Natural hair is not inherently weak, but it will damage easily if you’re not careful. You might wonder why your hair doesn’t appear to be growing or why it looks frizzy or even matted at times. Having long and gorgeous natural hair can be a reality if you learn some smart techniques and stick with them throughout the months and years.
In this article, I’ll give you ten things to avoid if you want to have lustrous, healthy curls. Here are the ten ways you might be damaging your natural hair:
1.Not Hydrating Your Curls
Hydration means water, and the only way to get it is by dampening or wetting the hair with water or aloe vera. Even detangling products and conditioners have water in them. H2O is a requirement for curls because they need extra moisture to be healthy.
Have you ever experience a dry, yet greasy feeling on your locks? It’s probably because you bypassed water and headed straight for the oils. Oils like avocado and olive are amazing for supplying the shaft with nutrients and lubricating the curls, but they’re not hydrators. They seal moisture in, and that moisture comes from water.
So, be sure to hydrate your curls with water or a water-based product to keep them moist and lustrous. Then, seal with oil.
2. Purposely Skipping Washes
Do you remember how we use to believe that dirty hair grows the faster? Well it’s not true.
When your scalp is dirty, your follicles are forced to fight their way to grow hair. Grease, dirt, and product buildup can clog the hair follicles and hinder growth. Keep the scalp clean by washing with a scalp massager, and avoid the temptation to bypass your wash day with the hope of beautifying your hair.
3. Not Lubricating Your Hair
Lubricating your strands will make a significant difference in your ability to detangle your strands without breakage. Use products which contain enough slip to make the detangling process easier. Slip is a beauty term that refers to how slippery a product is. Natural hair tangles easily because the tiny coils cling together and knot. Using a lubricant will allow you to slide your curls apart easier.
Oils are great for lubricating.Use them during the LOC method to seal the ends and to create a way for curls to come apart effortlessly.
4. Forgetting to Wear a Satin Bonnet or Scarf
It’s easy to fall asleep without setting your hair or donning a protective satin bonnet or scarf. But not doing it will only set you up for more work the next day and week. Wearing a satin bonnet at night will prevent breakage from too much friction.
You may not notice broken curls on your pillowcase, but you’ll be disappointed to see them on wash day on the shower floor. A satin bonnet or scarf will also help to keep your curls in place, so you won’t have to do as much work in the morning.
5. Wearing High Ponytails and Puffs Every Day
High ponytails and puffs look gorgeous on natural hair, but pulling the hair tight and smothering the edges with hair gel every day can cause damage and even baldness.YouTube is filled with natural divas who can show you how to pull natural hair into a smooth and tight high puff, but you should seriously consider reserving this cute style for special occasions only.Doing this style everyday is too rough on the edges and follicles.
Aim to use protective styles most of the week, and save the high ponytail and puff for a special date or dinner with friends.
6. Avoiding Trimming Your Ends
Cutting your hair can be a scary thing if you’re trying to grow it. But if you don’t take the plunge and cut it, you’re leaving damaged ends free to travel upwards and ruin the rest of the strand.
You don’t need a specific schedule for trimming natural hair, but try to cut when you notice straggling ends and more tangles. Cutting your hair to keep the length seems like it is counter-intuitive, but it works.
7. Using Sulfate Shampoos
The drug store is filled with shampoos that hurt natural hair. Conventional shampoos can wreak havoc on hair because they’re made for straight-haired people who want to strip the strand of oil. These shampoos can be drying to hair and can lead to unwanted frizz as your hair loses its curl pattern. Frizz is an indicator of dryness because it means your hair is looking for moisture.
Read ingredient labels well, and only buy shampoos that are made for hair like yours.
8. Not Babying the Ends
The ends of the hair are the oldest part of the strand, so it makes sense that they would be the most fragile too. Make sure you show the ends extra love when you condition and detangle your hair. You can use protective styles to cover them, and you can also keep them in clumps to keep them partially protected.
Never force the ends apart when you style and detangle. Pulling can cause breakage and make the damage travel further upward into the hair.
It’s good to seal the ends well during the LOC process. First, hydrate with water or a water-based product, then seal with a nourishing oil like coconut, macadamia nut, or avocado. These oils will help to lubricate the strands, so they can come apart on wash day without breakage. Finish the method with a heavy or light cream.
9. Brushing Your Curls Too Much
The less you brush, the healthier your hair will be. Remember that old advice to brush your hair 100 strokes every day? It doesn’t work.Brushing your hair too much will weaken the hair, cause unneeded friction, and break strands. Instead, use a wide-toothed comb, a paddle brush or your fingers only. This will help you detangle and style without breakage.
10. Doing Constant Wash and Go’s
Wash and go’s are an easy, cute, and natural way to wear your curls. The problem is, hairstyles that require the hair to be out or down leave the strands vulnerable to damage. Hair that is not organized or protected can quickly become tangled. You can probably get your wash and go to look gorgeous the same day you do it, but what about the next day when you go to style or detangle it? A massive number of tangles means a lot of work and possible damage.
Long-haired naturals are constantly protecting their manes, and only letting them loose or showing off the length on special occasions.
If you protect your hair and keep a disciplined natural hair regimen, you’ll find you can enjoy your curls when you choose to wear your hair down. Be sure to follow up non-protective styling with moisturizing conditioners and extra love and care. What about you? What have you done in the past that damaged your natural hair, and how did you solve it?