In my 20+ years of being natural, there’s one thing I’ve learned about natural hair care that’s more important than anything else. All of the products and techniques in the world won’t work if you ignore this one rule.
My #1 Natural Hair Rule
My number one natural hair rule is this: if it doesn’t work for your hair, don’t do it!
It doesn’t matter if everyone on social media is loving it. If it doesn’t work for your hair, that’s all you need to know to leave it alone.
The corollary to that is just as simple: learn your hair.
If you can stay focused on these two simple principles, your hair will thank you. It will be healthy, moisturized, and retain length more easily.
Learning your hair takes time and effort, but the end result is more than worth it.
The YouTube Guru Trap
Before I became a mom, I spent hours on end watching YouTube hair videos.
It was fun, but sometimes deep-diving into a neverending stream of hair videos ends up doing more harm than good. We get sucked into following channels for women whose hair is nothing like ours, trying their methods, then getting frustrated and disappointed when they don’t work.
It’s so important that we remember that these videos are for inspiration only. Sure, try a product, method or technique, but look at it as an experiment.
Instead of thinking, “I’m going to get that product, then my hair will look like hers!” Try, “I’m going to try that product and see how it works for my hair.” Try it out, keep track of your results, and decide what to do next based solely on your hair.
If you’ve had a bad experience with a product or technique in the past, leave it in the past. Don’t waste your time and money trying to force things to work – just focus on what’s already working for you and do more of it.
If you really want to retry something that has failed you, do it with a clear head and realistic expectations. Consider what is leading you to believe it will be different this time and don’t be disappointed if you get the same lackluster results. Just look at it as confirmation that it’s time to move on.
This is the true meaning of learning your hair.
3 Things to Look for When Learning Your Hair
1) How does your hair look and feel on wash day, before you start your regimen?
If it’s dry, stiff or tangled, this could indicate that you need to do more to keep it hydrated between washes.
Going into wash day with moisturized hair can give you better results – if your hair is already dry and tangled, shampooing can make it that much worse.
If you do end up in this spot, take the time to prepoo your hair to give it a burst of moisture, remove tangles and shed hair. I promise you that this will make wash day so much easier and faster.
2) How does your hair look and feel after cleansing it?
This is a great time to assess your hair, as you don’t have conditioners, oils, and stylers on your hair, giving you a false impression of the condition it’s really in.
You can give your strands a gentle tug to see how elastic they are, check how smooth or rough your ends are, and get an idea of how well your strands slide past one another without the help of slippery products.
3) How does your hair look and feel after conditioning?
All of these assessments probably seem obvious, but if you’re anything like me, you tend to just get through our wash day as quickly as possible without paying close attention to the condition of your hair.
Slowing down just a little bit can help you get intimately familiar with your hair, and exactly how it reacts to every product and technique you’re using.
After conditioning, your hair should feel soft but not mushy, strong but not stiff. Notice if your strands separating easily, tangling, or knotting, and if your kinks, curls and coils are well-formed.
Assess your ends again to see if they feel smoother after the conditioning treatment.
I highly recommend doing your hair in front of the mirror as much as possible as you are getting to know it better. Sitting in front of Netflix (or hair videos!) while doing your hair is cool and can make the time go by faster, but actually looking at how your strands are behaving can make a world of difference.
The Final Rinse
My best advice when watching natural hair videos, following Instagram influencers and reading blogs – including this one – is to use the information as a starting point. If you see something you want to try, try it. Then track, track, track.
Never get swayed by what works for other people. Focus only on what works for you, and if it doesn’t, don’t hesitate to move on.
Photo via Melody Jacob