Tips to maintain healthy natural hair

Training my natural hair was quite difficult at first, considering the fact that I had very stubborn hair and it almost always itched once the weather was hot and heat gathered on my scalp. I never could carry a good hairstyle, braided or styled, for more than a week or even less. Many times I wanted to give up and cut the hair. I mean, I could still slay on low cut, right? Right. But I wanted to keep a beautiful full head of natural hair, so I had to find a solution.

Itching is a common sign of dandruff. This is especially true during the heat of the dry season; your scalp is exposed to that heat, which can result in a dandruff problem, thus making your scalp itch more than usual. To tackle the itch, you have to tackle the root of the problem. So I’m going to share with you 7 tips to help you maintain healthy natural hair.

1. Keep your hair moisturized

A Woman about to moisturize her hair

This is key for beautiful healthy hair. Keep your hair well-nourished and moisturized. This will in turn help enhance its elasticity and shine, thereby curbing brittleness and breakage. Use a conditioner for dry, damaged and brittle hair every time you wash your hair. Apply the conditioner mainly to the ends of the hair and leave it for 2-3 minutes, then properly wash it off. Note that an Itchy, dry and flaky scalp could also be as a result of not doing a good job of rinsing off the shampoo from your hair, since this can irritate it.

2. Use hair oil

A woman applying hair oil to her hair

One thing I discovered on my natural journey is to know my product. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. Hair oil has so many benefits such as adding hydration and locking in moisture, preventing hair breakage, promoting growth and length retention, increasing shine, softness, manageability (for those that have full hair), soothing the scalp, replenishing hair nutrients to mention but a few. The key is to know what oils to use and appropriately use it. Know the purpose of the oil: some oils seal or locks moisture while others moisturize.

Some examples of oils that seal or lock in moisture are black castor oil, tea tree, jojoba, soybean, coconut oil, argan oil, avocado oil, olive oil and of course the well-known shea butter (popularly called ori).

3. Wear some silk and satin

A woman wearing a satin bonnet

Just before going to bed, I always divide my hair into four or five parts and make my mother’s protective, style twisting with thread, locally known as some-gaps, or the big braids popularly known as Calabar. Then I wrap my hair with a silk scarf. This protects my hair from tangle and dryness. In the morning I simply loose, comb or brush through depending on my intended style, then apply my hair product (if necessary) then I set out (or slay indoor). 

Covering your hair with a silk or satin scarf is best because this material does not absorb oil, unlike other materials such as cotton. If you do not have silk, there is satin, of which the satin bonnet is a popular trend. Also note, If you’re going to tie your hair up or push it out of your face, ensure you use a hairband made out of silk or satin. Other fabrics such as elastic can cause breakage and damage the cuticles.

4. Avoid heat

A woman blow drying her hair

Heat is one of the biggest damagers of hair, especially if you want to go natural. If using a hairdryer is necessary, set it on the lowest heat and remember to always use a heat protectant spray. Under high temperatures, hair becomes dry and brittle. As much as possible, let your hair dry naturally instead.  Also, avoid the use of hair straighteners.

5. Be color shy

A woman with very colorful hair

Colors are beautiful and it can be very tempting to change your hair color. But it’s important to avoid any form of bleach and dye, especially at the beginning. Embrace your natural hair color. The chemicals in hair-dye are a primary cause of hair damage. If you absolutely need to dye your hair, then take sufficient space between each dying, say 2-4 months .

6. Avoid too much washing

 There is what I call too much washing, which is not good for your hair. Wash your hair only if you must. Do not over wash; once or twice a week should do just fine.

7. Comb properly

Woman struggling to comb hair

Gently brush your hair. This reduces the amount of brittle hair. Always begin to brush from the ends and slowly move up. Avoid brushing your hair when it is wet. Let it dry a little bit. Use oils and then brush it gently.  Use a wide-tooth comb to pick at your hair instead of a small one, which can cause breakage. Picking allows your style to remain voluminous and less knotty.

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