This article was written by Tania Bhattacharya on behalf of Sherley Altidor.
Edited by Lynn Joseph
Remember Della from ‘The Gift of the Magi’? The woman who sold off her hair to buy a Christmas gift for her husband? The sentimental story, the twist ending and the selfless love between the couple are all very heartwarming. But oh, what a hair that should have been to have fetched $20 back in 1906!
Have you thought about what goes into the making of such ‘Dellaesque’ hair? The answer lies in taking proper care. What does proper care entail exactly? It involves keeping your scalp clean, providing proper nourishment and conditioning your hair.
But before you go off to browse through brands choose products you think are right for you, you should really get to know all about your hair. With a clear understanding of your hair type and texture, you can begin to treat your heart and begin the healthiest relationship that you’ve ever had with your hair. So where exactly do you start with Haircare 101?
Andre Walker, a stylist and author of Andre Walks Hair, classifies hair into four different types of hair:
The hair that falls under this category is kinky or very tightly coiled. It looks very tough but looks can be deceiving. Type 4 hair looks very coarse but it is actually very fine. Type 4 hair looks very strong but is actually fragile. It won’t shine even if it is healthy but it does still feel silky when it’s touched. There are two further sub-categories to Type 4:
Type 4 A: Tightly coiled hair that forms an S pattern when stretched.
Type 4 B: Hair that has a wiry texture and forms a Z pattern instead of the S of 4A.
This type of hair looks straight when wet but it gradually gets back to the curly state when it starts drying. It is shiny, has soft, smooth, well-defined and springy curls and has a lot of elasticity. It can be styled very easily in its natural curly state or may even be straightened by simply using a blow-dryer. These again have two sub-categories:
Type 3A: Hair with shiny big curls. The longer the hair, the more defined the curls.
Type 3B: Medium curls to tight corkscrews.
This type of hair is wavy and forms a definite S pattern when wet. The three sub-categories are:
2A: Fine or thin hair.
2B: Medium or somewhat thick hair.
2C: Very thick and coarse hair.
While Categories B and C hair are a bit difficult to style and tend to frizz, Category A hair can easily be styled into curls or straight hair.
Naturally straight hair needs no explanations. You know it when you see it.
Once you know your hair type, you can take a more informed step towards its care and styling. There are many things to consider when finding the right hair routine for you. Healing your scalp (hello, African black soap) and scalp care every one to two weeks. Leave in and Deep conditioning. Hair masques and clay treatments, which can actually be done with natural products that are probably already in your kitchen. The best oils, butters, moisturizer for your hair. The best detangling methods. Treating your ends to keep them healthy and keep breakage fat away. Trimming to keep those dead ends away. Your set wash and go routine.your nighttime routine (caps or head wraps, satin pillowcase and all). Testing out which natural hair products combine best with your hair. Low heat or no heat maintenance. What works for the people whose hair you love may not work for your hair, even if it seems like your hair is similar to someone else’s. The beauty in our hair is that it is so unique. So it might take awhile to find a good rhythm with a routine but you’ll know what’s good for you when you land on it.
One factor that is often overlooked is the importance of drinking water. Drinking water is beneficial for countless reasons, and when it comes to hair, plenty of water makes for healthy, glowing hair. Especially when you’re gentle with your hair and give it room to breathe and grow and flourish. So be sure that when you are styling, the styles are gently produced and not causing any headaches or migraines. If your hairstyles are too tight, think about how much hair you’re pulling out and shedding that could have been preserved. Loose ponytails, hats that aren’t too tight, these are all things to think about if you’re looking to grow your hair. Healthy food, regular fitness, knowing how any medicine you take affects your hair… everything that you may not have considered as super important actually very well may be what makes the difference between your hair now and your healthy hair in the future.
An important factor to remember is that learning what works for you is going to be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. As you begin to let your hair breathe, it’s okay to keep using the products that you have until they run out so that you can save money while you take the time to get comfortable with a style of hair that you’d like. Get used to your unique technique and take it one step at a time. Play with your hair and have fun getting to know your hair and how it grows.
Don’t get weighed down by experimenting with pricey products that won’t work because you’re not doing the work on your end to style your hair right. Make those hair product investments worthwhile. Styling your hair and hair products go hand in hand. They are equally important so do not be fooled into thinking that hair products do all of the work when you’re at home because if you think about it, they certainly never do when you’re in the hair salon. It’s the same here.
So do your research on what ingredients are in the products that you are interested in trying, read reviews and discern among those reviews what is helpful for your hair before taking the financial jump. Head to Walgreens or Target or the beauty supply store first before those other pricey locations. Find DIY treatments on YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram and a take a day off to play around with what you find. It is certainly most helpful here to follow influencers whose hair most resembles yours because even though your hair will be different, their tips will certainly help veer you in the right direction for getting your hair into better shape. Don’t stress the wallet. All natural products can tend to be pricier but you can definitely make your hair healthy without breaking the bank. You can even find awesome tutorials online to get the best looks for your hair Type and Category so there really is no excuse to not get your hair together. If you’re on a budget and feeling brave, buy some hair sheers and a wide tooth comb, be careful, and learn how to trim your own hair. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll save yourself a trip to the hair salon and keep some of that hard earned money in the bank.
Also on this natural hair care journey, it might be exciting to get your hands on a bunch of all natural products but keep in mind that just because it’s natural, it doesn’t mean that the product will click with your hair. Coconut oil doesn’t mesh well with everyone. But maybe argan oil and jojoba oil work best for nourishing your scalp and hair and maybe with a hint of your favorite essential oil for a sweet natural scent. Perhaps Lavender or Peppermint or Rosemary. Plus, don’t forget Vitamin E oil! Stop by Trader Joe’s for a dose.
It’s so important on your hair care journey to not get caught up in trends and hype and “hair care secrets” and to simply just find what works for you. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Your hair isn’t meant to imitate anyone else’s hair or style, it’s meant to be taken care of and styled by you. So wash your hair, massage that scalp, and get ready to have the healthiest hair you’ve ever had. Take a photo every six months and see how far your hair has come.
If you don’t consider yourself as someone who is absolutely in love with their hair at this point in time, give it time. Give it a month or two into finding your routine and then another couple of months to settle into it and you’ll begin to fall in love with your hair. You’ll begin to see the progress, whether slow or fast, and not want to turn back. A generous helping of consistent hair care goes a long way. So if you’re ready to play the long game, it begins now.
So here’s to the all natural beautiful tresses! Be sure to share in the comments what your favorite natural beauty products are or what your hair routine is like!
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