There is loads and loads of information on starting a hair care regimen out there and I thought to come in with questions to help nudge or motivate some action on our part especially when it comes to listening to our hair.
What is a regimen - in my words - it is the repeated steps you take to help nourish and nurture and maintain your hair in a particular direction or towards a particular goal, in this instance it would be the steps one takes to nourish, nurture and maintain healthy natural hair whatever texture it may be. How do you look after your skin...what happens when you do or don't do a particular thing (the step) such as apply oil to your skin or not wash and cleanse your skin..what happens? Same thing applies to looking after your natural hair and scalp. When you don't cleanse what happens? Have you tried using conditioner or a pre-poo or a shampoo with sulfates?
I warned you that I would be asking you some questions right. (another question lol)
I would love for all of us to think. I would love for all of us to try (absolutely no harm in trying). I would love for all of us to read and understand and then think again before applying. Ultimately I would love for all of us to listen to our OWN hair and to apply good knowledge and good techniques and practises to help our hair when our hair speaks and to even help others as we would be able to see and hear and understand their hair too (o:
Do I want alot?
Do you want healthy hair? Please note that I left out the word 'long' as I did not want to take into account genetics but rather take into account maintaining the hair that does grown from your scalp and keeping it on your head for as long as possible (regardless of natural shedding).
What are YOU doing to help achieve your hair goals. Do you know the foundation steps to take to nurturing, nourishing and maintaining your hair?
The Foundation Steps for Healthy Hair in my view:
1) Cleanse (is what you are using cleansing the hair in a manner that does not cause future harm or increase any harm to first and foremost the SCALP and secondly the hair?)
2) Condition (is what you are using plain and simply put, conditioning the hair?)
3) Treat (is what and how you are using whatever it may be, treating/further conditioning/nourishing/further moisturising/strengthening/repairing the hair?)
4) Seal In Moisture and also Style (are the steps you are following and what you using in those steps, helping keep the moisture in your hair - basically moisture is water apart from the other items mixed with the water to help the water bind, etc - we will leave discussing that for another day)
5) Protect and nurture the ends and length of the hair as well as the roots of the hair that you have.
Above: The sister's cleansed hair in the process of being trimmed - right side already trimmed.
Above: A lathering moisturising shampoo being used as well as a scalp massager aka shampoo brush
In this post, I will focus on Cleansing which can incorporate various products as well as various other steps - the main thing to take into account is - is what you are doing cleansing your scalp in the first instance and your hair. Back to the example of your face - you might remove your makeup with a product of sorts but that does not necessarily mean that your face is really clean. You might follow the use of face-wipes (which are drenched in various gentle ingredients) with utilizing other products to CLEAN, some of which may be more cleansing than others, some may lather and some may not. Then you might use a scrub. Then you might put on a masque and treat your face. Then you might tone. Then you might end by using a moisturiser be it a cream or gel moisturiser or other. Do you get where I am going?
I repeat, is what you are doing and what you are using cleansing your SCALP and your hair.
For cleansing, the products involved may include:
Oils - often used before especially if you are going to use a normal shampoo (pre-poo), during and after (oil rinse)
Conditioner - often used to carry out 'co-washing' - said to be gentle cleaning but please be aware and watch for product build up as conditioners often deposit to the hair than take away from the hair.
Creamy Cleanser - very gentle
Moisturising Shampoo - cleansing and moisturising properties, has ingredients that help water bind in the hair shaft and will cleanse without stripping the hair.
Normal Shampoo - that we have been using for many years and has sulfates which over time strip away the scalps naturally produced oil and will also strip moisture from the hair. If you still have these, they can be used once a month or every 6 weeks or whenever your hair tells you especially if you use heavy oils and heavy hair butters or even silicones. (not taking into account the ingredients your normal shampoo my have, please check these).
Clarifying Shampoo - is a shampoo formulated and used to lift and remove product build up. Clarifies the scalp and hair.
Chelating Shampoo - is a shampoo formulated and used to lift chlorine which can bind to the hair and is not easy to get out with clean water alone. Chlorine drys the hair and causes brittle hair. Also used to lift metals and minerals found in normal water as some areas have what is called hard water meaning that the mineral deposit in the water is quite high therefore those minerals will bind to the hair and dry out and harden the hair preventing water/moisture from penetrating the hair shaft.
Formulated Co-Wash which is a gentle and often times creamy cleanser - FORMULATED.
(this does not involve washing the hair with conditioner)
Cleansing is not just about cleansing what can be seen but also cleansing what cannot be seen that needs to leave. We use various products for all of the other steps in a regimen but how do you get those products out. The environment gives and takes from the hair so we need to also replace what it has taken such as moisture. Clean hair allows for better water penetration of the hair I would think.
Cleansing is also about the properties of the ingredients of what is being used - are those ingredients adding to the nutrition of the hair or not.
There is a whole array of cleansing products - start by asking yourself what you would like the product to do, in other words what properties should it have and then decide from them there.
Above:Various cleansing products
For Cleansing the techniques involved may include:
Detangling the hair in the first instance - before actually cleansing. This is key to a quicker and more effective cleansing process.
GENTLY rubbing and massaging the scalp with whatever product from above to help loosen dirt and excess oils or product build up.
Spreading the product through the scalp and hair ensuring that it is well spread.
Using fingers to further detangle and/or other tools such as a scalp massager or wide tooth comb or detangling brush.
Using clips to help keep sections in place or sectioning the hair and then putting the hair in twists that are done prior, to help keep the hair from tangling.
Rinsing the products used out and doing this well.
When to Cleanse
Every 7 to 10 days is a good guide and a practise followed by many. As Joburg is very dry, I also incorporate a midweek hair drenching with water and sometimes I use a formulated co-wash. If I have been sweating a lot or out and about a lot then I definitely do a midweek co-wash. another example is, my hair does not like mineral oil but there are some products that help with a good one day style and some of them contain mineral oil. If I use them then I must wash my hair properly the next day otherwise my hair unhappily tells me and shows me the effects of mineral oil. See. The foundation is every 7 to 10 days and the rest is up to listening to your hair.
In summary, are the steps you are taking to clean your scalp and hair and the products you are using to clean your scalp and hair really cleaning your SCALP and hair as well nurturing your scalp and hair??? Don't be afraid to try something new, a different method, a new/different product, a different technique and consciously watch and see and monitor and note and 'hear' how your hair behaves while doing so. Just also remember some products and methods give immediate results and some are for long term results.
A clean scalp is a happy scalp which nurtures happy follicles which nurtures happy hair.
Above: Mmuja Hair Salon use a Scalp Analysis Machine to get a good look at your scalp. This is what my scalp looked like after 2 weeks of using just a Co-wash which I thought was going to be fine until I felt like using shampoo. The machine showed the truth. See that blob at the root of a hair strand, build up.
Above: Mmuja Hair Salon use a Scalp Analysis Machine to get a good look at your scalp. This was the sister's scalp. She had been in a protective style and had been oiling her scalp which didn't look oily but the machine showed us the truth. Excessive oil.
I will touch more on this and on the other regimen steps in future posts. As always listen to YOUR hair and cleanse your scalp.
NB: please use google to research or just ask if there are any terms you do not understand in this post. This post would turn into a book if I elaborated on every single thing and the focus of the post is to get us thinking and understanding (and talking (o:).