Did you know there is a plethora of ways to wash your hair that involves very minimal usage of shampoo? Here are three ways of washing that you probably knew little to nothing about.
Water Only Washing
I stumbled across this video on YouTube about washing with water only. With me having really short hair I wash with only water all of the time. However, I had never thought about it in regards to longer hair. I was thinking: “How does that work out?” I mean, there is product build up happening. After watching the video I read a blog post that also talked about washing with water only. Obviously this is a thing and maybe I should partake in this “thing” as my hair grows out because washing my hair is serious business. So I need something that is effective and does not take all day. I have taken the liberty to bless you all with the blog post so you don’t have to search for it. http://blackgirllonghair.com/2015/08/can-water-only-washing-improve-natural-hair-growth/
What is co-washing? Co-washing is short for “conditioner-only washing.” It means skipping shampoo and relying solely on conditioner, whether you’re a daily or a weekly washer. The result is something between squeaky-clean and second-day hair—that is, smoother, softer, and easier to manage. Co-washing may not be for everyone, but I like it. It does cut down on wash time and is not this arduous process. See, the thing with co-washing is that it does not totally clean your hair. However, it is great for in between wash days for when you semi clean hair, but you also need to get up and go. It is also good for detangling your strands before shampooing.
I will admit that I was a little skeptical about dry shampooing. In my mind, it’s like putting dirt on top of dirt. Apparently that’s not what it is. Basically, it’s a powder or spray formula that works to soak up excess oil, water and residue from your scalp and hair, leaving your hair with a refreshed smell and texture. It’s pretty much a spray wash-n-go in a bottle. The bigger question would be: Can black women use dry shampoo? We can and we should. If you are a woman who works out a lot then dry shampoo would be very beneficial for you. Here is a great article that explains dry shampoo and gives recommendations on some good products out there on the market. http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2014/05/15-dry-shampoos-black-women-should-try/
Firstly, what is the difference between pre-pooing (pre-shampoo) and hot oil treatment? They are very similar and virtually serve the same purpose of adding and retaining moisture to dry hair and maintaining a healthy scalp.
Pre-pooing is great for all hair types especially 4c hair which tends to tangle more during any type of manipulation from styling or prepping for you wash day. Pre-pooing is essential when you use shampoos. Most shampoos have a tendency to dry your hair out because it strips the natural oils from your hair. This can more so be determined by how often you shampoo your hair. Do you wash everyday, every other day, once a week? I personally shampoo about once or twice a month to get rid of any product build up that has accumulated on my hair from styling and what not. If I choose to shampoo more often I use a moisturizing shampoo such as, Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Shampoo w/Shea Butter & Apple Cider Vinegar which does not require me to pre-poo when I use it. Black castor oil and shea butter help to seal in the moisture while apple cider vinegar aids in clarifying and regulating pH levels of the scalp. I only pre-poo when I am using a clarifying shampoo.
My personal pre-pooing products that works for me in this exact order are as follows:
WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You can use a spray bottle with water in it to saturate your hair and then apply your pre poo ingredients. The key to moisture is always water.
I like to let it sit for about an hour, then sit under a dryer with low heat. I may also sit outside to allow the heat to penetrate through for about 20-30 minutes, then rinse it out and proceed on with shampooing my hair. There are a variety of combinations that you can use for your pre-poo regimen. I have tried many different ways and my hair responds best to these three products.
We will touch on hot oil treatments in our next post. Stay tuned………
A key step to understanding how to take care of your hair is learning about the cast and crew that define your hair strands. Determining your hair type or curl pattern will help you fine tune your product and style selection to those that work best given your hair composition. It will save you time and money from doing things that just won’t work for your hair.
Admittedly, I’ve never taken the time to understand this prior to cutting my hair. Therefore, I went through a variety of products before I found a regimen that seemed to work. Now I’m wondering am I doing what’s best for my hair with the products and styles I’ve currently selected without knowing my hair type or porosity. I figure what better way to understand my hair’s character than to explore it through this blog.
To determine my hair type I had to wash my hair and let it air dry without adding products. I started my research on hair typing and porosity while I let my hair dry. There is literally an ABUNDANCE of information about these subjects on the Internet. I found some really good articles from Naturally Curly, Curly Nikki, Curl Centric, and Healthy Hair Dimensions just to name a few. I settled on merging information from the Curly Nikki and Healthy Hair Dimension articles to better understand how to classify my hair.
Andre Walker system
The Andre Walker system is most widely used to classify hair type. Hair types are categorized into 4 main categories and 3 subcategories based on curl patterns as follows:
Type 1: Straight
1a: Straight fine; 1b: Straight Medium; and 1c: Straight coarse
Type 2: Wavy
2a: Wavy fine; 2b: Wavy Medium; and 2C: Wavy coarse
Type 3: Curly
3a: Loose curls; 3b: Tight curls; and 3c: corkscrew curls*
Type 4: Tightly Curled (kinky)
4a: Soft tight coils; 4b: wiry tight coils; and 4c: z patterned tight coils*
*Note: Subcategory c was defined after the Andre Walker system was published.
The L.O.I.S. system is a comprehensive classification that takes in consideration curl pattern, strand size, and texture. The pattern is categorized based on if your hair strands most resemble one or more of the letters L, O, I, or S.
