Despite all the buzz to the contrary on natural black haircare, transitioning from relaxed to natural hair does not have to be traumatizing. If you have worn your hair permed or relaxed for many years, look at the transitioning stage as a formal re-introduction to the natural hair your momma gave you!
Every woman who decides to go natural carries a unique blueprint that is her natural tresses. No two heads are alike. Embrace the fact that what you have is beautiful, not to mention a head turner.
Do You Know Your Curl Pattern?
Every person is born with a hair type that is all their own. Stylist Andre Walker, created a system for classifying specific hair types or patterns.
Curly/kinky is Type 4A, 4B or 4C. Type 4 can resemble small spirals the diameter of a crochet needle, or be tightly coiled. Curly/kinky is at the greatest risk for breakage because of the curl pattern and needs consistent moisture.
Curly is Type 3A, 3B or 3C and can range from loose ringlets to slightly more tightly defined, spiral curls the size of a pen.
Type 2 is wavy hair, with variations ranging from 2A to 2B to 2C – with 2C being the most wavy within the 2 category of wavy hair.
Straight hair is classified as Type 1. Straight is the strongest of all hair types and is generally harder to hold a curl.
Many of us may have various curl patterns on our head! The crown could be 3b while the nape of the neck is 4a for example. There are a growing number of people who don’t subscribe to Andre Walker’s curl pattern classification because they feel that it is too restricting, or that it perpetuates the stereotype of the “good hair”, “bad hair” mentality.
We think that it is a useful tool to help us to understand our hair better. The system was not meant to reinforce old school negative connotations.
Transition Style Plan: Before The “The Big Chop”
Some women are tempted to cut all their relaxed hair off when deciding to go natural. Others cut as much of the permed or relaxed portion of their hair off as possible and work on nurturing their new growth – or the new hair that grew in after the perm. It is best to plan the big chop only after you have an idea of how you want to look and what you will look like with short hair.
You know yourself better than anyone and can envision what you will look like with a shorter style than you may be used to wearing. You can also talk with a stylist to get a second opinion based on the shape of your face. Remember, you can always enhance your short style with plenty of hair accessories – medium- to large-sized earrings, headbands, and colorful scarves. Your hair will grow healthy, beautiful, and stronger than ever.
Transition Style Plan: Without “The Big Chop”
Not everyone feels comfortable with cutting their hair off in order to transition completely over to a natural hairstyle. A slower crawl towards natural hair can be accomplished with twists, braids, flat twists or other styles that allows you to keep your hair length during the transition process. If you choose to keep your relaxed hair while your natural hair is growing out, be sure to trim the ends and deep condition regularly as the line of demarcation between the natural and relaxed hair is weak and prone to breakage.
One huge mistake that many women make while taking care of their natural hair is overloading it with lots of grease or oils. You may feel that this is the best way to keep your hair from being dry and frizzy. This is only partially true. Our natural hair needs lots of natural moisture – lightweight, lightly applied oils – to lock in that moisture to our hair and scalp. The best are natural moisturizers that get absorbed into our hair instead of laying on top of our hair like hair grease. Hair grease with petroleum and mineral oils prevent moisture from absorbing into the hair shaft. Some better alternatives include:
• Coconut oil
• Shea butter
• Jojoba oil
Avoid products with mineral oil, silicone, or petroleum which just sit on top of the hair. Remember that you need moisture that penetrates the hair shaft which will keep your hair properly moisturized. This not only protects your hair from breakage, but helps to bring out your natural curl pattern.
Always Protect Your Hair When Sleeping
Sleeping provides a special challenge to natural hair if you do not prepare and protect it. You want to avoid matting, tangling and breakage as much as possible. Sleep on satin pillowcases or use a satin cap. You can also twist or braid your hair in big sections before sleeping.
The transition over to natural black hair care is easier than you think and well worth the effort for healthy, head turning natural hair.
Shea butter is an ivory coloured fat extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. It is used widely in cosmetics as a moisturizer and sometimes used in the chocolate industry as a substitute for cocoa butter.
The use of shea butter has increased in popularity in the last few years with the increase in demand for more natural products for black curly hair types. Although its popularity in the west has only increased in recent years, in some parts of Africa it has been used for hundreds of years!
The best shea butter to use is the unrefined kind as all its healing properties are still intact. The refining process apart from adding different chemicals to the shea butter raises the temperature to about 400 degrees F which makes it lose some of its healing properties. Unrefined shea butter comes in blocks or can be bought already packed in jars. It is odourless if 100% pure or can be bought ready fragranced with essential oils.
