7 essential tips for natural hair

When I posted an article somewhat up against hair weaves some weeks ago, one of my close friends was in a salon getting a weave. In fact she was reading the post as the hair was getting sewn. Later on that night when we met up, I was expecting to see a woman feeling fly off the hairdresser’s chair but instead I met one who was disgruntled with her new do. You see what I mean, I said in my best know-it-all way, hair weaves are just too much hassle! She looked great though, I thought, but the next day she was back at the salon getting it all reworked on. Of course this was the perfect opportunity for me to impose my hair views on her!

I think the growing number of women opting for natural hair instead of relaxers and weaves is good in a political sense. But I never judge a woman by what’s on her head.

Anyway, here are some natural hair tricks that I’ve come to rely on since I stopped maltreating my hair. Do you have any you would add?

1. Moisturize more than seems sane.

What are the three words every woman with natural hair needs to hear? They aren’t ‘I love you’ (although that’s nice too), they are ‘leave-in conditioner’. It doesn’t necessarily matter which type you use, but how much you use. I suggest a very generous amount morning and night.

2. Make the investment

When it comes to the tools you use on your hair, invest in the best you can afford. Buy high quality straighteners, combs, rubber bands etc. or you might end up paying the price in restorative treatments.

3. Less is more.

In the unlikely case that your name is Rihanna, you really don’t need to surprise your co-workers with a new do every day. Find a hassle-free hairstyle that suits you and stick to it, at least for the most part. Your hair will thank you for it.

4. Wrap up.

Head wraps are not only a flattering accessory, they are also a great way to keep your hair protected from the big bad environment. Buy some gorgeous print scarves and wrap up your curls.

5. Treat your hair like silk.

You know that favourite dress of yours? The one you delicately wash by hand, iron at minimal heat and fold like it was a baby? Treat your hair like you treat that dress, it’s worth even more. Do not over pull or over heat your hair.

6. Salons are evil.

Don’t ever visit a salon that you don’t know, or that hasn’t been recommended to you by a trustworthy friend. A year’s worth of damage can happen in a few hours in the hands of an incompetent hairdresser.

7. Love your hair.

This is the most important tip. You must love your hair to keep it in good condition. If you think that your hair is unmanageable and/or unprofessional then you’re better off fixing a weave. If you’re ready to love that which is uniquely yours, it will love you back in return.

Any you’d add?

  • http://www.spectraspeaks.com/ Spectra Speaks

    I LOVE This post! So timely for me. I’ve had natural hair for as long as I can remember. Tried all sorts of things, and with how New England weather is constantly changing, I’m constantly trying out new products (I spend so much money on hair products it’s ridiculous). So sometimes things go VERY wrong. For instance, I just developed an allergic reaction to a product I’ve been using for about 4 months (which was working soooo well it’s really unfortunate). So I’ve had to deal with managing skin conditions because of it; apparently, people with asthma have more sensitive skin :( Anyway, my point is that as a result, I’ve been harboring so much anger around my hair/head, keeping it under a wrap till I heal etc, so your very last tip about “love your hair” really hit home. I DO my love my hair, I just needed the reminder. We argue sometimes, but for the most part we love each other. Wouldn’t change it for the world. Thank you for this self-love post around hair. I’m inspired to do one myself now. It’s so needed.

    TIP I would add –> Remember the Body Link! Vitamins, eating healthy, and HYDRATING are an essential part of healthy skin, nails, and hair. Some of how our hair behaves falls out of scope of genetics and is more about how well we treat our physical bodies. My two cents.

    Thanks again for this.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks for the comment, I’m happy that I posted it at the right time :)
      You’re spot on re the body link. When I’m diet-conscious and stress free, I see the difference in my hair.
      I used to spend way too much on hair products but even in that respect, it’s my not fighting with my hair that makes the products work. I used to expect products to transform it into something it isn’t and now they simply enhance what it is.
      To hair-love!

