A woman’s hair has notoriously been considered her “crowning glory”. I agree with this, to a certain extent. My hair does not define me, nor does it rule my world. Since ridding myself of chemical tresses in 2008, I have found freedom in not having to run from rain or dodge sweaty occurrences. I embrace my curly locks and love that I am presenting myself as a visual example to my impressionable daughter, so she too can embrace how God created her. Yes, I take it that seriously. Over the past several years, I have absorbed a wealth of knowledge regarding hair porosity, density, texture, and the care of it all. What has eluded me is a true hair regimen – do you notice a theme in my posts? Merriam-Webster defines a regimen as ‘a systematic plan (as of diet, therapy, or medication) especially when designed to improve and maintain the health of a patient’. I am in severe need of several regimens in my life, and a natural hair regimen is one of them. While it doesn’t top my personal list, the need is there, nevertheless.
Since I am all about avoiding unnatural products, inside and out, I have excluded the following hair products from use in my home, for the most part:
- Silicones (coat strands, rather than moisturize them)
- Parabens (controversial ingredients that are possibly linked to cancer)
- Mineral oil (same as silicones)
Here is the regimen that I would like to follow, based on what I have learned over the past few years:
- Seal my ends – this is the simple technique of using an oil that penetrates strands to moisturize your ends. I would like to do this every night. Some of the oils that I love are jojoba, castor, extra virgin coconut, and extra virgin olive oil. Castor oil is the least expensive and by far, the heaviest out of all of the oils I listed. Definitely use sparingly.
- Sleep on a satin pillowcase – I am way too relaxed about this one. Cotton pillowcases and clothing draw moisture from our hair. It is imperative that we retain moisture in our hair. Either a satin pillowcase or scarf should be used at night. I am very forgetful about tying my hair up, so a satin pillowcase makes more sense for me.
- Conditioner wash or co-wash – this is a hair washing technique that has been adopted by many natural ladies as a method of maintaining moisture while avoiding the stripping qualities of shampoo. The sudsy property of shampoo has been known to wash all moisture out of your hair, along with the dirt. As long as you don’t use any silicone-heavy products that coat your hair (or have any additional scalp issues), you should be able to get away with washing less frequently and co-washing in the meantime.
- Stretch hair to prevent tangles – this task says it all. By stretching my hair, I mean I will twist, braid, or wear my hair in a bun to keep tangles at bay. My hair is super curly. It loves to wrap around itself, which has invoked several time-consuming detangling sessions, which were brought on by the lack of completely detangling my hair or the failure to do so on a regular basis. Don’t make my mistake. I prefer braiding or bunning my hair after co-washing. When completely stretched out, my hair currently falls at arm-pit length (APL) in the front and bra strap length (BSL) in the back. With all of my “free time” consumed with my children, it is easiest for me to put my hair in variations of a bun throughout the week. Not very fancy, but very practical for me at this time. I would like to start incorporating different styles, at least once a month. A braid-out would be my favorite style, because it is not very time-consuming and it lasts a while. When I get ready to do this style again, I will break down the process I use, including my favorite products.
- Shampoo – while I mentioned having a preference for co-washing, I recognize the need to cleanse my scalp, at least on an infrequent basis. I prefer shampooing with a sulfate-free shampoo on a monthly basis. Yes, I read the ingredient list of hair products, and you should, too! Why only focus on what we put into our bodies and not on what we use on the outside? I believe that there are products out there that can potentially penetrate our skin (takes me back to my “relaxer days”).
- Henna – this is a natural deep conditioning treatment. You may recognize the name “henna” from the temporary tattoos that are widely used in Indian culture. This product is also used in hair care regimens for its conditioning qualities. One thing to keep in mind is that henna, which is plant-based, will leave a reddish hue on your hair. I love this, as it turns my dark brown hair an auburn color. I will provide my process for a henna treatment, step by step, when I start it up again. That might be another month from now. In the meantime, please refer to the Mehandi site (www.hennaforhair.com), which is an invaluable resource of information on this topic. It is the site that I referred to when I first tried henna, back in 2010.
As I really get into following this regimen, I may modify it from time to time. I’ll post a monthly update of whether or not I have been successful at following my natural hair regimen. Everything I have listed are steps that I have followed over the past several years, yet I’ve gotten away from following them on a consistent basis. Maintaining hair length and the overall health of our hair is all about consistency, so I aim to stick with it!