Which products should I use for my natural hair?
If I had an Ngwee for every time someone asked me which products I used for my natural hair I’d be rich. I love talking to people about natural hair care but when I hear this question my heart sinks a little because I know there is no simple answer and that I will have to work very hard to hold anyone’s attention as I describe my entire regimen to them.
The thing is we all have different hair types. Some people have really dense hair, some have very fine hair; your hair might absorb moisture at a much faster rate than mine, you might be more sensitive to protein treatments or you may have hair with kinks instead of coils. This means that products will work differently for different individuals and that’s before we even discuss availability and financial considerations.
I have decided to address this question according to how you would use products in your regimen. Part 1 is cleansing then we will move on to Conditioning, Moisturising and Styling.
Sometimes called clarifying this is about washing away any build up on the hair and scalp. It’s important to do this so that you have a clean base for conditioning and moisturising .
It is best to try and find a shampoo that either has lower or no sulphates because these can strip the hair and cause it to become dry. I have discussed this at length in previous columns. If you cannot find shampoo without sulphates you are best looking for a shampoo that is formulated for dry, damaged or coloured hair as they will tend to be milder
It is advisable to do what is known in the natural hair community as a pre poo to alleviate the drying effect of shampoo. This is applying an oil or conditioner before shampooing. The most effective pre poo is coconut oil which can either be applied 8 hours prior to washing or used as a hot oil treatment for 30 to 45 minutes.
You will need to become familiar with reading ingredients lists.
Don’t go digging up your back gardens; I’m talking about a particular kind of clay. There are a number of clays that can be used to cleanse hair but because this is ZedHair we’ll only discuss products that are currently available in Zambia. Bentonite Clay is sold in Umoyo Health stores; it absorbs impurities and detangles the hair incredibly well. This option is for those of you who might like mixing your own products as you will need to create a paste that can be applied to the hair. Read more about Bentonite Clay here.
- African Black Soap
This soap is traditionally manufactured in West Africa and widely touted for its effectiveness in clearing acne prone skin. It is also brilliant for cleansing hair. It has some fantastic ingredients that moisturise and condition the hair such as honey, Shea Butter and Aloe Vera. It is far gentler and less drying than shampoo because it does not contain any sulphates. You can use Black Soap as is or make your own Black Soap shampoo mixture.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is widely available and a very effective clarifier. It is especially useful for cleaning your scalp when you have a protective style or if you regularly exercise and would like to prevent build up of sweat. It is best to concentrate on your scalp if you are using ACV to clarify. This can be most easily achieved by mixing 1 part ACV to 3 parts water and using an applicator bottle.
Some people prefer to wash their hair with conditioner. This is known as co washing and will be discussed in next weeks “Dear ZedHair” column on conditioning.
Have you tried any of these methods of cleansing? How did they work for you?
Do you have a question about healthy natural hair care? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org .