As much as natural hair looks beautiful and makes one feel authentic, many naturals have brittle hard hair. How does one attain softer hair? Here are the tips:
Hydration: Always ensure your hair is adequately hydrated. What we consume is what our hair and scalp feed on. Eat healthy and drink lots of water. Sitting under a steamer will also hydrate your hair - the heat opens up the cuticles and allows the water to penetrate the hair.
Shampoo: Always use a moisturising shampoo. If you shampoo frequently, always follow up with a conditioner. Otherwise, make it a once-in-a-while affair. Avoid products that contain sulphates as this can strip the hair of moisture, leaving it hard and brittle. Rinse the hair with lukewarm or cool water. The cool water seals the hair follicles, making it smoother.
Conditioning: Follow the shampoo up with a moisturising deep conditioner to further moisturise it. The moisture retains the hair’s elasticity, without which, it would feel dry, look dull and prone to breakage. Conditioners coat the hair with softening ingredients, keeping it soft, looking glossy and growing fast. Apply the conditioner generously to coat each strand. This is best done if the hair is open; if you have braids, undo them first for best results.
Always heat the conditioner and leave it on your hair for at least 30 minutes. The more the heat, the more conditioner is deposited on the hair and the softer it becomes.
This is why your hairdresser wraps your hair in a towel or a shower cap and makes you sit under the dryer. Conditioners smooth down the hair cuticles, preventing tangles and making the hair look shiny. They also temporarily repair hair shaft, reduce frizz and, of course, soften the hair.
Deep condition: Regular deep-conditioning is important for both moisture and protein. Deep conditioners are different from regular conditioners as they have a higher concentration of ingredients that penetrate into the hair cortex, making them more nourishing. They require a longer time on the hair to be effective, 10-15 minutes compared to 3-5 minutes of regular conditioner.
Seal conditioner: Once you have cleansed and conditioned your hair, add a water-based leave-in conditioner. Use it on slightly damp hair immediately after washing.
Seal in the moisture with a natural oil like almond, jojoba, or a Shea butter. Oils and butters help retain moisture in the hair. However, use the leave-in conditioner sparingly to allow your strands to move past each other and not be sticky.
Protein: You may be moisturising and conditioning regularly and your hair still feels hard. Your hair needs protein. It reinforces the hair strands, making them stronger.
Use it sparingly to prevent your hair from becoming hard and brittle. Products that have protein will always have the words protein, keratin, mayonnaise, cholesterol or amino-acids indicated on them. Coconut milk, eggs and yoghurt often used by naturals are also protein-based.