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CO-WASHING: THE TRICK TO REVIVING DRY HAIR.

hair       Hello ladies! I have been MIA for very good reasons!! Hope you all are well? Here is the 411 on co-washing.

Co-washing is simply washing your hair with a conditioner instead of a shampoo. As we discussed in previous weeks, we are expected to shampoo our hair once a week, moisturize with leave ins/moisturizers and seal with oils daily. Often times, this is not sufficient/ deep penetrating enough for very dry hair. Also, shampoos strip our hair of its natural moisture, so shampooing too often could dry the hair. Therefore, co-washing is a very good alternative to washing too often.

When should we co-wash?

Most people co-wash mid-week, in between weekly shampoos. Others who shampoo every other week alternate between co-washing and shampooing weekly i.e. shampoo and deep condition this week, just co-wash next week. Personally, I co-wash when I feel the need to. If I feel like my hair is dry mid-week, I will do a quick co-wash to get that deeply moisturized feel as opposed to the coated feeling leave-ins and oils can give you sometimes when your hair is really dry from within.

Muslim ladies, listen up!! I’m convinced that co-washing was invented for you!! Lol. Why?? All those our special monthly, weekly or even daily ‘wankas’(ghusls, ritual baths, whatever you call it!!). You just had your hair done at the salon, it is all nice and sleek and suddenly you are ‘dodging’ because you don’t want to do wanka to spoil the beauty of your hair-did!!!!! Lol! You know you do it! Co-washing is the solution.  In other words, you should never pour a lot of water on your hair without following it with a conditioner, even if you have plaits/braids/cornrows on. This is because water alone will evaporate and leave your hair dry and frizzy.

Co-washing is very good for braids or plaits. Ladies, please you should never use rubbing alcohol to clean your scalp when you have braids on. That is just wrong!! Co-wash instead. Your hair still needs to be moisturized even when you have braids to avoid breakage when you take out the braids.

 How to co-wash.

Simply wet your hair, massage a good moisturizing conditioner into your scalp and hair, rinse thoroughly. You will be surprised how clean and revived your hair will be. It’s simple, it’s fast, it’s very very effective. 

What are the best co-washing conditioners?

Any good moisturizing conditioner will work. However, most people prefer to use cheaper, watery, instant conditioners like hair milks. Watery conditioners are generally cheaper and less viscous, meaning they’ll slide easily onto the strands for cleansing and rinse away cleanly. These conditioners have a runny, lotion-like consistency unlike deep conditioners which are often more like creams. Save the super rich, thick and creamy conditioners for deep conditioning.

You need to check the silicone content of your instant conditioner if you plan to co-wash very often.  Silicones are ingredients used in hair products to lubricate the surface of the hair so it feels smoother and combs easier (Makes your hair feel slippery and less tangled). It also reduces porosity and loss of moisture from the hair. However, silicones cause product build up in your hair, which is why I still recommend you shampoo at least every two weeks.  Some people, especially natural heads, skip shampoos altogether and stick to co-washing with silicone-free conditioners. In summary, if you plan to co-wash more often than you shampoo, then you should find a silicone-free conditioner. Otherwise, you are good since the regular shampooing will reduce the silicone build up.

I recommend  moisture milk, Suave tropical coconut, Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, Aussie moist conditioner, carols daughter hair milk co-wash cleansing conditioner or any watery low protein instant conditioner. Some people dilute their deep conditioners to use as instant conditioners. It’s all a matter of preference.

What’s next?

Air drying and no-heat styling! Watch this space! But before then I will like to hear more from you.  Do you have a hair regimen? What works/does not work for you?  Do you see a difference? Let us share our experiences. Looking forward to chatting soon….

Q & As on moisturizing your hair by Sauda Musa

Hello ladies. It has been two weeks!  It was nice to get feedback from you and I am glad that you found the write-up self- explanatory.

Do you have dry, thirsty hair? Do you “steam” your hair once every month? Do you “oil” your scalp and hair with heavy-looking creams and the like? Do you want to know what’s best for your hair? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, this is for you! Here is the 411 about moisturizing your hair.

