I  have had a few friends and family tell me they were considering going natural, Now although i am
 usually excited to hear this,  I never fail to ask the question why?

You know, the "why" is always important especially when the evil days of detangling come (lol, i don't mean to scare you).  But seriously, I always advice any one considering going natural to get informed. Where exactly do you get information?  I actually started out randomly searching natural hair blogs, YouTube videos ( oh my gosh!!!! ).Lets not talk about my addiction to You Tube, agreed?  Great!!

 I am basically going to ramble about things i have learnt while stumbling along on this journey. Now don't get overwhelmed, stay with me, I have got you.

Scalp and Hair needs to be Cleansed

It is important to let your scalp breathe and be free from residue.(That's it, nothing profound, lol)

What I look out for:

Sodium Laurel Sulfate(SLS)  free shampoo's : SLS overly strips curly hair of natural oils leaving it sad, dry, brittle and dull. Now,  i do not know about you but ain't no body got time for that. SLS is also a suspect for numerous health related and irritation reasons.

Things I have tried 

In no particular order i have tried the following scalp cleansing methods:

  • Co-Washing - Co-washing simply means washing your hair with conditioner, some conditioners left my scalp  really itchy but co-washing is one of the ways to wash hair without overly stripping your natural oils also there are conditioners specifically made for co-washing.
  •  Apple cider vinegar(ACV) diluted in water: I don't have much to say about this, but it seemed to work pretty well in cleaning my scalp but i do miss the sudsy feel of a shampoo.
  • Bentonite Clay: Bentonite clay mixed with ACV  is great as a face mask and also great for giving your hair a thorough cleanse, it left my hair feeling soft and super defined. Application of the clay can be a bit messy and it can be rather difficult to get out of the scalp completely.
  • SLS Free Shampoo: Due to my current use of coconut oil as a detangling and conditioning treatment before washing my hair, my hair feels very oily after wash days so am going to try using an SLS Free shampoo.
  • Water Washing: Yep! you read right,  washing with just water. I did this for a while to allow my natural oils(sebum) coat my hair, it was pretty great actually but i was not  patient enough to finger detangle my hair  at the time which the method encouraged so... my hair clumped like crazy not the curly bouncy clumps but stringy and straight looking. (hmm... now that i think of it i might actually have been forming dread locks unconsciously).

 How often should I wash my hair? I imagine you screaming; well it depends on you.  Do you use a lot of products? Do you exercise daily? Do you oil your scalp etc You get the point right?

For me i have gone through phases where i washed my hair weekly, every three days and even monthly(yes! hard choices had to be made , Graduate school is no joke.) . Now i am back to weekly hair washing because my hair just thrives better when i wash my hair weekly, fewer tangles, hair hardly gets dry and all that good stuff naturals want.

Hair needs to be moisturized

I would like to think of moisturizing my hair as watering a plant and you can't water a plant without water can you? Personally i gave up on leave in conditioners because i started becoming overwhelmed with the whole hair care process, too many steps, spending so much money, so i stopped. Another reason is that  since i wash my hair weekly i feel my hair is just fine.

 Here is what i do, On wash days while my hair is still damp, I just seal my hair with my sheabutter and coconut oil mix. Then if i need a refresher within the week i just lightly spritz my hair with water and then seal with my sheabutter and coconut oil mix. That's all.

Hair needs to be strengthened

I refer to this step as a routine check up. Deep conditioning and protein treatment have been life savers for my hair , don't fret i will tell you what they are:

 Deep conditioning  Is an intense conditioning treatment designed to moisturize the hair. It is  either done with store both conditioners made specifically for that purpose or food based concoctions(avocado, banana, honey, eggs, yogurt, mayonnaise etc ) usually under heated conditions(heating caps, warm towels, dryers, etc) for long periods of time, am talking ranging from 30 mins to even overnight treatments. These could be done monthly or each wash day depending on how long you like your wash day to last.  Warning: be careful not to start a fire with your towel in the microwave, i did that, lol.

Protein Treatments are similar to deep-conditioning treatments but a protein based conditioner or food is used and its main purpose is to strengthen the hair. Why would you need this? Fun fact, hair is made up of 90% protein. What?!!
 So due to pollution, exposure to sun and chemicals over time hair experiences protein degradation or loss, living your hair lifeless, limp, brittle and prone to breakage. I usually do this once a month with either  concoctions such as egg yolks, coconut oil  and conditioner mix or just store bought protein conditioners, am currently using Aubrey organics glycogen protein balancing conditioner.

With conditioners i tend to watch out for parabens and silicons .I avoid  parabens for health reasons some  silicon container conditioners don't rinse out well with just water and constant use leads to build up of products on the hair which could lead to dryness.

Hair needs to be protected

Protect hair at night while you sleep either with a satin/silk bonnet, satin/silk scarf, or satin pillow case.

Protective and Low manipulation styles: hair styles that are edge friendly(no tight braids), and keep you from pulling and tugging at your hair everyday, this could be braids, weaves, wigs, simple updos, buns etc Just keep your ends protected.

Other things you may stumble on, along your way

Hair typing!!! While i think its important to know your hair type so as to enable you better care for it, i do not think it should be belabored. you probably have different textures all over your head any way. Get to know your hair and love it. I tell you the spirit of texture denial and wanting other peoples hair texture is real.

Defined Curl Obsession!! Oh Lord, don't get me started on this, when i first started growing out my hair, i thought my hair will be defined and curled like Tracy Ellis Ross's hair, boy  was i wrong, the sooner you learn to work with your hair the happier you will be. Figure out your hair strengths and work with those. Do not get played by all the define your curls products. Know that certain styles may look different depending on your hair type and texture.

Product Junky Syndrom!! Buying every new product reviewed and recommended by other naturals, Is a sure way to go bankrupt!! find your basics and stick to them, it doesn't have to cost you a fortune to care for your hair.

Hair length check Obsession!! Measuring your hair every single day is the best way to drive your self crazy. Trust me. You could check twice a year or every other month, don't get sucked into tugging and pulling.

Watch out for Hair Nazis:  there has been a lot of hostility and negativity especially when one tries to break from the current norm of the natural hair community or God forbid when a natural goes back to being relaxed. Just do you and work around what you like.

Every body's hair seems to be growing except mine: I remember watching videos of people's hair  who i felt went natural at the same time as i did and wondered why my hair wasn't growing. So it seemed at the time, but the truth is.... growing out your hair takes time. Except you have a health challenge that affects your hair growth  or something more extreme going on in your body, hair is always growing.  I find that the problem is "Hair retention" If you find that your hair length remains the same for years I would suggest you reevaluate current practices such as detangling(are you ripping through your hair), is your hair chronically dry, do you protect it while you sleep, do you protect your ends from day to day wear, do you use heat etc  re-evaluate your practices and get back to work. To convince you that your hair is growing, remember when you would notice new hair growth at your roots after getting a touch up just  2 or 3 months ago. Where did all that hair go? 

I guess this is all i have to say for now, Hope this helps.
Have fun with your Journey!!