Thursday, November 20, 2014

how to start a healthy hair care journey

Posted by Yahya at 6:04 PM
I've been working on this post little by little for months, I'm so glad to finally be able to put it up! The point of me creating this blog was my desire to help girls with my hair conditions take better care of their hair. But I realized most of the stuff I talk about is more for those that already have an idea of what they're doing. Every now and then I'd get messages from girls that wanted to start a hair care journey but had no idea where to start. Instead of rewriting the basics to them again and again, I decided to just publicly write it all here. I probably should have done this a long time ago. 

The basic components of a hair care regimen.

gentle shampoo or cleanser 
moisture conditioner
protein conditioner
wide tooth comb


prepoo (optional, but highly recommended)
Short for pre-shampoo. This is where you coat your hair in heated oil, like a hot oil treatment, for at least a half hour before washing. Sometimes people use conditioner or an oil-conditioner mix instead. This protects your hair from sulfates and the harsh effects of shampooing. It also helps hinder the tangling that occurs during washing and gives the hair more shine after the wash. 

Shampoo should be done no more than once a week for us afro textured and relaxed girls, because using shampoo or any other cleansing product more than that could dry out our hair. A proper wash should start with thoroughly rinsing your hair and scalp. Then when shampooing, it's important to focus on the scalp and only let the suds rinse throughout the length of the hair, not applying the shampoo directly on the ends of the hair. Again, that would cause unnecessary dryness. The key to healthy hair is a clean scalp and a moisturized mane, not the other way around. For this reason, I would also recommend going no longer than two weeks between washes, because you don't want build up on your scalp either. The only time shampoo should be applied on the entire hair is when clarifying (deep cleansing) or when washing something (like chlorine) out.

Many healthy hair journey girls try to find shampoo without sulfates, sometimes completely discontinuing the use of shampoo for healthier alternatives. This is because shampoo often contains sulfates, a synthetic cleaning ingredient that is too harsh on the hair. It washes out not only dirt and excess oil, but also strips away our natural oils and moisture. Prepooing can combat this to a degree, but it's better to try to avoid sulfates or use them to a minimal degree. Also, when using other types of hair cleansing alternatives, the proper 'shampooing' techniques explained before should still be kept in mind.

cowash (optional between washes)
Between normal washes, you can try cowashing. Cowashing is short for conditioner washing, and like the name says, it’s where you use conditioner to clean your hair instead of shampoo. Rinsing your hair with water alone cleans it to a degree, and on top of that, conditioner has a gentle cleansing effect. Don't believe me? A while back JC from The Natural Haven conducted a little experiment to see how well cowashing really cleansed hair. Her findings showed that about 90 percent of excess oil is removed.

Cowashing, however, should not be used as a total substitute for shampoo or alternative hair cleansing products. Though it gently cleans the hair, whether it cleans the scalp is questionable. When cowashing, some girls will massage the conditioner into their scalp like shampoo. I would think that would not work on the scalp as it does the hair and would instead create buildup. Even Gina Rivera from Hairs Talent had cautioned me when I first told her I cowashed. She told me she had to do scalp only cleansing treatments to many of her natural clients, because many of them cowashed, going a month between normal washing. Though their hair was fine, these clients had scalp buildup. Click here to view a video where she talks a little on this subject. In conclusion, cowashing gently cleanses your hair, moisturizes it, and makes wash days easier, but it should not be overused.

protein conditioner 
Protein treatments strengthen and bring structure back into the hair strand. They are more optional for natural girls, but are important for relaxed girls, or girls who do any kind of chemical treatment or heat styling. Hair is made up of about 90 percent protein. Doing a protein treatment ‘patches up’ the damage from chemical processes to daily wear and tear. One should be cautious, however, with the amount of protein they use in their regimen. Protein has gotten a bad rep because girls sometimes use too much and end up getting protein overload. I was one of them. One of the most important keys to healthy hair, if not the most important, is the hair’s moisture and protein balance. A MizzSlick from BHM shared an extensive explanation on this balance and other essential information on the forum. (I think she mistakenly said "Hair is about 70% keratin protein by nature" when she meant 90 percent. And rather then wet assessment, I recommend an elasticity test for more accuracy.)  How often you should do protein treatments and the strength of it depend on this balance. Lastly, when doing protein treatments, it’s also important to know that you have to follow up with a moisturizing conditioner that matches its strength. If it’s a heavy protein deep conditioner you have to follow with a heavy moisture deep conditioner, or your hair can become hard.

