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Welcome to The United KinKdom!
I hope you enjoy your stay and be sure to subscribe to www.TheUnitedKinKdom.com so we can stay in touch.
My blog is dedicated to celebrating Afro hair and the experiences of UK Naturals. Dont be a stranger, spread the word and lets keep Uniting the KinKdom one curl at a time. International visitors are ALWAYS welcome. Enjoy!
Much Love Crystal Afro x
(Natural since Jan 2011) (Contact Me: crystalafro@hotmail.co.uk) View my complete profile

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

NATURAL HAIR - SOME STARTER TIPS

Over the Summer I had a quite a few people ask me about how to go natural, and what my advice would be, so this blog post is for anyone else out there who's newly natural or thinking of going natural.  I hope it helps and I plan to address each of the 4 sections below, in more detail in the future.

First let me be clear, I'm a blogger not a guru so I'll be sharing the tips, links and advice that helped me when I was newly natural. There's a lot of info out there and a lot of different ways of doing things so my NUMBER 1 TIP is:  
Get To Know Your Hair and Do What Works For You!
Okay let's get started!

Stage 1 - The mental/ internal transition:
1st there are a few things to accept...

LET'S BE REAL!
Your natural hair is yours. It was created as it was meant to be. Regardless of how you manipulate or even hide it, that will not change, you will always have your type of hair. What you do with it is up to you.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
The more you learn and understand about your hair the more options you'll have.

JUST FORGET IT!
Forget most of what you originally learned because up until the relatively recent rise of natural hair blogs, books etc, most hair care information has been based on European hair. 

WHAT IS NORMAL?
Afro hair will respond less favourably to hair care practices designed for straight hair. This does not make it abnormal or unmanageable. It has different needs, which once you've learned you'll recognise as "normal".
Feeling confident and beautiful is essential!
You have every right to feel this way about yourself naturally!

Stage 2 - Knowledge = Your Best Hair Ever!*

HAIR IS HAIR!
Every head of hair is unique but on average, the following facts remain true for ALL hair types regardless of race.
  • Hair grows approximately 10-12cm per year.
  • Every hair has a "Growth Cycle"
  • Hairs grow from their roots, which are located in follicles (microscopic pockets) in the scalp.
  • The shape of the follicle is thought to effect the shape of the hair strand.
  • Hair is a complex combination of water, lipids, melanin and a protein called Keratin.
  • The basic structure of a hair strand includes the Cuticle, Cortex, and Medulla
source

AFRO HAIR ONLY!
  • Afro hair tends to be the curliest/ most coily hair type.
    Afro hair follicles tend to be a small, flat oval, "elliptical" shape (which is possibly the reason the hairs grow curly).
  • Afro hair tends to get dry easily.
    The multiple coils/ bends along Afro hair strands make it harder for Sebum (the natural oil produced by the body) to travel from the root to the tip.
  • Afro hair tends to be the the most delicate hair type.
    The coils/ bends along afro hair strands make afro hair more delicate than any other type. 


Stage 3 - Hair Care Routine
Everyone's hair care routine will differ according to what works best for them personally. For example - I usually wash my hair every 7-10 days.
Key things to remember:
BE GENTLE!
Afro hair is delicate so handle it gently. It tangles easily so be especially gentle when removing knots. Rough handling of Afro hair is one of the main causes of breakage.

CARERS COME BEFORE CONSUMERS
How you handle your hair is more important that what products you use. 
BUILD A ROUTINE
This helps you to form good hair habits. I also think it's a good way of training your hair to get used to healthy hair practices and responding positively.
A basic hair care routine tends to consist of: 
1.) CLEANSING
2.) CONDITIONING
3.) MOISTURISING
4.) STYLING
Below is a simple breakdown of my  washday routine...

Step 1a - Detangle/Pre-poo
I handle my hair in about 4 sections. I usually apply conditioner/ a pre-poo to my hair and use my fingers to comb it through, and detangle one section at a time.
This step speeds up the rest of the process as Im not struggling to detangle through out the other stages. Apparently it can also help protect the hair from harsh shampoos that can strip your hair of too much moisture.

Step 1b - Shampoo & Rinse
Its important to cleanse the scalp so that your hair has a clean healthy environment to grow from. It's also important to rid the hair of product build up, dirt, etc that can reduce your hair's ability to absorb moisture.

