Greetings, my fellow iconoclasts! If you’re anything like me, you don’t shy away from marching to the beat of your own drum. I’d like to think that I express my individuality in all aspects of my life, including with my natural hair.
When I first transitioned from a relaxer to my natural texture in 2011, I was completely overwhelmed by all of these “rules” that naturals were supposed to follow. I adopted many of the sacred tenants of natural hair care, such as the holy grail of them all…the Curly Girl Method. However, when I did my second big chop in 2019, I found that I had outgrown my Curly Girl routine. I was ready return to my old childhood faves.
I’ve realized that all these rules for natural hair care aren’t for everyone. Let’s talk about the top 5 rules of natural hair care that are worth breaking.
Rule # 1, Thou Shall Not Use Grease
What some folks think: Hair grease contain petrolatum, which clogs your hair follicles, dries out your hair, stunts hair growth and is hard to remove.
What I think: I am so happy that more and more naturals are returning to the almighty hair grease! *Nostalgia*
Okay, so there’s a right way and a wrong way to use hair grease. The right way to use hair grease is either as a sealant on your hair strands after a leave-in, and/or as a scalp lubricant. Apply a small amount of grease to your hair, and apply more product to the areas on your hair/scalp where needed.
The wrong way to use hair grease is to apply half a tub of product on your hair/scalp every day and wait 3 years to use a shampoo on your hair. Catch my drift?
If you use hair grease the right way, your hair will grow, your hair will be moisturized, and your hair won’t dry out. Plus, hair grease is pretty easy to remove with mild shampoo.
Rule # 2, Thou Shall Not Use Silicones
What some folks think: Silicones form a coating on your hair strands which prevent moisture from seeping into your hair. Only shampoos containing sulfates can remove silicones, which’ll dry out your hair even more.
What I think: I have afro-kinky, coily, thick, type 4 textured hair. Trust me, I NEED
silicones in my life in order to detangle my hair with the least amount of stress and anxiety as possible. Yes, silicones do form a coating on your hair strands, and yes, IF you have silicone build-up on your hair, silicones can repel moisture. However, you can accumulate product buildup from any ingredient, such as from heavy butters or oils.
Thus, sometimes you’re going to have use shampoo on your natural hair to remove the buildup. Believe it or not, there’re plenty of gentle shampoos in the world that fit most people’s preferences. It’s not like to you have to shampoo your hair everyday when using silicones, just every now and then to remove product build-up from silicones or other ingredients found in hair products.
Rule #3, Thou Must Co-wash Most of the Time
What some folks think: Shampoos strip your hair of moisture, and can lead to dry, brittle hair prone to breakage.
What I think: Listen, the natural hair gods won’t condemn you to hell if you dare to reach for a shampoo over a co-wash. Don’t get me wrong, there are some luscious cleansing conditioners in the world, and I too co-wash my hair sometimes. However, my itchy scalp is in need of some good shampooing every now and then. If you’re like me and battle scalp eczema or scalp psoriasis, you may need to shampoo your hair more often than others. Some folks can get away with shampooing their hair once a month or even once every other month.
Remember, shampoos are meant to remove product buildup and clean your scalp, so your hair may not feel super soft like cotton-candy after using a shampoo. You just need to ensure that you choose a shampoo with a gentle formula, and always follow-up with a conditioner.
Rule #4, Thou Must Worship Coconut Oil!
What some folks think: Coconut oil is the savior of the universe. It penetrates the hair shaft, protects hair from protein loss and is kick-ass!
What I think: It’s true that coconut oil has some great benefits, but tread lightly with this oil if you have a dry, itchy scalp. I was forced to stop using it on my hair once I found out that it exacerbates seborrheic dermatitis and other scalp conditions. Since I’ve stopped using coconut oil, my scalp eczema has gotten better.
Rule #5, Thou Shall Not Use Heat
What some folks think: Don’t flat iron your hair, or else you’ll get heat damage. Even blowdrying your hair can lead to heat damage and breakage.
What I think: This is a BIG ONE, and for good reason. We all know that heat damage is irreversible and can create a major setback in natural hair journeys. However, that doesn’t mean that you should never use heat for the rest of your life. It just means that you have to know how to use heat safely and effectively on your hair. For instance, I use mild heat on my hair once a week for my deep conditioning treatments. I also get my hair regularly blowdried, but only once every 4 months and by a professional.
You can also blow-dry/flat-iron your hair yourself, but make sure you do your research! Make sure you take all the necessary precautions to protect your hair from heat damage.
Look, I’m not saying that you should completely abandon the “rules” of natural haircare. You just shouldn’t feel chained to such edicts. In the end, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to haircare. It’s completely up to you.