This blog is number 4 in a series on HOW TO GROW NATURAL HAIR FOR BEGINNERS, its aimed at mums growing kids hair, but, the advice in it is for everyone!!!
If you haven’t then we recommend that you go back and read the previous 3 parts!
Now we have covered the basics of Black hair science we are able to delve deeper into the often confusing and sometimes misleading world of hair products.
HAIR CARE PRODUCT SELECTION
The truth is, correct product selection is a foundational element to any healthy hair care regime. It is so vitally important that I would venture to say that without the correct products, it would be extremely difficult for your daughter to have healthy hair.
That is because the correct products will give the hair what it needs to stay moisturised, strong and damage-free.
I would highly recommend selecting products for a child’s hair (and your own) that are organic or natural. Harsh chemicals are often bad for the hair and can cause irritation. It is best to avoid these types.
It’s important to begin to understand product ingredients and formations so you can know what to buy and why. The claims a product makes in its marketing can become easily distracting, and preparation and knowledge when entering the marketplace for hair care products is crucial.
Always think moisture
YOU WANT IT MOISTURIZED BUT NOT TOO MUCH!!!!!
Back to being serious.....
Moisturizing Afro hair is a priority.
Hair products are notorious for sinfully robbing the hair and even preventing hydration. Hence, in my book ‘A Parent’s Guide to Natural Hair Care for Girls’ I help you actively seek out products that will increase moisture levels. Protein is also important to hair health, but that is discussed in detail in the book.
Why correct product selection is important!
It’s important to understand products and their ingredients because hair products are something we cannot live without, and we need to know if what we are using is beneficial or detrimental to hair.
We need to remember that hair damage happens slowly, and if we use products that do not give the hair the moisture and strength it needs, over time brittle, breaking hair will result.
What is a staple product?
Staple products are essential products in your hair care arsenal that must be consistently used to keep hair clean, conditioned and moisturized.
Staple products for healthy hair
LEAVE IN CONDITIONER
Understanding the significance of these resources will validate the reasoning behind their importance.
HAIR PRODUCTS EXPLAINED
Shampoo is primarily used to clean the hair and scalp, removing dirt and product build-up. Secondary functions of shampoo also include improving the condition and appearance of the hair while also enhancing manageability.
The multitude of shampoos can be daunting.
An entire aisle is dedicated to shampoo alone. While some add volume, others are for colour-treated hair. Some address split ends, while others claim to restore the hair. For our purposes, we only need to concern ourselves with two types: normal and clarifying shampoos.
Normal shampoo is used most commonly to generally clean and lightly condition the hair. Clarifying shampoo can be used to remove product build-up such as gel, silicones and waxes. However, with children’s hair, it should not be necessary to use a clarifying shampoo often unless you frequently use gels, pomades or products with silicone.
A child does not have to cleanse the hair with shampoo frequently at all. Many shampoos (even the mild ones) are just too harsh for delicate afro hair, so an alternative is to wash the hair with a conditioner.
Conditioner washing or co-washing is popular because conditioners do not contain the harsh detergents of shampoos and therefore do not strip the hair of its natural oils. They do have some cleansing capabilities, and this is what makes co-washing safe, even over longer periods of time.
It is especially suitable for children because of its moisture retention properties. If your daughter has extremely dry hair, co-washing with a natural conditioner might be a good option.
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The function of a conditioner is to minimize hair damage and breakage by strengthening and moisturizing hair. A conditioner will aim to make the hair shinier, softer, smoother to touch and easier to comb.
There are typically three types of conditioner you will come across. Each will have a place in your daughter’s hair care regime. These are instant, deep and leave-in conditioners.
These have no penetrating abilities and are generally left on the hair for a few minutes. They are applied to smooth and coat the hair. Instant conditioners are ideal to use when detangling hair because they make the hair very slippery and easy to work with. It is not possible to deep condition hair with an instant conditioner, even if you leave it on for an extended period of time.
A deep conditioner is one that is designed to penetrate into the hair shaft and have more lasting results. They will typically be moisture- or protein-focused and will either hydrate or strengthen the hair. They are usually left on the hair for an extended period of time, 20–30 minutes, and can be used with heat for maximum penetration.
Leave-in conditioners are not rinsed out of the hair and their primary function is to moisturize the hair, add slip to aid with detangling and maximize the benefits of prior conditioning. They will contain a mix of moisturizing and strengthening ingredients and will help hair hold in moisture.
