An Easy Guide to Maintaining Your Natural Locks
by Ileejah Hutchinson | Style and Beauty | Thursday, November 14, 2013
While many people wear natural locked hairstyles for the low maintenance it provides, it’s important to keep in mind that natural hairstyles still require proper, healthy care. When going natural, the process can be a little time consuming at first, but once you get the hang of it, your locks will be grateful. Use the following basic tips as a guide for maintaining natural healthy hair so you can enjoy your beautiful locks and all the compliments you’ll be sure to get.
Wash Your Hair Weekly
Dreads need to be clean and healthy to lock well. To make sure that dreads are as healthy as possible, a weekly wash is recommended. There is no need to buy a dread-specific soap; any non-residue shampoo will work well. The most effective way to wash dreadlocks is by first washing the scalp only- and then rinsing the soap through the dreads. Placing one part shampoo in an applicator bottle and 12 parts water will not only allow direct shampoo to scalp contact, but it will also minimize the overuse of shampoo.
Conditioning is Vital
The element of conditioning is essential to maintaining shine and the overall healthy look of dreadlocks. An apple cider vinegar rinse is the best way to get dreads looking the best they can. Mix ¼ cup to one cup of apple cider vinegar with 16 ounces of water. After shampooing, apply the vinegar rinse. Massage the rinse into the scalp and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
She'La Ray, a professional hairstylist in Inkster, Michigan suggests using a hot oil and vinegar mix to moisturize locks (using a spray bottle) and following up with a shampoo and later sitting under the dryer for 20-25 minutes. This will prevent your hair from smelling like vinegar while also providing a healthy balance between the acidic levels from the vinegar and oils in your hair.
Also, the hair and scalp have a natural acidic pH. In any situation where there is an imbalance of pH, caused either by the hair products used or a natural imbalance, the apple cider vinegar used will restore it. She'La Ray explained how the use of apple cider vinegar for conditioning African American hair was a cultural practice often used by many of our grandparents, and great-grandparents, and it's an excellent way to condition natural hair when done properly.
The rinse should be used twice a month, but since everyone’s hair is unique, the user should use his or her own judgment or consult the advice of a dermatologist or professional hairstylist when considering increasing usage.
Deep Conditioning is Extremely Vital
It’s imperative to take preventative measures to ensure that there is little to no breakage to your dreadlocks. Using natural oils such as sweet almond oil, coconut oil or olive oil will allow dreads to be deep conditioned. The locks should be lightly coated with oil after towel drying hair, and then covered with a plastic cap, or plastic bag. During the winter months, when weather can be harsh and drying, deep conditioning after every wash is recommended. People who stay in warmer climates can do this step once a month.
Three days after washing, locks should be moisturized daily. Using a moisturizing mist is the most effective way to ensure locks are receiving adequate moisture. You can buy a pre-made mist or make your own by filling a ¾ spray bottle with aloe vera juice, and the remaining ¼ with one of the natural oils mentioned earlier. Then add a maximum of 5 drops of rose oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil or lemon oil to add a nice smell. Shake your spray bottle before using it, because the oil will be floating on the surface of the water. Be sure to store the spray bottle in the refrigerator after use.
Finally, Protect Your Hair at Night
Just like with any other hairstyle, sleeping with a night scarf (a silk wrap to avoid breakage) is also important. Locks tend to shed a lot and protecting your edges and your scalp is crucial. A silk night cap helps keep the moisture in your hair and scalp, as well as protect your hair from pillow friction. Make a practice of never going to sleep without protecting your hair.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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