The Ultimate Guide: 12 Amazing Tips To Grow Healthy Natural Hair

May 25, 2018

The Ultimate Guide: 12 Amazing Tips To Grow Healthy Natural Hair

How To: 12 Tips For Growing Healthier Natural Hair

We receive a lot of questions from people looking to transition into healthier or  natural haircare, or have recently transitioned (for example, quit straighteners, perms or relaxers) and would like to learn more about how to care for their newly grown kinky, curly, wavy natural hair. This article will provide helpful tips to help you maintain healthy, flourishing curls.

Two basic ingredients that you will need to start this journey:
  1. Love - The willingness to love your hair and want to see it grow healthy; and
  2. Patience - There is no miracle for longer hair. Hair grows at an average rate of 1/2-inch per month.

Longer hair starts with healthy hair.  

1. Determine Your Hair Type

Your hair type can often be a determinant of how your hair responds – factors such as dryness level, moisture retention and fragility will vary in a diverse world of a multitude of textures. To put it simply, the tighter the curve, the drier the hair will tend to be and the more prone it can be to breakage. You can find your hair type using our curl type guide  based on the well known Andre Walker typing system. The system has three classifications: types 2 (wavy), types 3 (curly) and types 4 (coily). The sub classifications - from A to C - are based upon the diameter of the wave, curl or coil.

2. Keep Your Natural Hair Moisturized.

One of the first factors you will discover on the journey of growing your natural hair is the importance of moisture, because it plays a key role in retaining length. With textured hair, sebum (our natural scalp oil) has a hard time journeying down our strands, usually stopping nearer to our roots unlike with straight hair where there are no curves present. This is why our ends tend to be the driest part of our hair, making them more prone to breakage (3 Tips To Avoid Curl Breakage). Absorption of water by a strand maximises its flexibility and minimises its potential for breakage. Dry hair will tend to snap easily even with gentle force.

2a. Moisturise Your Hair – Effectively.

Water is what hydrates your strands, but water alone is insufficient. Because of the evaporation that takes place our hair goes from soft, plump and supple to dry and crunchy.  

To keep your natural hair happy, regularly apply moisture-intensive water-based products (leave-in/daily/no rinse conditioner, refresher sprays, hydrating milks/creams) combined with oil-based products (styling gels/creams, glossifying natural oils, defining butters) to help your hair maintain its moisture level during the week, and in effect, protect fragile ends so – more on the importance of ingredients later. 

A curly hair routine that has been known to help combat dry hair is the: LOC/LCO Method (Learn More). Both oil and butter are praised for their ability to create a protective layer along the hair shaft that helps prevent water from being evaporated and lost into the atmosphere, thus helping the hair to stay moisturised for as long as 2-3 days before reapplication is necessary. Some people experiment with adding gel to this method.

A great tip to get the most out of your moisture routine: be consistent with your routine by creating a regular regimen, and focus your moisture application on your ends.

Bear in mind to up your moisture game during drier and windier weather, especially during the winter (How To Keep Your Natural Hair Moisturised and Soft During Winter).

3. Nourish and feed your hair with products that have good quality ingredients – but avoid the wrong ingredients

The ingredients in your haircare products make a difference. Studies have found that the textured haircare market is more likely to contain harsh, unsafe and harmful ingredients (Source: EWG)

Not to fret, here’s how you can choose the right products to help optimise the health of your hair.  Analyse and scan the ingredient list of any product you wish to purchase. Try and look at the first 5-8 ingredients, because they tend to make up the majority of the content. Harsh/drying and barrier-creating (preventing moisture) ingredients to avoid are ingredients that end with -fates or -cone. If you want to go the extra mile in choosing safer and less harmful ingredients: avoid parabens, synthetic fragrancing and synthetic colouring in your products (Ingredients We Avoid in Natural Haircare).

