If one of your new year resolutions is to take better care of your Afro natural hair, then you’ve come to the right place. When you feel good, you look good and one of the most noticeable aspects of you as a person is your natural hair.
Dr Dami has put together 10 top tips for you to follow to grow your natural hair.
Use a sulphate-free shampoo
Many commercial shampoos contain sulphates, together with other ingredients which help with the lathering / cleansing process. However, these sulphates have a drying effect on afro-textured hair, which makes it prone to breakage. Sulphates that are extra drying include Ammonium lauryl and laureth sulphates followed by Sodium lauryl/ laureth sulphates. On the gentler end are the TEA and MEA lauryl sulphates. Prevention is better than cure and so with many sulphate free shampoos now available on the shelves of most supermarkets and pharmacies, these provide a much safer alternative.
You know the way some hairstylists scratch your scalp with their fingernails, washing the hair in a zig-zag manner, well that is totally unacceptable for two reasons. Firstly, by scratching the scalp you are damaging the cells in the top layer of the scalp. Secondly, washing in a haphazard manner simply creates unnecessary knots and tangles. I personally choose to wash my hair in sections only, as it makes it so much easier to manipulate; Yes, it may take more time, and require some patience, but it’s totally worth it.
Deep conditioning is very important for restoring the health of the hair after exposure to the elements. It is good to do this weekly or fortnightly, covering the hair with a plastic cap, for several minutes with or without heat. Conditioner-washing is another good way of adding moisture to the hair and can be done a couple times a week.
When drying the hair, it is important to pat the hair dry with a towel or micro-fibre cloth. Once again, that haphazard towel drying they do in most salons is simply unacceptable for the reasons mentioned above. Air drying is also generally recommended being a heat-free method; But if you must blow-dry, use a cool setting and blow-dry in sections to avoid tangles.
Moisturizing and sealing
As natural hair is prone to dryness, it’s important to use a moisturizer or spray bottle containing water as frequently as needed. Sealing the moisturized hair with oil further helps to trap in the moisture. It is also good to oil the scalp periodically with essential oils, some of which promote hair growth.
Use a wide toothed comb
Afro-textured natural hair in particular is very prone to breakage as each kink or turn is a point of weakness on the hair strand. As such, it is imperative to use a wide-toothed comb when combing the hair. Fine toothed tail combs are a NO-NO irrespective of what your hair stylist tells you. If you are going to attempt to comb your hair, my advice first is to detangle your hair with your fingers and then to comb it when wet and covered in conditioner, or at the very least after misting the hair with water.
As the ends of your hair are the oldest part of the hair they need to be kept away from the elements or fabrics which may cause friction and breakage. As such, protective styles such as buns, twists, braids or weaves may be used to protect fragile ends.
You are what you eat. Our hair and nails are usually the last ‘organs’ in our body to absorb nutrients as our heart and brains take preference as they are more important in keeping us alive. Hence, it is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Foods rich in biotin (vit B) and protein for example are good for the hair, and some people take B-vitamins to complement what they may be lacking in their diet.
Exercise is very important as it increases blood flow which in turn increases the rate at which oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the cells of the body. As such it is assumed that regular exercise will increase blood flow and hence nutrient delivery to the scalp which will encourage hair growth.
Major stressful events (e.g. the death of a loved one or severe financial burdens) can actually cause hair loss. Two hair loss conditions associated with stress include:
- Alopecia areata: where the body starts to attack its own hair follicles, causing the hairs from these follicles to fall out. This often times leads to patches of hair loss and in more sever forms complete baldness.
- Telogen effluvium: stress pushes large numbers of growing hair into a resting phase causing the affected hairs to fall off within a few months. People with this condition report thinning hair and notice fairly large amounts of hair falling off when combing.
So that’s all for now folks. We’d love to know how you get on with these tips so drop us a comment below.