moisture deep conditioner 
For us girls with hair on the dry side, moisture conditioning is your best friend. Unless you’re cowashing, moisture deep conditioning should be done every time you wash. Something to watch out for, moisture conditioners will often contain a little protein ingredient or two in them. It’s kind of hard to find a conditioner that is completely protein free. This is fine, but it is something you shouldn't forget to calculate in when considering the amount of protein in your regimen and keeping your hair’s moisture-protein balance stable.

moisturize & seal
A good leave-in is one that moisturizes your hair without making it greasy or too weighed down. After washing, rinsing out your deep conditioner, and drying your hair a little, a leave-in is best applied while your hair is still on the damp side. This is the best time because the still damp strands creates a more even application. At the same time, the strands are not still too wet for the leave-in to penetrate. Moisturizing should light-handedly be followed by an oil to ‘seal’ in the moisture. Oils do not moisturize, they seal the moisture already in the hair. I like to think of it like a cup with water and oil on top. Sealing makes it harder for moisture to leave the hair. One should re-moisturize & seal throughout the week, whenever your hair starts feeling dry again.

The best way to dry your hair after washing is to first, dry it with a giant t-shirt instead of a towel. A towel if rigid and rough and was really made for our body, not our hair. When towel-shirt drying you also shouldn’t ruffle up your hair in the towel, simply squeeze and pat. Second, when drying it is healthiest to air dry your hair with oil, or to blow dry it with cool air. Air drying is the option most healthy hair journey girls go for, it creates little to no damage and the hair strands do not lose as much water. Plus it’s the lazier option. If your hair is wet for too long, however, it can cause your hair strands to swell, disturbing its structure. So if you know your hair takes a long time to dry, you should either use oil on wash day or blow dry on cool when your hair is about 70 percent dry. Using oil is something you should already be doing on wash day, when you prepoo and seal. Coconut oil in specific is known to be good at preventing hygral fatigue (swelling and contracting of the hair strand).

Direct heat like normal blow-drying and flat ironing isn’t something you want to keep in your routine when you start a healthy hair journey. Direct heat usage should be a maximum of at least two weeks apart, and a minimum of never. Too much blow drying on a hot setting can cause the water in wet hair strands to boil, which is worse for your strands’ structure than swelling. Flat-ironing can burn your hair, and takes away moisture and protein. If you can’t see yourself living without heat, opt for healthier options like roller setting and going under a hooded dryer.

Combing should start from the ends on your hair to the root. Starting from the roots you're trying to pull through tangles which causes breakage. Hair is its easiest to comb in the shower, but at the time hair is weakest when wet. So if you're relaxed, combing in the shower is something you might want to avoid. If you're natural, combing in the shower is something you should probably practice. Opt for a seamless wide tooth comb, as both technique and the tools involved are important. 

Another thing that it good to practice is finger detangling instead of taking out the comb every time. And that goes with more emphasis to girls stretching their touch-ups and have blooming new growth. Your line of demarcation will thank you.  


Jeff Leevan on December 21, 2014 at 6:42 AM said...

I have seen a lot of people who loves to color their hair. I would love to know your thoughts about it. Does it have any negative impact on the health of hair?
- Jeff @ Wigs and Hair extensions

Obat Penumbuh Rambut on January 25, 2015 at 6:39 AM said...

I want to stop hair loss and balding hair grow quickly how?.cara menumbuhkan rambut, penumbuh rambut botak

Yahya on January 31, 2015 at 10:30 PM said...

@Jeff, it depends on what kind of color dye you use. semi-permanent rinses coat the hair, making them the healthy option. permanent dyes are the ones that are unhealthy, and the lighter you go from your natural hair color the worse the damage.

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