Top 5 Oils for Natural Hair

Natural hair care cosmetics and accessories: wooden basket filled with pine branches, sea salt, shampoo, conditioner, balm, mask, wooden combs

When I first went natural, I was inundated with information about natural oils; but with so many types it is difficult to tell them apart. To save you from the confusion, here is your cheat sheet of the top 5 commonly used oil for Natural Hair:

Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the only two oils that have been proven to penetrate the cortex of the hair strands; which means it hydrates beyond just a surface coating. It has a heavier consistency and is rich with fatty acids that coat the hair shaft, thus making it a great sealant and moisturizer. Olive oil is also loaded in antioxidants which is good news for our hair strands and scalp. It is most often used to help with dandruff, frizz, shine, and sealing hair.

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What You Need to Know about Natural Hair Vitamins

Vintage 70s fashion afro woman. White shirt and jeans against brown background.

Many people are looking for the magic pill when it comes to hair growth. In this microwave society we want everything quickly. If you don’t have a medical condition that is effecting your hair negatively, chances are a hair vitamin will not have a dramatic effect on growth and all you need is a little patience. You can see some benefit however, if you aren’t adequately eating the right foods to give you all the vitamins and nutrients you need daily. Hair growth is typically dependent among the 5 values below.

  1. Your genetics
  2. Your hormone levels
  3. Medical conditions/ reactions to drugs that may cause hair loss
  4. Diet (Vitamins/Nutrients)
  5. Maintenance (How you take care of your hair)

Most of us aren’t seriously vitamin deficient but if you think you are it’s important for you to find out which vitamin or vitamins you’re lacking, because hair loss would probably be the least of your problems. For example, biotin, a form of B vitamin, is often present in hair-growth supplements. But, if you were truly biotin deficient, you would be too sick to get to the store and buy the supplement!

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Scalp Massage for Hair Growth

scalp massageDo you ever take the time to give yourself a scalp massage? If the answer is “no”, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity for relaxation and hair growth. Scalp massages can stimulate blood circulation in the scalp, which will cause blood to flow to the roots of your hair, delivery oxygen and nutrients, allowing the hair follicles to produce hair more quickly.  The kneading pressure applied by the massage warms the skin and opens up blood vessels to increase flow and boost circulation. Increased circulation means that the cells of the hair follicle will receive more of the nutrients necessary to optimal hair growth function. By increasing blood flow to the hair follicle, hair is less likely to go into the resting phase prematurely, preventing the appearance of thinning hair.

It only takes about 5 minutes for an effective massage. That’s a little more than a commercial break on your favorite television program. The key to seeing results is consistency. Massaging your scalp a couple of times a week may not make a difference, so try to implement it in your daily routine.

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Tips for Easily Detangling Natural Hair

3 ways to prevent natural hair breakageOne of the biggest complaints I hear from people on the verge of giving up on their natural hair is maintenance. And maintenance generally refers more to detangling than actual styling and upkeep. Detangling is simply separating the strands of your hair to remove tangles and shed hairs that can cause matting, knots, and breakage. Proper detangling is key to overall hair health, so take a look at the tips below to cut down on your detangling time and to make it more efficient.

Wet Detangle

When the hair is wet and full of conditioner, it is in the ideal state for detangling. The water and conditioner provides enough slip to make it super easy for your fingers or styling tool to glide through the hair. Although the strands are most fragile when wet, the hair is flexible, elastic, and loose enough in this state to withstand a comb when used carefully with conditioner.

Styling Tools

There are a few different styling tools to use for detangling including a wide tooth comb, paddle or vent (Denman) brush, and my personal favorite, your five fingers! Combs with tiny teeth, boar bristle brushes, brushes with balls at the end of the bristles should be avoided.

Finger detangling is using your fingers like a comb. When finger detangling, you should be able to gently undo minor knots and tangles. You can use this as your only detangling tool or use it before using a brush or a comb.

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3 Ways to Protect Your Hair While Sleeping

satin

Many naturals still struggle with their hair – especially at bedtime. You can achieve the perfect look one day and then struggle to preserve your styles and prevent tangles for great second or third day hair. Here are 3 ways to preserve styles, prevent matting, and reduce damage for your natural hair styles:

Satin or Silk Scarves

The key to healthy hair is moisture. Cotton material robs your hair of moisture. Furthermore, the weave of cotton fibers can cause individual stands to tangle and break. Satin or silk provide a smooth barrier that hair strands can glide across without the risk of damage and friction. Be sure to use a satin or silk scarf to wrap your hair at night. It will act as a barrier between your hair and pillowcases while maintain the moisture levels in your hair.

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A How-To Guide to Thicken Natural Hair

Young black woman, afro hairstyle, in urban backgroundWe all want what we can’t have. Those of us with fine strands of hair want thicker hair and those with thicker hair would jump at the chance of having finer hair. I’m constantly asked about ways to thicken natural hair, both by strangers and family alike.