What is moisture in the hair context?

Simply water. Water is the ultimate moisturizer but as you know, water evaporates, therefore we need other ingredients to keep it in our hair. All other ingredients in shampoos, conditioners etc. aid water absorption and retention.

What is a moisture treatment?

 It is a treatment that hydrates the hair by absorbing water into your hair shaft and keeping it locked inside for as long as possible.

How important is it?

 Extremely important. The most important part of your hair care routine, even more important than protein treatment.  Hair is more likely to break from dryness than any other cause. Therefore, we should moisturize our hair religiously. It cannot be over-emphasized.

What are different ways we can add moisture to our hair?

There are three main ways: Deep conditioning, co-washing, and daily moisturizing and sealing.

What are these?

Deep conditioning – Using a thick creamy looking water-based conditioner to restore lost moisture to the hair.

Co-washing- Using a conditioner only to wash your hair and restore moisture.

Daily moisturizing and sealing – Using a water-based, leave-in conditioner to moisturize your hair and a sealant (oils) to lock the moisture in.

How?

Deep conditioning– Wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo. Remember to be gentle while washing your hair to avoid tangles.  Apply a good quality deep conditioner starting from the ends and working your way up to the scalp, massaging it in. Concentrate on the ends.  I usually add a tablespoon full of natural shea butter (I melt it by microwaving it) and a teaspoon of honey to my deep conditioner. They are humectants and aid absorption of water into the hair. These will help especially if your deep conditioner is not one of the best out there.

 Cover with a plastic cap and go under a dryer/steamer for 15-30 minutes. If you do not have access to a steamer, no worries, you can just leave it in while you take care of other things around the house or tie a scarf to go out or leave it in overnight.

Before you rinse off, gently comb with the widest tooth comb you have. Again, remember to comb from bottom to top, not top to bottom. At this point, your hair should have slip. Your hair has got slip when it is completely tangle-free and breaks minimally when you comb it wet. That’s what you want to achieve every time you deep condition your hair. If you follow this approach and you do not get the slip, try a different deep conditioner.

How often should we shampoo and deep condition?

You should shampoo and DC once every week. Your hair and scalp need to be cleansed from the dirt and product build-up. Also, two weeks or longer is too long a time to DC for the type of hair we have. No matter how much you moisturize your hair daily, we need that deep, penetrating treatment to replenish.

How can we identify good moisturizing products?

First, look out for the words moisturizing, hydrating, replenishing, conditioning, nourishing etc. When you see those words, you know that the product some moisturizing elements at least. Second, look at the ingredients to make sure it does not contain petroleum products.  Every good moisturizing product will have water/aqua as its first ingredient followed by other ingredients that aid water absorption (glycerin, butters, honey, oils, fruit extracts etc).

The third thing I look out for is protein (hydrolyzed silk protein, keratin, soy protein etc.). Protein is not necessarily a bad ingredient in moisturizing products. However, if the protein content is high then you don’t want to use that product weekly.  But how do we know how much protein is in it? If the protein is one of the first five ingredients listed then the protein content is high, if it is at the bottom of the list then it is most likely low.  To be on the safe side, it is better to avoid products that contain protein altogether. I must say that it can be challenging to find such products.

What products do I recommend?

Shampoos and Deep Conditioners: Aubrey Organics honeysuckle rose shampoo and conditioner, Keracare moisturizing shampoo and Humecto, Neutrogena triple moisture shampoo and deep recovery mask, Mizani moisturizing shampoo and Moisturefuse conditioner,  Carols daughter tui  or black vanilla shampoo and hair smoothie, Crème of nature ultra moisturizing shampoo and nourishing conditioner.

Where can I get all these products?

We have been getting a lot of demand for hair products. For those of you in Abuja, Nigeria, the products will be arriving very soon!!! Please contact my partner, Pamela Hagher (she is a hair guru, by the way!!) for more info. Her number is 08064236689.

 What’s next?

Next week we will discuss co-washing and daily moisturizing and sealing in detail. You want to stay connected to seal the deal on adding moisture to your hair! Also, please follow us so you get  e-mailed everytime we post.   

