For the past ten years, I have been on a healthy hair journey.
For those of you who don’t know, the term ‘Healthy Hair Journey‘ describes a decision to take an active role (over a certain period of time) in growing healthy hair and to cease any hair practices that cause further damage to the hair.
When I first started my hair journey, I wanted to prove to myself and everyone around me that in addition to the natural hair movement, healthy relaxed hair was also an option for black hair. Although I did not give up my relaxers, I stopped coloring my hair and started to take the health of my hair more seriously.
My mother was a cosmetologist, so I learned all of my healthy hair tips and techniques from her. I know how to relax hair, color hair, cut hair, braid hair, sew-in hair, make wigs and more. Of all the things she taught me about hair, the most important was how to properly care for the health of my hair. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been to a hair salon. It’s not that I never wanted to – I just never had to go because my mom was my in-house stylist.
The misconception is that relaxed hair can’t be healthy.
Since my teenage years, I have proven the statement “relaxed hair can’t be healthy” not to be true. Many black women think long hair comes from having mixed DNA and “good hair”. But contrary to the cultural lies, all hair grows. Hair health and long length come from caring for and maintaining the hair you have.
To maintain length, you must care for the hair that is constantly growing.
My hair has been relaxed as long as I remember, and I don’t plan on going natural any time soon. Whether you have natural hair, relaxed hair, colored hair, or a little bit of hair, the most important thing is hair health.
The key to healthy relaxed hair is minimal manipulation.
Your hair is alive, so you must take care of it like you care for the rest of your body. Just as you feed your stomach, you have to feed your hair. The same way you drink lots of water to stay hydrated (hopefully you do!), you must keep your hair hydrated.
If your hair preference is relaxed or chemically treated hair, the following tools will help to keep your tresses growing and thriving.
To keep your hairstyle neat and tidy, wrap your hair up at night with a silk bonnet or hair scarf. Cotton fabrics suck the moisture OUT of your hair, so keep cotton fabrics away from your hair, especially at night. Silk bonnets, silk scarves, and silk pillowcases help retain the moisture in your hair for healthier tresses.
Keratin is one of the main protein that makes up your hair strands. Keratin deficiency can cause hair loss, and too much keratin can cause hard strands. Using the right amount of Keratin in your hair care regimen can strengthen hair strands causing less breakage and stronger hair. Keratin treatments come in many different forms, but I use a Keratin leave-in spay conditioner once a week on my relaxed hair. Click here to get the keratin mist I use.
3. Professional Heat Tools
The right hair tools make all the difference when it comes to the health of your hair. Cheap heat products can cause more damage than good, and actually, speed up the process of your hair breaking off or falling out. If you are going to use heat tools on your hair such as blow dryers and flat irons, please invest in good professional quality tools. My favorite professional heat tools are made by CHI. Click here to read more about the flat iron I use to straighten and style my relaxed hair.
Heat protectants help defend your hair against frying when using heat tools. Heat protectants can come in a spray, cream, lotion, or oil form. All heat protectants are not made the same – so make sure you choose the one that will work best for your hair. I never use a blow dryer or flat iron without first using a heat protectant spray to protect my strands against heat damage. Click here to get the heat protectant spray I use.
5. Hooded Hair Dryer
A hooded hairdryer is perfect for applying indirect heat to your hair. Sitting under a hooded hair dryer is a better option than using a blow dryer when drying your hair as it protects against hair damage. I also use my hooded hair dryer when doing hot oil treatments to warm my scalp and seal the oil into my hair before styling. My hooded hair dryer has lasted over ten years, and I purchased it from my local beauty supply store.
6. Hair Steamer
Unlike a hooded hair dryer that dries your hair, a hair steamer adds and replenishes moisture back into your hair causing healthier, softer hair. A hair steamer is perfect for use with deep conditioners and steam treatments to restore and bring your hair back to life.
7. Sulfate Free Shampoos and Conditioners
Sulfates are chemicals found in many hair care products today. The problem is, products formulated with sulfates remove natural oils from the hair. Because of our hair texture, black hair needs natural oils to grow and thrive. Sulfate products are too harsh for chemically-treated hair and will leave the hair dry, brittle, and prone to breakage.
8. Deep Conditioners and Hair Masks
Deep conditioning using a hair conditioner or a hair mask can be done as often as needed. These processes help to add extra strength and moisture for more beautiful and healthy hair. You can purchase deep conditioners and hair masks wherever you buy your hair supplies. Some ladies make their deep conditioners at home using food ingredients from their kitchen. It’s up to you to decide what works for your hair. I like to do deep conditions once a week on my hair and my daughter’s hair. After each deep condition, my hair always comes out softer and silkier than before.
To deep condition your hair, first, apply your hair product to your hair. Cover your hair with a shower cap or plastic bag and add low heat (sit under a hooded hair dryer if you can). The heat opens up the hair cuticle and allows the deep conditioner to penetrate your hair. After 30 minutes, rinse with your normal shampoo and conditioning products.
9. Leave-In Conditioner
Leave-in conditioners are a lot different than normal conditioners. They are used to strengthen, moisturize, detangle, and protect your hair. Because leave-in conditioners tend to be lighter products than normal conditioners, your leave-in conditioner can be used as often as needed. I lightly spritz my hair every night with my leave-in conditioner before I wrap my hair in a silk scarf. The leave-in I use helps to refresh my hairstyle and keep moisturized as I sleep. I like to think of my leave-in conditioner as my hair’s daily dose of vitamins. Because there are so many different types of leave-in conditioners on the market right now that do so many different things, be sure to research which product is best for your hair. Click here to get my favorite leave-in conditioner.
When you are healthy on the inside, your body thanks you for it on the outside. Drinking adequate amounts of water, eating a healthy diet, and replenishing your body’s vitamins and nutrients all play a big role in your healthy hair care journey. If you aren’t taking care of your body, your hair will pay for it. Many vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can cause hair dullness, hair breakage, and even hair loss. Be sure to eat healthy on a daily basis!
The best vitamins and minerals for healthy hair growth are:
- Vitamin A
- B-vitamins (Biotin specifically for hair and nails)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
There are specially formulated vitamins you can take specifically for hair growth, or you can choose to take a daily multivitamin to help increase your overall health. Click here to get the vitamins I take daily.
11. Hair Knowledge
Whether you are going to a professional stylist or you are your own stylist, it is best to learn as much as you can about your hair. Healthy hair takes lots of love and care to maintain, and it helps to know as much as you can to continue to promote the health care of your hair.
I hope this helps you!