One of the beauty’s of black hair is that it is versatile and we can do wonders with it. Our hair is the only one that can be tightly or loosely braided, has enough shrinkage to look short if we wanted it and once washed and straightened can be as long as we wanted it to be and doesn’t have to be washed every day. I’m sure in some black girls' lifetime, there’s always been some kind of internal bias towards natural “kinky as hell” hair. Girls with perfect straight long shiny hair have always been portrayed as “beautiful”, most with Eurocentric beauty features and thus it has been ingrained in our heads that this is the ideal female, this is how we all strive to be. For years, I wanted my hair to magically become the beauty standard. I hated my curls: the way they shrunk whenever I washed it, how it would get tangled so easily, and how no matter how much I straightened or relaxed, it would always reverse to its natural curly state. I tried extensions, then a weave and after 17 years of hating my hair and constantly trying to change it- I decided to embrace it. And it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Natural black hair is a blessing, but with every blessing comes work. I’ve been on the natural hair journey for two years now and it’s been a learning process. I may not be a total expert on it but I do know enough to get anyone who is thinking of going natural to at least take that bold and daring step to do so.
For starters, there are 3 hair types for women with kinky hair:
KNOW YOUR HAIR TYPE!
This is a really important part of taking care of natural hair that I recently learned. By learning your hair type you can find products that work best for your hair and produce the best results. For example, my type is 4C, the kinkiest, tightest thickest curls that I fully embrace and love.
Kinky hair is the driest of all hair types so that means extra moisturization. I started off with the Curls Unleashed: Shea Butter and Honey Curl Defining Creme by ORS however, I found this made my hair really heavy and full of dandruff. So by doing some research, I found one that works perfectly with my hair type. Cantu shea butter Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream works REALLY well for 4C type hair it leave the hair nice and moist but not greasy and heavy. I also noticed much less dandruff after using this a few times. This is also great for styling; after washing my hair, I usually put the cream in right away as I twist my hair. I leave it in overnight to a day then when I undo the twists, my hair is extra curly and super moisturized. This prompted me to try more of Cantu’s products, including their shampoo, Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo. This is also a great option for those with kinky hair as it is free of harsh chemicals such as sulfates that could make the hair coarse and tangled. The best thing to use in natural hair is, of course, natural products. Which is why I also enjoy using LUSH’s shampoo Curly Wurly . It’s meant for all curly to kinky hair types which fall between 3A-4C. LUSH is known for natural ingredients in their products and this one is no different. The staple of this shampoo is the fresh coconut shavings (that get stuck in your hair after you wash it but that just proves how natural it is), that leaves the hair feeling fresh, soft, smooth and clean. Although it is kind of pricey especially to Cantu’s more affordable products, LUSH does give out free samples of their products (all you have to do is ask!) and one small jar of this stuff could last you up to a month.
As for conditioners, the one I use right now is Tresemme's Rich Moisture Conditioner and it’s pretty decent. It is not the best one to use for natural hair however.
As you can see one of the key ingredients to a natural hair care regimen is shea butter. This natural gem from Africa is rich in vitamins, offers UV protection and for years has been used to improve skin and hair. Make sure one of the ingredients in whatever you use is shea butter because it does wonders to natural hair.
Lastly, here are a few aftercare tips for when you aren’t washing your natural hair, and basically for general upkeep:
As a final note, this isn’t to demean those who decide to wear weave-ins or extensions or straighten their hair but it is to encourage you to love your hair in its most natural form; that if you ever wanted to take out the weave and show off your curls you can!! If you wanted to give your hair a break from all the heat, go for it! Not only does it let your hair breathe but it is healthier and still stimulates growth. With that said, hair doesn’t need to be straight and thin to be beautiful You can love your hair no matter what type it is and with some TLC, you'll be in love with it, and happy you made the choice to embrace your hair in it’s true form.