Before the adoption of western culture by our ancestors, rituals were an acceptable practice. Some would require donning particular regalia, drawing distinct intricate tribal patterns on the body, following a set regulation of actions, and more.
The natural hair wash routine personally feels like it—
Having to set aside a whole day to tend to your hair, the use of different concoctions, and religiously following a wash day calendar. Not to forget the days when you want to try out the current hyped hair care practices: ACV rinse, detox with clay, herbal treatment.
Oh! The list of possible options is endless.
Hair Journey Before seeing The Light
My typical hair routine before involved: rocking weaves, braiding hair, and often straightening with heat.
I would alternate between weaving and blow-drying often—with the latter done regularly. Opting for it whenever the hair grew a few more inches in length.
Other times I would contemplate chemically processing my hair. Well, the silky smooth finish from straightening would last a week maximum and required special care of the mane.
The constant and excessive use of heat led to thinning, weakening, and breaking of my hair. As a result, I would have length but an unhealthy-looking crown.
Beginner’s Outlook on the Natural Hair Journey
The natural hair community can be illuminating and confusing at times.
There exist numerous opinions and advice on: the best natural hair practices, determining one’s curl patterns, finding the ideal products, and understanding the various porosity levels.
When it comes to the hair wash day routine, it can be a daunting task. Before, wash day was merely shampooing then conditioning of the hair. Two essential products and the investment of a few minutes to have clean hair.
Nowadays, washing takes several hours and has several stages: that I often skip.
It is the initial stage in a natural hair wash day process. It merely means, before shampoo.
Here’s where you apply oil, conditioner, or any other DIY treatment to soften your hair. It helps with detangling and also keeps the shampoo from stripping the strands.
You can do it overnight or a few minutes before shampooing.
I’ve used black castor oil with heat—pretty much like hot oil treatment. It left my hair soft, before and after shampooing.
Depending on your hair density, you may need to section your hair. Wet it, shampoo, and massage your scalp.
For the scalp massage, you can use a shampoo massage brush or tip of your fingers. After testing both techniques, I find the use of fingers less strenuous, maybe because of familiarity.
Black natural hair gurus advocate the use of sulfate-free shampoo as the best natural hair shampoo. Regular shampoo used to work fine back then, though.
A clarifying shampoo is necessary if you have low porosity hair or have a lot of product buildup.
Pay attention to your hair and do protein treatments when necessary. Especially if you notice the hair shedding more than usual— protein helps to strengthen one’s strands.
The ApHogee Keratin 2 minute reconstructor is too strong a treatment for my low porosity strands. I used it with heat, and it left my hair feeling brittle and with little elasticity, even after deep conditioning.
Tip: Due to closed cuticles of low porosity strands, it’s essential to have proper moisture and protein balance. Too much of either can be damaging to your hair.
A more affordable Miadi protein treatment, however, left my hair soft and smooth. And, yes, there was less shedding. You can also try using DIY mixtures.
Rinse off the shampoo/ protein treatment, and apply a dime-sized amount of conditioner on each section. You can now finger-detangle the knots in the hair or use a wide-tooth comb to spread out the conditioner to each strand.
Conditioning makes it easy to detangle your hair.
Some naturalistas use a conditioner before shampooing to untangle any knots in their hair.
- Deep Condition
A regular conditioner works by adding instant moisture to your strands. However, you need to deep condition for long-term moisture.
It can be done on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.
Using your deep conditioner with heat (sitting under a steamer, dryer, or heating cap for about 30 minutes) encourages product absorption.
However, for one who cannot get their hands on one, a plastic cap can serve you. Wrap a warm towel around it —for heat—and wait a while. I let my deep conditioner sit for at least an hour before rinsing.
Fun fact: did you know you can turn your regular conditioner into a deep conditioner?
Typically, I spend at least half a day tending to my hair. After rinsing with warm water (though others propagate for cold water), there’s more moisturizing, styling, and waiting for the hair to dry.
An old t-shirt is ideal for use to blot out excessive water.
Use a product of choice for styling and rock your desired look once it dries. You can air-dry your hair or, for instant effect, use a dryer or diffuser.
Well, they say, beauty is pain. To have a healthy mane and rock your tight coils, you probably have to go through this process.
PS: The “Lazy” Natural Cheat Sheet 😉
Is it wrong to wonder why our practices, in the past, produced satisfactory results without much hustle? Do we blame it on the relaxer or the current beauty standards?