The Importance of Clean HairThis is something that you have to prepare for. You think about it more and more on the days leading up to it. Washing natural hair is a task. It’s unavoidable, and it’s necessary. Although it may seem like a hassle for some, it can easily become therapeutic for all with the proper routine. It is wash day! Whether you love or hate this day, you just have to appreciate being able to have hair to tend to each day. We don’t really take the time to give our hair the TLC as we should. How could we, when we spend so much time doing all the different things that make us amazing? As great as you may be, your hair should feel just the same. Cleaning hair is all about removing the dirt and odors that come into contact with your hair throughout the day. Some people need to wash often, a few times per week, while others wash every few months. The process is different for everyone since we all have different hair types and scalp textures that deserve specific attention. It is imperative to know how your hair behaves to different treatments and processes. When it comes to your routine, go with your hair’s demands. Does it get oily often? Does it get dry fast? These are some of the many factors to consider when it comes to maintaining a healthy scalp. So, make sure to pay attention to ensure you are correctly washing your natural hair.
Hair Washing EssentialsThe steps to washing hair are pretty straightforward unless you need to alter them for your personal needs. Following the basic guidelines of hair care will guarantee healthier, shinier hair.
1. Pre-Wash Prep
Pre-pooHave you ever heard of pre-pooing? As in the process before shampooing, silly! Before even wetting or washing your hair, you can prepare to retain as much moisture as possible. Whenever you immerse your hair in the water, the hair shaft expands to take it all in, which causes your follicles to open up. And as it the hair dries, the follicles contract and the constant wetting and drying cause your strands to become weaker. The back and forth results in naturally drier hair that is more prone to breakage and damage. With shampooing, although you are getting rid of dirt and debris, you are also ridding of the natural oils that your hair produces throughout the day. To save your hair from losing the moisture and oil it needs, do a pre-poo to help your hair look and feel softer and shinier before doing anything else. You can purchase pre-shampoo treatments at beauty salons, or you can make your own products with some household ingredients. If you choose not to use a carrier oil of your choice alone, mix your oil with a conditioner or item such as honey, mayonnaise, or egg. It’s almost like doing a small hair mask before cleaning. Depending on your preference for your hair’s demands, you can choose to moisturize with whatever you feel is best for your hair. Some favorite oils include olive or coconut, or a blend of your choice. Also, be sure to section the hair to be able to massage the treatment into your strands.
DetanglingThe key to properly detangling the hair, without furthering any more damage, is to keep the hair wet and moisturized at all times. I repeat, keep your hair moisturized and wet at all times! The extra lubrication allows you to comb through your hair smoothly without causing too much tension. Also, as a moisturizer, you can use any detangling conditioner or cream, just as long as it creates a significant slip. To begin, it is best to part your damp hair into four different sections. Focusing on one at a time, you should part a section into three or four smaller ones, so you are only working with a chunk of hair at a time. This helps to give every part of your hair the attention it needs to locate all of the matted and tangled areas. Missing a section could leave tangles knots later in the wash routine. Next, wet the hair using your spray bottle until the section is fully saturated. Then apply a generous amount of treatment or conditioner (or oil), spreading it from the root of your hair to the ends. Remember that the ends of your hair are the oldest part of your hair strands that has grown, shed and exposed to the most heat and tension.
Finger vs. CombCombs have been known to produce more tension during detangling and sometimes cause the hair strands to rip out of the scalp. Instead of carefully unraveling the knots, the combing method may cause you to take knots out by tearing them apart from the other strands. When hair rips, it creates a split in the hair cuticle and puts you at further risk of split ends. The debate over the best way to detangle your hair started when the natural hair community dubbed finger detangling as a better method, considering its close attention to detail and low manipulation. This is ideal if you have a lot of breakage and damage to your hair because you want to care for your hair without making it worse. This method also takes a lot longer. Using a comb or brush takes minutes, which is hugely convenient, whereas finger combing could take up to two hours, depending on length. So think about the difference in the amount of this time to the hair.
