Monday, 12 September 2016

Full steps - how to soften Afro hair without relaxers

One of the main challenges about going natural and no longer relaxing hair is the course, hard and 'unmanageable' texture of the hair. It can become a daunting and frustrating situation when you are new to the journey of natural hair, mainly due to having had an easier way to deal with the hair - let's be honest, relaxed hair is sleek and easy, therefore doesn't require much thought in maintaining it.

If you are a new natural who is frustrated by the kinky texture of the hair, or you are a natural who finds combing and styling your hair a painful (literally) process, then this is the perfect read you need.  The big question is, can you attain soft hair? Yes, yes and yes. And this is how:

Soft afro natural hair - without relaxing the hair

This is what worked for me, and hopefully it works for you too:

  • Build a hair regimen and stick to it, even if it is 90% of the time. I am not perfect and get days when I am lazy to wash my hair, or days when a small thing such as spritzing my hair with my water & oil mix seems too laborious. A regimen is a method/grooming pattern that you follow, for example, every morning you shower and brush your teeth; that is a body care regimen which you follow as part of your hygiene and self love. Your hair also needs a hair care regimen. 
  •  A regimen doesn't have to be complicated, and should cover basics of hair care that are: washing the hair and keeping it balanced in terms of its water to protein ratio.
  • How often you wash your hair depends on your weather conditions (e.g. hot weather weather that makes your scalp sweaty and oily requires more washes). Another factor is how active your lifestyle is (e.g. if you work out or have a physically demanding job you would require more washes to cleanse the hair and scalp). Lastly, consider your natural hair behaviour (e.g, do you naturally have oily hair that requires more frequent washes? Do you have dry flaky hair, dandruff etc, that may require less washes or more etc.
  • When washing your hair, include pre-poos as these prevent your hair from being stripped of moisture. If you are lazy to prepoo then co-wash (conditioner wash instead of shampoo). However be careful not to be lazy allllll the time as shampooing hair helps remove product build up. 
  • The balance between moisture and protein is important because protein is the building block of hair, and moisture is the 'life support' to the hair strands. Without enough protein the hair strands get damaged, leading to hair breakage. Moisture on the other hand is important as it keeps the hair strands 'alive' by giving them a glow and suppleness. Dry hair is essentially hair that lacks moisture, and also leads to breakage. 
  • To attain soft hair you should ensure your hair is moisturised at all levels/layers.  What this means is moisture should reach the inside of your hair strands, i.e. cortex, but should also be on the outside of your hair, i.e. cuticle. The cortex is chemically designed by nature (your genes) to determine strength, texture and colour of your hair. So if you moisturise internally, you get moisture right to the core structure that is meant to determine your texture. In this case, if you have 4c hair like me, you can soften it by deep conditioning.
  • Deep conditioning your hair should be part of your regimen as it moisturised hair from the inside. And deep conditioning has to be regular, e.g. once a week if you live in hot climates or once every 10 days if you live in less drying climates.
  • Spritzing your hair (daily or every 2 days) with a water & oil mix should be part of your regimen as it moisturises hair from the outside layer, and therefore revives your hair's moisture.
  • But before spritzing your hair to revive moisture, always ensure you've locked in the moisture from your deep conditioning by sealing with both a butter and oil, e.g. Shea butter and olive oil.
  • If you consistently moisturise your hair, it will eventually get soft and manageable. The key is consistency. You can even find your curl pattern changing once your hair is fully hydrated, I find my hair looks a bit like 4b hair when it is hydrated. But when it is dry my 4c texture tightens even more and I end up with very crooked wirey hair. 
  • Initially when I started my healthy hair journey, my 4c hair was not soft at all, it was super dry and hard to deal with. It took me 6 months of consistent deep conditioning and daily moisturising to attain soft hair.
  • Great moisturising deep conditioners are the ones whose ingredients list aqua as the first ingredient, as that means they are water based. Essential/useful in the ingredient list are things like glycerine, aloe vera, jojoba oil, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil etc.
  • Never comb your hair while it is dry as this won't only be painful but will also result in breakage and split ends. Use a wide tooth comb when combing the hair.
  • Detangle your hair regularly as knotted and matted hair results in a tough texture that is difficult to manage.
  • Don't give up, you'll soon discover short cuts that are still efficient. So put in the work until you understand your hair
Love - AfroMoriri