Let me just start by telling you that if you aren’t suffering from an issue like Hypothyroidism, thinning hair or other serious hair condition, you can’t really thicken up your hair. You can give the appearance of more volume, but normal to healthy hair remains physically the same as far as number of hair strands and thickness.

When you were being formed in your mother’s womb, your genetics determined the exact number of hair follicles or “roots” that you will ever have. Yes, there are products on the market that claim to thicken hair, but most will give off the appearance of thicker hair because again you can’t change the number of follicles you have. But that’s not to say a curly girl can’t dream. If you incorporate one or more of the tips below, you can give off the appearance of more volume.

Here are 7 ways to give you the appearance of thicker hair, naturally:

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A How To Guide to Moisturizing Your Natural Hair

African woman mad at her hairMoisture is arguably the most important part of a healthy hair regimen. Without moisture you end up with dry, frizzy hair that splits and breaks off.  Water is the only form of moisture that exists. However, water alone isn’t effective in keeping moisture in your hair due to evaporation. Here are a few things you need to know about effectively moisturizing your natural hair.

Sealing

Our scalp naturally produce sebum (oil) that is designed to coat the hair strand. But those of us with curls and kinks, have a hard time with sebum naturally running down the path of the hair strands, to coat and moisturize the hair. So we must moisturize and oil our strands manually.

After adding moisture (water) to your hair, you should seal in that moisture with naturally penetrating oil such as olive oil or coconut oil. You can seal with oil alone and/or with a leave-in that has these oils listed in the first five ingredients. These oils help by creating a barrier at the cuticle, preventing the water from evaporating off of your strands at an accelerated rate.

Effective Sealing

With all parts of a hair regimen, you have to find out what works best for your hair. Sealing can vary from person to person. For some, sealing with oil may not be enough. Those with thicker hair may need to add either a watery leave-in conditioner, before sealing, and/or a oil-based, creamy leave-in conditioner, after sealing, for their hair to remain properly moisturized after it is completely dry.

After washing and sealing with oil, ask yourself, “Does my hair still feel soft and moisturized after it is fully dry?” If the answer is no, you may need to tweak your regimen to effective seal your strands. You can test by applying different sealing methods to each side of your hair after washing.

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Reading the Label: Decoding Shampoo Ingredients

Cute African American using shampoo

Pretty packaging, misleading marketing language, price, and a lack of education on this subject leads people to buying hair products that could do more harm than good to their hair and overall health. Learning to decode ingredient labels is an important step in a healthy hair journey. Most commercially available hair care products today contain harmful and potentially carcinogenic ingredients, so it’s important to educate yourself on what you’re being exposed to on a daily or weekly basis.

I wanted to start my “reading the label” post on this blog with shampoo, because it is one of the most important products in our arsenal. A good shampoo keeps your scalp healthy which leads to easier maintenance and more hair growth. A bad shampoo will lead to breakage, scalp irritations, frizz, and tougher hair maintenance.

Here are 7 ingredients you want to avoid in your next purchase of shampoo:

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6 Steps to Properly Wash Your Hair

Cute African American using shampoo

Washing hair seems like a concept that most people know how to do, but that’s not always the case. If you’ve haven’t been properly taught how to wash your hair, you may not be doing it in the most effective way. Here are 6 steps to properly washing your hair.

  1. Rinse:

Rinse your hair with warm water for 1 minute before applying your clarifier of your choice. The warm water will open your cuticles to prepare them for cleansing and 60 seconds under the shower stream will drench your hair enough to get fully clean.

  1. Shampoo the Scalp:

Add your shampoo or clarifier of choice to your scalp, not to the ends of your hair. Gently massage the shampoo into your scalp for a few minutes. Then Rinse out your hair. The shampoo will run down the length of your hair, cleansing the ends. The ends are the oldest part of your hair and has therefore been clarified more than the new growth. Too much cleansing can cause damage to weakened or older hair.

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7 Ways to Stretch Your Curls

African woman mad at her hair

Patience is not a characteristic that many naturals possess. Many people want long hair quickly and the dreaded shrinkage of natural hair can be the bane of a curly girls existence. Many curly girls pull, stretch, and find different styling methods to show the length of their hair.

First, let me say that shrinkage is great. It’s an indicator that you have strong, healthy hair. If you pull your hair and it springs back without breaking, it’s a sign of great strength and elasticity. Also, keep in mind that fighting against shrinkage can really damage your hair especially if too much heat or tension is applied to your hair and scalp. So use the following methods of stretching your curls with caution.

Thoroughly Detangle

This may sound like a “duh” statement but if you simply thoroughly detangle your hair in the conditioning and styling process, you will have more stretched curls. When hair isn’t fully detangled, it may mat up and tangle around itself, causing shrinkage.

Blow Dry Roots

I would advise using any heat with caution. Blow drying your roots can be a quick and easy method of stretching your curls. After washing or wetting your hair, let it air dry until it’s about 85-90% dry. Lightly tug on your hair and blow dry the roots on medium heat.    Don’t blow dry them straight, just enough to stretch your curls slightly.

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