This post is in no way attempting to minimize COVID-19, the circumstances pertaining to the quarantine. With this post, we are hoping to be a resource for taking care of natural hair during quarantine, for those who are able to take the time for self-care. We are praying for front-line workers and families who have been impacted by the pandemic.
If you’re reading this in real-time (or probably anytime during 2020), you’re probably quarantined and have unwillingly traded your summer plans for Netflix binges and zoom calls.
And if you’re anything like me, your hair is in a two-week high bun, feeling drier than the Sahara.
We're in the midst of a global pandemic, but for those who are able to, this may be an opportune time to simplify our natural hair routines.
This may also be the perfect time for us to shift our minds to focus on length retention, rather than styling and curl definition (which sometimes can damage our hair more seriously than we like to admit).
The products that we use and the way we manipulate our hair can both contribute to damage over the long-term. Consistent wash and go's, high buns, using intense stylers (like gel) can all play a role in the overall health of our hair (thus how much length we actually retain at the end of the day).
So, since we're all bored in the house (and in the house bored), now is the perfect time to focus all of our efforts on what's best for our hair, not how to make our hair look its best.
Now, taking care of natural hair during quarantine may not be an option for you, but if you are able to, we'd like to provide a simple, easy way to self-care, via natural hair.
Let's give our natural hair a reset, shall we? Here's how to do it:
Simple Protective Styles
Taking care of natural hair during quarantine has one, overarching theme: simplicity.
Less is more when it comes to natural hair, and if we use this mentality during quarantine, we can come out of this time with healthier, longer hair!
Wash and go’s, high buns and other beautiful styles that we normally rock may be a look, but these practices can be harmful over time due to mechanical damage, which is the general wear and tear of natural hair.
Mechanical damage comes from a few places, such as:
Now, many of us are probably unable to see our local stylist to install our styles such as braids, or weaves, but that’s okay, because some of the best protective styles are the ones we can do at home!
These include twists, flat braids, bantu knots – styles that can be easily taken down just as easily as they can be put in.
These styles are 100% underrated but are highly effective in growing natural hair quickly. Why? Because you have the flexibility to undo the style, re-moisturize and put the hair away again.
Not only that, but these styles are just as protective as wigs, weaves and jumbo braids - a perfect solution if you’re still on your growth journey and taking care of your natural hair during quarantine.
Less Gel, More Oil
Until recently, many naturals thought that gel wasn’t an option for their natural hair.
And boy, were they ever wrong.
Gel is fantastic as a final step in your wash day routine. It traps in the moisture, helps retain a style for longer, and is great for curl definition.
But too much of a good thing can be bad for our natural hair. Gels can be drying, can cause product buildup, and sometimes have some seriously damaging ingredients (I’m looking at you, ECO styler).
Since we’re focused on taking care of natural hair during quarantine, try switching out your gel for an oil whenever you can.
Oils are amazing for natural hair because of all the vitamins and minerals they carry, and their ability to penetrate into our hair strands. And best of all, some of the best oils for natural hair are ones we have in our kitchens!
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Some of the best oils for natural hair include the following:
These are some of the best oils for natural hair because their plant-based and have simple molecular chains (and thus they can fit into our hair strands).
But before choosing an oil, take the time to learn about your porosity and which oils will provide the most benefits for your porosity. Knowing if you have low porosity natural hair or high porosity natural hair is 100% critical in choosing oils.
For example, coconut oil is great for penetrating into the hair shaft and flattening “open” cuticles, which is great for high porosity (but not so good for low porosity).
While we’re on the subject….
Scalp Massages and Hot Oil Treatments
Scalp massages, in combination with a hot oil treatment, are underrated in both the natural hair community and the scientific community.
There are scientific studies that show that 15 minute, daily scalp massages can lead to hair thickening. The pads of your fingers stimulate blood flow, which carry oxygen into your follicles.
And guess what: if you're looking to thicken and grow your natural hair, meet your new best friend: essential oils.
Essential oils are GAME changers for thickening natural hair. Our hair loves how concentrated these essential oils are, and studies have shown that they may be more effective in growing natural hair than medicinal treatments!
Best of all: they're cheap AF. They cost around $10 and you only need to use a couple drops in either your shampoo or in an oil mix (as they're highly potent).
Our favorite hot oil mix is 1/2 jojoba oil and 1/2 coconut oil as the base, two drops rosemary oil, two drops peppermint oil (use tea tree instead if you're tender-headed), and one drop lavender. You should start seeing growth in about a 4-6 weeks!
Detangling is a laborious process. If we’re not gentle, we can cause considerable damage to our curls. Unnecessary breakage and shedding can occur just by using a comb!
If possible, try finger detangling first to get those larger tangles out. Remember to never detangle your hair dry – it must be wet, and preferably done in the shower using a conditioner with a lot of slip.
Once the larger knots are out, use a wide-tooth comb to detangle the rest.
At- Home Trims
Since we can’t hit the salon for a trim, we must take matters into our own hands.
Trims are essential parts of any natural hair routine. Our ends are incredibly susceptible to breakage, and slowly split over time (depending on our habits). To combat this, we need to dust off the split ends so they don’t climb up our hair shaft.
It may sound scary, but trimming your hair at home can be painless and simple.
On clean, deep conditioned hair, twist your hair in sections and take a look at the ends: if they look frayed, thin, and/or sparse (i.e. less hair there), that’s where you should cut.
How often you trim your ends depends on your length goals. If you’re looking to maintain your current length, trims 4-6 weeks is suggested. But, if you’re looking to grow your hair, keep your ends protected in a style as often as possible (to minimize end damage), and trim every 8-10 weeks.
The Bottom Line
This is an unfortunate time for all of us, but if you’re able to, taking care of natural hair during quarantine can be a great stress-reliever for your mental health.
Leave your hair in simple protective styles that you can easily take down, such as flat twists and side braids. Opt to use oils when possible so that your hair can reap the benefits of its properties (including essential oils), and finger detangle when possible.
What are your tips for taking care of natural hair during quarantine? Share some down below!