Words by Jacqueline Laurean Yates
There is no such thing as “good hair” as some people tend to claim. Everyone is lucky enough to have their own unique texture, and that’s something that should always be embraced as well as appreciated. On the other hand, there is something called “healthy hair.” People with this kind of hair usually take pride in allowing their hair to reach its full potential.
But the real question is, how does one achieve healthy strong hair? The answer: Wash. Your. Hair. “A clean canvas is a better canvas,” says nationally known barber stylist, educator and salon owner Kenny Duncan. Achieving a healthy scalp goes hand-in-hand with routinely keeping up with the simple act of washing your hair. If you are in need of a refresher, follow these helpful steps and a few pointers from Duncan as well as editorial and celebrity stylist, Monaé Everett.
Shampoo – Begin by completely rinsing your hair with warm water to open up hair cuticles. Then, apply a dime to quarter sized (less shampoo for shorter hair and more shampoo for longer hair) amount of shampoo to the palms of your hands. Add water and rub your hands together to create lather. “This will not only make the shampoo easier to apply, but will help you to avoid waste,” says Everett. “Rub your hands on your scalp using your fingertips to massage your scalp. Avoid using your fingernails, scratching your scalp opens you up to infection,” she continues. Repeat this process one or two more additional times for best results. Each time remember to completely rinse product out of the hair until the water runs clear.
If you have a really itchy shampoo, try spritzing an astringent such as Sea Breeze Sensitive Skin Astringent Classic Clean or a scalp soother like Head & Shoulders Instant Relief Scalp Soother Treatment Tea Tree spray to knock the annoying itchy feeling out. For a dryer hair type, it is also best to go with a highly hydrating shampoo such as Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo which is loaded with moisturizing ingredients such as Sea Kelp, shea butter and argan oil.
For those who are rocking locs, pay special attention when massaging new growth as this is where most dandruff and product build-up will occur.
Condition – After shampooing, condition your hair. “Most men need a moisturizing conditioner to replace the natural oil removed during a shampoo,” says Duncan. For shorter hair or fade cuts, massage in conditioner for about 1-2 minutes and rinse until water runs clear. For longer textures (grown out hair or locs), massage conditioner into the scalp for no more than three minutes. Then, run a wide tooth-comb from mid-lengths to tips to help detangle, soften and really work ingredients in. With locs, you only need to gently massage each piece from the middle toward the ends. Follow with a cold-water rinse to help close back up hair cuticles. If you’ve been experiencing dryer hair, opt for a leave-in conditioner such Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Leave-In Conditioner to help add strength and natural shine back into the hair.
Drying – If you have got extra time on your hands, go ahead and let your hair air-dry. But, if you’d rather speed up the drying process, you can use a blow-dryer on a medium heat setting. Hold it a few inches away from the head to prevent the scalp from getting too hot, or even worse, damaging the actual hair follicles due to an intense overload of heat. If you choose to towel dry, always pat dry with a microfiber towel or old t-shirt. Regular body or face towels can damage, tug and pull hair out as well as create unwanted split ends or frizz.
SOME COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID:
Shampooing with regular soap. Everett notes that using regular wash soap that’s made specifically for skin is harsher and can strip your hair of moisture.
Skipping routine washes. “Locs should be shampooed and maintained at least every four to six weeks to prevent buildup,” says Duncan. Also, for every hair type, routine washing will keep your hair from attaining a foul smell or an overall unhealthy appearance.
Using any shampoo and conditioner you see. Just because your girlfriend keeps a huge shareable bottle in the shower or you found a super budget-friendly conditioner on sale doesn’t necessarily make it right for your hair. Case in point: If you have an oily hair type, you should stay away from heavier oil-based or creamy moisturizing products, as they will only weigh hair down and possibly cause unwanted build-up.
Forgetting to completely rinse. “This causes product build-up and it can block the other hair products from working properly and of course, dry out your hair,” says Everett.