Strand size is determined by comparing a strand of hair to a thread size. If your strand is smaller than the thread, then your hair is thin or fine. Your hair is considered medium size if it’s the same size and thick if it’s larger than the thread.
Texture is defined as being either “thready”, “wiry”, “cottony”, “spongy”, or “silky”. Your texture is defined by how much shine, sheen, and frizz can be found in your hair.
I decided to classify my hair using the Andre Walker and L.O.I.S systems, but there are others like F.I.A and Mizani hair typing systems that you can use to determine your hair’s character. Black Hair Information.com challenges you to ditch the complicated hair typing systems and define your hair based on if it’s fine, combination, or coarse.
It is also important to discuss hair porosity. How porous your hair is refers to how well your hair is able to absorb and hold moisture. Knowing your hair’s porosity can help you choose the right products to maintain moisture in your hair. You can do the Float or Slip ‘n’ slide test to determine if your hair has low, medium, or high porosity. I decided to do the Float test. My hair will have low porosity if my strands float in the water after sitting in a cup for about 2-4 minutes. It will be of normal or medium porosity if it sinks mid-way and high porosity if it sinks to the bottom of the cup.
L.O.I.S: Combination O & L; thin strand size; and cottony texture
Porosity: My hair took a while to sink under the water; therefore, my hair has low porosity
Determining my hair type was a little more challenging than I expected especially when trying to define texture under the L.O.I.S. System. I’m glad that I completed this activity so I can be more mindful when selecting new products and styles in the future. Classifying your hair type is a useful exercise but don’t fret if you can’t define your tresses to one type. Just like my hair, most women have blended strand composition. If you don’t know your hair type or porosity, next time you wash your hair, examine a few strands using one or more of these typing systems and porosity tests to begin the journey of learning about your glorious crown in its natural state.
What is your hair type? Which hair typing system and porosity test do you prefer?
Reading the Buzzfeed article, 17 Reasons Why Natural Hair is Not a Good Look, reminded me of all the reasons why I didn’t initially choose to wear my hair in its natural state. I work in health care operations management and as a fairly new administrator at the time, I always wanted to maintain what I thought was a professional image. I just didn’t see how wearing my hair naturally would fit into that image and as a result would alternate my hairstyles between hair extensions, chemically relaxed hair, and other protective hair styles.
My hair journey didn’t start with me making a declarative statement of going natural with long healthy hair or that I wanted to stay away from chemically treated processes for health reasons. It took time and significant hair loss for me to realize that I needed to make very different choices about how I managed my hair.
My journey manifested around 2013 a few months after having my daughter, Ella. As I review old pictures, I noticed that my hair slowly lost its volume during that year. I essentially ignored it and continued with my usual methods to style and maintain my hair. It wasn’t until January 2014 that it was more obvious to me that my crown was in trouble.
February 2014 (my birthday)
By February 2014, it was evident from my birthday pictures that I was holding onto a bad relationship that clearly should be over. But just as bad relationships go, I was the last one to realize it.
I waited until April 2014 to finally cut my hair. I don’t have a picture to show my tresses at its absolute worse (as it my birthday pictures weren’t bad enough), but by this time, I probably had about as many long strands of hair as the onions do in this picture.
Yes, it was that bad. I visited my stylist,TaLauna Beverly, to undergo the BIG CHOP and her response was “ Girl, what happened to your hair?!”What did happen to my hair? The combination of hormonal changes; the stress of trying to balance being a first-time mom and working full-time in a demanding job; continuing to expose my strands to tension and chemical relaxers; and then not using proper techniques to care for my hair left me with very little to take care of.
I was initially angry that I had to cut my hair. I had never worn it naturally short on purpose in my life. I worried about what the surgeons, staff, and senior leadership would think about me now that I had very little hair. I felt insecure, less attractive… Would my husband like it? How would I manage this? How soon could I perm my hair so I could go back to my usual routine? Those were the many questions that circled through my mind as I learned to deal with this new short hair scenario. I was so out of my comfort zone.
June 2014 (photo credit: Melissa Parker)
I had reached the crossroad in my hair journey and had to make a decision which path to follow. I could perm my hair again and eventually return to the same way I was managing my hair or I could explore the unfamiliar path of wearing my hair in its natural state. I decided to try a more natural approach especially since my current predicament was a result of my “status quo hair care practices”. I quickly realized that I had to let all of that initial self-doubt and insecurity go! Internalizing those types of negative thoughts would only make me appear insecure, self-conscious, and unhappy. Moreover, they had the potential to totally ruin my life if I were to let them. I decided that I would OWN my current hair state and focus on finding a regime for healthy hair, no matter the length.
As to be expected, my hair grew but it’s now healthier, fuller, and longer than my hair has ever been. I won’t say that I will never wear hair extensions or protective styles again, but I will always place more emphasis on the health of my hair and not jeopardize that just to meet a certain standard of beauty. My advice to those considering the natural transition or if you are like I was, holding on to unhealthy hair and maintenance practices, let go and make the transition! There are so many resources and hair products available to make the transition less awkward. If you have doubts that it will look good, it will—you will do all that you can to make sure you’re fly rocking your hair in its natural state. If you think your hair won’t curl a certain way, it will— you will find the right products to enhance your curl pattern. Ultimately, I’m here to tell you that all the self doubt and insecurities you may feel about wearing your natural hair will eventually be unfounded once you decide to travel down that road. So Just do it!