and error, created this simple guide to assist you in your natural hair journey. Read on to discover what it really takes to retain length, encourage growth, and create healthy curls worthy of being tagged as #hairgoals.
Find Your Go-To Transition Style
An easy hairstyle that requires little manipulation is key to handling your transitioning hair with care. Moreover, finding protective styles and hairstyles you enjoy will be the golden difference between loving or hating your journey. Common protective styles are bantu knots, twists, braids (cornrows/box braids/french braids, etc.) and buns.
With all of these styles (and every style really) the key to success is avoiding pulling on the edges, nape of the neck, and scalp. What’s the point of a protective style if you’re pulling hair out in the process?! From these protective styles come hairstyles you can rock just as easily. Things like twist outs, bantu knot outs, braid outs, and heatless roller sets work to our advantage because they’re gentle hairstyles that effortlessly blend natural and processed hair textures together. The Youtube channel Natural Hair Skincare has easy to follow tutorials on these hairstyles and other transitioning styles as well.
Keep Your Curls Hydrated
Hydration starts from the inside out, so drink plenty of water. Each hair shaft is made up of ¼ water, and not drinking enough water will make your hair weak. Worst of all, dehydration can also lead to hair loss. Everyone’s water goals will differ due to their weight and lifestyle, but at minimum get your 8 glasses in. Your hair will thank you for it.
Try to refrain from over washing your hair. Everyone’s wash routine will vary depending on their hair type, porosity, and lifestyle. The universal objective; however, is to keep a clean scalp without stripping your hair of its natural oils. Wash your hair when it feels dirty, not because it’s wash day. This can be anywhere between 1-3 weeks. I recommend shampooing no more than once a week. If you feel the need to wash more often, try washing with conditioner only, or co-washing (shampoo & conditioner mix). Always use conditioner after every wash. You can also refresh your hair daily by spritzing water and adding a leave-in conditioner.
Deep treatments, intense hydration masks, and humectants are your friends. Humectants are products that absorb moisture from the air and seal it in your hair. My go to humectant is raw, organic honey. You can also use products with panthenol, vegetable glycerin or sorbitol in them to achieve the same effect.
One of my favorite ways to hydrate curls and retain moisture is using the L.O.C method. The liquid, oil, and cream method prevent moisture loss by using liquid (water or water-based product) to hydrate your hair; oils to seal in the moisture, and a cream to close the hair cuticle. This layering effect will significantly aid in your hair growth, and transform thirsty brittle hair into soft and bouncy curls.
Learn Your Hair’s Porosity
Dramatic results appear when products compatible with your hair’s porosity are used. Porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture.There are three levels of porosity; low, normal and high. However, most transitioners fall within the low or high porosity spectrum. Low porosity hair has a hard time absorbing moisture and is prone to build up. Thus,protein-free conditioners, and lightweight oils like grapeseed oil, or jojoba oil are prefered. High porosity hair easily absorbs moisture but struggles to retain it. These curls are happiest with protein rich conditioners, and thicker oils like coconut and avocado oil. To determine your hair’s porosity, take a strand of clean hair (oil & product free) and place it in a glass of room temperature water. If your hair sinks immediately, it has high porosity.In contrast, if your hair floats and takes a while to sink, it has low porosity. Normal porosity hair will linger about midway in the glass. You can also take a quick online test to determine your hair’s porosity at sheamoisture.com
Read Product Ingredients
I often compare the process of finding agreeable hair care products to the process of dating. More than likely, you won’t find the perfect match on the first try; and it’s important to keep your standards high and expectations realistic. Don’t expect a product to create a curl pattern you don’t naturally have. Do expect a product to feed your hair, and bring out the best in your natural curl. Try products based on their ingredients, not fancy packaging or misleading labeling. If the contents of a product are hard to pronounce and sound like a science experiment, it is!
Good quality products have nutrient rich components listed at the top of their ingredient list and are void of harsh chemicals. Common ingredients to avoid are isopropyl alcohol; fragrance, mineral oil, parabens, sulfates, triethanolamine (Tea), polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol. For a full list of ingredients to avoid go to: morroccomethod.com/blog/hair-regrowth-10-harmful-chemicals/
Some ingredients to embrace are: shea butter; mango butter, coconut oil, Aloe Vera, honey, tea tree oil, jojoba extract, olive oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil, hemp oil, vegetable glycerin and black castor oil. If you want to cut out the middleman and create your own natural hair products check out Curly Nikki for 15 do it yourself recipes.
Finger detailing will significantly impact length retention because less breakage occurs versus a using a comb. You can lightly detangle your hair with your fingers prior to combing, or do away with the comb altogether. I hardly ever use a (wide tooth) comb, and when I do, I always finger detangle first. Using this method, you’ll have the freedom to detangle your hair wet or dry. When detangling dry hair, feel free to add a little conditioner for slip. This will help unravel the knots. Never finger detangled before? I suggest watching this youtube tutorial: youtu.be/zoVgXo0kcO0 for three ways to safely finger detangle and remove knots on curly natural hair.
Love Your Curls
Last, but not least, love your hair! Through every phase, and stage sends loving thoughts to your curls. It’s hard to notice positive transformations when you’re tunnel vision on that one strand that won’t curl the way you want it to. Plus, your body responds to the thoughts you think; including your hair. Thank it for growing every day and it will.