A beginner’s guide to caring for natural hair. Today, we’ll cover seven natural hair care tips for beginners looking to build a strong foundation for a beautiful head of hair.
Beauty standards are changing; That’s a good thing. More and more people are embracing the natural state of their hair. But, since many of us are so used to drying, curling, blowing out, or processing our hair, caring for natural hair is a foreign concept.
The good news is that caring for natural hair is easier than caring for processed hair (often cheaper too). With a few foundational practices, you’ll be on your way to happier, healthier hair.
What Are Natural Hair Care Tips for Beginners?
Transitioning from processed hair to natural hair can be painful. After years of straightening, dying, curling, etc., your hair will appear dull, dead, or damaged.
The first step to transitioning to natural hair is accepting that you may not look your Sunday best for a few weeks or even a month or two. And then beginning to incorporate proper care into your routine with practices such as moisturizing, trimming, and diet.
Some products improve the appearance of damaged hair, but using them will slow the transition into your natural hair, so I recommend avoiding them.
The good news is that becoming comfortable with your hair in its natural state is a confidence booster worth the slight embarrassment of having bad hair days for the next couple of months. We’ll show you our 7 favorite tips below.
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Natural Hair Care Beginner Tips
All hair is different. Even within the different categories of hair, there is a limitless amount of diversity.
Diversity is why natural hair is so special; it’s an extension of your unique self. However, the unlimited kinds of hair in the world means that your perfect haircare routine will require some footwork from you.
Finding your perfect hair care routine requires patience, a willingness to try, and perseverance, but there are a few fundamental guidelines you should follow when transitioning and maintaining natural hair.
1. Keep Your Hair Moisturized
An effective moisturizing routine is vital to maintaining natural hair. Maintaining the proper moisture in your hair requires a few things. First, consider the climate in the area you live. You’ll need to moisturize more frequently if you live in an arid climate.
Conversely, you’ll need to mitigate the moisture in your hair if you live in a humid climate. Most of us will land somewhere in the middle. Second, consider your city’s water quality.
Tap water from the shower can contain harsh minerals (or sometimes pollutants) that can damage natural hair. If you have questions about the water quality in your city, contact your local municipality office.
Thirdly, consider the temperature you wash your hair in. Hot water dries hair out and can lead to dandruff or frizz. It’s fine if you enjoy hot showers but refrain from rinsing your hair in hot water.
Lastly, when it comes to washing, less is more. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t wash your hair every day — within reason. Washing your hair every day strips your hair of the natural oils that keep the scalp moisturized and combats frizzy hair.
When you first transition into a natural hair lifestyle, your hair may appear greasy. Don’t panic. That grease is your scalp attempting to compensate for the lack of products in your hair.
The overproduction of oils will subside for most hair types in a month or less. Aim to wash your hair once every three to five days once you have transitioned into a natural hair lifestyle. A tip you may have heard from people with natural hair is to use a bit of coconut or olive oil to nourish your hair.
While there is some value to this tip, it’s best to avoid adding anything to your hair while transitioning into a natural hair lifestyle. Adding oil to your hair can disrupt your scalp’s oil production.
If you use oil in your hair, know that a little goes a long way. Start with a dime size amount of oil rubbed into your fingertips, applying the oil gently to the ends of your hair.
Note: Don’t apply oil to your roots.
Tips for Moisturizing Natural Hair
- Consider the climate of where you live
- Wash your hair in cold or lukewarm water
- Wash your hair less frequently
- Only apply olive or coconut oil sparingly
2. Get It Trimmed Regularly
Your hair will look wonky until it transitions into its natural state. A talented stylist or barber goes a long way in reducing some of the growing pains of transitioning to natural hair. You’ll also need to accept that certain hairstyles work better for certain hair types.
People with naturally fair hair will never have a thick afro, and people with kinky hair will never have sleek ponytails; embracing your natural hair means developing a manageable style that suits your aesthetic.
The good news is the popularity of natural hair is growing, so there is an abundance of new hairstylists joining the workforce that are focused on helping people achieve their style goals by providing dry cuts, maintenance cuts, and hair care tips.
Finding a hair stylist you trust can be difficult, especially in small towns. The best advice I can give is to stop someone on the street who has similar hair texture to your own and ask who their stylist is.
- Power through the awkward transition phase or commit to regular maintenance trims
- Ask for their stylist’s information from people with hair similar to yours
- Set realistic expectations for your hair goals
3. Learn to Appreciate Diversity
Instead of comparing your hair to others, learn to appreciate diversity. No two heads of natural hair are the same. Learning to be comfortable in your skin is a big part of sporting natural hair, so stop comparing yourself to others. Realize that the value of your natural hair lies in its unique texture, length, and density.
Tips for Cultivating Confidence
- Don’t compare your hair to others
- Realize people pay far less attention to your hair than you do
- Know that your hair is beautiful however you decide to wear it
4. Pay Attention to Diet and Exercise
The state of your diet and exercise regime is reflected in your hair’s health. Removing processed foods from your diet will dramatically improve the health of your hair.
