Top 10 tips from a one-year naturalista

This time last year, I got a lot of “what the heck was she thinking?”stares because I “big chopped.” It looked like a fade on a little boy. My initial response to the haircut was three days worth of tears. What am I going to do with my head now, I wondered. But then I found the Internet.If you go on YouTube and search “Natural Hair Journey” numerous videos appear. I learned about products and treatments for growing healthy hair.

Here are my Top 10 product recommendations:

1. Shea butter: Not only is shea butter good for your skin, but it is also great for your hair! Shea butter is an emollient-meaning it provides a layer of oil on top of the surface of a hair strand, reducing the amount of moisture (water) lost. You can use it to seal your ends so you won’t have a lot of damage.

2. Coconut Oil: Another emollient, also with a nice smell.

3. Aloe vera juice/gel: Aloe vera adds true moisture to the hair. It is actually absorbed into the hair strand.

4. Vegetable glycerin: Acts as a strong humectant, meaning, it attracts water to itself and binds to it. It creates a layer of oil over the hair strand, aiding in the retention of moisture. It can be combined with aloe vera juice to create a moisture spritz!

5. Jojoba oil: Another humectant. Perfect for adding to damaged ends.

6. Extra virgin olive oil: EVOO is an emollient that seals and softens the hair. The “extra virgin” on a label means it was produced using only physical means (no machines involved) and has no chemical treatment to alter it. Use it as a quick preshampoo or a deep conditioner.

7. Castor seed oil: Not only is this vegetable oil a humectant, it also has antifungal properties. This will ensure a clean scalp, with the hair follicles clear and prepared for better hair growth. Some apply it to the temples to increase the thickness of thinning edges.

8. Honey: It’s a light humectant that also has antibacterial properties. It’s also a great moisturizer, but shouldn’t be left in for a while. Use it in a deep conditioner to be rinsed out.

9. Avocado/avocado oil: Avocado is packed with Vitamins A, D and E, and contain more potassium than bananas. Easily absorbed into the skin, avocado oil is a quick way to get multiple nutrients onto your scalp for improved hair growth.

10. Tea tree oil: With potent antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties, tea tree oil is a soothing remedy to a dry scalp. It is essential (concentrated) oil, so a little goes a VERY long way. Over application of a potent essential oil may cause irritation.

Another factor in natural hair is length retention. Protective styles are hair dos that obviously protect the hair and have low manipulation. These styles include twists/twist-out and bantu knots. If taken care of, these styles can last up to months, during which time your hair can grow.

There are certain things that can hinder length retention, which are different kinds tools used to style the hair. A woman with natural hair should stay away from small toothed combs, and heavy chemical products.

I can’t tell you how many combs I have gone through trying to comb my napps! A wide tooth comb is best. Also there are certain chemicals in products that may stunt your hair growth and add nasty side effects. Like gel. Some gels leave behind a flaky residue or a nasty smell. For natural hair its best to use gel at a minimal, and when you do want to use it, find a gel with no alcohol.

There are many great natural hair websites you can access to find great styles, and even more tips about your hair. Two of my favorites are curlynikki.com and bglhonline.com. Also lecoil.tumblr.com if you just want to look at other natural hair divas!

With all this knowledge I have acquired about natural hair, I no longer get those side ways looks. They are more looks of “look ho beautiful her hair is..what does se do to it”. Even though I have only been natural for a little over a year, my hair has improved and grown so much. And I just feel great!