When I was a pre-teen, I wanted pin straight light brown hair with red bottom streaks. All the cool kids had them while I was stuck with this boring thick, unruly dark brown mane that bothered me so much. My grandma didn’t “allow” me to colour it and gave me hell everytime I straightened it in the morning. She’d say things like, “Why do you need to dye it?”, “You’re so young. You are gonna ruin your hair.” and “Don’t be stupid. Your hair is fine. Stop asking man.” (My grandma is the coolest grandma you’ll ever meet by the way.)
So I never got to colour it. There was this one time that I picked up my grandma’s hair dye in the washroom and was about to do it myself but the smell of ammonia and detailed instructions turned me off. I never bothered since then.
This is my natural hair up to date.
I’ve been growing my hair for about 3-4 years from shoulder length. It’s like my security blanket. I don’t do much to it (or at all) because a) I’m lazy and b) I like to keep it natural. And I now respect and appreciate my grandma’s strict ways because had I not listened to her, I probably wouldn’t have been able to grow it out as healthy as I have.
These are some of the basic (and inexpensive) things I do to keep it healthy and natural:
Extra virgin coconut oil (cold pressed) – Use it as a hair conditioner for the ends AND the scalp/roots or use it as a leave in conditioner. You don’t need a lot of it as a little goes a long way. If you end up putting too much, you will need to do a few luke warm water rinses. One of the many amazing properties of coconut oil is that it’s anti-fungal. So for those with eczema or dandruff, apply to irritated skin at least 1-3 times a week and massage through scalp.
Baking soda – The same rules I have with my food, I have with my products as well. In the quest to use more natural ingredients in my everyday life, I stumbled upon the underrated baking soda. I very rarely use commercial shampoo products on my hair. Most of the brands contain a heck load of harmful ingredients that strip out the natural oils in your hair. The “lather” in harsh shampoos and soaps is usually a combination of chemicals and detergents that yes, clean your hair, but also make your strands dull and dry and eventually contribute to damaging your locks. Use baking soda as an easy way to clean hair. Start by mixing 1 part baking soda with 3 parts water. Apply to roots and work your way down to the ends. Let sit for 1-2 minutes then rinse out with cold water.
Apple cider vinegar – This goes great after cleaning your hair with baking soda. An ACV rinse is a great anti bacterial treatment for hair as it balances the scalp pH, removes product buildup, adds elasticity and helps to treat scalp conditions and hair loss, just to name a few. When I tell people about this, they look at me funny. But it’s no different than using other food in your hair like olive oil and eggs. ACV can leave your hair soft, silky and smooth and acts as a natural conditioner without chemically damaging your mane. After cleaning your hair with baking soda, seal your hair cuticles by combining 1 part water to 1 part ACV. Pour onto your hair starting from the roots or use a spray bottle to evenly distribute. Let sit for 1-2 minutes. Rinse out hair completely with cold water. At the end of a shower, always rinse hair out with cold water to lock in moisture.
Pure castor oil, aloe vera and biotin vitamins – These are all excellent natural hair growth stimulants. These help the hair grow by reducing the overproduction of sebum which is an oily substance that your scalp secretes daily. Excess amounts of it can clog pores which in turn slow hair growth. Castor oil and aloe vera can be applied topically once a week. My favourite brand of aloe vera is the one by Lily of the Desert because it’s 99.5% certified organically grown aloe vera. Biotin vitamins, which can be found at your local health store, can be taken 1-2 a day at 1000 mcg a capsule. The brand I’m taking right now is by NOW and retails for about $6-$9 for 100 capsules.
A healthy diet – You know how it goes folks. A healthy inside will mean a healthy outside. Drink lots of filtered water. Eat lots of dark leafy greens. Stay away from sugar, salt, wheat and even alcohol to keep your locks healthy and strong. Eating healthy fats also help to keep hair strong like raw almonds, avocado and extra virgin olive oil.
Keep it low maintenance – Stop doing too much to your hair. If you want to grow a healthy head of locks, refrain from buying useless products or dying your hair. Keep away from the heat appliances and blow dryers. Instead, do a light towel rub after your shower then let your hair air dry. I’ve been doing this for years! Keep it simple. Try a product-free regime using only the natural ingredients listed above. Wash your hair less often or try the “no poo” method to regain your hair’s naturalness. Sounds gross now but this will help your hair recover from the years of styling and product buildup. You will need a few weeks to get used to it but your hair will thank you.
Long hair, take care.