I've been researching natural hair care for about two years now especially in regards to harsh styling techniques and the structure of curly hair. However I never really focused strongly on ingredients until I developed a fire rash on my neck recently. So when I received an email from napfrocurlzgirl regarding my natural hair care routine I was a little shocked:
See an excerpt below:
“I found your hair journey very interesting, but I felt bad regarding your hair frustrations. I've been natural all my life and generally maintained shoulder-length hair but decided to just let it grow. While on my journey, I have learned to read labels, how to detangle, etc. Based on your regimen, you might get some results if you switch to natural products.”
At first, when I received this message, I definitely gave it the side eye for a good week, but then I also had to admit that she made sense. In fact, I had changed my natural hair care routine prior to receiving the message, yet it reinforced the need to really break away from certain commercial products and try something new. So I am, and I did.
Then I thought, how interesting would an interview be with someone who is doing what I am now trying. So here you go, read on and learn along side with me. You can read more about napfrocurlzgirl at her blog http://www.napfrocurlzgirl.blogspot.com/
NH Grows: How long have you been natural?
napfrocurlzgirl: I've been natural my whole life, 40 years. But, I straightened my hair with a hot comb in fall and winter, and wore my natural texture in spring and summer. When I was 10, however, I begged for a Jherri Curl. I only had it for a month. I couldn't stand the stench and the grease spots, or the texture of my hair. Two months ago, I decided to retire my hot comb for good.
NH Grows: How long have you been blogging about natural hair? What made you start?
napfrocurlzgirl:I started blogging two months ago when I decided to stop straightening my hair. I'd been looking at youtube videos and reading other blogs, but couldn't find anyone with hair texture close to mine. I figure I can't be the only person with three different hair types, so I wanted to document my trials and errors to help others along their own journey.
NH Grows: What are your staple homemade or commercial hair products ?
napfrocurlzgirl:I love, love, love my Sheacoco Whip. I'm also hooked on my spray bottle with aloe vera juice, veggie glycerin and a little Carol's Daughter Lisa's Hair Elixer. Most recently, I made my own raw black soap shampoo that's chocked full of oils. I love my homemade shampoo so much I can't wait for wash day!
Other staples include Jamaican Black Castor Oil, coconut oil, shea butter, LeKair Cholesterol with Aloe conditioner and Kinky Curly Knot Today.
NH Grows: How has adhering to ingredient labels affected your hair?
napfrocurlzgirl:I've noticed a remarkable difference in the past two months. My hair feels stronger, has grown an inch since getting it trimmed a month ago, and my wash time has been cut in half since it's so well moisturized and prone to less tangling.
NH Grows: What ingredients do you avoid?
napfrocurlzgirl:I avoid mineral oil, petroleum, lanolin, some alcohols-the usual ilk, and anything that has a strong scent, i.e. rosemary and peppermint oils. I also avoid anything on the endangered species list, i.e. argan and baobab products.
What ingredients do you look for when using hair products and why?
napfrocurlzgirl:I look for oils and extracts. My hair loves oils and the extracts take quite a bit of time to make if I were to make them myself, so it's easier and often cheaper to find products that contain extracts.
NH Grows: What are five techniques you recommend to encourage the growth of healthy natural hair?
1. My most important technique is little to no manipulation. I believe a lot of us are concerned with styles, which I understand, but I'm more interested in growing out my hair six inches so I've cut the styling down to once a week, max.
2. My second most important technique is "no heat." I've been blessed and have always had healthy hair, but feel that the heat from the blow dryer, hot comb and curling iron have hampered the growth of my hair. All of my heat demons are in a box, out of my sight.
3. Third, I'm not a product junkie. It's fun to try out new products, but I believe the hair can't breathe if a lot of stuff is piled on it, especially if product isn't washed out that night or is just piled on top of more product as the days go by. I just have one detangler, some gel and oil sheen that are used sparingly and a conditioner I've been using my entire life. If I use anything else, it's oil/butter based and is homemade.
4. Fourth, I don't brush my hair. I haven't brushed my hair in more than 20 years. I use a detangling shower comb, a wide toothed comb and my fingers to detangle and style my hair. Brushing stretches the hair in order to define the natural curl pattern, but that also puts stress on the hair since it's being forced to do something it doesn't want to do. I'm all about babying my hair right now and she's loving me for it!
5. My last technique is to just let my hair be. I see tons of natural styles I like, but after several failed attempts at some, I no longer try to force my hair to do what I want it to do. Ms. Bushey has many moods so when she wakes up in the morning, I listen to her wants and needs and accommodate her accordingly.
NH Grows: What are five techniques to avoid when growing natural hair?
1. The biggest thing to avoid is heat. NO heat on growing natural hair.
2. Excessive styling is something else I avoid. I'm taking my queues from the men with those gorgeous afros. They pretty much just wash it, braid it up/let it out and that's it. They're not always playing in their hair and their hair seems to grow like wildfire.
3. I also avoid loading my hair up with a lot of products. I pretty much just use natural oils and butters. While I do have gel, I want my natural hair to be touchable and to move as I walk, so I rarely use that or other styling aids.
4. Fourth, I avoid any combs and other grooming tools whose teeth are to close together to fit a Q-tip through. If a Q-tip can't get through the teeth, it's too small to go through my hair.
5. The last thing I avoid is coloring my hair. I've colored it in the past with commercial dyes and henna, but my hair always felt a little "funny" afterwards. My goal is to have six more inches of healthy natural hair.
NH Grows: Are there any new projects you are working on that you would like to share with our audience?
napfrocurlzgirl: Why, yes! I'm so glad you asked! I'm currently working on launching my own hair care line, and reviving my handmade jewelry line after a five-year hiatus. I'm also crocheting natural hair-friendly winter caps and hair accessories.
My biggest task, however, involves raising awareness about the ingredients in some of our favorite products. Most people are unaware that the trees/plants of some of our favorites such as Argan/Moroccan oil, some soys and baobab oil are on the endangered species list.
Use of these items among naturals is akin to vegetarians who have the occasional cheeseburger, so I have been writing to some of these manufacturers and the companies who sell them to help spread the word.
For more natural hair care info, read about my experiment with emu oil!