Using it on the hair can be in a variety of ways.
o You can apply it straight to damp hair. It tends to be a bit hard in its natural state but will readily melt and be absorbed when it comes in contact with the skin or hair.
o You can also make shea butter easier to apply. Place the shea butter in a double boiler and melt it on a low heat. Add a natural oil to the shea butter e.g. extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil and stir until thoroughly mixed. The natural oil should make up about ¼ the volume of the shea butter. Pour the mixture back into a jar. Due to the addition of the olive oil, the shea butter will remain relatively soft when completely cooled and set and is easier to apply to the hair.
o Another way of using shea butter is to whip it with a few other natural ingredients and essential oils to make a homemade butter. A simple recipe is below.
Shea butter crème
1. 4 tablespoons shea butter
2. 2 tablespoon cocoa butter
3. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4. A few drops of your favourite essential oil for fragrance
Melt the shea butter and cocoa butter in a double boiler over a low heat until melted and add the olive oil. Pour the oils into a bowl and at this point, add a few drops of the essential oil for fragrance. Put your bowl over another bowl filled with ice to allow the oils to set faster. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is light and fluffy (you may want to use an electric hand whisk for this. Spoon into a jar and enjoy!
This recipe makes an excellent hair moisturizer and sealer for both natural and relaxed black hair. It also makes a wonderful body butter!
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It estimated around 70 % of Black women relax their hair. However, alarmingly approximately 67% of these will suffer a side effect ranging from breakage, being the most common, to shedding; to alopecia; to chemical burns. Long-term use of relaxers is implicated as a factor in the development of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, and believed to be a factor in the development of severe contact dermatitis.
The structure of hair consists of polypeptide chains connected by ends bonds and interlinked with side bonds. There are 3 types of side links: disulfide bonds, salt bonds and hydrogen bonds, all of which work together to form an incredibly strong structure.
Disulphide bonds are the strongest links and account for about a third of the hair’s strength. Hair relaxers work by altering the chemistry of these bonds.
Relaxer creams have a high alkalinity level which is required to open the hair cuticle and allow penetration of the chemicals into the shaft. Once inside, the chemical reactions break the cross bond attachment allowing the polypeptide chain to be free to adopt its new shape. Hence wise your hairdresser must continually smooth your hair to coerce the chain into the required straightened position. Neutralizer is then applied to deactivate the chemical reaction and normalise the pH level.
Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is commonly found in relaxers as it by far the most effective straightener. Nevertheless, the pH of Sodium Hydroxide can exceed 13.0, whereas the normal pH of hair is 5. It is an extremely corrosive chemical also used in hair depilatories, as well as drain pipe cleaners due to its effectiveness strength. Other chemicals used tend to be marketed as No-Lye products, using chemical such as guanidine hydroxide, but work very much on the same principle. Although these may reduce scalp irritation, they tend to have a higher pH than sodium hydroxide. They also tend not to straighten the hair as well and so retouching is required more frequently. In addition, no-lye relaxers work by removing moisture from the cortex causing the hair to become dry and porous. So overall these have the potential to be more damaging. Unfortunately for some, once the disulfide bonds are broken not all reform cross links, leaving the hair in a weaken state.
However, some of his damage can be prevented by undertaking a thorough evaluation of the hair type and condition before applying a relaxer. This should consist of 3 tests:
· Elasticity Test
Strong hair exhibits good elasticity, whereas reduced elasticity indicates a pre-treatment regime is required before continuing with a relaxer.
· Strand Test
This provides an indication of the outcome, particularly in terms of elasticity. If the hair shows signs of reduced elasticity and breaks easily, then the relaxer should be delayed and a treatment programme followed.
· Porosity Test
Ideally should be undertaken on different sections of the head to assess cuticle damage. Damaged cuticles feel very rough in texture as opposed to the smoothness of healthy strands.
Overall while relaxer applications can be damaging to the hair, the key to prevention is, knowing your hair type and the type of relaxer you intend using. With proper care, conditioning and understanding, you can help to avoid the pitfalls which affect the majority of women who relax their hair.
This is a question on a lot of people’s minds. These days the products and myths that claim to do just that are quite incredible.
But the bottom line is this:
If your natural hair does not seem to grow, then something is NOT right somewhere.
