Natural African-American hair care: moisture to the rescue
Mareshia is 28, a full-time graduate student and a part-time procrastinator living near Boston. She starts her weeks with mimosas, not Mondays. Her current pet project? An online Black Hair Care Compendium for the Greater Boston Area. When she’s not obsessing about natural African American hair, she’s attempting to blind the world with SCIENCE!
My hair has taken on many incarnations in life: curly, straight, kinky and outright wild. Throughout my hair adventures there’s one problem I’ve faced consistently – breakage. All my African American lady friends seem to sing the same lament. We’ve developed clever ways to braid, twist, lengthen, straighten, fry, dye, slick down, do?up and otherwise coif, yet, the breakage problem persists. My dearly departed dyed in the wool old?school?lye relaxer?hot?comb wielding aunt said “It’s oil, you don’t use enough oil in your hair.” Tried that, didn’t work. My nouveau soul he?beautician said “Protein. The hair breaks because it’s weak. You should use protein products.” Tried that, even more breaking than before. I then took matters into my own hands. I did something completely out of character for myself and most African American women I know, I embraced water as a styling tool.
Yes, water. And no it wasn’t a holistic “Drink this water that thine hair should not break,” approach. I put it in a spray bottle with a little leave in conditioner, honey— as a humectant, and almond oil…it seemed intuitive. Then? Voila! Hello, moisturized, happy, elastic, springy hair. Goodbye excess breakage. Now, I’m not suggesting that you go to the extreme, buy a spray bottle from a hardware store and concoct your own version of ‘manna from hair?ven’. Since I faced that hard time, I’ve found there are actual products that work at least as well and often better than my primitive approach…and lucky you, I’ve done the footwork. Brace yourselves for a list of my current hair crushes. All of the products work for both natural and processed (relaxed/colored) hair, and work wonders for my ‘fro.
I usually go without shampoo (as recommended in Curly Girl) but when I need the suds I
For the most part, I try to use products with as many natural ingredients as possible.
Hair Rules Quench Deep Conditioner – Hair Rules, how I love thee!! These products are designed for EVERYONE. Do you hear me? Dickey uses terms like ‘cross textural.’ I use Quench every time I wash my hair. It smells like cotton candy and leaves my hair soft and dandy. Also, the First Lady Elect, Michelle Obama, uses Hair Rules. Mentioned on the Today Show, they’re offering free shipping through 11/30/08 on orders of $50 or more.
TRESemme Deep Quench Conditioning Treatment – Doesn’t smell like cotton candy but works in a budget pinch.
Motions Moisture Plus After?Shampoo Conditioner – Uses silicone for smoothing effect but it does the job.
Michael Stone’s Natural Island Hair, Scalp and Skin Nutrient—This is a true two-fer. A magic man in North Carolina makes this stuff. So simple: Jojoba oil, coconut oil, aloe, vitamin E, grapefruit extract, beeswax and carrot oil. Hair Oil/Body Oil. Love the ingredients. Love the minimalist concept. Love the product.
Hair Rules Hydrating Finishing Cream – A great pick me up for a stale style on a lazy day.
Hair Rules Kinky Curling Cream – Hello, did you say Wash?n?Go? Now, you and your new happy hair deserve to be acquainted. Grab a wide toothed comb and get on with it.