Part 1 washing/cleansing your hair
Caring for our hair, whether it’s relaxed or natural, usually in protective styles or covered by a wig. It is something that we need to take seriously if we want to maintain shiny, hydrated, and easy to manage healthy hair. My hair (textured hair type 3 & 4) tends to get very dry, and depending on your hair type, results in breakage and dull looking, hard to manage hair.
In that regard, based on my personal hair journey, I have decided to write a series of articles discussing various hair care basics like cleansing, treating, moisturising and hydrating textured hair. The goal is to lay out various ideas to enable you to easily decide whether these steps are necessary for you and what type of routine would best fit your lifestyle.
Over the past few years it has become more apparent that the various products we use in our hair do not actually do our hair any good, in some cases it even damages our hair. Also certain routines we have grown up with were not always ideal for textured hair. For me it was products like Dax, which in hindsight did nothing for my hair other than weigh it down with oil making it dry and brittle, and Pink oil moisturiser, which just gave me split ends and did nothing else.
It wasn't until I started using ORS products about 8-9 years ago that I actually started to see the benefits of caring for my hair. It started to look healthy and actually grow. My hair was relaxed at the time,so obviously being natural is a whole different ball game.
Over the past few months I've been experimenting with different products and routines to find the best one for me. Routines that wouldn't take much time as I have two little munchkins grabbing at me 24/7.
In this article I’ll be discussing cleansing.
1 - pre shampoo treatment or no pre shampoo treatment.
pre-shampoo can be as important as actually cleansing your hair. Applying a product like coconut oil to your hair before cleansing will help avoid the hair condition, I had never heard about till recently, known as “hygral fatigue.” Hygral fatigue is when your hair cuticle is damaged due to excessive moisture entering and exiting it. if you notice that your hair stretches less than normal when wet, and after you pull it it doesn't return to its normal state, that’s a sign of hygral fatigue. Polar oils e.g. coconut oil, are able to bind to proteins in the hair shaft resulting in fewer water molecules binding to the hair which results in less swelling.If you don’t want to go the coconut oil route, drying your hair quickly (immediately after cleansing) also helps.
2 - Cleansing
When it comes to cleansing your hair, some say it is important for afro hair to not be over-washed with harsh products. You need to use products that will gently cleanse the hair without stripping it of its natural oils. In this regard it is best to choose a sulfate-free shampoo, shampoo your hair once a month or so and co-wash inbetween. I am currently using Pattern shampoo and As I Am Coconut co-wash, as they work well for me.
3 - Condition then detangle
If you have textured hair, you need a conditioner (I’m sure you've noticed how dry our hair tends to get). Conditioners help to hydrate and restore moisture to the hair follicles. Even if you feel like your hair is healthy, shampoo is super drying, and lathering up without conditioning could leave your hair dry, weak and brittle, and therefore more susceptible to damage and breakage. Applying a conditioner is also a great way to detangle long hair without pulling, tugging or breaking it with a comb. I am currently using Pattern’s Intensive conditioner which my hair loves! I only use this when I shampoo my hair. When I co-wash I go straight to leave in.
4 - Leave in Conditioner
Leave-in conditioners, sprays, and creams are a must for manageability and hydration. The right leave in can help provide extra moisture as well as detangle strands, which helps make styling easier. You can apply your leave in after the cleansing process and you can also use it when your hair is dry. It’s the perfect go to for daily moisture and hydration. Of all the leave ins I have tried, Cantu's Leave in conditioning repair cream is the best so far. It leaves my hair feeling soft, hydrated and oh so manageable.
How often should you cleanse your hair?
This is a question only you can answer. As the answer depends on how much product you put on your hair on a daily basis, as well as how dehydrated your hair gets. Since textured hair requires more moisture and hydration than other hair types, it is a good idea to cleanse or rinse out product from your hair often (by cleanse I mean co wash). I have short hair so I can do this about three times a week. This allows my hair to stay hydrated, leaving it no time to dry out. Also because I have short hair I tend to regularly put products in my hair to attain my preferred/desired style. So I like to wash that out regularly too. Not to mention I’m a great fan of my wash n go styles, with my short hair it’s easy to wash regularly or at least just rinse out product from my hair regularly.
For long hair, because of the fact afro hair needs to be hydrated, i would say once a week, or once in 2 weeks if you really don’t have the time. If you can get into the habit of doing that the results will be clear.
Then again if you don’t use much product in your hair, on a dry hair day, you could just spray on some water as needed before applying products.
Knowledge is key but it is never good to overload on information. Hair care is all about understanding your hair and it’s needs. Once you get a handle on that, then it's a breeze. Then you know what to take and what to leave as you consume new information.
Look out for the next article in the series where I’ll be discussing moisturising and hydrating.