Don’t comb through your natural hair when it is dry. Only comb through it when it is wet. When it is wet, you decrease the friction between the strands of your hair, and the work of combing through it is much easier. You should also use some sort of product on your hair, like conditioner or a detangling aid to assist you when combing through your hair.
Please read our article Detangling Natural Hair for more information about combing through natural hair.
I have problems combing through my natural hair when it dries. What do I do?
My answer to What are the dangers of using a flat iron on wet hair?
Answer by O. Franklin:
Using a flat iron on wet hair will cause bubble hair. Bubble hair is when the naturally occurring spaces that exist in hair become filled with water, and then heat is applied to the hair. The water in the hair vaporizes, and when it vaporizes it expands and causes hair damage.
The following study explains this very nicely:
“Bubble hair is a sign of thermal injury. Hair dryers operating at 175°C or more can cause bubble hair. The use of hair curling tongs operating at 125°C and applied to the hair for one minute can also induce bubbles in hair fiber. All hair fibers contain air-filled spaces called vacuoles. These spaces can also become filled with water when the hair is wet. Too much heat vaporizes the water in the hair fibre into steam. This vaporization of the water may force the spaces in the hair to expand, eventually turning the hair into a sponge-like structure. These damaged hairs are weak and brittle as the bubbles destroy the integrity of the fiber. Chemical treatment may also precipitate the onset of bubble hair and any already weak hair, whatever the cause, may be more susceptible to bubble development.”
Bubble Hair and Other Acquired Hair Shaft Anomalies due to Hot Ironing on Wet Hair
My low maintenance natural hairstyle
Me pulling some of my hair
My two strand twists
Close up of natural hair with curls defined
Close up of natural hair
After recognizing that I needed to spend more time nurturing my hair from the inside out, I decided that I wanted to care for my hair without heat. I felt that this would be the best way to help my hair recover (see my previous post for details). After a lot of trial and error, I have come up with a low maintenance natural way to care for my hair. Basically I am defining the curls in my hair and wearing my hair in this state in between washes. I like this method because it leaves my hair really soft, and once I do it, all I to do maintain it is tie up my hair at night with a couple of silk scarves. When I get up, I take off the scarves, pull on my hair a little bit to arrange it, and I’m good to go. My favorite hair accessory to wear with this style is a simple fabric headband.
My method is still a work in progress, but what I am doing is the following:
In the shower:
- Shampoo my hair with Northwest Scents™ shampoo.
- Cleanse and detangle with Northwest Scents™ Keratin and Silk Curl Cleansing Cream.
Get out of the shower and apply Northwest Scents™ conditioner liberally to my hair to seal in moisture.
Divide my hair into four sections, braid each section, and let the hair dry.
After my hair has dried then I:
- Unbraid a section of hair.
- Apply Northwest Scents™ hair oil liberally to that section of hair.
- Separate that section of hair into smaller sections.
- On each smaller section I apply additional Northwest Scents™ hair oil, then I apply Northwest Scents™ hair gel. I rake the gel through the hair until it straightens out partially. I then twist the section.
I repeat the above four steps until I have finished all of my hair. Then I let the hair air dry and I take the twists down. I then carefully separate the twists, and I am done.
I have been experimenting with this method for a few months and I like the fact that it keeps my hair soft and it is easy to maintain between washes.
In the photo above, I dampened my fingertips with a teeny bit of water and applied that water to the sections of hair in between applying the oil and the gel (Part B after applying the oil in step 4). What that did was use less gel and create a fluffier hairstyle. When I didn’t apply the teeny bit of water to the sections of hair I got more definition.
The products that I have used are available in a sample kit (it is called the curl defining sample kit) for anyone who wants to try them.
Over the past ten years I have learned a lot about my hair. The main lesson that I have learned is that what you put inside your body is as important as what you put on the outside of your body when it comes to hair care. I learned this lesson the hard way. When you are older and you don’t have as much time to spend on your hair as you did when you were younger (as in my case), it is easy to overlook things that can end up having a detrimental effect on your hair. In my case, I have food sensitivities, and because of that I had eliminated a major source of protein (in the form of yogurt) from my breakfast (I am allergic to milk). I had also eliminated my favorite source of iron (Malt-O-Meal cereal) from my breakfast because of a slight wheat sensitivity. (I’m allergic to dietary wheat, not wheat based products applied to the skin and/or hair). I eliminated these two sources of nutrients, and didn’t replace them adequately, and as a result, my hair suffered. Even though my multivitamin has 100% if the daily RDA of iron for women, this form of iron doesn’t absorb as well as food sources of iron. I know because I can tell the difference in my hair now that I have added a food source of iron back to my diet (see below). Hormonal changes (those that come with age) also affected my hair. It took several years, but even with taking care of my hair on the outside, the elimination of important nutrients affected my hair from the inside. My hair became dry and brittle, and it broke off and thinned. I knew something was going on, but again, being very busy, I didn’t take the time to really look at my hair until the damage was done.