Your hair should (naturally) grow up to or more than 6 inches in ONE year. That’s more than half an inch a month! That may not seem like a lot to most people, but just get a ruler and check how long six inches is.
Hair Growth – The Basics
In order to know how to grow long black hair, you need to first understand how it behaves and what makes it flourish.
Black hair as with any other hair needs plenty of nutrients pumped at the base of the hair follicle in order to grow. The more nutrients you give the hair follicle the longer your hair will grow. For years, people have done all kinds of things in order to stimulate hair growth – remember the hair pulling or brushing to get more blood flow to the base etc.
The idea behind hair growth is to stimulate the scalp enough to encourage the blood vessels at the bottom of the hair follicle to deliver more blood than usual to the follicle so that the follicle can get the nutrients from the blood that it needs to make your hair grow. That’s the simple explanation and it works most of the time.
The only time this will not work is if the follicle has died and can no longer produce any hair, no matter what you do. If it is still active but had been a little bit slow because of diseased etc then this process will always produce a result.
This is all well and good but it is important to get the right types of nutrients to the hair follicle! This part most people tend to ignore. What you eat plays a vital role in the condition of your hair.
Which nutrients work best for maximum black hair growth?
One of the best ways to get your hair to grow faster is not just to eat food rich in amino acids, vitamins and other minerals like zinc but is also to use hair products that contain amino acids in them.
The reason’s very simple, hair is made up of a protein and proteins are made of amino acids. When you give your hair more amino acids, it can’t help but grow.
Here is an example of the types of foods rich in protein:
Eating food rich in protein will help your hair grow faster because hair is made up of mainly protein. Foods that are rich in protein include:
o Brewer’s yeast
o Soy milk
o Wheat germ
o Low fat cheese
o Lecithin granules
Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, liver and lecithin granules are also rich in vitamin B, which is very important for hair growth.
All good pieces of advice on making black hair grow is basically the same? For instance, experts say that if you eat healthy and get regular hair trims you will stimulate your hair to grow better. This is quite true, but there are tons of homemade hair products that can be of use to your black mane. If you think there’s nothing that can make black hair grow, you are mistaken. Let’s look at some things that can change your hair line for the better.
To start from the basics, as I already mentioned is that you need to get regular hair trims. This is because you want to get rid of split and damaged ends and avoid any situation where you constantly have to cut off all of your hair that has grown during some period of time. You need to go to your hair dresser every four to five weeks and you will not have problems with split ends.
Second you should not brush your hair immediately after you’ve washed it. You can first use a towel to dry it a little bit and then detangle it with a wide tooth comb. This will minimize tears and damages.
Healthy nutrition is important as well, if you want to make black hair grow. Drink plenty of water every day and have an abundant intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. They will contribute to better health of your hair and strengthen it.
Hair products are another important factor when it comes to making black hair grow. You want to use hair product something that is natural and won’t damage your hair. Here are some recipes for hair packs and remedies that are guaranteed to bring your hair back to life:
Olive and mustard oils are good for your hair when you apply them regularly. The best way to use it is to use them overnight. The latter one is also good if boiled and massaged into the scalp.
Apart from regular shampoos, you can use a paste made of cooked black beans and fenugreek (methi). It is a perfect natural shampoo. To use simply apply this alternative shampoo on your mane two to three times a week.
Some good hair rinsing solutions are made of lemon and coriander juice. Any of these liquids will contribute to your hair growth.
When it comes to making black hair grow you need ways to stop dandruff. There are a couple of good ways to get rid of dandruff. The first one is to apply a mixture of water and vinegar and keep it on your hair during the night. Rinse it again in the morning with the same mixture and then wash it. The second way is to make a paste out of ground fenugreek seeds with water and also leave it on your hair to work during the night.
A very good remedy is a natural fruit hair pack. A natural fruit hair pack is a mixture of banana and honey. Mix it together and leave it on your hair for up to forty minutes and then wash it off.
Believe it or not, you can prevent hair from growing grey. This is a convenient addition for those who want to make black hair grow better and are in their middle age. Just mix together Bhringraj (Eclipta elba), corals, iron, Amla with black sesame seeds. Mash and mix this together and then apply this to your hair and you should see the results.
As you can see, maintaining hair healthy and growing it long is not a big deal. You have to think about it and understand that you should keep your entire body healthy in order to make black hair grow. Plus, there is a whole variety of homemade remedies that will strengthen and revive your hair. So, improve your hair immediately