J.E. Wise & B.E.K Royal
In the first grade my friend and I discussed why our mothers chose not to wash our hair on a daily basis. We tried to establish the correct number of times that kinky hair, specifically 4c hair, should be washed. Although we did not have the hair typing nomenclature, our eyes told us our hair was kinky (does anyone say nappy anymore?) She explained that her mother did not wash her hair everyday because it would get hard. Instead, her mother washed her hair every two weeks. This practice made sense to me because my mother did the same. There was a little white boy (Gordon), who overheard our conversation and very smartly informed us of the error of our mother’s ways. He said, “no, the more you wash your hair, the more manageable it is.” There is truth to those words. In my experience, however, the key to manageability is water. It is water and conditioner-washing. This is not the same as co-washing, and it is not shampoo-washing, but a combination of both.
Condition hair before washing hair. I was overjoyed when I saw a recent commercial for a product line touting this very practice. But I must say, I started this practice many years ago after using an at-home DIY relaxer kit which called for this very practice after the relaxer had been applied. After rinsing the hair to remove the relaxer, the next step was to condition and then rinse and then shampoo. So, condition the hair first.
Kinky hair tends to be dry. 4c hair is the driest . However, it is important to note that in spite of our dry hair woes. As Africans and people of African descent, our scalp produces more oils than other hair types. “African hair produces plenty of protective oils, called sebum. In fact, African hair actually produces more oils than Caucasian and Asian hair. However, due to the tight curls, the oil fails to spread evenly along the hair fiber” (Tecklenburg Strehlow). Relaxed hair also becomes dry if not properly treated. But because it is straight oils can spread more evenly. Notwithstanding, the ingredients in shampoo, strip essential moisture as well as nutrients from the scalp and each strand of hair. I found what process works for me, as is described in the chart below, is one that keeps my hair (not necessarily moisturized) moist. Keep in mind that my hair is relaxed and straight. Nevertheless, my sister who has been sporting a natural look for the past year and a half has also found that when her hair is at its most manageable it is because, it is moist.
I discovered that my relaxed hair goes through several different stages. I will discuss each of the steps in detail, but first, I want to explain how I began the process of knowing my hair.
Knowing your hair is essential to healthy growing hair!
Please note that all hair is different in spite of type. I am sharing my experience. It is important for you to monitor your own hair and to know how your hair acts and responds to your environment and different products. As I’ve mentioned earlier there is terminology associated with the different types of kinky hair. Based on the following characteristics: tightly coiled hair, moisture is not retained, hair is extremely dry, and true length is not immediately apparent because of the tight coil, I have 4c hair. Please do research to discover your type of hair and know that you are not limited to the hair typing system referred to in this guide. You can start however by using the illustrations provided in the introduction to start the discovery of your hair type and needs.
As I cared for my hair, I noticed that my hair goes through different stages: 1) Freshly relaxed hair stage, 2) maintenance stage, and 3) touch up stage. During each stage, my hair exhibits certain characteristics that is specific to each stage. I decided to use the first day of my relaxed hair as a starting point, but you can start at any stage. From my starting point (freshly relaxed), each week or set of weeks became part of a stage.
Check out the blog post on the stages for more information.
Tecklenburg Strehlow, Anne . “Other Traits.” The Tech Museum of Innovation, 25 Apr. 2005, http://genetics.thetech.org/ask/ask107. Accessed 29 Sept. 2016.
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