SO I have been receiving all these emails asking me about natural hair and how to grow hair long.
I think step one is patience and, two, loving your hair. I roped in Mwanabibi Sikamo who is my natural hairspiration to guest-write. Her advice and tip have helped me grow my hair to what it is now.
Mwanabibi is operations manager at Zedhair which is all about entailing that women have the necessary information and products to achieve healthy natural hair through the blog, workshops, consultations and events.
Head over to Zedhair.com and see if you won’t come thank me. So heres Mwanabibis piece:
One would think that having kinky natural hair in a country like Zambia is the norm but it isn’t. Anyone who has healthy looking natural hair is familiar with the question, “How do you manage it?” as if it’s some sort of beast that needs taming.
Wigs, weaves and braids are extremely popular at the moment but step into any salon and you will be aghast at the sheer volume of receding hairlines these glamorous hairstyles disguise.
It’s a little ironic that repeated use of synthetic hair is leading more and more women to embrace their own natural hair. Here’s the dilemma, women have spent so much time altering their hair that they no longer know how to deal with it as it grows from the root.
Too often natural hair is seen as the last resort. Kinky hair is the most versatile hair type and once you have grasped a few basic principles you’ll wonder why you spent so much time hiding it away. So how do you manage natural hair?
1) Ditch the beauty store and head to the supermarket
This might be surprising advice as many salons and beauty supply stores are lined with rows and rows of hair products that claim to produce miraculous results. The problem is that many of these are full of mineral oil and silicone which clog pores and prevent moisture from penetrating the hair strand.
Clogged pores could cause product build up and many to believe that they have dandruff. The fact is that for most people, once they have desisted from the use of mineral oil laden Vaseline-like products, their scalps are far healthier.
Natural hair requires moisture. In fact if there is a secret to natural hair maintenance this is it – water. Mineral oil and silicones like dimethicone are designed to make the hair look shiny and healthy but all they are doing is masking the true health of the hair and blocking moisture uptake.
Natural oils such as coconut oil, olive oil or avocado oil are far healthier options. Other useful products for hair found in supermarket aisles include yoghurt and mayonnaise for strengthening deep conditioning treatments, honey to help soften the hair and apple cider vinegar for cleansing.
2) Kinkiness does not equal stubbornness
Many of us spent hours in salons as children wincing with pain as hairdressers attempted to tame our hair into submission. Contrary to popular belief natural hair is not inherently stubborn.
Countless women feel that they have the toughest hair known to man simply because they do not know how to take proper care of it. Get into the practice of applying natural oils to damp hair and you will be amazed by how this simple act transforms your hair.
Natural hair is fragile because every twist and coil is a possible point of breakage. You need your hair to be soft yet strong in order to withstand the constant manipulation it undergoes.
Regular conditioning not only increases your ability to retain length, it also increases its malleability and allows you to mould it into a variety of styles. Condition your hair every time you shampoo it.
3) Not all naturals are created equal
Natural hair may look the same to the naked eye but it isn’t. There is a variety of factors that needs to be taken into account when choosing techniques and products for handling natural hair.
Women within the same family may discover that they react differently to the same products. Porosity; the hair’s ability to retain moisture, strand thickness and density are all factors to take into account.
There is no easy way out of this. Natural hair does not mean you can just roll out of bed, call your hair shaggy and walk out the door. It requires a consistent approach and the ability to react to your individual hair needs.
Most Zambian hairdressers won’t know how to adequately care for your hair and if you are not confident doing your own hair then you must be able to give instructions on handling and product choices if you want it to stay healthy. The only way you can do this is if you develop a keen understanding of what your hair likes and what it doesn’t.
4) Beauty is not pain
Tiny micro braids, over blowing, shiny scalps taut from painful cornrows. These lead to unhealthy hair and are certainly a factor in our ever increasing foreheads. Beauty does not hurt, well waxing does, but in general beauty shouldn’t. The rule of thumb is that, if it hurts it’s probably doing more harm than good. Naomi Campbell learnt this the hard way. Ditch the harmful practices before it’s too late!
5) Your hair does not grow from your scalp
Actually, it does but now you’re paying attention. Hair does not need fertiliser. All hair, including Caucasian hair, grows at more or less the same rate; the difference is that kinky hair is more likely to break because it has so many fragile coils and twists.
The reason most of us retouch our hair every six weeks is because the hair has grown. The trick with natural hair care is in retaining the length that you have gained.
Applying thick oils to the scalp disturbs the natural sebum of the hair which does a great job all by itself. It doesn’t help that so many hair grows profess to be “fertiliser” or “miracle grow” serums. Here’s some advice that applies to many things in life. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
There are no tricks or miracles but these five basic principles will certainly go a long way to ensuring that you are able to manage and retain healthy natural hair.
Mwanabibi Sikamo; blogger, freelance writer, natural hair workshops and consultations.