Now that we're officially in the spring season, it's time to do just a little bit of switching up when it comes to our natural hair care routine. The awesome thing about all of the tips that I'm about to share with you is they're affordable, easy and things that you can do from the comfort and convenience of your own home. Not only that but, they work for all hair types and, if you apply them consistently, they can easily earn you, at least a couple of more inches by summer.
Are you ready to learn more about what that gorgeous mane of yours needs right about now? Here are 12 things that you should do.
1. Exfoliate Your Scalp
Your scalp is the foundation of your beautiful natural hair, so you definitely need to make sure that it's straight. Not too long ago, I penned a piece about the importance of detoxing your scalp. If it's been a while since you've done that (or you've never do it before), do that instead of simply exfoliating it. But, if you do detoxify your scalp on a fairly consistent basis, take wash day as the opportunity to remove any dead skin cells, debris or build-up that your scalp may have on it, as well as to unclog your hair follicles' pores.
One way to do this is to make your own hair scalp scrub. One-fourth cup of brown sugar (it's a wonderful humectant), one-fourth cup of olive oil (it moisturizes the scalp and increases blood circulation), two tablespoons of cornmeal (its gritty texture will help to dislodge any build-up), and 3-5 drops of tea tree oil (it's a mega antibacterial and antifungal oil) will all work together to keep your scalp nice and healthy. Mix everything together, apply it to damp hair, gently massage your scalp then let the mixture sit for about five minutes and shampoo and condition like usual.
2. Try a Clarifying Shampoo
As I'm figuring out more about what works for my hair and what doesn't, I'm actually becoming less of a product junkie. But even routine go-to items can lead to build-up after about a week or so. That's just one of the reasons why it's a good idea to consider using a clarifying shampoo. It's the kind of shampoo that has the ability to remove grease, oil and other stuff like no other. Some other benefits of this kind of shampoo include the fact that it can remove hard water deposits (like chlorine), eliminate bacterial growth from your scalp, restore the pH level of your tresses, help to lock in moisture in your hair and, it's a great "prepper" if you plan on coloring your hair a lighter hue for spring.
Yeah, clarifying shampoo is pretty awesome. Just make sure that you use it, probably like every other wash (if not once a month). If you wash your hair with it more than that, it could end up stripping your hair of its natural oils which could lead to brittleness and breakage. For a list of some of the best clarifying shampoos for natural hair, click here.
3. Wash “Up and Out”
Did you know that, the washing technique that you use while shampooing your hair can play a direct role in how well (and quickly) your hair dries? If you bend your head down and then wash "up and out", it can reduce the tangling and also make your hair more manageable until it's time to wash it again. Basically, what that means is not washing your hair in a way where it pats your strands down which leads to matting on your head. Instead, encourage the roots of your hair to move away from your scalp by using your fingers to massage your roots "up" (towards your forehead) and "out" (away from your scalp). Then rinse in warm water and you'll be ready for the next step.
4. Apply a Coconut Milk and Shea Butter Deep Conditioner
Something that you should always do, no matter what time of year it is, is deep condition your hair; especially if you just used a clarifying shampoo (or one that has sulfates in it). There are plenty of deep conditioners that you can buy, but if you want to save some of your coins, how about making your own? A really deep-penetrating recipe is a conditioner that consists of coconut milk and shea butter.
Coconut milk is high in lauric acid which will help to strengthen your hair's cuticles. It's also loaded with protein (which is what your hair mostly consists of) and vitamins B, C and E. Some other cool things about coconut milk is it can help to prevent hair loss, remove dandruff and soothe dry and irritated scalp. Shea butter? It contains fatty acids, it's got anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it's high in vitamins A and E and, it contains chemical compounds known as triterpenes; they help to produce collagen to strengthen your hair from root to tip. Another good thing about shea butter is it locks in moisture and helps to protect your hair from UV damage.
If you'd like to take a stab at making a deep conditioner at home, click here for a great recipe. Make it, immediately apply it to freshly washed hair, and leave it on for 45 minutes. Then rinse and style as usual. If you happen to have any left over and you refrigerate it, the deep conditioner should stay fresh for a couple of weeks or so.
5. Do More Air Drying
I'm actually not someone who thinks that hair dryers are the devil. Matter of fact, blowing out my hair (on low heat) every wash day has resulted in less fairy knots, tangling and the need to manipulate my hair while styling it. But, now that the temperature is starting to warm up a bit, I tend to allow my hair to air dry more and then "one pass" with my dryer when it's about 80 percent dry. Even though I rock with heat, I am well aware that I have to be extra careful so that it doesn't "fry" my hair by blowing drying it on a high heat setting while my hair is super wet. The less water that's in my locks, the less that is an issue. So yeah, air drying is one of the best things about the weather going from winter to spring.
