If you wear your hair natural, you are probably familiar with co-washing, or washing their hair with conditioner only. Conditioner washing avoids harsh results from frequent washing with shampoos and helps to keep natural black hair soft and manageable. Co-washing can be done as often as you'd like, even several times a day (this is a plus for natural hair wearers in the hot days of summer).
Oftentimes the question of "How do I co-wash my hair?" comes up. The answer would seem simple, but there are some steps you can take to get the most benefit from this technique and do it with ease.
* First, find a conditioner that works for your hair type.
* Get to know your ingredients. The long, hard-to-pronounce ingredients on the label can be overwhelming. But with familiarity, you can learn to spot which ingredients you want to keep and which you want to avoid. Ingredients like propylene glycol, cetyl alcohol and panthenol are common. Search online for ingredients lists. One such list can be found at http://sci-toys.com/ingredients/ingredients.html.
* Recommended: Purchase an extended shower head/hose. Handheld shower heads with variable sprays offer the best control for rinsing the hair and are often well worth the investment.
* Rinse the hair with warm water. Avoid water that is too hot (if it initially stings the back of your hand, it's too hot). Cleansing results from the action of water plus cleanser (shampoo and/or conditioner) and agitation (hand movements through the hair). Warm water will clean hair well while hot water can be damaging. While rinsing with water, gently comb your hair with your fingers.
* Apply your conditioner. This can be done in several ways.
Pour a line of conditioner into your hand (as opposed to pouring a dollop) and apply each line onto parted hair sections. Work the conditioner from the roots to the tips. Continue until all the hair is covered.
Squeeze your normal amount of conditioner into a large bowl, preferably plastic. With the shower head, add water to the bowl and mix the water and conditioner well with your hands. Bend your head over the bowl. With a cup or other small container, scoop up some of the mix and pour it onto your hair. You can then lean further over into the bowl and wash your hair with your hands directly over the bowl if you'd like. This allows for even coverage, but note that the conditioner will be more dilute.
Squeeze your normal amount of conditioner into a large clean spray bottle and mix with water. Shake well and spray liberally onto the hair. Again, this mixture will be more dilute than a direct application. This method is great for those who only have minutes to spare in the mornings. Make a large batch of diluted conditioner, spray your hair and rinse out after bathing.
* Comb your hair with a wide-tooth comb with rounded-edge teeth. This step is optional, as there remains a debate as to whether combing while wet does more damage to hair than combing while dry. It has been said that combing while wet can stretch the hair past it's longest point, thereby causing breakage. However, many who wear their hair natural report that combing while the hair is fully conditioned is the best time for them, as the hair is soft and pliable, leading to less breakage. In either case, comb hair gently by grabbing one small section at a time. Comb from the TIPS first, ensuring there are no snags then work your way to the roots. It's ok if you cannot comb from root to tip in one stroke. The main idea is to ease tangles and distribute the conditioner evenly.
* Allow the conditioner to set on your hair for at least a few minutes if possible. Both steam from the shower and the conditioner itself will work on your hair during this time. Give yourself a nice salt or sugar scrub while your hair is being conditioned.
* Rinse your hair well, again with warm water. Ease your fingers through each section while the water flows through to remove any remaining conditioner.
* Optional: Apply your hair products at this step -- while your hair is dripping wet. Many naturals swear by this technique and believe the best absorption is gained at this time. At the least, your product(s) can be more evenly distributed throughout your hair while it is sopping wet.
* It's time to dry. Just as with the application, there are several ways to dry your hair.
Dry with a towel. Avoid rubbing your scalp and hair with a towel at all costs! Instead, simply dab and pat your hair dry, or grab sections and squeeze excess water into the towel.
Shake and go. Lay your towel across the back of your shoulders (lengthwise shoulder to shoulder). Grab the bottom corners of the towel and raise it up to your head, almost over your head. Think of Batman's cape raised up as he jumps off a tall building! With the towel raised, shake your head from side to side (ear to shoulder) and left to right (like saying no), shaking excess water into the towel. This is what I call the "no touch" method. Sometimes drying the hair directly with a towel can remove products you've just applied, even helping to separate your freshly-formed coils and spirals. You want your coils to group together to avoid the frizzies. This method is perfect for the warmer months when you possibly can afford to go longer periods with damp hair.
Blow dry, but with care. When blow drying, the use of a diffuser is best. A diffuser will spread the heat from your dryer more evenly and minimize potential heat damage. You can find diffusers at most beauty supply stores at a minimal cost. If you do not have a diffuser, use the low heat or cool setting and blow dry from at least six inches from the furthest part of your hair. Remember, you are not trying to get the hair bone dry -- just dry enough to style and go out.
In summary, with the above methods you'll find shampooing your hair by co-washing is a great alternative to traditional shampooing which can strip your hair of much needed oils and moisture. With just a touch of practice, getting in and out of the shower with a clean head of hair will take less time than applying your makeup, and your hair will benefit greatly from it.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
In this award winning documentary about African American culture, Chris Rock asks, "What's your definition of good hair?" The answers are as varied as the hair itself. One woman interviewed said, "Someone that looks relaxed and nice. If your hair's nappy, their not happy." Chris Rock will take you back to your roots. Vanity Fair says Good Hair is "Hilarious!" Variety claims "Audiences will wig out!"
When Chris Rock’s daughter, Lola, came up to him crying and asked, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” Rock, known for making
people laugh, was baffled, and committed to finding the answer for his little girl.
Rock's fact finding mission catapults him into a multi-country tour determined to dig deep into black community and cultures. What Rock discovers is the world of relaxers and straighteners, weaves and extensions. Celebrities Nia Long, Kerry Washington, Al Sharpton, Maya Angelou, Ice-T and more, share their personal stories in Good Hair, a Sundance Festival film.
Speaking of Relaxers and Straighteners, these harsh chemicals - sometimes referred to as "creamy crack" - are a huge money making business. It's not unheard of for a treatment costing $5000.00 or more.
Horror stories of chemical burns and hair loss. This practice of straightening, relaxing and totally changing a black woman's hair has been described as a "torture session", and one that they put themselves through time and time again to achieve the perfect look. Sodium hydroxide can burn through your skin, but these women - and men - are willing to take the risk.
There are so many pressures for black women to straighten their hair. The lighter, the brighter, the better, the prettier, they want to go like this - as Farrah Fawcett swings her head around, her golden mane flows from one side to the other - that's how some black women perceive beautiful hair.
Just don't touch the hair! Anyone that has gone through the grueling process of extensions and expensive weaves, will not want you to touch it. "Weave sex is awkward, just stay on top," says one woman with a gorgeous head of hair.
The documentary isn't all serious and straight. Although Good Hair is downright shocking and truthful in some scenes (it is a documentary after all), it's also full of Rock's hilarious comments, innuendos and big-hearted laughs. Human hair is India's biggest export. Rock then goes on the streets with bags of hair and shouts, "Black Hair! Anyone want to buy some black hair?" You have to laugh at that, even though you know where it comes from.
Good Hair will be released in certain cities on Friday, October 9th, and nationwide on October 23rd.
*Good Hair is the recipient of A Special Jury Prize: U.S. Documentary.
See the official "Good Hair" Trailer here.