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Caring for Natural Black Hair

Updated on June 19, 2013

My Previous Hair Care

Growing up, my mom always straightened our hair. She would use perms and put them in herself. My mom worked as a preschool teacher, not a cosmetologist. Needless to say, there was some times when we would receive chemical burns on our scalps or hairline. Whenever money was running short and my mom couldn't afford to buy us perms, she would break out the straightening comb. This was a metal comb that was heated on the stove and combed through our well-greased hair. I think that I hated this even more than the perms because there was always that fear that she would lose her grip on the comb and that I would end up with a burned face or shoulder. There was also the occasional drip of heated grease plopping down on my skin. As a tomboy, these traumatic experiences made me even more resistant to doing my hair.

My Adult Hair

As a teen and young 20-something, I continued to perm my hair. I would sometimes gel and wrap my hair. Later I wanted to do something totally different so I had a curly perm put in and wore it until about 2-3 years ago. This curly looked required that I visit the hair salon on a regular basis to have the new growth treated and curled. Eventually, I tired of this and just started to neglect going to the salon.

Rocking the TWA (Teeny Weenie Afro)

As my curly look grew out of my hair, I became more and more undecided about what I wanted to do with my hair. Did I want to straighten it, did I want to continue to curl it, did I want to grow dreds...I had no idea what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, the choice was taken away from me. As the perm began to grow out and new hair began to grow in, my hair began breaking off severely on the sides and back. Eventually, I figured out that where the hair was breaking was on the border between the permed and the natural hair. In order to prevent more breakage, I realized that I was going to have to cut off the ends where the old permed hair was. The problem with this was that I was only going to have a couple of inches of hair length left. Suddenly, I found myself rocking a teenie weenie afro.

Making the Transition to 100% Natural Black Hair

After cutting my hair, I had to work hard to get used to the look of it on me. Once I got over it, I started to really enjoy my mini fro. However, I didn't have any experience taking care of natural hair. At first, I felt like my hair was still breaking off a good bit from time to time. After researching and a lot of trail and error, I found a few items that have helped my hair grow out healthy and strong. Below, I have listed a few items that I strongly recommend for the newly natural head of hair:

  • Water. Drink plenty of water each day (at least 64 oz. a day). This will help both your hair and skin to be all it can be.
  • Prenatal Vitamins. After I had my son two years ago I never stopped taking them. I just buckled down and made sure that I never missed a day's dose. These help with both nail and hair growth.
  • Collagen. I started taking Nature's Bounty Collagen (bought at Walmart) and saw a large boost in the growth of my hair. The particular pills that I bought required me to drink an entire glass of water with it and needed to follow a meal. These worked really well but I found myself really nauseous a lot. I also had to take several a day so each semi-expensive bottle didn't last very long.
  • Biotin. After finishing my last dose of collagen, I switched over to biotin. I bought the Spring Valley brand of biotin in the lowest mg that was offered. This dosage is recommended to be taken 1-5 times a day with a meal. This particular bottle only cost a little over $2. Currently, I am still taking this biotin along with my prenatal pill each night immediately after dinner.


Natural Black Hair Care Products

Outside of supplements, I had to invest in a few new tools and hair care products to get my hair growing and healthy:

  • Tangle Teezer Brush - I bought this $12 brush at my local Sally's. It has short, plastic, flexible bristles and works great to detangle natural hair. It's super helpful after a hair wash to get the wet kinks out. I often use this brush on my 2-year old's hair because it detangles without yanking the hair and is super gentle.
  • Boar bristle brushes - Doesn't matter about the brand, etc. Just get a boar bristle brush and use it instead of the regular plastic bristle paddle brushes.
  • Tea Tree Oil - I use a dime to nickel sized amount to moisturize my hair and give it a sheen. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that is often recommended to treat dandruff, fungal conditions and itchy scalp. When using tea tree oil you can put it on dry hair or put it on damp hair to seal the water (moisture) into the hair.
  • Olive Oil - You can use the little bottles found in the hair section of your store or the extra virgin kind found in your pantry at home. Olive oil is gentle even on sensitive skin and hair and penetrates the hair more deeply than many other oils.
  • Tea Tree Oil Shampoo - This type of shampoo helps prevent a lot of moisture loss during shampooing and stimulates your scalp. After a tea tree oil shampoo your hair will be clean and your scalp will be left tingling.
  • Organics brand Olive Oil Replenishing Pack - I use these little single packs to deep condition my hair when I wash it. I've also used the Sofn'free Milk and Olive Oil deep conditioning packets and was happy those, too.
  • Hair Mayonnaise (Cholesterol) - I will use this occasionally to condition my hair. These products contain egg proteins and olive oil so that it strengthens dry, damaged hair and moisturizes.
  • After much trial and error (including Organics brand Olive Oil Root Stimulator and a few different tea tree oil based moisturizers), I settled on using Sofn'free's Milk Protien and Olive Oil 3-Layer Growth Oil and African Pride's Olive Miracle Anti-Breakage moisturizer for my daily moisturizing regiment (I use the product alternately each day, only using both together after a shampoo). One is just rubbed over the hair (the growth oil) and the other is applied directly to my scalp and hair (African Pride's moisturizer).
  • Practice "co-washing" - This is washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. Shampoo is thought to over-cleanse and dry out some hair, so many people will just condition and wash it out. Most of my washes are done this way, but I will do the full regular old wash and condition every couple of months. This works for me but you should try and see what works best in your case.

Final Thoughts

I have been rocking my TWA for a few months now and I have already grew out the damaged sections of my hair. It has grown almost 2 inches which is extremely good for my slow-growing hair. These products are currently working great for me but there are tons of natural hair care products out there, most of which I haven't had the opportunity to try. You have my suggestions...please leave some comments to share some of yours!

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