You also get the additional health benefits associated with improving your diet, such as improved mood, reduced blood pressure, and better sleep. Exercise also plays a significant role in hair growth.
Regular exercise increases blood circulation to the scalp, bringing oxygen and nutrients to your hair. Again, you get the additional benefits of exercise, including a healthy heart, improved mood, and better sleep.
Now, you don’t have to become an olympian to have great natural hair. Start with small goals. For example, try incorporating more whole foods like fruits and vegetables into your diet or aim to do thirty minutes of light aerobic exercise every day (like taking a stroll around the neighborhood).
Remember that embracing natural hair is all about being comfortable and confident, so don’t feel pressured to transform your lifestyle overnight. Just work toward making small improvements.
Diet and Exercise Tips
- Reduce the number of processed foods you consume
- Increase the number of whole foods you consume
- Start or increase your exercise regime within reasonable limits
- Set realistic expectations
- Remember that perfection is impossible
5. Select the Right Products for Your Hair Type
There are hundreds of natural hair care products on the market. Choosing one that works for your hair type requires trial and error. To limit waste and save cash, I recommend purchasing product samples.
Ignore branding when purchasing natural hair products. Instead, focus on the ingredients list. As a natural hair convert, you’ll want to avoid products that contain parabens, mineral oils (or other petroleum-derived compounds), most alcohols, and phthalates.
Know that some natural hair care products can cost a staggering amount of money. Don’t worry, beauty on a budget is possible. Talk with a local beauty supply store representative to find a product that fits your hair goals and budget.
Invest in a high-quality conditioner over any other hair product. A quality conditioner can mitigate most of the damage from low-end shampoos.
Product Selection Tips
- Talk with a representative at your local beauty supply to source a product for your hair type, goals, and budget
- Purchase sample bottles of products to limit initial investments
- Be realistic about your budget
- Using expensive products isn’t essential for great, healthy, natural hair
- Save time and take our “what hair products should I use” quiz!
Pro Tip: We highly suggest using the Curly Girl Method to pick the best hair products for your natural hair.
6. Wash Your Hair in Sections
You should wash your natural hair in sections as it grows. As hair becomes longer, it becomes more prone to tangling. To limit tangling, shampoo sections of your hair, starting at the tips and working your way toward the roots.
Unless your hair is filthy, avoid directly shampooing your roots. Consider purchasing a wide tooth comb to untangle hair during the shampooing process.
Remember that you should never yank a comb through your hair, but rather tease it through the strands of hair using the shampoo as a protective barrier that allows the teeth of the comb to glide through tangles.
Read the directions on your preferred shampoo. Rinse most shampoos from your hair immediately after application, as leaving shampoo in can dry out hair.
Tips for Washing Natural Hair
- Wash your hair in sections, working from tip to root
- Use a wide tooth comb to detangle hair during shampooing
- Read the directions on your preferred shampoo before use
7. Expect It to Take Time
Transitioning to natural hair can be complicated and time-consuming. However, once you have transitioned into a natural hair lifestyle, you’ll find that your hair takes care of itself.
To maintain natural hair:
- Stick to a regular washing schedule, opting for fewer washes when possible
- Once you find a product that works for your hair, stick with it, reducing the amount of product you use as your hair becomes accustomed to it
- Finally, visit your stylist every three months for a trim to keep your hair healthy, even, and looking fabulous
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions about natural hair care.
Are natural hair products better for your hair?
Not necessarily. There are no legal restrictions on the use of the word natural. Any company can slap the word natural on its products as a marketing ploy. Instead of relying on branding and sales language, read the ingredients on the back of the hair product. A good hair product (natural or otherwise) will be free of phthalates, parabens, mineral oils, and alcohol.
What is the best way to take care of natural hair?
The best way to take care of natural hair is to let it do its thing. Once you understand how your natural hair behaves, you can develop a comprehensive plan of attack based on these beginner tips.
Why is it important to use natural hair products?
Natural products often lack the harsh chemicals and detergents that strip natural hair of beneficial oils and moisture. Natural hair products allow your hair to exist in its natural state.
What should you not do with natural hair?
Some of the things you should avoid with natural hair are hair dryers, rough towel drying, dry combing, detangling with narrow-toothed combs, and wearing high tension hairstyles or head coverings.
How often should I wash my natural hair?
Most people with natural hair should shampoo every 3 to 7 days. Dense, curlier hair requires less frequent shampooing, while fair, wavier hair requires more frequent shampooing.
So, How Do You Care for Natural Hair as a Beginner?
All natural hair care beginners should follow these tips to cultivate a happy, healthy, fabulous head of hair:
- Limit how often you shampoo your hair
- Moisturize your hair
- Trim dead or damaged hair during the transition phase
- Improve the nutritional value of your diet and exercise regularly if possible
- Wash your natural hair in sections
Your hair deserves the proper attention it deserves. If you want your hair to live up to its fullest potential, you need to utilize natural tips and tricks. And we hope that our guide above has showed you how to do just that.