6. Use a DIY Humectant Spray
Dry hair is one of the main reasons why a lot of us don't see the length that we would like. Something that can step in to help with that is using a humectant because it's designed to pull moisture that's in the air into our hair—and since April showers bring May flowers, this is an ideal time of the year to use one. A popular humectant ingredient is vegetable glycerin, but if you would prefer an alternative to that, check out "5 Natural Humectants That Promote Moisture & Length Retention/Not Glycerin!". If you want to take a stab at making your own humectant hair spray, popular hair vlogger Maryam Hampton can totally hook you up with her DIY Aloe vera recipe.
7. Up Your Vitamin A & C and Iron Intake
According to science, one of the main reasons why a lot of us struggle with hair retention is because we're lacking in certain nutrients, without us even knowing it. One of those is iron. In fact, reportedly, 10 million Americans are iron deficient and many of those individuals are Black women. Some other signs of iron deficiency include weakness, fatigue, headaches, brittle nails and cold hands and feet. If that is indeed the case when it comes to where you're at right now, you can always take an iron supplement; just keep in mind that, sometimes, those can lead to constipation. Another route to try is to get more iron via your diet. Pure red grape juice, lentils, dried figs and apricots, fortified cereals, chicken, red meat and molasses are all loaded with iron.
Two other deficiencies that can hinder hair growth are vitamins A and C. You can get them by taking a multi-vitamin. Or, to get more Vitamin A into your system, eat orange fruits and vegetables (like sweet potatoes, carrots and cantaloupe), spinach, broccoli, black-eyed peas and tomato juice. Citrus fruit, kale, kiwi, cauliflower, green and yellow peppers, Brussel sprouts and thyme are packed with Vitamin C.
8. Apply an “Energizing” Essential Oil
Something that can help to encourage even more hair growth is lemongrass essential oil.
Thanks to its antiseptic and microbial properties, it's a killer clarifying oil if you're looking for something to cleanse your scalp, reduce dandruff and decrease build-up. It's also the type of oil that can increase blood circulation and strengthen your hair follicles.
Something else that's cool about this particular oil is it's loaded with Vitamin C that will help to trigger collagen development so that your hair grows longer and faster. And, since it has such a stronger citrusy scent to it, adding a couple of drops to your hair (along with about a half teaspoon of sweet almond, jojoba or grapeseed oil) every other day can give you just the kind of pick-me-up that you need to stay in a good mood all day long.
9. Pull Out the Brightly-Colored Scarves
I don't know about y'all, but I am good for having a headwrap, turban or even a bandana wrapped around my head; even more so when it gets hotter outside and I want to break out my brightly colored ones. Something that I've been doing more is either making sure that my "headgear" is lined or putting on a wig cap. The reason why is because I was noticing breakage around the front of my hairline due to the friction that the fabric of my wraps was causing. By rocking a wig cap underneath, not only can that help to keep your scarf (or hat) in place, it can also absorb sweat too.
10. Apply Some Monoi Oil Too
Flowers are on their way to blooming again; one that is in season is the gardenia. Well, monoi oil is an oil that comes from soaking the petals of Tahitian gardenias into coconut oil. Skin-wise, it's bomb because it is a hypoallergenic, antibacterial and noncomedogenic oil that heals acne and soothes the effects of eczema and dermatitis. The reason why it works so well on natural hair is because it helps your locks to retain nutrients and moisture, it strengthens your hair, and it reduces split ends and frizz as well.
One way to introduce it to your hair to the oil is to try it as a pre-poo treatment. Right before you shampoo your mane, pour a small amount of the oil into your hands and massage it into your hair, especially your ends (since they are the oldest parts of your tresses). Allow the oil to penetrate your hair's cuticles for 45 minutes and then wash and condition as usual. You should notice that your hair is especially soft, even after just one application.
11. Take Your Hair Up a Hue
Spring is the season when a lot of us want to lighten our hair color up a bit. If you're totally down for doing that, but you want to avoid as much damage as possible (girl, I know the feeling!), go with a temporary hair color brand. A Black female-owned one is Mysteek Naturals. It has shades like Assertive Auburn, Twerkin Turquoise and Royal Purple. The ingredients are all natural and the results are pretty stunning. Plus, the price is affordable ($9-$20) which is always an added motivator.
12. Eat In-Season Spring Foods
It doesn't matter what you put on your hair if your system is not getting all of the vitamins and minerals that you need. Foods that are in season this spring that are good for your tresses include arugula (it's rich in vitamins A and K and is a great detoxifier); mint (it's a powerful antioxidant); strawberries (its polyphenols aid in cell renewal); spring onions (it has antibacterial and antifungal properties); collards (they are loaded with Vitamin C as well as calcium); pineapples (they boost your immune system while reducing inflammation), and peas (which contains iron, folate and an off-the-charts amount of protein). If you eat lots of those and drink a ton of infused water, your hair will be just as happy about the spring season as you (hopefully) are. Enjoy!
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