In a healthy hair care regime, oil is used primarily as a sealant or a conditioner. Oils are great for natural hair because most are rich in vitamins and essential fatty acids and they condition, smooth and soften hair and can help to prevent hair weakening from washing which is known as hydral fatigue.
Oils can be broken down into those that are able to penetrate the hair and those that are not.
Oils that penetrate the hair
Chemically speaking, oils can be broken down into two categories:
saturated (straight chain)
unsaturated (multiple chains)
Typically, the straight chains of saturated oils can be absorbed easier into the hair shaft. That’s not to say that they can moisturize like water, but they can deliver their benefits directly to the hair cortex.
Saturated oil examples
Non-saturated oil examples
Saturated oils can be used in a healthy hair regime to combat hydral fatigue, which is the damage caused by the hair expanding and contracting to accommodate and release water when washing and drying.
What is hydral fatigue?
A good way to think of it is like a damaged hairband. We stretch it to put it on, and then take it off and after repeated use the hairband will not shrink back to its original size.
It will have stretched and lost elasticity.
This is similar to the damage hydral fatigue can do; it can cause the hair to lose elasticity and not shrink back after being wet.
This stretching affects the integrity of the hairs’ cuticle and cortex, weakening them and resulting in porosity and breakage issues, which of course we need to avoid!
Saturated oils have been shown to have polar regions, which have an affinity towards the hairs’ protein, keratin.
So they are effective at combating hydral fatigue if they are applied before washing, as they will be absorbed into the hair shaft and will temporarily bond with the keratin in the hair. This will reduce the amount by which the hair swells thus reducing the risk of damage.
It is a good idea to use an oil, such as coconut oil, as a pre-shampoo treatment to keep the hair as healthy as possible.
Oils for sealing
Oils by nature repel water. Non-saturated and polar oils are great for sealing in moisture and not letting water out. Water-repelling oils can also be called occlusive or hydrophobic.
Oil as a conditioner
Oils are also used as conditioners; they can either be for pre-shampoo treatment to combat hydral fatigue as detailed above or for hot oil conditioning treatments to deliver other benefits such as strength, pliability, softness and shine.
In simple terms, moisturizing hair is the way we quench the hair’s thirst.
As a part of our everyday life, moisture naturally evaporates from hair strands. Moisturizing is the way we replace and replenish what has been lost.
Water is by far the best hair moisturizer because of its abilities to penetrate into the hair shaft and deliver its thirst-quenching benefits right to the core of hair. The only issue with water is that it evaporates rapidly. After it is gone, the hair will again be dry.
Ideally, the act of hair moisturizing needs to be twofold. Not only should it hydrate, but also it should also retain moisture in the hair without letting it evaporate too quickly.
Most moisturizing products in the market address this dual need. They contain water, humectants, and emollients for lightly sealing the moisture into the hair.
It is common for people to make their own moisturizing sprays; these will usually consist of water, humectants (e.g. aloe vera, glycerin) and possibly oils (rosemary, jojoba).
But they are also a popular commercial product and commercially will include extra ingredients, including additional moisturizers, emulsifiers, butters and, in some cases, reconstructors.
Butters are used in healthy hair care regimes, primarily as a sealant to hold in moisture, as they provide a thick coating that does the job well.
Natural butters are great for hair and offer many health benefits, the key benefit coming from their inherent fatty acids.
Fatty acids, simply put, are good fats.
They are long chain lipid-carboxylic acids and benefit the hair by fighting off water loss while protecting and conditioning the hair.
Some butters are also natural emollients and can help soothe and stimulate the scalp for healthy hair growth.
Butters consist of saturated fats and are able to penetrate hair strands more readily (than unsaturated fats) because they consist of straight chains that can be absorbed by hair fibres.
Typically they are used in 3 ways:
> Whipped butter
This will normally be a blend of a few butters whipped together to form an easy to apply aerated, cream-like consistency.
> Solid butter
Butters are solid at room temperature, so will normally have to be melted before use, and can be used as a conditioning treatment or as a sealant.
Commercial butters will have natural ingredients combined with other oils, emollients, emulsifiers, fragrances and preservatives. They often have a cream-like consistency.
Some people with extremely dry hair find the inclusion of a hair butter into their regime to be the key to extremely moisturized hair.
Butters are popular to use as the final product when using the LOC method, which we explain in more detail in the book.
Its important to make sure that you have all your staple products in your hair care arsenal! Don't leave any out. Stay tuned and bookmark this blog because we will be posting very soon about what ingredients that you want to use and what ingredients to avoid!
That's going to be epic!
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