For all women, the journey of natural haircare is one best passed from person to person.
Recently, my mother who just turned 53, decided to go “natural” for the first time in her life. When I say this, it doesn’t mean she was never natural, it’s just that down the line, her beautiful, natural Afro curls got introduced to the creamy crack and she never looked back... until now. So now that her hair is dry, brittle, and on the brink of being beyond repair, she decided to scale it back and start over. By using products with only natural ingredients, she will be able to give her hair the nutrients it needs to keep doing what she wants with it.
I also had this realization to start over and go natural almost nine years ago. Like my mom’s hair, mine was so dry that it was breaking off so much that it never grew past my shoulders. I also had gotten a really bad chemical burn on my scalp from a perm that was left on too long and I realized I was tired of hurting myself in the pursuit of straight hair. Since then, my hair has gone through A LOT.
There has been so many styles, shaved sides, braids, weaves, bald spots, its been completely cut off and grown back out, you name it! But in this process called a natural hair journey, I became a product junkie. I realized that I had so many products that I was able to gift my mom exactly what she needed to start her journey. These weren’t half-used bottles — these were full, unopened jars that I honestly had no business having since I knew it took me ages to go through hair products.
While no one in my immediate story is trans, this experience of starting from scratch is relatively universal. This is especially true for black trans women who have to overcome both their own internal issues and societal racism that masculinizes black women, in general. To save my mum and other newbie naturals from the pain, I created a simple but perfectly effective hair care guide. Follow these steps to get your crown in order and start your day on the right foot!
A general rule I have found is that no matter how much hair you have, always wash it in the flow of the water. This will help to keep your hair from tangling, which will ensure the detangling process be a lot easier. Use a sulfate-free shampoo such as The Butters Weightless shampoo that doesn't strip, is very moisturizing and gives you plenty of “slip.” Slip is when your hair can be easily glided through when it has product like a shampoo or conditioner in it. Slippery elm, for example, is used in products to provide that.
When I shampoo my hair, I do it twice. The first time is for breaking up the dirt and goo, and the second time is to really scrub the scalp. You can also tell by how your hair lathers if it is truly getting clean or not: the more lather, the cleaner your hair is getting.
Once you’ve washed your hair and rinsed out all the product, follow up with a deep conditioner. This will help to replenish the moisture lost from cleansing your hair. I typically follow the instructions on the jar for how long to leave the product in, but I always include heat. This allows the product to really soak into your strands, the difference is astounding. You can buy a microwaveable bonnet such as this one, or just use plastic shower caps you can grab from the dollar store.
For first-time naturals, the LCO method is something that everyone needs to know of. Following this method has helped my hair retain its moisture and continue growth. At this point, my LCO method is a bit remixed but I will keep it simple for this routine.
Simply, the liquid part of this method is water. Your hair should be pretty wet at this point, since you just rinsed out your deep conditioner.
Follow up with a leave-in conditioner, such as our Weightless, Thick N’ Curly or Nappy N’ Happy varieties.
As a rule of thumb, Weightless should be used on our thin, straight haired girls; Thick N’ Curly for big ringlet curls; and Nappy N’ Happy for tight, kinkier textures. However, you are free to use whichever one you want since they all work wonders.
Finally, you follow up with our liquid gold hair food serum, as it’s excellent for feeding your hair the nutrients it needs and sealing in all of the essential moisture.
At this point, I’ve finally gotten the hang of the slick natural pony, so whenever I follow my routine, I follow up with a heat protection cream and blow it pretty straight, using my revlon one step hair dryer then tie my hair down immediately with a scarf.
I highly recommend all naturals get that blow dryer, as it cuts your drying time in half and gets your hair really straight once you get the learning curve of getting to your roots. I want to mention that you should not be afraid of heat when you are natural. As long as you take the time to protect your hair with a heat protectant serum or cream, you should be fine.
If you don’t want to add heat into your routine, the best way to style your hair is to immediately twist or braid it using a styling product such as The Butters Gold Silk Premium styling gel. If you can braid down the scalp, LUCKY YOU. Like I said, I’ve been natural for 9 years and I still struggle with braiding. I’ve gotten some ugly plaits down, but I don’t think I’ll ever get to box braids God level of styling.
The simplest and quickest way to do this is to saturate your hair with the product and either two-strand or braid your hair to the back like cornrows and let it dry for 24 hours. Or, if you use a diffuser attachment and a regular dryer, you can have it done in a few hours or less.
To take down your twists, make sure you have a few drops of oil on your fingers, dry fingertips can ruin your curls by drying them out and making them frizzy. Oil can also help to break the “caste” left from hard gels. To fluff, use a wide tooth comb and pull up from the ROOT, not he strands, so that it won’t cause frizzy curls.
Doing your natural hair can get crazy convoluted and drive you crazy. But it doesn’t have to be particularly difficult once you learn your hair. I hope this guide helps and if you need any more tips or tricks, shoot me an email at email@example.com, always happy to help! And if any of these products caught your eye, use code ZANITA for 15% off!
You can also follow me on social media @theZan, would love to see you there!