December 18th 2017

Entertainment / Fashion & Beauty

Tending African hair not so hard, with the right regimen

Unaware of the fact that they are not giving their ringlets the necessary care and attention, a good number of women with afro-textured hair succumb to the idea that rather than being a blessing, their crowning glory is a curse that was not meant to grow long and should be straightened to order.

By Sandra Onindosonindo@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 06 Jul 2016 12:47 EAT

Hair is a woman’s crowning glory. Her strands are her most treasured assets, defining her as feminine but most African women watch enviously as their Asian and Caucasian counterparts grow hair that blows in the wind. Many women of the African descent are under the impression that the nature of their Afro hair will always be in the way of their hair-length dreams. They blame it on its delicate spring-like helix shape, a property that most black women find hard to manage, therefore, resorting to chemicals and heat as ways to straighten their wild manes.

Unfortunately, the frequent straightening of African hair is harmful as it interferes with the hair’s keratin bond, weakening it. Weak hair consequently breaks. Eliminating bad habits and implementing good ones into your hair routine is key to achieving long, healthy hair.

Among the bad hair habits is poor nutrition. What you put into your body is just as important as what you put on your hair. For sufficient healthy hair, it is necessary to consume proteins. Hair is 88 percent protein. Consuming proteins will ensure that your hair shaft is strong therefore limiting breakage. Just as important is the assimilation of Vitamins B, C, A, K and E as they play the roles of preventing oily hair conditions, improving the immune system, preventing dry hair, maintaining the health and vibrance of hair.

Realizing that African hair differs with that of other races is significant. While other races have naturally straight or wavy hair, Afro hair is characterized by coils and kinks that defy gravity by growing up. For this reason, it is drier as sebum is unable to travel down the coils and kinks. In addition to this, every bend on Afro hair indicates a weak point. To avoid breakage, it is necessary to moisturize the ends with water and then seal with a natural oil. Sealing is important as Afro hair is highly porous.

It is an observable fact that most women with kinky hair avoid washing it for fear of shrinkage but hair, just like every other body part, needs cleansing. The products we regularly use on our hair are oil based hence attracting dust and dirt. Dirt on the hair is poor hygiene. Hair should also not be washed too often. So as not to strip the hair of essential oils, it is advisable to avoid hair cleansers containing sulphates. Putting the hair in braids and washing once or twice a week is advisable to avoid shrinkage.

Conditioning ensures that the hair stays moisturized. Regular conditioners are applied on the hair strands after cleansing and should be rinsed out two to four minutes after application. Deep conditioners applied on hair strands should be left to penetrate for 15 minutes to half an hour. If unable to afford a deep conditioner, do-it-yourself options are available in the kitchen. Eggs and yogurt are good protein based conditioners whereas honey and fruits such as avocados and bananas are sufficient in the providence of moisture. Lastly, a leave-in conditioner is applied onto clean hair and is not meant to be rinsed out. Conditioners can either be protein based to thicken hair strands or moisture based to moisturize the hair. Both protein and moisture based conditioners should be used alternately depending on the needs of the hair.

In conclusion, leaving the hair alone goes a long way in maintaining hair length. Combating hand-in-hair syndrome could help reduce split ends, tangles, dry ends and single strand knots. This can be achieved by having hair safely tucked away in protective styles such as braids, cornrows, weaves and wigs for weeks at a time. It is also important to note that hair should not be neglected while in protective styles. Regular moisturizing, oiling, cleansing and conditioning is a must.

The scalp should also receive tender love and care through regular massages with natural oils such as coconut, olive and castor oil. Putting on a silk scarf to bed or lying on a silk pillowcase helps to reduce friction between hair strands and fabric. A healthy hair regimen containing all the above mentioned hair care practices will ensure long healthy Afro hair.

Sandra is a staff writer at the Kenya Free Press specializing in news, health and lifestyle coverage.

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