Below are twenty-seven things you can do to improve the health of your hair and keep it from shedding prematurely or breaking off. The Goal? To keep your hair on your head!
Not including the obvious elimination of chemical treatments, this comprehensive list contains all you need to maintain a healthy head of hair. They are categorized by care/maintenance and styling.
Care and Maintenance
- Nix shampoos with sulfates. It doesn’t matter if you hair is natural or relaxed. Sulfates strip the hair of needed moisture and natural oils.
- Pre-poo (pre-shampoo) your hair with coconut oil or olive oil. Coconut oil helps hair retain its moisture and protein. Both natural oils protect the hair from being stripped (and from excessive swelling of the cuticle) when you shampoo.
- Deep condition your hair with a moisturizing conditioner after every wash.
- Get a protein treatment. For maintenance, you can do this once a month or more if your hair is breaking.
- Trim away split ends as necessary, but don’t get a trim for the sake of trimming. If your goal is to retain length, you’ll only be cutting off perfectly good hair. The less you do to damage your hair, the less you’ll need to trim it.
- No microfiber or towel drying. Contrary to popular belief, microfiber rips the hair out. It acts like velcro to our tresses! Towel drying frizzes the hair. Either air dry or use an old t-shirt.
- Refrigerate your leave-in conditioner. A cold leave-in will help to seal your hair’s cuticle after washing. This is extremely helpful if you can’t take a cold water rinse. It will also increase the shine in your hair.
- Lubricate your hair with a light natural oil daily. Jojoba is light and helps keep the hair tangle free.
- Seal your ends with Jamaican Black Castor Oil. I have found this oil to be the best at protecting the ends from splitting. It’s so thick and protective, causing the ends to clump together. Seal after every wash and before styling.
- Massage your scalp to stimulate your hair follicles 2-3 times a week. Some believe this encourages hair growth. I have not found it to do so one way or another, but it certainly can’t hurt and it does increase the blood flow to your scalp.
- Take a multi-vitamin with Methylosulfonylmethame (MSM). MSM is believed to extend the lifespan of your individual hairs while also alleviating dry scalp (less hair shed).
- Never sleep on your hair loose. It’s more prone to tangling and breakage. Tie it up and…
- Make satin your hair’s best friend. Sleeping in a satin scarf, bonnet or on a satin pillowcase prevents your hair’s moisture from being robbed.
- Moisturize your hair as needed. Use your sense of touch to tell. If it feels dry, moisturize. If you are chemically relaxed, you may need to do so 1-2 times daily. Natural hair may only require moisturizing every couple days.
- Don’t use too many different brands. When your hair begins responding, you want to know what’s working. In other words, curtail your PJ (product junkie) ways, take good notes and keep it simple!
- Eat a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. It's good for your hair and skin too, keeping both soft and pliable.
- Try henna. I’ve been giving my hair henna treatments for a few years now. My hair health is improved along with amazing strength and shine.
- Clarify monthly. Hair products build up on the hair and every now and then the hair needs to be thoroughly cleansed. Especially, if you only co-wash (condition wash). You can either use a clarifying shampoo once a month or add a tablespoon of baking soda to your hair while shampooing. Apple cider vinegar is another option.
- Protective style your hair. Wear simple styles that offer little manipulation of your tresses and hide your ends which are the oldest parts of your hair. Buns and up-dos are classic.
- Stop heat styling your hair. Air drying is the best thing you can do to keep your hair on your head. Limit heat styling to rare special occasions.
- Never comb or brush dry hair to style. Finger comb or wear hair in twist outs, twists, braids or braids out to minimize breakage.
- Comb hair from the bottom up. When your hair is soaking wet and saturated with conditioner, you can comb it with a large tooth comb or Denman brush to detangle. Do so carefully, working from the bottom up.
- Never ever tease your hair. This is a cardinal sin against natural hair (well hair in general, but some don’t know it)
- Don’t pull hair apart like a wishbone. If your hair is tangled, gently pull it up and apart in stead of pulling it apart like would a wishbone.
- Use hair accessories with no hanging parts or exposed metal. Banana clips, Satin Scrunchies, Goodie Flex Barrettes, Ouchless bobby pins & Ouchless elastic bands are the best for styling hair so that it does not get damaged.
- Avoid pulling hair tight at the hairline. Doing so will recede your hairline and damage the follicles permanently.
- Check your nails. Hanging nails will damage hair. Always make sure your nails are smooth and even before hair styling.
Got any hair tips you’d like to add to the list? How many of the above have you made a habit of?!