Look for high quality natural oils and butters – almond, coconut, avocado, shea and grapeseed as opposed to mineral oil and petroleum which are derived from crude oil and form a coating on the hair shaft (3 Reasons to Make a Switch To Plant Based Haircare).

As you are aware, there are a alot of different products that are marketed toward the textured haired consumer. It's important to note that the use of more products does not necessary mean more moisture or effectiveness. Many products:
  • are highly water-based (the water simply evaporates off the hair cuticle)
  • are silicone based (silicone forms a coating and provides the illusion of moisture)
  • contain highly processed, cheap oils such as mineral oil (that form a coating)
  • contain alot of un-necessaries (which turn into buildup and become counter-intuitive for moisture penetration)

Tip: Look out for signs of greenwashing on advertisements and labels. Avoid stated claims of ''no sulfates, silicones etc.'' while the ingredient list contains other alarming ingredients. It's always good to bear in mind that ‘’natural’’ is not a regulated term in the cosmetic industry which means that companies can use it to promote their products regardless of their ingredient choices. Scanning the ingredient list is always your best bet before making a purchase – many companies list the complete list of ingredients on the back of their product labels and will hopefully do so on their website as well.

Most of all, listen to your hair – the Flora & Curl range is created to help users respond to the daily needs of their natural hair using high quality, gentle natural ingredients that are uncompromised by harsh ingredients. 

4. Gentle Does It

Comb your natural hair gently using a wide tooth comb. Your hair is curly, it takes a longer time for the teeth of the comb to glide through every corner of the curl. In addition, the space between the teeths of the comb allows for the curves of your hair to flow more easily which reduces the potential for knots or entanglement. Another option is finger detangling (you are able to feel for any knots and tangles as you motion your fingers in the same way you would a comb and gently release strands from knots).

Tip: Also, if you have the ‘’hands-in-hair’’ problem (I’m still working on this!), try to keep (anyone's) hands out of your hair apart from when it’s wash day or when you are styling your hair. I know that the temptation and boredom is real but low manipulation  is key to minimising breakage!

Tip: Never comb when hair is parched dry, always style when hair is a little damp or wet by applying a water-based product first.

Tip: It's better to start combing from the bottom of your hair to work your way up. Never start combing from the scalp. This way you are initially releasing shed hair that usually gets entangled at the ends. It might take some extra time to detangle more carefully, but the care is oh-so worth it.

5. Protect Your Ends

To minimise breakage and to retain moisture, try wearing your hair in a protective style every now and then. Protective styles are those which do not expose the ends, such as buns, twists, braids, ropes, halo braids, cornrows, to dry air and manipulation. Try and incorporate protective styles into your routine, and have fun by playing around with the versatility of your natural hair – the protective and time-saving benefits are just an added bonus!

6. Slice The Cake

You might find it easier, as your hair grows longer, that you handle your hair in sections. It makes everything easier, including detangling. Moisturise in sections. Condition and wash in sections. On wash days, I like to detangle my hair initially before twisting it up in 5-8 sections. I proceed to then shampoo and condition my hair in twists before airdrying it out for a lovely twist out. It reduces friction and frizz and saves time!

7. Condition More, Wash Less Often

Deep conditioning after shampooing not only replenishes what nutrients that were stripped by the shampoo, it also strengthens and nourishes your hair for whatever styles and weather your hair will see before the next wash. A good water-based deep conditioner will be free from silicone, have great slipperiness, minimal build up, and be intensely fortified with penetrative natural ingredients, oils, butters and vitamins and proteins. Try and deep condition your hair once a week or atleast every 2 weeks. Protein-based conditioners aim to strengthen weak and damaged hair, while moisture-based conditioners aim to replenish hydration. Work out a balance, and listen to your hair to see what it needs weekly.

Shampooing too frequently can dry natural hair out because you are stripping the natural oils from your hair. At most, wash natural hair once a week to every 2-3 weeks. Some people opt for co-washing (a conditioner and shampoo in one) or for a moisturising shampoo, and then use a mild clarifying shampoo once a month to remove product build-up.

