Before I transitioned to natural hair, I had a set of expectations about I would be able to do with my hair. I believed that once I stopped relaxing, it would take less work to maintain my hair hygiene. However, I was in for a rude awakening. There are some aspects of natural hair hygiene that time and experience have taught me, which simply do not align with what I expected.
1. Washing Frequency
When I was a little girl, I felt that my mother washed my hair as a matter of duty, rather than necessity. Even as I approached middle school and was more involved in the daily styling of my hair, I never experienced build up, dandruff or other indications that my hair needed to be shampooed more than once a month. That all changed when my hair was relaxed. I needed weekly washes and even before then my scalp became oily and my hair became limp. Eight years later when I did the big chop I expected my hair to return to the low maintenance, healthy scalp I enjoyed as a preteen. Boy, was I wrong! While relaxers can damage your scalp (does the term “wait the burn out” remind you of anything?), it doesn’t mean that your scalp completely changes once you wear your hair naturally. Moreover, if you were like me and had your hair relaxed during puberty you may have experienced hormonal changes that altered your body chemistry. Just as the skin on your face may change during that time in your life, so might your scalp. It is also important to note that if your friends with thick, coarse hair can go 2 weeks without washing, your fine hair might not do well with a similar regimen.
2. Traditional Shampoos
The issue of shampoo is a pretty hot topic in the natural hair community. The impact of drying shampoos that strip the hair of its natural oils has been discussed in countless amounts of natural hair literature. The consensus has largely leaned towards the harmful effects of traditional sulfate based cleansers on the hair. While I still agree that sulfate-based shampoos are unhealthy, one doesn’t have to use shampoos with all or mostly natural ingredients in order to have clean, healthy hair. As you know, the hair market has changed, making it such that all women, whether natural, relaxed, straight or curly now have a variety of options for gentle hair cleansing options . Personally, I enjoy Shea Moisture and Giovanni Direct, products that are reasonably priced and gentle on the scalp and hair.
3. Natural Hair is More Likely to be Dirty
I’m going to go ahead and assume that at least 80% of the readers of this blog don’t believe this silly myth. Sadly, you may have encountered it, especially if you are newly natural. While the fact that natural hair is not inherently dirty isn’t earth shattering news, the fact that some still believe this is quite astonishing. So, to those of you who have heard this please don’t take it personally. It says more about the ignorance of the person saying it, than it does about you. I’ve heard this myth directed particularly towards women who wear their natural hair in locs and sometimes, sadly, this inaccurate perception came from loose hair naturals! The type of hair a person has does not make it more or less hygienic. How you care for your hair based on your needs, NOT someone else’s standards influences its health. If you hear otherwise, then maybe you’re being told a myth.
What myths have you heard about natural hair and hygiene?