So phase two of my hair journey is the process of me nurturing my hair back to health from the inside out. These are the things that I have started to do to nuture my hair:
- Eat two hardboiled eggs a day (for protein). Based on what I am seeing with my hair I think that the eggs are better than the yogurt I was eating previously. According to Dr. Mercola “Eggs are a phenomenal source of protein, fat, and other nutrients, including choline and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. They are so good for you that you can easily eat one dozen eggs per week, which is actually a simple and cost-effective way to add valuable nutrition to your diet.”
- Take 1 tablespoon of organic blackstrap molasses a day for iron. According to what I have read, food sources of iron are much safer than supplements. The brand I take is Plantation. Their organic blackstrap molasses is rich in iron, calcium and magnesium. I mix it with almond milk for a beverage, or almond butter for a creamy treat.
- I’ve changed my hair routine to go heatless. I have challenged myself to do my hair without any form of heat. I still believe that pressing hair has its place (see my earlier posts) and I am not against hair pressing as a way to manage natural hair, but I think that it is good to have multiple options when dealing with natural hair, and for my needs at this point in my life I have decided to go without heat. As a result, I am learning to do two strand twists on my hair, and have developed a couple of new products to help with this process (I will talk about my experience doing two strand twists and a twist out in an upcoming post).
If you want an easy way to contribute to your personal health and the health of your hair, add salmon or other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are some of the most important substances you can eat to contribute to the health of your hair and your body. Omega 3 fatty acids have many benefits including contributing to blood circulation (which helps bring oxygen to the scalp nourishing hair follicles) and contributing to softer hair and skin. Not all fish is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Some of the richest sources are wild caught salmon (as opposed to farm raised), sardines, and anchovies.
There are many ways to add fish to your diet (if you have not done so already). Salmon steaks or fillets can be prepared by simply rinsing the raw fillet, putting it in a pan, sprinkling a little salt and seasonings on the fish, and baking it at 425 degrees F until done (it should look like the photo above). You can also add fish by adding canned salmon or sardines to a salad. You can liven up a sandwich by making an anchovy spread (mix 3 parts mayonnaise to 1 part anchovy paste and use as a sandwich spread). And if you can’t add fish to your diet, you can get the same benefits of adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet by taking a fish oil supplement.
One interesting observation that I have made during my hair journey is that many people are not as concerned about the foods they eat as they are about the products they use on their hair. While I think that the products you use on your hair are important, I believe that taking care of your body from the inside out is even more important. What good is long hair if the rest of you is suffering from poor health? In the near future, will be writing posts on healthy foods that also contribute to healthy hair.
One thing that I have learned in my journey to growing longer hair is to be patient. In the country where I live – the United States of America, most of us are used to having almost everything we want or need instantly. If we want to eat, we can go to a fast food restaurant and get a meal within minutes. If we want clothes we can go to the store and buy them instantly. If we want information about something, we can look it up on the internet and get a variety of answers (some good, some not so good) within minutes. But growing hair is one of the things that doesn’t work that way. Growing hair, takes time, and it takes patience. I’ve learned to slow down in my approach to taking care of my hair. Instead of rushing when I do it, I take my time.
Twelve Steps For Growing Black Hair is now available on iTunes. So, if you are an iphone, ipad, or ipod touch user, you can order a copy to read on your device. For information click here.
We have a new product available for detangling natural Black and Afro Textured hair. The product is called Northwest Scents Detangling and Cleansing Cream. It feels like a conditioner, but you use it like a shampoo. It cleanses without leaving the hair “squeaky” and while the product is in your hair (it should be put into your hair when your hair is soaking wet during the washing process) you can gently comb through your hair with a wide tooth comb to detangle it.
For more about detangling please see my earlier post