By popular demand, I am beginning a brief series on ideas for maintaining your summer natural. Whether you are going for the big chop (cutting all perm out of your hair and wearing your hair close to the head) as you transition, wearing the teeny weeny afro (TWA), braids, twists, locks or any other natural style, the key for the summer is to moisturize, condition and style with versatility.
My recommendation, is shea butter. I have a previous post about what shea butter is, so I won't reiterate it here. You can find it (I buy it when I travel to Africa and I have colleagues who travel to Africa as well so my supply is often replenished) by searching on-line for sources that sell it or visit a Whole Foods market as they usually have it. It is readily available so you should be able to locate it. My recommendation is to use it on wet or dry hair. I take about a quarter size of the shea butter and rub it in my hands until it is almost melted (it melts from the friction of rubbing your hands together). I then rub it evenly throughought my hair thorougly. You may want to adjust the amount depending on how much hair you have. I also use it to twist my locks. I find that it makes my locks soft and shiny. I usually do this right after I shower, whether I've washed my hair or not. I point this out because I don't wash my hair every day. First of all, it would be too much work because my hair has to be twisted every time I wash it. The bottom-line is that I wash my hair whenever I feel like doing it. If I am in the shower and I feel like washing it, I do. If I don't feel like washing it, I don't. I make that decision naturally. I think each one of us knows when we feel we should wash our hair so that's a personal decision.
I recommend a conditioner whenever you wash your hair. Sometimes, if I am going to be home for a day or two, without having to go out or if I can just throw a hat on, I load up my hair with conditioner and leave it in. I find that this deeply moisturizes my hair and when I rinse it out my hair is very soft and easy to twist. I also swim frequently so whenever I am going in the pool to swim laps, I will put conditioner in my hair under my cap (if I plan to wash it that day) as protection from the chlorine. I try to find a conditioner with all natural ingredients. I'm not recommending a product because this is not about marketing but advice. The best way to find a good natural conditioner is to find a store that sells natural products (a health food store perhaps). Go to the hair section, select conditioners and read the ingredients. My rule for buying product for my hair is Natural Is Cool Enough. If there are words in the ingredients list that you never heard of or that sound like chemicals from a lab and have nothing to do with anything natural that you have ever heard, try to resist buying that one. You are looking for words like jojoba, shea, coconut and other items from the earth. Try to avoid harsh chemicals for your hair. Once your hair is cleaned naturally and moisturized with shea butter (or your favorite natural moisturizer) then move on to styling.
If you have a short cut, after moisturizing just brush, pat and go. If you have a TWA a nice colorful headband to match your attire might be something you want to consider. If you have mid-length hair (up to or close to the shoulder), play around with it in the mirror and come up with ideas that fit you and if you have long hair (locks, twists, braids, etc.) on a hot sunny day, an up-do may be the way to go. If you have locks and you want them to be "crinkly" (also knowm as the loc braid-out or twist-out--see video below) just moisturize and twist your locs and then braid them (three locks) per braid. Leave the braids in until your hair is dry (or a day or two for a longer lasting effect) then take out the braids and voila, crinckles! The most important thing is to have fun. Often times, when we approach our natural hair to style it, there is trepidation because we have been told that it is unmanageble, hard to handle, etc. There is nothing unmanageable about our hair. It's beautiful once you get to know it, touch it and style it. Below are some pictures and a video to give you ideas. Go for it ladies because N.I.C.E. for the summer (and always).