P.S.-I recommended the motions line 2 weeks ago for protein treatment. Apparently, it has mineral oil , I can’t believe I didn’t see that. I am so sorry about that. I have taken it off the product list.

Have a blessed week ahead!!!

Hair Basics for Beginners by Sauda Musa

All hair types are made up of protein and are essentially dead things. That’s why it doesn’t hurt when you cut it off! What is different about black hair? Why do we need to take care of our hair in a different way from others? Our hair is simply structured differently. The ‘kinkiness’ of our hair makes it physically more difficult for the natural oil our hair secretes from our scalp to travel along the length of the hair shaft. Apart from the difference in appearance, the components of our hair that make up our hair shaft make it more likely to be dry and/or to break. Because of this difference, black hair needs are different from the needs of other types of hair. 

When I say “black hair” I mean the black race generally which includes mixed races, essentially anybody that has black blood. Now, there is a broad spectrum of black hair even on one head!! You may have straight hair in front, thick hair in the middle and curly hair at the back. Black hair varies like that!!  As Africans, one thing is for sure, we have the kinkiest if the kinky and the driest of the dry! So we need to take care of our hair even more than the African – Americans (because most of them have mixed somewhere down the line).

Because our hair appears thick and coarse, you might think that it is tougher than other types of hair and it can survive more abuse. Quite the opposite! Our hair is the most fragile. It breaks more easily than any other hair types because of the reasons I mentioned. It simply lacks the elasticity that caucasian or other types of hair have so we have to ‘create’ it.  The question is how?? I will focus on chemically treated (relaxed) hair because that is what most of us have and that’s what I have experience with.

Our hair needs a balance between two ‘powerful forces’: moisture and protein. Protein adds strength and moisture gives elasticity. When your hair breaks, it is as a result of imbalance of moisture and protein. Therefore, too much of any is bad, and lack of any is catastrophic! There has got to be that balance.  You can analogize it with hormonal imbalance or when your body does not produce a particular hormone, it practically disrupts your system. 

How to achieve balance? You have to come up with a hair regimen that includes moisture and protein treatments periodically.  I say ‘come up’ instead of ‘follow strictly’ because what works for me may not necessarily work for you. For example, I do strong protein treatment once a month and mild ones every two weeks (I will explain, don’t worry!) because after experimenting, I have realized that is what works for me. So what I will provide to you will be a guide that WILL work to a large extent and based on the way your hair responds, u will know if you need more or less of something.  Got it?? Lol!

In between these moisture and protein treatments there is still A LOT that needs to be done daily! I will be unleashing them week after week so you don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged. Taking care of your hair takes patience and dedication so you have to make up your mind to do it and be consistent. This week we will focus on protein treatments but before we go there I need you to do a small ‘exercise’. Bring out all the hair products you own. Everything! Shampoos, conditioners, leave-in conditioners, oils, serum etc.   Look at the back of each of them where it reads ingredients or contents. If any of them contain mineral oil or petrolatum or lanolin (petroleum-based products) throw them in the bin!! Yes, I said so!!  Why? Because those products will do NOTHING for your hair. These are basically cheap fillings that manufacturers use. They seal the moisture out of your hair by coating your hair shaft and giving it the illusion of moisture. In other words, they prevent moisture from entering into your hair. Dangerous! Run away!! Unfortunately, most of our hair products especially in Africa, contain these things so it’s very important to watch out for them.

Now that we are all clear, we can move on from all that boring stuff!!

PROTEIN TREATMENTS.

Protein is very important to your hair because it gives your hair strength. Your hair needs to be strong, otherwise it will break. But if it is too strong, it will also break.

When and how often should we do protein treatments? If you have chemically treated hair, right after you relax your hair and every month thereafter. Why? Because the relaxer damages the protein structure of your hair by breaking the protein bonds and depending on the type and strength of the relaxer, and level of bond breakage you incur, you will need more or less protein than others.