2. CleansingI love the feeling of getting my hair washed, especially when done by a professional at the salon. A scalp massage is so relaxing, and nothing is better than the relief from removing excess dirt after long days of work. As great as it feels to you, at the end of the washing, your hair should feel cleaner, not exposed. There are better ways to give your hair a fresh feel without harsh products. The shampoo and conditioner method was popular for traditional washing for years. Together they’re not so bad, but there are safer alternatives for cleansing your scalp to cater to its unique properties.
ShampooingUsing certain shampoos that contain sulfates and parabens bring forth rich lather that gives the feel of a deep clean but doesn’t actually benefit the strands 100%. A gentle, sulfate-free shampoo will clean your hair enough to be able to go on with your hair styling. Your hair is never supposed to be stripped of everything during shampooing because then your follicles immediately begin to produce excess nutrients to nourish the open strands. Putting your hair through extra work gives it a tired look and unfinished feel with all your natural styles. Those with greasy hair may need to rid of the excess oils since it replenishes quickly. But if your hair is dry, you are at risk for even drier hair.
Co-washingSometimes shampooing may not even be necessary; some naturals avoid shampoo altogether and opt for co-washing methods instead. Rather than cleaning with shampoo, using a conditioner provides a mild wash along with a softer and shinier finish. Hair that is a little bit dirty retains more of its natural oils when being cleaned, which is why they take the first step out of the picture. Especially for those with colored hair, it helps to wash solely with conditioner to keep up with your hair color and shine. So basically, those with finer, straighter, and oilier hair can benefit from shampoos, and curly, colored, or kinky hair types can go ahead with frequent co-washing. If you choose to co-wash only, then use a clarifying shampoo every once in a while to relive the hair of buildup. If you ever feel like you need to shampoo more than once, just do one good wash with the shampoo, and follow up with the conditioner for the second wash. Washing in sections also helps to ensure every part of your head is clean. After detangling each section, make sure to retwist the hair back into its section for equal parting for cleaning. The amount of product you use depends on the thickness of your hair. You want just enough to gently massage your shampoo or conditioner into your section, and distribute evenly throughout your stands, focusing on the ends. Rinse when complete with lukewarm water.
ConditioningConditioning follows the same guidelines as cleaning, as we take our time to wash and moisturize each section of our head. Conditioner restores our hair even better than how we started with the extra hydration needed to bring life to our strands. It works quickly, after leaving it in for a few minutes you can already feel the softness of your hair. This makes it easier to deal with for combing and styling after.
Basic ConditioningTo condition your hair, you can use the same method of shampooing by dispersing the product throughout the strands. You don’t want to overdo it with the conditioner, but you want enough so that your hair feels smoother and silkier as you apply it. After that, detangle the hair to allow the conditioner to work its way down to the roots. You can choose now to either let it sit for some time, but that length is dependent on you. With a shower cap or something to capture the heat coming from your natural body heat onto your head, you can leave the conditioner in from about 10 minutes to a few hours. Whenever you choose to finish your conditioning, properly rinse with cool water and go forth with drying.
Deep ConditioningA deep condition gives the treatment time to penetrate through the strands and repairs and prevents any damage to the hair. Also, another DIY where you can create your own hair mask to use as a deep conditioner to promote your hair’s elasticity as well. Those with dry hair and frequent breakage can benefit from a deep condition either biweekly or monthly. First, you must find either a deep conditioner to buy or make. Use a conditioner with ingredients that are beneficial to your hair’s needs. If you’re looking for strength or shine, find products that include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, shea butter, honey, egg whites, and lemon juice. There are endless options to choose from, so whatever makes your hair feel its best. If you are looking to treat damage or improve elasticity, then definitely a conditioner with protein is needed. Once you add your conditioner, you can add heat to improve the circulation throughout the treatment. Higher temperatures also allow the product to absorb fully into the follicles. Once complete, rinse to close the cuticles and style as desired.
DryingAfter you finish washing your natural hair with love, finish strong by drying your hair properly as well; whether you air dry, blow dry, or towel dry, you want to ensure you are doing so in a way not to cause any harm to your fresh hair.
Air DryShake, squeeze, run, or sit. Whatever method works for you during air dry. Once you’re not dripping wet anymore, you can still begin styling on damp hair and be on your way. Easy dry.
Blow DryNothing wrong with using a hot tool to help dry your hair, but you want to ensure you’re not drying it out. As long as the temperature is not too hot, and you don’t rely on blow drying too often, it is totally okay to be able to use a hairdryer to for a quick dry and style.