Tip: When you apply the shampoo, focus the application on your scalp only and allow the rinse-out to run down the length of your hair. No need to rub the shampoo throughout your entire length - this is to avoid stripping out your natural oils.

Tip: After shampooing with luke-warm water, make sure to finalise the rinse with cold water to close up the hair follicles and reduce frizz.

Tip: Apply a leave-in/no-rinse conditioner after shampooing and conditioning, and follow up with your regular styling product, whether that’s a curling cream, butter, oil, or gel. Some people will stretch their hair with braids, twists or buns or leave it as a regular 'wash-and-go' - literally. 

Tip: Regular cotton towels are known for causing frizz and friction and absorbing moisture. Opt for a t-shirt or microfibre towel instead.

8. Minimise Heat Styling

All heat, including diffusing, can be damaging to hair if used intensely and too often. When you straighten your hair with heat, you are temporarily altering the protein bonds in your hair and weakening it. If you must diffuse, flat iron, blow dry or any other heat-style, always apply a heat protectant spray first.

After shampooing and airdrying, I prefer to air dry my hair, or if I am in a hurry, I could use a blow dryer on its cold setting.

If you want to go the extra mile, avoid heat styling all together or limit it to once every 3 months.

9. Trim Ends Regularly

You might think this is the opposite of what you should do if you want to retain length but this is exactly what will keep your ends healthy. Split ends can be caused by regular wear and tear, improper detangling, brushing wet hair or excessive blow drying. Environmental breakage is caused by environmental factors that damage or break the hair. A good example is dryness that is caused from the hot summer sun, which is why it's good to use a natural oil like the African Citrus Bloom Hair Oil to protect your hair from the elements. 

Contrary to popular thought, split ends can never be repaired, they just keep on splitting up to the hair root. The only real cure for split ends is trimming them off. When you have split ends and you don't cut them, they will continue to split all the way up to the hair root, which can stunt length retention.

Not to fret, a minor trim every 8-10 weeks will save you having to cut off an inch or more of extreme splits down the road. 

Other ways to prevent split ends are by simply being gentle with your hair, avoiding excessive/rough combing, reducing the use of heat and keeping your hair moisturised.

9a. Trim Ends – Properly

You can either choose to cut your hair yourself or opt for a professional stylist who is experienced with cutting curly hair. Choosing a stylist that truly understands textured hair essential. You do not have to straighten your hair to give it a cut, especially if you don’t keep your hair straightened most of the time. You can cut your hair while its curly or while in mini twists at home. If you choose to cut your hair, make sure to cut it while its dry only (cutting wet hair is like cutting wet paper), and to use sharp, professional scissors that are meant for cutting hair. Many stores sell this.

Tip: Looking for curly hair salons? Use Google or ask your curly-haired friends for recommendations of experienced persons/salons, to avoid getting a bad cut from someone who is not experienced with your particular texture.

10. Night Time Routine

Wrap your hair before bed with a silk or satin scarf or using a silk or satin pillow case. These materials allow hair to slide smoothly, reducing friction, frizz and dryness as opposed to using cotton which absorbs moisture.  

11. Stay Hydrated

Keep your curls moisturized by staying hydrated. Drink at least eight cups of water a day and eat a balanced diet of healthy foods such as fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Tip: Regular excericse provides good circulation to the scalp. The internal is also important!

12. Love your hair!

Love your natural hair regardless of type, texture, density, length. Love it in all its versatile and flexible ways. Avoid using depreciating terms like ‘’tame’’, ‘‘control’’ or ‘‘wild’’ and correct anyone who uses those terms. Your curls are not to be controlled, but merely to be understood. Give your natural hair the freedom to express your identity with different styles. Ps: this also means embracing the frizz - you can’t control it so why not love it :-)

I hope you have found this guide helpful and insightful!

Founder | Flora & Curl Haircare

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