GENERAL HAIR CARE
Let’s start with washing the hair… many natural hair professionals talk about getting sulphate-free shampoo as part of your natural hair start up kit. In my own opinion, this is not necessary, except you have allergies (I stand to be corrected). Personally, I don’t think sulphate-free shampoo improved my hair at all…and it costs so much more than your regular shampoo. And it makes me wonder if the whole idea didn’t start as a propaganda to get more out of our wallets (wait, yea I guess that’s called marketing!).
Some blogs also talk about using black soap. This, I must say, isn’t bad because its cheap, it is readily available, and it’s organic amongst other benefits. I also love the lather…however after using it a couple of times, the knowledge of how the soap is made got to me and I started feeling like my hair doesn’t get clean and my scalp started to sweat real hard just a couple of days after my wash day, making my scalp feel dirty and uncomfortable too quickly (please know that this isn’t true, simply psychological). Bottom line, the soap is quite good and I’d recommend it, especially if you are on a tight budget, also if your hair is quite thin (I may be wrong, but it did feel like my hair thickened even more…this was probably why I felt like my hair got dirty fast, cos my hair is naturally thick, and thickening it more would have caused me to sweat.
A few friends I also recommended it to said their hair thickened).
So, if you are interested, here is what you do:
- Get a handful of black soap (Ose dudu). It shouldn’t sell for more than NGN100.
- Dissolve in a bowl of water
- Find an empty bottle and pour the mixture in it, leaving out the sediment which tends to have bits of sand and coal.
- If available, add some drops of tea tree, peppermint and jojoba (we will discuss the benefits of essential oils later but majorly, peppermint works for itchy scalp)
- Shake well and your organic shampoo is ready for use.
I remember way back when conditioning was only done at the salon after retouching my hair. I loved the conditioning part and always looked forward to salon visits. Conditioners seemed to work some sort of magic where that was the only period when a comb could glide through my hair.
Growing up however, I wondered what exactly I loved about it, and why I thought it was effective. The answer was simple – I thought it was effective because that was what stylists used to fill our heads with! And we believed them; but why not? They are supposed to be experts in their field, knowing more than anyone else who did not train as a hairdresser.
First of all, I personally don’t believe in those “economy pack conditioners” that come in 2lts and the price is cheaper than others I got to know about much later which come in 200-500mls!
As if that is not enough, these “professionals” would further dilute the conditioner to ratio 1:3!
When I went for a training, my Oga told me if you don’t mix it, the conditioner would damage the hair… (seriously?).
Anyway, I later got to discover a wide range of conditioners, and depending on your type of hair, a choice can be made easily.
Once again, you don’t have to go for a product that costs an arm and a leg. As much as I am not trying to market any particular product, the conditioner that worked “miracle” for me cost less than a thousand naira. When I first got it as a gift, I was wowed and used it miserly because it wasn’t really available in the country.
Considering the thickness of my hair (hairdressers used to dread touching my hair), the Dove conditioner is a must have. It was amazing how the comb could glide through my hair only after about 30 seconds of application, but much more, the lasting effect it had on my hair was impressive, even when my hair was “due” (I still had my hair processed then). For instance, after using the conditioner, my hair remained soft for three days or more. This made my hair a bit more manageable…so yea, if your hair is “stubborn”, give Dove a try. Please keep in mind though, what has continuously been said on this column – what works for A may not work for B. Just try things out and stick with whatever works for you.
For some people, for instance, dandruff may be a bigger problem they aim to solve regarding their hair…conditioners like Panténe, or any other conditioner with antidandruff may be preferable.
So, after application, allow your conditioner to sit for a few minutes, then comb through and finally rinse off with lukewarm water. (Please note that at this stage, we are only discussing basic hair care. There are other hair care processes that will be discussed at a later time).
Next is to towel-dry your hair, some would say pat your hair dry as against our usual “rough-rider” way of towelling our hair; I agree with this, not because it prevents breakage as is propagated but because it doesn’t hurt to try!
As a youngster, I didn’t know about this, I’m sure we all understand how our parents were with us – “only get them what is important, like oxygen, food and shelter! Every other thing is a luxury!”
Thankfully, this new generation is being raised differently, with a lot of exposure and awareness. Anyway, as I grew older, I saw my mother doing a lot of treatment on her hair but I wasn’t allowed to touch any product.
More recently, I started applying leave-in conditioner too, and I must say this is way cooler than ordinary conditioner. In fact, it so much works for me that some of my wash days now don’t include regular conditioning, just leave-in.
As has been mentioned in previous posts, of all the leave-in conditioners I tried, Cantu is the brand that worked best for my unruly hair. Cantu leave-in conditioner comes in two packs: one with argan oil and the other with shea butter. We will discuss essential oils later, but whichever one you choose of the two I believe will be enjoyed. Personally, I prefer the scent of the argan oil, but both of them did well for my hair (even when I transitioned to natural hair).
As the name implies, leave-in conditioners shouldn’t be washed off the hair but left in the hair to moisturize and condition it. Its effect is longer-lasting than regular conditioners. To apply, you section your hair with a comb, cutting comb or your fingers and apply the conditioner as required, allowing it on your scalp and hair. Massage it well into your hair and comb.
To give a sheen, find a suitable oil to further apply to your hair. It’s best not to overdo it so that it doesn’t start to drip.
I personally find olive oil and palm kernel oil best for my hair; both of these are relatively cheap (when compared with a host of others, especially if it’s a popular brand).
Interestingly, I find that palm kernel oil (solidified) further conditions my hair, so sometimes I apply it in the stead of leave-in conditioner. And it doesn’t drip, it just seems to melt into the hair. Olive oil on the other hand helps with hair growth.
As much as I agree with many bloggers that coconut oil is good, it feels too thin for me and if I must consider its benefits, I would rather mix it with another product (leave-in conditioner or palm kernel oil).
© 2017 Temitope Adelakun
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