There are things we do with good intentions, but occasionally, if not often, the results do not reflect the intention. I mean, no one really does something hoping it’ll go awry, right? When it comes to hair, for over 6 years (high school and part of uni), I did everything to my natural hair. In fact, if you can think of anything, I have probably done it. Apart from color, I was never bold enough for color. So, I thought it’d be great to share with you bad natural hair practices that I thought were good for my hair, but in reality weren’t so great in the long run. In case you’re wondering, I had to cut off all my hair and grow it anew! But this is a story for another day, for now let’s start off with those practices are 100% setting you back on your hair journey.
There are people out there who do not shampoo their hair, along with many others people who preach to avoid sulfate shampoo (contains Sodium laureth sulfate or Ammonium lauryl sulfate) like the devil himself. Whenever I see this, I always have one question: how can you possibly clean your hair and scalp of all the numerous hair products without a proper shampoo? The only way you can go without shampoo, I believe, is if you only use DIY fruit products made in your kitchen. If you use factory-made hair products, many of these contain hard ingredients that will only wash with a [sulfate] shampoo.
Without a proper wash, you risk built-up and infections, which will be detrimental to the general health of your scalp and hair. So, please, please wash your hair thoroughly. There are precautions you can take to use [sulfate] shampoo, this way, you have clean hair while averting the harsh side effects that may be associated with [sulfate] shampoo. Some precautions I take are: diluting shampoo with water, deep conditioning, pre-poo and not letting shampoo sit too long in my hair.
Combing dry hair
I used to take a comb and comb my hair while it was dry, and sometimes there was sparks (I’m not kidding)! I ripped out so much hair, caused unnecessary breakage and pain. Now, I do not manually comb anymore; I simply detangle once a week and use my fingers when I have to.
Over-braiding your hair
If you braids your hair frequently because it’s “easier that way”, chances are that you might be neglecting your hair while it’s in braids. Having your hair out “forces” you to look after it. Aside from the fact that we tend to neglect our hair while it’s braided, the actual process of parting your hair in small sections, getting the lines in and installing the braids can cause more breakage to your hair. Braiding is a great way to give hair the rest it needs, but many times we do it all wrong and too often. I used to lose so much hair from braiding, now I try to keep my hair out more, and have noticed an improvement in length retention.
Never learning to handle your own hair
Here I don’t mean braiding your hair yourself, but rather having to run to a salon every time you need to wash and condition your hair. When I started out on this new healthy hair journey about 2.5 years, for the first couple of months all I ever did was go to salons; salons are great when you’re small on time and just want to get things done! But at the same time, it can get very expensive to have to go to salon every 2 weeks to get your hair washed. Now this might not be a problem for some, but personally, I prefer to cut costs where I can. Along with saving on costs, handling your own hair (wash, condition and moisturize) enables you to see and feel changes it goes through over time and learn when it needs more moisture, protein or a trim.
The most unfortunate thing about being a product junkie is spending too much money on products you don’t need; products that do nothing for your hair, or that are bad for it. We are all guilty of this at some point. Using too many products smothers your hair, scalp and wallet. Before you go out to by any product, do your research and see if this is a product your hair really needs.
There was a time in my life when I lived and breathed hot combing! I even had my hair flat ironed with an actual flat iron (the one for clothes). Oh my dear heart! Our hair can only take so abuse before it starts breaking off. Different people’s hair reacts differently with heat. For me especially, my hair cannot take too much heat, so even frequent blowing will cause my hair to dry out and break off.
Comparing your hair to others
Very often making comparisons leaves you feeling somewhat inadequate. Comparing your hair to other is just as bad because everyone’s hair is different; our genetics make it impossible to have the same hair as someone else, especially when it comes to growth rate, texture, density, type, color and more. So when you see your favorite YouTuber (I recommend YouTubers who have similar hair type and texture to yours), some of their content may work for you or not and that’s perfectly okay. You shouldn’t feel like there’s something wrong with your hair, or wish to have a different hair texture and type from that which you were born with. You must only strive to have the healthiest version of your hair, and not someone else’s.
So this is my list of bad natural hair practices that set or stalled my hair journey. Let me know if there’s any you strongly agree or disagree with, or share with me some of your own.
In Featured Image: Nana Efua