  • http://daydreamher.wordpress.com/ Dionne

    Great post! Agreed with all of the above! Living in Norway has been a real trial on my locks and obtaining products – that’s a whole other story, however it’s SO wonderful to explore many great blogs (such as yours) and learn tips and tricks. Before i moved here i was making conditioner treatments with a range of natural products which were easily available in the UK, but it’s not so simple here, so the diet part is really important for me. I’m also a vegetarian, so ensuring i get the right supplements is vital(vitamin d saves lives). As Spectra said above, hydration is essential and that rolls out many other benefits too. Avocado is king of food! But i’d like to thank you for reminding us all to love our hair. Often if we come from a place where it’s viewed as “different”, “difficult” and “radical”, it might feel more challenging to embrace our truth, but learning to love our hair, whatever shape or texture, is truly the most empowering, beautiful and fulfilling action we can take. Thank you!

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks Dionne! I know what you’re going through. I used to find it a real challenge in Sweden and I’m surprised that it’s still hard to find good hair products when I visit. Do you know the Dutch site Mariposa Import? They ship to Europe.

      Although the making your own prods sounds even more loving if the ingredients are there…

  • Nike

    Informative post as usual, Minna! All so true. In terms of things to add: 1) Don’t always follow others’ advice/reviews on products, just try them on your hair and see how it goes. What works on someone else’s hair may or may not be suitable for you. You will have to go through loads of products to find the ones that work for you or you may just be lucky and find the perfect product at first try 😉 2) There is a barrage of new ‘it’ products from every angle such as blogs, magazines, social media. Use your judgement and stick to the staples that work for you and try not to fall for every one of them as it may put a dent in your purse. Trust me, I speak from experience! I am just now learning to stick to just 1 or 2 of each product type (and even that is a work in progress).

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks Nike!
      Hair care is like make up, diet or clothes, one size does not fit all..

  • Ivie

    Great post Minna. I still remember all the emails back and forth from your/our friend’s hair palaver you talk about in your post. I agree- love and consistency is the tip for all success stories.
    And healthy stress free life is definitely the key.


    • MsAfropolitan

      Ha! It gave us some good laughs later that night…

      Nice to see you here miss! xoxo

  • http://www.unitedkinkdom.blogspot.com Crystal Afro

    I love this post. The tips are on point. I especially agree with tip no.1 I always say once your natural your on a mission to condition!
    Also, avoid experimenting with your hair when you’re in a rush – getting to know your hair is all about trial & error but errors are a lot easier to deal with when you don’t have to be somewhere in 5mins. Based on experience! :-)

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thank you!

      That is a useful tip, I once made the mistake to use a new gel when I was heading out only to discover later that day that my hair was covered in flakey residue. Duh!

  • http://hairolicious.com Rachel

    HairOlicious is the most amazing leave-in conditioner I have ever used. Their on the web at HairOlicious.com
    It’s Not only an intensive hair conditioner is is also an amazing organic moisturizer for your face and hands.
    I am trying to help my friend sell it but it is almost impossible to compete against the Mega-Corps of the Hair world
    If you could review it I’m sure you will will agree it’s amazing

  • http://www.precious-williams.net Precious Williams

    I would reiterate the importance of nourishing your hair from within. Omega 3 and GLA, plenty of vitamin B complex etc really does make a difference to your hair condition. Using shampoos that don’t contain harsh chemicals (like SLS) is very helpful to. You may find you get better results with a shampoo from the health store than with one from a range specifically for afro hair. Better still there are ranges that contain pure, natural ingredients *and* are specifically designed for afro hair, like the Qhemet range and Oyin Handmade x

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks for sharing, if I’d included an 8th tip, this would be it! Natural hair care from within and outside

      Qhemet amla heavy cream (I think it was called?) was great until my hair seemed to crave something new. Which isn’t strange as the tub is huge :)
      Shame one can’t say the same about Oyin’s sizes, I use them up way too quick for my hair budget (see tip no. 1)

  • http://www.mwanabaafrika.blogspot.com/ MbA

    I add castor oil, almond oil, coconut oil and even olive oil and avo oil from my kitchen to my conditioner and this is extra helpful for days when I need to co-wash and go! That way I don’t mess with the curls. And I pretty much only comb my hair with any kind of instrument with conditioner in it if I can help it. Otherwise I only use my fingers to separate and style.