Just to give you a sense of my routine, I do a strong-moderate protein treatment right after I do a root touch-up/relax my hair, followed by moisture treatment the week after and then very mild protein the following week, then moisture again for the next two weeks, then strong-moderate protein again. So strong-moderate protein every month and a mild one in between. Ignore the moisture treatments for now.

What do I mean by strong, moderate and mild protein?  Simply different hair products. Some proteins are stronger than others. The protein content of a hair product could make up 0.4 percent or 40 percent of the product; it really depends on what your hair needs. You will have to play around with different products to know how strong they are on your hair.  However, we have to use protein with caution. It is very very easy to over-use protein. Daily or even weekly use of the mildest protein can cause an imbalance between the protein and moisture levels of your hair. I must say that most hair products contain one form of protein or the other in them, which can make it really tricky.  As a beginner, I will only do protein treatment once a month. I only added the mild protein in between because I realized that my hair needed it. That may not be the case for you.

How to do it.

Wash your hair with a good protein shampoo. First, wet your hair then apply a generous amount of shampoo starting from the ends and work your way up to the scalp. Massage into the scalp gently in small circular motions so as to avoid tangling the hair. You may also wash like you are combing through with your scalp and hair with fingers. Rinse off shampoo. You should shampoo your hair just once except you feel your hair is still dirty. If you just relaxed your hair, this should be the last wash.

Condition your hair with a protein conditioner. You can either use any good protein conditioner out there (there are tons) or you can simply add an egg to your moisturizing conditioner (if you can stand the smell).  Apply a generous amount on the hair and scalp, concentrate on the ends/tips.  Follow the instructions on the bottle strictly; don’t exceed the time limit because protein can make your hair too hard if you stay too long. You can either stay under a steamer or just cover with a plastic cap and sit for the stipulated amount of time (usually not more than 30 minutes). Rinse thoroughly. Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner, especially if you are using some of the stronger protein treatments. This is to achieve that balance. One thing to keep in mind is our hair always always needs moisture so you have to keep rehydrating (I know it is a lot of work). You can either deep condition (that way you’re done with deep conditioning for the week!) or just do the regular follow-up conditioning if you don’t have much time. Again, you should make sure your ends/tips get special attention because it’s the most important part of your hair to moisturize.

Comb through with a wide tooth comb, starting from the ends and gradually working your way up to the roots. This way, you are detangling gradually thereby avoiding breakage. Rinse thoroughly. Dry your hair with a 100 percent cotton t-shirt (u can steal your brother’s or husband’s lol). Pat your hair with it to soak up the excess water. You can also slide it over your hair.   Towels are ok too if you just blot the hair to soak up the water. DO NOT scrub your hair with a towel. That scrubbing will break your hair. This is one reason out of a thousand reasons why I’ve reduced visits to the salon – less control. Lol!

Apply a leave in conditioner or moisturizer. It can be liquid or creamy, as long as it has good stuff in it. The good ones are water-based and no not contain mineral oil, lanolin or petrolatum. When moisturizing, start from the tips and work your way up to the roots/scalp. Always, always make sure you spoo your tips because that’s what breaks off and causes split ends. You can section your hair into two or four before you moisturize for even distribution. It is very important that you don’t overload your hair with products (I used to be very guilty of this) Just as a guide, use a table spoon full of creamy leave in conditioner or moisturizer for your whole hair. This is because you will be moisturizing daily and too much just weighs your hair down. It is unnecessary to coat your scalp with moisturizer, just massage a little bit into your scalp. It’s the massaging effect that will help to stimulate hair growth, the moisturizer is just to make it easy to glide through your hair while massaging. The left-over moisturizer on your fingertips will definitely suffice. Note that a lot of leave-in conditioners or moisturizers contain protein. You want to avoid daily use of such moisturizers. Always read the label of what you are buying. 

Seal the moisture in with an oil of your choice. Oils do not moisturize, they are seal the moisture into the hair. If you do not seal the moisture in, the hair becomes dry again in no time. Whether its olive, coconut, argan, jojoba or carrot oil, use a little to seal: less than a teaspoon. Use the same method; seal the tips first and work your way up to the roots. I will talk more about moisturizing and sealing next week, God willing.

