"Brush your hair 100 times a day."
"Shampoo your hair every two to three days."
"Grease is good for your hair, use products heavy in petrolatum and mineral oil. Don’t read ingredients. Who reads those? Who cares? If it’s a product your family and friends have always used, it must be good!"
Before I went natural I believed so many incorrect things about my hair, and about good hair care practices in general. I believed what I read in magazines that weren’t catering to my ethnicity or hair texture. I believed what my mother and my sister and my aunties and my friends believed. I did whatever the hairstylist told me, not thinking for a second that their intention was to keep me chained to the chair and coming back every week for more. I went through a series of bad stylists who didn’t know how to care for natural hair, and that was its own learning curve.
When I went natural, I had to teach myself what my hair needed all along and dispel all of those indoctrinated hair myths. Instead of brushing my hair 100 times a day, or using a rat tail comb to detangle my hair, I needed to comb my hair from tip to root with a wide tooth comb when it was drenched in conditioner.
I shampooed way too often for my hair’s needs and it was stripping my hair of all natural moisture. I had to learn that shampoo is for the scalp, and conditioner is for the hair. I now shampoo every 7 to 10 days and conditioner wash every 3 to 5 days as needed.
I thought coily natural hair would be tough, strong and wiry. It is just the opposite. My natural hair turned out to be surprisingly soft and delicate. It needs gentle care and a loving touch.
I had to teach myself how to care for my hair by trial and error, and by reading early online natural resources like Nappturality.com and MotownGirl.com. Now there are natural hair blogs and YouTube channels and Tumblrs and Instagrams galore. We’ve got this Essence.com hair channel, for all your texture questions and needs. We are in an era where we are surrounded by natural hair inspiration and information. There’s no reason for miseducation anymore. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Afrobella was the natural hair blogger at AOL’s Black Voices and a writer for Vogue Italia’s Vogue Black website. She has also presented keynotes at several major media expos and seminars.