natural-hair-afro-haircare-comb-brush-mirror-black-woman1For many women, natural haircare is a journey that we learn to navigate as we go. The in-and-outs of how-to-style and properly care for curls, waves and locs is oftentimes a series of trail (and sometimes error) experiences. To avoid the brutal consequences that come with trial and error, we’ve come up with suggestions to help you to put your best hair forward by giving tresses a little TLC and avoiding these common mistakes.

1. Not shampooing enough

Clean hair is the foundation to healthy hair. It’s true that shampoo can and does strip the hair of essential oils, but it’s all about what kind of product you’re using. A detergent-based shampoo will more than likely strip your hair and leave it dry, but a sulfate-free ph-balanced product will not only get rid of dirt and grime, but it will also lock in moisture. here is nothing wrong with conditioner washing hair, but overdoing it can lead to buildup, which clogs the pores of your scalp and impedes hair’s potential to be strong. Your natural hair needs a good cleansing at a minimum of once every 7-10 days.

2. Using too much heat

Whether you’re in the transitioning stage or fully rocking a curly texture, using too much heat can have damaging consequences. Applying excessive heat to your curls can have the same results as a relaxer—bone-straight tresses. Heat damage is irreversible, and takes patience to overcome. You may even have to cut your hair and start all over again after heat damage. If you use a flat iron or press your hair, be sure to use the lowest heat setting possible and always use heat protectant. If you want straight hair, and you’re unsure of what your hair can handle seek a stylist who specializes in natural hair for help.

3. Not constantly moisturizing

Natural hair needs to moisturized at all times. Dry hair is weak hair, and weak hair will break and be hard to manage. The best thing for your natural hair is water. Spritz your hair throughout the day with water to ensure that hair is hydrated. If you don’t have time for that use a water-based leave-in conditioner or daily moisturizer.

4. Avoiding trims

As black women, we tend to stray away from cutting our hair. It’s fine not to want to take 2 or 3 inches off at time, but in order maximize hair’s health and growth trimming every 6-8 weeks is necessary. A trim can be anywhere between ¼ to ½ inches, and if you don’t treat your hair to a trim at least once every 2 or 3 months you’re putting yourself at risk for thinning and breakage.

5. Overestimating natural hair’s strength

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people assume that thick, coarse hair means that natural hair is exceptionally durable. Yes, you can have healthy hair that’s strong, but the curly and wavy patterns of natural hair make it very fragile with a weak shaft, so you have to handle with care. That’s why you should use a wide-tooth comb or a Denman brush to detangle and you shouldn’t be afraid of finger styling when possible.

-Margaret Francois

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