Step 2 - Condition & Rinse
You can either use a regular rinse out conditioner or a deep conditioner.
Regular rinse out conditioners are the type that you rinse off after a few minutes.
I prefer to use deep conditioners, which are the type that you leave on for about 20 -30mins, sometimes longer, before rinsing.

Step 3 - Moisturise
This is the stage where I apply a leave in conditioner, to help my hair remain moisturised as it dries and reduce tangling so that (stage 4) styling my hair is easier.

Step 4 - Style
I usually style my hair into twists while it's still damp, pin/ tuck the ends away, and leave it to air dry. I try to keep my hair in a protective style for the majority of the week, to keep my ends safe and reduce tangles.
Night Time Routine - My nightly routine is very simple:
  • Twist/Plait - This prevents knots and tangles, and makes it easy to style in the morning.
  • Spritz/Re-moisturise - I either use a water-based spritz or a light leave-in conditioner.
  • Oil Scalp - I only do this a couple of nights a week if necessary, and I DON'T USE GREASE! I only use natural oils.
  • Cover hair - I use a satin bonnet (as Im too lazy to tie headscarves). This helps prevent the 6-8hrs of friction between my hair and my cotton pillowcase while I sleep. (Remember, friction can cause breakage.)

Stage 4 - Products
Again this is totally down to personal preference, but there are some things you should be aware of when choosing products...
PRODUCTS FOR PURPOSE
Once you begin to know your hair and what it needs, you'll be able to select the correct products for the results you want. You wont need all of the products listed below, it's just a guide to give you an idea of what's on offer...
1. Shampoo
To cleanse hair
(Pictured: Giovanni Smooth As Silk Shampoo)
2. Co-wash
To gently cleanse hair
(Pictured: Kera Care Cleansing Cream)
3. Conditioner
To lightly restore moisture after cleansing
(Pictured: Tresemme Naturals Vibrantly Smooth Conditioner)
4. Deep Conditioner
To restore longer lasting, intense moisture and strength to hair.
(Pictured: Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque)
5. Leave In Conditioner
To help smooth, detangle, and moisturise hair as it dries
(Pictured: Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave In)
6. Styler
To provide smoothness and hold when styling the hair. Products such as gels and creams that help to define curls, tend to be very popular for natural hair.
(Pictured: Eco Styler Olive Oil Styling Gel)
7. Oil
To nourish the scalp or lightly seal in moisture, provide shine and reduce frizz of the hair. I prefer to use natural oils.
(Pictured: Root2Tip Scalp Hydration Serum)
8. Hair Butter
To seal in moisture, provide shine, and reduce frizz of hair. (Similar to oils.)
(Pictured: Jane Carter Solution Nourish & Shine)
9. Spritz
To lightly restore moisture to dry hair from day to day. Water-based spritz' are most effective for this.
(Pictured: Curly Q's Moist Curls Moisturizer)


DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!

Not all products are what they're labelled as, and not all products do what they say they will. The term "Natural" is extremely popular right now, so be careful. A lot of products that are labelled 'natural', instead contain a large amount of synthetic ingredients and chemicals.

TOP 5
The first 5 ingredients on any product ingredient list tend to be the most important.
Ingredients are usually listed in order of concentration, starting with the highest; so the first 5 ingredients form the highest percentage of the recipe.

INGREDIENT INFO
Below is a table of the ingredients that I frequently came across when I first began researching what to put in my natural hair. I'd consider these to be just a few of the main ingredients to be aware of when product shopping.

Stage 5 - Be Inspired!
Take pictures of your progress, gather pictures of hott natural hair styles, connected with other naturals online. These are all fabulous sources of inspiration and encouragement, so make the most of them. 

OK, CLASS OVER!!
I know this is one of my longest posts for a while but I felt it was necessary after multiple requests, plus I've been wanting to get this post up for all the newly naturals for ages, sorry it took me so long, but I hope it helps.
As I said, I'm a blogger not an expert but this is a basic review of the information I've gained along my journey. I really hope sharing it will be useful to people.
As this is just a basic guide, I promise to develop on the various sections individually in the future.



Further Reading & references:
Stage 1 - Going Natural - Mirielle Liong-Kong
Stage 2 - L'Oreal Hair Science / Texas Collaborative
Stage 3 -Ultra Black Hair Growth by Cathy Howse / Grow It! by Chicoro
Stage 4 - Curly Nikki / The Science of Black Hair by Audry Davis-Sivasothy

Stage 2* - Please note that there is still a distinct lack of scientific research with specific regard to Afro hair, therefore the current information available is the most generally accepted scientific explanation to date.