The texture of black peoples’ hair has been one of its distinguishing factors. In a world where silky and fine hair dominate the aesthetic, people of color were left to their own devices when it came to caring for their coarser, kinkier, thicker hair.
In the past century, black hair has been under attack and, as a result, caring for this unique hair type hasn’t been easy.
This post will debunk several of the common myths about black hair, go over the cleaning process, review ideal hairstyles, and peek into what holistic medicine has to say about hair health.
Why You Need to Care for Your Hair as an African American
There are various schools of thought that examine the effects of hair on a person. Hair matters have roots running deeper than the surface of fashion and culture–they entail an entire lifestyle.
On one level, there are considerations around hair care and its physiological effects, but there are spiritual ones too. Because African American hair is thicker, it retains “thicker” energy. That means more heat, less breathability, and more weight.
Although the hair is practically deemed dead once it emerges from the scalp, it’s still made up of cells that are generated by your body and the compounds that your body creates.
Hair is basically a kind of natural plastic, much like nails; and many factors affect its health and growth rate. In the same way that one would want to brush one’s teeth as part of basic oral hygiene, hair care is also fundamental to well-being.
The science of yoga studies the chakras, energy centers of the body, and the 7th and the highest is the crown chakra; and, as its name implies, it’s vortex is most concentrated around the top middle of the head. It then extends above the head several inches from the center.
When caring for the hair with saucha in mind (the sanskrit term for “cleanliness”), it promotes the life force of the hair so that it can be at its best.
Saucha looks like a number of things in terms of black hair care. Listed below are its various practical applications. These will work from the inside out to promote growth, healthiness, and luster.
The Basic Black Hair Cleaning Regimen
Washing Your Hair
How you wash your hair will depend upon your style of hair and its texture. Those factors then influence how often you wash your hair.
Unless you have locs, you can put your hair directly underneath the water as it is. With locs, however, it would be ideal if you covered your hair in a nylon stocking before washing it so that it maintains its form better. This is crucial in the early locking stages.
Choose an organic shampoo and conditioner. Most conventional hair products for people of color, often found in the drugstore, contain mysterious and toxic compounds that aren’t good for the body.
A good rule of thumb: if you would die from eating it, don’t put it on your hair or your body, needless to say, within your environment.
Castile soap is a versatile cleaner to which you could add almond or jojoba oil and essential oils for catharsis. The oil in the soap would condition, but if you wanted to deep condition, products containing simple ingredients like shea butter would work wonders.
Depending upon their hair texture, people with locs should shampoo at least once a week, contrary to common claims. This will vary, but it’s best to wash according to when your hair needs it rather than a schedule. If your hands get dirty, would you wait for the “right time” before you washed them? If not, you shouldn’t do that with your hair.
Go a step further and install a carbon shower filter if you’re using municipal tap water. There are unthinkable toxins in main water supplies throughout the globe, but chlorine is one of the most hazardous irritants, as it dries out skin, damages the kidneys and diminishes the luminosity of both your hair and skin.
Drying Your Hair
Instead of recycling your bath towel before tossing it with the dirty clothes, use a cotton t-shirt with a color not to distant from your hair color. Most people should stick with black, dark blue, or brown.
Don’t scrub into your scalp, but instead squeeze out all excess water and then pat the t-shirt around the hair gently. Wrap it up until the hair is mildly damp and the cloth is soaked. No water should drip from the ends when you attempt to style it.
In terms of hairdryers, the best one I think is the new Dyson hair dryerDyson hair dryer, due to its ability to fast dry your hair without damaging it and help to give you a natural shine to the afro hair.
Sleeping on Your Hair
Cotton is also a great material to wrap your hair in before you go to bed. Both men and women should do this, even those with shorter hair. It preserves the style, minimizes hair-induced skin irritations and protects the hair from stress. Nylon stockings would be ideal for those with fresh locs.
Styling Your Hair
Avoid relaxers at all costs. Chris Rock produced a mockumentary,Good Hair, and this criticized the cultural influences that has pressured many African Americans to straighten their hair using harsh chemicals. The chemicals in relaxers were tested on an aluminum soda can, which disintegrated upon contact. For this reason, many black women who have subjected their hair to ongoing perms have begun to suffer baldness.
Twists, braids, curls, straightening by flat iron, locs, and dreads are some of the most popular and healthier hair styles for people of color.
Lifestyle Tips for Healthier, Longer Hair
Yoga, Ayurveda, and Chinese medicine all delve into the natural, non-conventional ways of living healthfully. As far as it concerns hair care, they all strike up similar points.
Stemming from the principles found within those sciences, here are a few things you could do on a daily or weekly basis to grow a healthy mane:
• Do breath meditations when you wake up and before you go to sleep. The breath of fire in which you would intermittently breathe in and out through your nostrils–that’s one of the best breath exercises, and the heat it creates within the body increases blood circulation to the scalp.
• Administer self-massages around the upper parts of the body, but focus on the neck, forehead, ears, and the entire scalp. This stimulates the nerve endings around the hair roots, which has a similar effect as the breath exercises.
• Take in healthy fats, essential fatty acids and omega 3s and 6s. These can be found in flax, hemp, fish oil, and plenty other superfoods.
• Get plenty of sleep. A good night sleep is important for hair growth. Aim to get between 7 and 10 hours a night. Tip: Use a star projector to help you completely relax before you go to bed. Honestly it works!
• Drink lots of alkaline water. UV filters provide a top notch alkalizing filtration process.
• Ingest ashwaganda root and apply argan oil to your scalp regularly. These are topical herbal remedies that stimulate the root and shaft of all hair types.
Hopefully, all of this information has empowered you, as an African American, to brave the journey of natural hair care.
Which of the tips stood out? Do you see yourself struggling with any of the recommendations? You are also welcome to share your own black hair care advice in the comments.