Towel DryYou want to make sure to use a microfiber towel when drying your hair yourself. Before you even reach for your towel, try to squeeze or shake out any excess water, just to make the drying process a little easier. Don’t rub the hair either, just dabbing it dry keeps the hairs from accidentally getting pulled out. A soft, cotton t-shirt also works if you don’t have the proper towel.
Knowing Where You StandUnderstanding yourself is getting to know your hair, and this is key to choosing the proper to wash routine. The steps to gathering information on your strands are dependent on its curl pattern, porosity and whether or not it contains chemical treatments, which ultimately affects your hair’s manageability.
Curl PatternFiguring out your curl pattern is a great way to decide which products are best for you. To determine your curl pattern, follow the system used to categorize hair textures in four distinct ways: 1’s have straight hair, 2’s are wavy, 3’s are curly, and 4’s are coily. Each one gives a broad perspective on where your hair lies amongst all others and can be helpful when it comes to wash day. Your curl pattern tells you a lot about your hair make-up and what products are best for you to use. Common issues faced in this category is dryness and frizz. So when you are washing the hair, it’s best to use sulfate-free shampoos. And other products without an alkaline base so that it won’t strip your hair of its natural moisture. Also, ensure that you follow-up with a defrizzing spray, mousse or gel to maintain those bountiful curls and keep your definition through the day.
PorosityMany people with the same hair type do not have the same hair behavior only because of their porosity. Porosity refers to the effects of hair damage over the years. As we grow older, our hair begins to loosen in texture by heat exposure naturally. Porosity can also be genetic and lead to certain curl types. Knowing your natural hair’s type and porosity will allow you to opt for ideal products and methods that best suits its needs for your wash routine. If you get to know your porosity and stay consistent with your routine, you’re bound to see more growth and luster.
Low PorosityIf you have low porosity hair, your curls are tight and resistant to any liquid. Since it’s harder to absorb moisture, you must ensure you are using double the products to help the hair cuticle to retain it. This means using light hair oils and leave-in conditioners on top of your regular wash routine. The oils and creams should be distributed from root to tip and left in hours before you begin to wash your hair. Also, including a deep conditioning routine at the end helps to give your hair that extra boost of nutrients. You may need to search for those products with the alkaline chemical to open your strands to allow a smooth flow of moisture. Using the wrong regimen can result in a drastic change in your porosity, so make sure that you test your hair and get to know where you stand so you can maximize your hair products.
Medium PorosityThose with medium porosity will see the benefits of curls full of bounce and elasticity. It requires the least amount of maintenance due to its looser cuticle layer and easy acceptance of hair oils. The idea would be to remain consistent in your hair care routine and minimize breakage. Using low manipulation while washing your natural hair, plenty of moisture from oils and conditioning, and sleeping with a satin bonnet are just a few ways to keep the hair follicles in good shape.
High PorosityHigh porosity curls tend to absorb moisture quickly but dry at a faster rate. This is due to the highly exposed cuticle layer that allows too much moisture to escape throughout the day. It leaves hair feeling brittle and parched. The damaged cuticles are not often genetic, but unfortunately, it can be. Most people with highly porous hair strands will suffer from easy breakage and extreme dryness. It is strongly encouraged to treat your hair delicately to avoid this. If this is your hair’s type, you need products that help to keep hydration and ensure all-day moisture. Much like every other natural hair type, deep conditioning is a valuable step and should happen every washday. Also, a protein treatment along with the right oils are essential in your hair care routine.
The Natural TakeawayAlthough it may seem like a lot to manage your natural hair, remind yourself of the benefits of taking the time to cater to your own crown. In this day and age where we are embracing our physical selves, we want to be aware of our unique features and what makes us so great. No two heads are the same, so even in your wash routine, you should ensure that what you are using is perfect for you only. The bright side to this is that you have full control. You can make up your own schedule of when to clean and touch up your hair. You don’t have to inconvenience yourself or go out of your way to ensure you have healthy, natural hair. Take the time necessary to experiment until you find the perfect routine that you can stick to and master within a few months. Also, be sure to share with us and others in the comments of how you go about your wash day!
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