Hello my gorgeous friends.
Today I want to talk about being newly natural and confused AF.
As usual, there will be amazon affiliate links.
And as with all stuff, this is my experience. Your mileage may vary. Before we get into tips, let’s talk natural hair jargon.
Low/no poo- this is basically when you either use sulfate shampoos rarely or not at all.
Sulfates- OKAY here is a thing. A lot of natural hair related stuff will scare tactic you with the term sulfates. OMG SO DANGEROUS, DESTROYS HAIR..IT IS DISHSOAP. Nope. Sulfate only describes the stuff that makes the thing clean your hair. Or your car or your dishes. The sulfates in your shampoo are not exactly the same as what you use in your dishwasher. Sulfate shampoos are not inherently evil. Some folks have hair that can tolerate being super squeaky cleaned with suds, some don’t.
In the same vein, CHEMICALS. Okay, let’s have a real talk. Chemicals are everything, everything is chemicals. Water is a chemical. Chemicals are not to be inherently feared because they are both natural and man made. That said, anything can cause an adverse reaction and that does not automatically mean a product or ingredient is the devil. You can be allergic to water.
Pro tips about allergens: if you have a nut allergy be very careful using anything with shea butter or coconut oil. How do you know if you’re having a reaction? Redness, intense itching, hives etc. If you have those, or fear a reaction, stop using something. If it is i n your hair, try shampooing with a gentle shampoo and rinsing very very well.
Cowash- As I talked about here, this is using conditioner or a conditioner based cleanser to clean your hair.
L.O.C Method- My personal favorite method of keeping my hair well moisturized and in good condition. It stands for Leave In, Oil and Cream. We’ll talk about that a bit further down.
EVOO- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pre-poo- Treating your hair with conditioner or oil prior to washing.
DCing- Deep conditioning. Using a dedicated deep conditioner ideally under a plastic cap or bag, for 15 minutes to however long with or without extra heat.
Big Chop- Cutting off all your relaxed hair.
Transition- Going natural without a big chop.
Tip no. 1) Limit yourself as to how much advice you take in. Including mine. I got very big eyes when I first went natural and in the process wound up spending a lot of money, doing some damage to my hair and ultimately feeling really stressed that my transition to natural wasn’t going like it seemed to go in the hair blogs. So, slow your roll.
2.) Start simple. Whether you big chop or transition start easy. Establish a simple routine for yourself so you have a baseline idea of how to take care of your hair. When I transitioned to natural here’s what I did: I found that my hair responds well to heavier butter based moisturizers. I started using whipped shea butters to moisturize my hair. I discovered that my hair doesn’t really like hard core protein. Basically, take your time and get to know your hair.
This is especially important for those who had relaxed hair for a really long time. Let me tell you a story.
When I was first fully natural I was envisioning myself with a perfectly round little afro (a TWA) just like my Mom had back in the day. I remembered her tightly coiled hair and how shiny it was and yadda yadda.
What I have…is not that on my head. My natural hair is incredibly variously textured. From 4/a/b in spots to almost straight in a few sections. I thought it was damaged so I spent the first few years being natural cutting a lot off of my hair. Then I realized that’s just my hair.
Other things to get to know about your hair when you’re starting out. I wish I’d known about porosity. Once you figure out what kind of porosity you’re working with, learning what products work for you will be easier.
3.) If you don’t know how, try learning how to cornrow. I personally can’t. I’ve tried and tried and can’t do it. But, I do believe it’s a great skill to have.
4.) Start out with good habits. Don’t detangle on dry hair. Soak it in conditioner or oil or get it wet. Work in sections. Even if your hair is very short, learn to work in sections. Learn to shampoo properly. Concentrate shampoo on your scalp and let the run off cleanse your hair. As a general rule, if you shampoo spend twice the time rinsing than you do sudsing. Don’t use your nails on your scalp use the pads of your fingers.
5.) Figure out a good method to trim your hair. Alternately decide if you want a pro to do it. I use the search and destroy method most often.
Those are my tips for those just starting. Let’s talk some details.
I’ll tell you about my routine with my hair.
I’m a protective styler. Mainly because I’m bad at styling but also because I’m trying to retain every bit of growth I get. My go to protective styles are buns and wigs.
Under my wig, my hair is braided into smallish braids. Not cornrows. I take them down every two weeks to cleanse. One week I will cowash another I will use shampoo. I always pre-treat my hair with coconut oil. After I do that, I wash and deep condition. I fully detangle my hair in the shower and put it into 4 big twists. I let that air dry a bit then I use the LOC method and rebraid my hair.
Every other month or so I deep clean my hair or clarify it. Pro-tip, if your hair isn’t taking moisture like it usually does, try doing this to strip all residue from your scalp and hair.
I will use the OGX Tea Tree and peppermint shampoo first. After I rinse that out, I use the Shea Moisture raw shea moisture retention shampoo. That combo does both my hair and scalp good.
I follow up clarifying with an intense deep conditioner. My favorites are the Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner but only in the packets. The bottle doesn’t seem to work as well for me. I’m also a big fan of the SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Masque. The Shea Moisture products tend to be very very heavily scented so be aware of that. I also love the Dark and Lovely AU Naturale Moisture L O C Deep Conditioning Delight.
Once my hair has air dried a bit I start with my LOC method. I have used Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin. I added a bit of light castor oil and it worked very nicely for me. For more slip, I highly recommend My DNA Leave-in Conditioner and Detangler. I used two bottles of this and it worked very nicely both times.
For oil you can use plain oils, probably not castor oil because of how heavy it is. But EVOO, coconut or whatever. I have a super secret about oils. I use commercial oils that have stuff I like in them. Check for hair loving herbs and stuff. My faves are, African Royale Hot Six Hair Oil, Doo Gro Mega Thick Growth Oil (I don’t know if this accelerates growth but I do love this formula).
For my cream layer I alternate between the Shea Moisture Strengthen Grow & Restore Loc & Braid Butter and a handmade whipped shea butter I picked up on etsy.
Usually because I always sleep with my hair wrapped I generally do this without unbraiding my hair twice a week.
Voila. A quick start guide.
Our next struggle bus naturals beginner thing, we’re going to talk about what to do with products you don’t particularly care for. We’ll talk about dollar store treasures. And talk about keeping your hair care budget manageable.
OH and last tip, stay hydrated. Being well hydrated is just all round good for you!