by Geniece Monde Crawford
On the rare occasion that I wear my hair in one of the styles above, styles that clearly display my length, I am asked how long it took to grow my hair to that length. In 2009, after about 2 years of a TWA and 3 more years of being stuck between neck length and shoulder I finally figured out to care for my natural hair. The products I used, combined with helpful techniques, helped me to retain my length and maintain my hair’s health.
Let’s Talk Ingredients
Often, people ask about the products I use on my hair. I have no problem sharing but the reality is that when I am on the market for a conditioner or moisturizing cream I don’t look for specific products, I look for certain ingredients. I can throw away every one of the wonderful smelling products under my bathroom sink and still maintain my hair’s health by using the below key ingredients.
It takes me quite a while to finish a 6 oz. bottle of jojoba oil because I only use it for a specific purpose: my scalp. My scalp is prone to dryness, especially in the winter, and jojoba oil allows me to oil my scalp without clogging my pores. Heavier oils lead to build up and often just settle at the base of my scalp. Jojoba oil by contrast nourishes my scalp, as well and the 2-3 inches of new growth closest to my scalp.
For me, the best way to use shea butter, and most butters for that matter, is to apply a small amount to my hair after using a moisturizing product or ingredient. The awesome thing about shea buttet is that it can seal moisturized hair for up to three days (at least my hair), which is especially helpful in colder climates. The one word of caution I would offer about shea butter is to make sure it is pure and unrefined.
These oils, which I typically purchase from an Indian grocer, are strictly for my pre-shampoo treatments. I use amla oil along the length of my hair, concentrating on my ends, which helps significantly with detangling. The NUMBER ONE cause of breakage for me has occurred during detangling so using oils that help to separate my tangled strands is key in length retention.
I affectionately refer to this oil as shea butter in liquid form. It is heavy, thick and it seals my moisturized hair in a way that no other oil does. Now, I won’t use castor oil for a twist out because the heaviness of the oil isn’t conducive to such styling, however it works wonders for retaining length when wearing protective styles. I could wash my hair on Saturday and feel the castor oil still working its sealing magic on my hair on Wednesday. That’s pretty impressive considering my hair often needs moisturizing every other day with most products.