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5 Common Mistakes That Naturalistas Make

by Shellie Reneé

Feb 2021

Mistake Naturalistas Make
Mistake Naturalistas Make

If you’re someone who decided that this is gonna be the year when you go all natural, first let me give you a huge round of applause.

Aside from the fact that I personally believe that embracing the hair we were born with is all kinds of liberating and can do wonders for a sistah’s self-esteem (because when you embrace all of who you are, that exudes a level of confidence that is unmatched), keeping as many chemicals out of your hair as possible is also really good for your health—and your hair.

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For one thing, chemically processing your hair actually breaks down your hair’s natural structure which can lead to damage and breakage.

Chemicals are also able to offset your scalp’s pH balance. Worse, there are plenty of studies out in cyberspace which point to the fact that relaxers (and permanently colour-treating your hair) can result in hormonal imbalances, allergies, reproductive challenges and even cancer. So yes, deciding to let your soul glow is beneficial on a myriad of levels.

That said, I won’t lie to you. The journey to having the kind of full, healthy and totally natural tresses that you want isn’t always an easy one.

Mostly because just as much as our Black hair is strong, it’s also quite fragile (I liken it to silk). And so, I wanted to help you out by providing you with some common mistakes that I—and many other naturalistas—have made when it comes to transitioning, growing and maintaining natural hair, so that it can be a much easier walk for you. Ready?

MISTAKE #1: Not Deep Conditioning. EVERY WASH DAY.

Before getting into deep conditioning, let me say that, as far as wash day goes, unless you’ve got an extremely loose curl texture or your hair gets naturally oily on its own, you probably won’t need to do it more than every 7-10 days or so.

While our scalp does produce natural oils, because our hair usually has a much curly texture than other ethnicities, the oil doesn’t easily get down the entire shaft. This means that our hair is typically drier, so shampooing all of the time can make it brittle.

While we’re here, when you do shampoo your hair, opt for non-sulfate shampoo brand (unless you’re trying to clarify your hair which should only happen every couple of months)—those are much gentler on your hair.

After shampooing, you should never go without conditioning your locks. Only, I recommend avoiding the under-two-minutes kind of conditioner regimen. Instead, deep condition your hair with a cream-based conditioner; then try and leave it in for no less than a couple of hours.

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Deep conditioning is awesome because it intensely moisturizes your hair, it gives it lots of elasticity (which reduces breakage)…

Deep conditioning is awesome because it intensely moisturizes your hair, it gives it lots of elasticity (which reduces breakage), it can balance out your hair and scalp’s pH levels and it plays a significant role in reducing tangling and further reducing breakage.

MISTAKE #2: Not Getting Consistent Protein Treatments

When it comes to my own natural hair journey, one of the biggest mistakes that I’ve personally made in the past is not getting protein treatments on the regular.

It would make sense that they are essential since our hair is made up of mostly protein (keratin, to be exactly). Because things like styling tools (especially heated ones), chemicals and even the environment can break down the protein in our hair strands, a protein treatment, every 4-6 weeks, can help to keep your hair strong and even restore what has been lost.

What are some signs that you need a protein treatment? If your hair is limp, dry or doesn’t have much elasticity, those are huge clues.

As far as the kind of treatments that you should try, some popular brands include Mielle Organics Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner and Jamaican Mango & Lime Protein Conditioner.

MISTAKE #3: Not Pampering the Scalp

Your scalp is the foundation of your hair, right? So, of course, it needs some extra special attention. If your scalp is itchy, irritated or flaking a lot, you probably need to detox it a bit.

An at-home recipe that you can—and should—try consists of ½ cup of bentonite clay, three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and two teaspoons 100 pure aloe vera gel.

Simply dampen your hair and then apply the detox treatment to your hair, paying extra special attention to your scalp (you can gently massage it onto your scalp if you would like). Put a plastic cap on your head and let the treatment penetrate for 20-30 minutes, then follow up with your regular wash routine.

Your scalp will feel soothed, your hair follicles will be unclogged and your hair will have a softer and more manageable texture—all big wins in my book.

MISTAKE #4: Not Eating Right

I don’t care how many products you put on your hair, it’s not gonna matter much if you drink lots of soda and spend a lot of your time in fast food drive-thrus.

From the sugar and sodium to the saturated fat and cholesterol that a poor diet brings, not only can these things wreak pure havoc on your health, it can also prevent your hair from thriving too.

So, what should you be consuming in order to have the best hair possible? Protein (eggs, meat, broccoli, almonds, oats, quinoa, peanuts); collagen to promote elasticity (berries, citrus fruit, garlic, white tea, red veggies, yellow veggies, cashews); Vitamin B12 which is a nutrient that a lot of Black people happen to be low in, by the way; it feeds your hair follicles (beef, fortified cereal, tuna, dairy products, salmon, plant-based milk, fruit juice); zinc because it strengthens hair follicles while reducing dryness (meat, seeds, whole grains, potatoes, kale, nuts, dark chocolate) and, of course, water because it hydrates your system and flushes toxics out of your body (including your scalp) too.

MISTAKE #5: Not Leaving the Hair Alone. On a Few Levels.

I don’t know what it is that makes so many of us want to constantly keep our hands in our hair. But you know what? The more we touch, the more we manipulate, the weaker our hair ends up becoming.

That’s why it’s so important to leave…your…hair…alone! If you’re not giving your hair a break by putting it in a protective style, at least for most of the week ( I will leave my hair in cornrows during the week and then wear it out on the weekends); if you’re not protecting your ends by trimming them regularly and tying your hair up at night so that they won’t dry out on your sheets; if you’re using a permanent hair colour (which contains ammonia that will dry your hair out) instead of a semi-permanent one or even some colour wax; if you are so impatient that you are always cutting your hair or using styling tools that can dry it out or damage your texture over time—you are making huge mistakes that will definitely hinder you from making any real progress.

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While there are probably at least 10 other common hair mistakes that a lot of naturalistas make, what I can assure you is if you avoid these five, you will be well on your way to manageable, beautiful and yes long natural tresses. Here’s to flawless styling, sis. I mean that.