Healthy hair is the goal for many of us. We all want a long, beautiful mane that we can be proud of. Unfortunately, some common hair care practices may be stopping you from reaching that goal.
The good news is that most of these issues are easy to fix and you can be well on your way to gorgeous hair with just a few small tweaks to your hair care regimen.
We talk a lot about deep conditioning, trimming, and using the right products. Those things are important of course, but it’s also important to protect your hair from small amounts of damage that can occur on a daily basis.
Over time, these minor incidents can add up to significant damage and breakage without you even realizing what’s happening.
Here are some small changes you can make now that will help you be gentler with your hair, which will reduce thinning and breakage caused by excessive tension, friction, or manipulation of the hair.
Use the right tools
Your initial detangling process should always start with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb. If you need further detangling, you can follow up with a detangling brush like the Denman or the Felicia Leatherwood detangler. Make sure you’re working in sections and not trying to comb all of your hair at once.
You should never try to detangle your hair with a fine-tooth comb like the one pictured below. These combs should be used for parting only.
Detangling your hair with the wrong tool causes breakage and split ends.
You do not need to be able to comb through your hair with a fine-tooth comb. Many of us have been taught that we are not finished detangling until we are able to run a small comb or brush through our hair without encountering any knots.
If your hair is straight, that may be good advice. But if you have curly hair, you really don’t need to have your hair 100% tangle free.
As long as you are removing shed hair once a week or so, and you are able to style your hair with ease – detangling with a wide-tooth comb or a detangling brush is perfectly acceptable. A smaller comb will be more likely to snag and pull at your hair strands causing unnecessary breakage. Not to mention how time consuming it is to detangle your hair in tiny sections.
Stop thinking that coarse hair can handle anything
Just because your hair may be thick, coarse, rough, or kinky does not mean that you can do anything to it and it won’t get damaged. Rough combing and brushing, straightening with high heat, and using heat too often can and will damage your hair. No matter what kind of hair you have.
You can absolutely cause permanent damage to otherwise healthy hair if you don’t take your time when detangling, or if you abuse heat, dye, and other chemicals.
Avoid using heat too often – try to limit your flat ironing to once a month or less. When you straighten your hair, don’t set your iron higher than 400 degrees. If your hair is not straight enough or reverts quickly, the problem is likely due to the condition of your hair and not because you need to use more heat.
You’ll get the best flat iron results when you start with well hydrated hair and healthy ends. This means you need deep condition regularly and trim your ends on a regular schedule. Overcompensating with high heat will cause you to have heat damage, split ends, and dry hair.
No matter what your natural hair texture is, 450 degrees or more is too much heat if you’re trying to maintain healthy hair.
Be gentle when detangling
In addition to using the correct tool, you also need to have some patience when combing your hair. Put on some music or your favorite show and be prepared to sit down and take your time to comb through your hair GENTLY.
Do not start at the root and yank the comb through your hair.
Do not pull and tug at knots, ripping your hair from the scalp when you hit a tangle.
If you're combing through your hair and you find a knot, put the comb down and gently detangle with your fingers. Add some extra oil or conditioner to make the process easier.
If you are yanking your hair from the root, you are literally pulling your hair out of your scalp and over time you will start to see your hair get thinner.
Protect your hair from harsh fabrics or other elements
Protecting your hair at night with a silk scarf or bonnet helps to keep your hair from coming into contact with your sheets or pillowcases. But what about when you aren’t in bed?
No I’m not advocating for you to wear your bonnet to the grocery store, but it is important to make sure that your hair is not coming into contact with rough surfaces throughout the day.
If you’re wearing a top made from rough fabric, sequins, or Velcro – try pinning your hair up so that it doesn’t get caught in your clothing.
When you’re at home lounging on the couch, consider tying your hair with a silk scarf to protect it from the fabric on your furniture.
If you have a job that requires wearing a hat or surgical cap, you may be able to wear a scarf, du-rag, or wig cap underneath to keep the hat from damaging your hair over time. You should also consider covering your hair if you play a sport that requires wearing a helmet.
In the winter, wear a silk or satin lined hat or use a scarf or du-rag under your winter hat to protect your hair from cotton or wool. Fabrics like these can cause your hair to be dry, and the friction can lead to frizz and split ends.
Swimming is another activity that can be very damaging to the hair. Be sure to wet your hair thoroughly before getting into the pool, and wear a silicone swim cap that is made to keep water out (as opposed to a swim cap that is designed for aerodynamics).
For more information on protecting your natural hair while swimming, check out this article!
Let me know if you found this information helpful! If you need more tips on how to care for your natural hair, make sure you sign up for my email list. If you have specific questions about your hair care regimen, feel free to email me at email@example.com.