We love our hair. We take pride in it. We spend big bucks on products to make our hair look shiny and healthy. But what about where the hair comes from? What about the scalp? Allow me to be the first to admit that I have been delinquent and ignorant when it comes to the care and maintenance of my own scalp. In fact, there were many years where I did everything BUT take care of my scalp, and the damage I caused myself in that time took years to recover from. I got to a stage where I just accepted flakes and scabs as a way of life. And that is a problem.
The earliest hairstylists I went to didn’t adhere to healthy haircare practices. There was one stylist I went to when I was 10 or 11 years old, who didn’t believe in basing the scalp before applying relaxer. I began to believe that pain, scabs and flakes were to be expected. I remember leaving the salon with my hair glued to my scalp with scabs.
I walked around with an itchy, flaky dry, chemically burned scalp. I didn’t know exactly what it was—dandruff? Dry scalp? Creamy crack burn flakes? All of the above? Because my hair was bouncy and behaving, I didn’t pay it any mind unless the flakes showed. When I tried to treat the issue, it was not much more that buying a bottle of over-the-counter medicated shampoo and keeping it moving. I never tried to deal with the underlying issues. I never visited a trichologist or even a dermatologist until I was a grown woman in my 30’s. I never went to a stylist who was knowledgeable about natural hair care, until I met Felicia Leatherwood, creator of the Loving Your Hair With Natural Care workshop. I had to ask her for a scalp care regimen that would work. She gave me some very helpful advice.
“Castor oil is a great thing, it stimulates the sebum, it’s like a fertilizer for hair. You should use it every two to three days. You’ll be amazed at the results. And when you shampoo, start with the scalp and then go to the hair. Shampoo is for the scalp. Keep it clean but also keep it moisturized with castor oil and you’ll see the difference.” I’m trying to take better care of my situation and her advice has been helpful.
Now I don’t just accept things like flaky skin as normal. I recognize that often our bodies are trying to tell us something. Most of the time, that something is “DRINK MORE WATER!” I’m doing my best to hydrate my body, to eat healthy, and to see a professional for my hair, skin and scalp issues. I deserve to be healthy from head to toe, and so do you!
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.