Monday, 2 August 2010

Natural Hair Top Tips : Treat it like a cashmere sweater

Every Monday I am going to dish out all the practical tips that I have amassed in my 10 years* of being natural. I am certain that you have heard this expression before or variations of it (treat your hair like fine wool/silk, treat your hair like old lace). I thought I would put my own twist on it because cashmere and I are great friends.

Many of us do think we are treating our hair gently but quite often we really aren't. In truth we would treat a beautiful wool dress much better than our hair. Examples:

1. Would you turn your iron on to the highest heat and iron your cashmere sweater?
This is unthinkable, you know that you will scorch the fibre but somehow when it comes to hair, smoking hot flat irons do not seem to carry the same fear. In truth cashmere is made up the same protein that hair is made from- keratin. Yes it is dyed and processed which makes it weaker than unprocessed natural hair but the basic keratin structure is quite similar. Think twice before you use heat, make sure that you have protected your hair adequately and aim to use as little heat as possible for the least time as possible. Whenever possible opt for a heat free hairstyle.

2. Would you wash your cashmere sweater in the washing machine?
No you would not! You would be (or should be) terrified of the machine rubbing against the fabric. I personally handwash with a mild detergent. Transfer this principle to hair and think about how you should handle the hair when washing. Don't scrub or scratch unnecessarily, check your finger nails before placing them in your hair and never pile your hair when washing.

3. Would you pull your cashmere sweater when it is wet?
Ideally you would avoid stretching it at all because it can loose shape (i.e fibres stretch beyond the elastic point and therefore cannot return to the correct shape) . Hair is weakest when wet, it can stretch a lot and easily get to breaking point. Avoid handling wet hair as much as is possible. My recommendation is not to begin styling your hair until it is around 80-90% dry. It does not have to be fully dry because natural hair has a tendency (in my opinion) to be much less flexible at 100% dry. Some water is useful but there is a huge difference between a slight wetting for flexibility and a soaking wet head.

In short, I am saying think before you touch your hair. 

1. Would you pull your favorite wool dress like you would do to your hair?
2. Would you rub a towel on your cashmere sweater or would you just pat it dry?

Treat your hair like a fine piece of fabric!

*Note: I can't remember when I went natural.....I am guessing it was 10 years ago


  1. Building on Tip 2: Check your NAIL POLISH. I've been obsessed with doing my nails lately and I've noticed that if my polish is chipped, my hair WILL (not might, WILL) get snagged on the chipped bit even if my nail is in perfect condition.


  2. Wonderful tips JC! If this type of information was related to clients at salons, I believe (natural) haircare would be moving in a different direction.

    There should definitely be changes made to the curriculum being taught at cosmetology schools. Instead of only being taught how to straighten hair via relaxers and heat, it would be nice for students to learn how to care for and style hair in its natural state.

  3. I second that Alice and Mikimu!

  4. I'm guilty of one of these-styling my hair when wet..Thanks for the tips.

  5. hie
    i 'discovered' your blog yesterday in my search for manageable hair, and i have to say - well done, you!
    i love your blog, there isn't a better way for me to say that.
    even from deep dark africa, which is where i am, i find your blog relevant and useful. well, hair IS hair no matter where you are, and afro hair particularly so. right?

  6. great post!! thank you for sharing your tips and food for thought questions!

  7. Leo the Yardie Chick5 December 2010 at 20:29

    I section my hair and use a towel to absorb the bulk of the water before I stretch it (I don't rub my hair with the towel. I gently squeeze the hair with it, shift to a drier part of the towel and then squeeze again). It leaves my hair mostly dry without heat or heavy manipulation. :)

  8. was AMAZED to see this posting. i have often said the same thing! i thought i was being original, lol. i use a microfiber towel to dry my hair, and even w/that, i am very gentle. don't rub, i just loosely wrap around my hair to get the excess water out. i didn't come up w/that by myself, got it from another website. keep the tips coming!

  9. Thanks for this, I try to be gentle with my hair but because of impatience I end up rushing to detangle or style it. I will definately keep this in mind when doing my hair.

  10. The only problem is, my hair is 4whateverthekinkiesthairis and in it's soaked up state the shrinkage is serious. In order for me to retain length I have to stretch it out as it dries, or else it tangles and I develop single strand knots. Are you suggesting that I am weakening my curl pattern and stretching it to its weak point? What can I do to avoid that?


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