    • MsAfropolitan

      I’m jealous! I so enjoy applying oils to my hair but have not found one that suits, they make it look too oily. Not tried almond though…

      Thanks for sharing your tips

      • http://www.mwanabaafrika.blogspot.com/ MbA

        I apply a little every coupla days in the summer and sometimes more in the winter. I only use heavy oils like castor in my conditioner because my hair is not that thirsty. That’s why I like the co-wash solution coz I don’t add anything more once I’ve washed out the conditioner.

        My favourite is coconut oil. A little goes a long way with my hair and it absorbs it well and doesn’t leave residue. I was shocked to find that my hair really didn’t need that much oil because you always hear about how much moisture and oil afro hair needs but really it depends on your hair.

        I’ve also heard about the water and oil spritz which I’m about to start trying where you mix your fav oil, glycerine and water. I’ll let you know how that goes…

      • EG

        I have natural Afro/European hair (very similar to yours from what I can tell from your picture) and use (organic) castor oil as a hair treatment before washing and (organic) jojoba oil as my leave in conditioner. This takes a way the necessity to use a lot of my Care Free Curl Instant Activator. (I do use a tiny bit for styling but don’t like it because of its chemicals). Jojoba oil doesn’t make your greasy and it smells nice. Another tip everyone probably knows already, never comb your hair after washing, you will loose the curls.

        And now my big revelation……a strange tip that works brilliantly for me: DON’T USE SHAMPOO only use conditioner to wash your hair!!! Sounds gross, doesn’t it? I found this tip about a year ago online, at first I was hesitant to do it: will my hair get really clean? I tried it anyway and must say once your hair gets used to it, it will get clean but without (my biggest frustration after shampooing) getting dry and frizzy. My hair is much silkier now and look better than ever! And trust me: it is very clean!

        • MsAfropolitan

          Just seeing this. I have tried to not use shampoo but gave up after a few weeks. Maybe I need to give it more time… Will look into castor oil, I got some jojoba oil recently and loving it.

          Thanks for sharing!

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003421554848 Anas

            Being a new mom that’s back into the college scene again after just hivnag a baby, I joined the challenge so that 1. I could get my body back into shape and 2. build a sense of comaraderie with the other students and faculty members who are participating as well. Like the guy says, it’s so great to just get your heart rate up everyday and breathe the fresh Portland air

  • Linda

    i love this post. I’m glad I recently went natural. I’d love to share this on our website. Can I contact you otherwise to tell you more about it? Alternatively, you could reach me at info@maischna.com. Much appreciated

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks. Sure, you can repost with credits. Holler anytime!

  • Linda

    Thanks! This would be the website: http://www.maischna.com

  • http://AfrocentricAyo.blogspot.com Ayomide

    Natural hair has to be the best thing i have ever dne to my hair. For me personally i has helped me become more DIY when it comes to my hair. I love it and with time i love it even more. I almost never use heat on my hair because littly plaits stretch out my hair just enough for me to play with it. Happy to be a NATURALISTA!

  • jeanettesdaughter

    all of the above tips are excellent depending on your curl pattern. get to know your curl, girl! i would add: 1) avoid anything with ‘dimethicone,’ 2) add grapeseed oil to your hair toolkit. (it is a natural spf against the crispies caused by too much sun in summer or on the beach and it is super absorbant unlike olive oil.) and 3) this is going to sound silly but standing on your head! not a yogini, won’t or cannot do? frequent scalp massage has a similar effect, bringing increased blood flow and nutrients to the scalp/head/hair. happy curls ladies! i love seeing the growth in natural hair and the new products to keep it beautiful. not every one of us will win the nobel prize, become an astronaut, win the orange prize or whatever the great things that women achievers have done or may do. but affirming ourselves is the best antidote accessible to every curly/kinky nappy girl. onward. when the little girls look at you, they can see a real future for themselves.