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FEATURES Apr 29 2012 7:15PM

How To Grow Natural Hair Healthy & Steadily

by Fran Medina, Hey Fran Hey
Growing natural hair sounds a lot more daunting than it actually is. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the techniques, YouTube videos and countless product lines. There’s just so much to absorb and figure out! However, amidst the endless information, there are a few fundamental steps to maintaining your natural hair. The best part is that these steps have nothing to do with your specific hair texture, and everything to do with steady growth and overall health.
Finger Detangling
When you use a comb it tears right through all of your knots. Finger-detangling, however, gives you the opportunity to feel the knots before they become a problem.  Once your finger stops at one, you can gently separate the strands and salvage the hair. The key is to lubricate your strands with an oil; preferably extra virgin coconut oil since it’s so moisturizing. Section your hair into small pieces so your hair is easier to manage. Finger comb the section, starting from the ends and slowly working up toward the root. Once a section is done, twist it up to hold its place. Doing this method once a week promotes hair strength, since you’re keeping your coils free of knots and tangles, and helps retain length.

One of the biggest causes of knots, tangles and breakage is dryness. The tricky part is that natural hair is porous, so while it absorbs moisture like a sponge it also takes a lot of work to retain it. Everyone’s hair is different, so how often one should moisturize will vary. Feel your hair on a daily basis and moisturize as needed. The key is to find a creamy moisturizer or leave-in that is water based. This means it will penetrate your strands with more ease, since water is the most moisturizing of all. Beware of creams containing mineral oil or petroleum, both of which serve as a barrier, making it difficult for your strands to receive nutrients or rid itself of wastes. Also, try to steer clear of products loaded with too many chemicals. Most are harsh and strip you of your natural oils, which would work against your process of moisturizing.
After moisturizing your hair, it is important to seal it with a layer of oil. Textured hair needs as much moisture as it can get, and retaining it is equally as important. This layer of oil will ensure the moisture provided by the water and moisturizer are properly sealed into your hair shaft. You will notice more texture definition, minimized frizz, greater shine and improved hair health in the long run.  If you feel oils weigh your hair down or simply aren’t a fan, Aloe Vera is another effective product for sealing.

Protective Styling
Once your hair is properly finger-detangled, moisturized and sealed, it is important to consider wearing your hair in a protective style. Protective styles are hairstyles that are most conducive to retaining moisture and protecting your ends. When you wear your hair out, the exposed strands are more receptive to the elements, causing tangles and dryness. In a protective style, like twists or braids, your strands and ends are usually tucked away or coiled together with consistent moisturizing. If your ends are not protected, the length of your hair will not be retained. Additionally, keeping it in a style means you are not touching it as often. Low manipulation of the hair is one of the key factors contributing to growth.
Satin Bonnet/Pillowcase
Now that your hair is properly moisturized and safely tucked away into a protective style, sleeping on a satin pillowcase or keeping your hair covered with a bonnet will ensure the moisture you’ve applied is retained. Cotton fibers are absorbent and will literally suck your hair dry of all its moisture. Silk or satin, however, have a natural sheen that allows strands to gently glide over the fibers. Since keeping your hair moisturized is the key to growth, resting your head on these gentle fibers will be your best bet for healthy hair.
Granted, there are many things to consider in your natural hair journey. Your patience will be tested when learning to finger detangle. You will have to go through tons of moisturizers and leave-ins before finding the one that works. Then you’ll have to figure out which oil best complements for sealing! It can seem like a bit of a headache. This is where the endless online information actually does come in handy! Do your research and watch reviews for a better understanding of hair textures, techniques and products. Understanding your particular head of hair will take some time. But with these 5 fundamental steps, you are well on your way toward beautiful and healthy natural hair.


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