PHewwww! It is finally time to style. If you are going to use any form of heat make sure you use a heat protector/serum. It is best to air dry. I will do a whole segment on how to air dry without compromising on style in the nearest future.  

 Repeat the moisturizing and sealing every night. Tie a satin or silk scarf to bed.

 Product recommendations.

Protein shampoos: Aubrey Organics GPB shampoo, Aphogee shampoo, Mane and Tail Original Shampoo, Carols Daughter monoi repairing shampoo.

Protein conditioners: Aubrey Organics GPB conditioner (strong), ORS (Organic Root Stimulator) Hair Mayonnaise/Replenishing Pak (moderate), Aphogee two step protein treatment for damaged hair or Aphogee two minute reconstructor (strong), Mane and Tail conditioner(moderate), Carols daughter monoi repairing conditioner/hairmask (mild-moderate).

Leave in conditioners/moisturizer: Carols daughter Black Vanilla Leave in Conditioner, S-curl no drip activator/moisturizer, herbal essence long term relationship leave-in split end protector for long hair, neutrogena triple moisture silk touch leave-in conditioner.

Oils: Any 100 percent natural oil: coconut oil, jojoba oil, extra –virgin olive oil, argan oil, etc.

Ok! I think this is a good place to stop for the week. I will let you guys digest this first and then next week we will be blogging about moisturizing your hair in all of it different forms. It is the most important part of your hair care regimen so make sure you check it out!! Have a great weekend girls!! Please share the link to encourage me!! Lol!!

 

Welcome!!!

For as long as I remember myself, I have loved my hair whether it was damaged, long, healthy, short, natural, over-processed, whatever!!! As a child, I had very tough natural hair (that meant crying every time I had to get it plaited). My mum got tired of the wailing every Saturday, so I had my hair relaxed as early as six years of age. Since then, it will grow to a certain length and then break off. I’ve always wondered why it couldn’t get any longer, why can’t my hair grow as long and healthy as some of the black girls I see on tv? Oh well! I’m African and our hair is not just “the same”, so I thought up until now!

My hair has gone through several phases: Primary (elementary) and secondary (high) school days where I always had my hair braided and on weekends when I wanted my hair looking all nice and sleek, I would literally pour pink oil on the hair and comb it with tiny tooth combs to FORCE it to go flat! Those were the days. We were just killing the hair!! For my prom, I did the straw curls and used almost a whole jar of styling gel! Now I’m wondering how my hair survived all that battering. I guess I was still very young and could get away with anything! Lol.

Then came the dying phase, highlights to be precise. Blonde, red, you name it, I colored it when I was in university (college). Mind you, I had not gotten over pink oil. A bottle a week!! I still had long hair so I thought I was doing everything right. After all, I steamed my hair every 2 weeks and used expensive hair products. In fact, people came to me for hair advice. Now I’m like oops! I hope people are still not doing those things I told them to do a decade ago cuz I’ve soooo moved on!!

When I moved to the US 5 years ago, I was forced to pay special attention to the health of my hair because it started breaking uncontrollably. Nothing I did seemed to work. I spent hundreds of dollars going to the salon fortnightly but the breaking only got worse, especially in the winter. I was quick to attribute it to the weather and it even became another reason for me to move back to Nigeria!! (in my head, that is! Lol).  Although the weather was a contributing factor to my damaged hair, I just wasn’t doing the right things to protect the hair from the bad weather.  Anyway, I went on to have kids and the worse happened: Half of my hair went off!!!! In my life, I had never had chop chop hair (naija girls know what I mean).  My hormones caused this one and there was absolutely nothing I could do to revive the hair other than to wait till the shedding stopped. But at this point one thing was certain!! I wanted my hair back badly and I was ready to do anything and everything to have long, beautiful, healthy hair. Hence, my hair journey which I want to share with you!!!!

I will try to post step by step details of my hair journey every week as well as recommend techniques and products to use, where to get them and stuff.  Please stick around!!!