I decided to write this post because whether I’m lurking on hair boards, am asked these questions or have to give guidance, there are these “Hair Care Rules” that people seem to live by, but know nothing of.
Apparently, there is a standard that we have live by, products we should or should not be using, practices we shouldn’t be utilizing. Everything isn’t for everyone. It’s like coffee: people who drink it are perfectly happy with it, but those who don’t have a horrible misconception of it and bash it because they know nothing of it, then drink tea because its “better” meanwhile green and black tea have about the same, if not more, caffeine than that cup of coffee they avoid.
We will start with product misconceptions. Lets go!
When I started my journey, I avoided sls-poo (had been for a year before) because it was no good for black hair. Meanwhile, I never found an sls free-poo I could tolerate. I use a regular poo now. My dilemma with sls free-poo was that because its detergents were milder, it cleaned less, but deposited more oils and other ingredients than it was getting rid of. Then you have some that are too harsh, or not cleansing enough. Sls free-poo is better for black hair because our hair is dry “due to the natural curling” so you want something as mild as possible because moisturizing is hard enough. However, what are the benefits to moisturizing hair that isn’t really clean?
Sls free poo has so many different detergent variations that one may act different than the other and that makes a difference on how it reacts with hair. You have soap based shampoos, olefins, coca-MEA, c14-c16 and so forth that you’d have to experiment to find the best one. Meanwhile, sls-poo consist of usually the same detergents, just different strengths. It was easier for me to find an SLS poo than an SLS free poo, and sadly, Im not ashamed of that. I have 5 poo’s in my stash I like and 1 sls-free poo I can’t stand really.
My cousin doesn’t use SLS poo on her daughter (she is 2.5 yrs) but for my wedding, I did her hair and I pull out some POO! I haven’t steered my cousin wrong yet, so I used it and even my cousin could see a difference in her hair after conditioning. She is kind of sold now. I told her 2x a month might not hurt and will reduce build-up. She really had no reason why she wasn’t using it. My friend argued as to how I could recommend her to buy a clarifier when “your not suppose to use those products on our hair!” After a discussion, I concluded that she had no idea why she wasn’t using a POO at least once a month and told her that may be the key to her excessive product and dandruff build-up. Her scalp was not getting cleaned and yet she wondered why her expensive (Moroccanoil for one) products weren’t really having an effect.
Back in the day (I was one of them), we use to put grease on our scalps for growth. I SWORE UP AND DOWN this helped but then questioned how something preventing my scalp from breathing was making it grow. Didn’t care, Blue Magic all day every day. Now, these practices are banished, exiled to the island of horrible practices for hair care. But what really makes grease so bad? Like anything, if use properly, it can be effective in cold climates for adequate sealing. If you like it, use it. Its really that simple. I like pomades and butters, only because they are more natural and I have LP hair. Mineral oil and Petroleum/latum based products also break my hair faster, so I avoid them, but if they work for you, just have a good poo handy. Yes, poo!
Silicones aka Cones
I use to think cones were the devil. I remember reading early in my journey that cones were all sorts of things and depending on the person they are either good or bad. I avoided cones when my hair was not healthy because its use didnt seem practical. How can I repair damage with silicones when in reality, they only mask it allowing hair to weaken over time. When my hair got stronger, healthier, I was introduced to CHI Silk Infusion and I was scared because of the cone content. I had tried really hard to use more natural items, especially heat protectants, in my regimen, but none gave me the results I was looking for. I figured it couldn’t hurt. So far, so good.
I can use cones as a heat protectant, but in a shampoo its not favorable and in a conditioner, its a no-no. My hair need to be treated before I can bother with cones. I stick with heat protectants and finishing oils with cones. If you want straighter hair without using so much product, a conditioner with silicones can help, especially if you are using a flat iron. If you don’t like cones, don’t use them. Like them, then use them. It’s ok. My experience with cones was more successful when I had healthier hair versus using cones with damaged hair. Thats the thing about cones; you have to know how to use them.
Im not with drama, so I will keep this topic related. As with all the products I have mentioned, we are in the 2010’s, not the 1980’s. Nothing has the same strength that it used to. Here are a few things I learned with relaxers:
-Relaxer stretching is hard. Im not going to lie. And when you are starting a hair journey, it friggin sucks. But it is worth it and however it works for you, stick with it. You don’t have to go for months. I prefer to relax a certain amount of times during the year, some people go with the flow, others wait for a certain amount of time or hair growth. You don’t have to wait 10-12 weeks, you want to relax after 8, do what works for you. The key is in care. Some methods may not be favored, but there is nothing that says you can’t do it.
-Processing is a difficult decision. I LOVED my bone straight hair. Til this day I still miss it, I won’t even lie but here is my sad truth. Once on a stretch, I saw that my bone straight hair was half the size of my natural hair. I just figured I’d have to be extra gentle, but the truth is that regardless to how gentle I could be, I would never be able to successfully have bone straight hair. My hair strands are too thick to handle that much bone straight hair and the demarcation line was pathetic. Even with leaving a little bit of texture, that was the key to having healthier hair, but more under processed hair has helped me tons. I love my under processed hair to pieces, but I miss my bone straight hair. Hate me, but I have a thing for straight hair. Texlaxing is great, but thicker hair should utilize this option as bone straight hair is not favorable for these types compared to thinner strands which can play with either style. Last, with texlaxing, it is probably easier to under process more as time goes on, rather than all at once. You don’t have to texlax, it is just suggested to leave texture in the hair.
-Neutralizing is the most important step. It really brings the hair down and stops processing. When I used a neutralizing conditioner, I liked it, but wasn’t crazy about it and still caused breakage for me. I went back to a NS and life became better for me. NC are indeed good and incorporate MPS along with neutralizing and rids the hair of calcium deposits, but I just prefer to do my MPS for 2 minutes and proceed with neutralizing. You don’t have to do a mid protein step, but for me, it helps a lot.
-Relaxer strength is important as well. Some relaxers come without strength, so it could be safe to assume they are mild to normal, but if you are particular, stick with relaxers with strengths. Also, if a relaxer brand is giving you much breakage, first check to see if you are over processing. Mizani works bad when you relax bone straight, but when hair is under processed, it isn’t that bad (this was my personal experience). Lye and No-Lye is a personal preference, just understand how to take care of hair depending on the chemical used.
-As with relaxing, just be cool. It goes a long way.
Part 2 to come!
One Day, It Will Happen