Africa is the second largest continent after Asia at approximately 11.7 million square miles. Natural hair and beauty products have been sourced and developed in many regions of Africa. As a nation we are blessed with many natural resources that we seldom acknowledge.
Since ancient times, women have been concerned with their appearance, in particular their hair and skin. A woman’s hair is often referred to as her crown and glory, for most women (and men) the longer the hair the better and the more beautiful you are said to be. Women in ancient Egypt were considered one of the most beautiful of women and they were very meticulous about their hair and makeup. In those days they didn’t have all the products we purchase from the hair and beauty shops at present. In ancient Egypt, many ancient Egyptian women used henna to dye their hair. The Henna plant is native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa. Henna is very good for the hair and has many health benefits as opposed to semi-permanent and permanent dyes which contain chemicals, often used at salons. Henna is a natural colorant and strengthens hair and can prevent dandruff. It is a fantastic anti-bacterial, anti- fungal and anti-microbial.
Shea butter is another natural product that is underestimated amongst Africans and Caribbean’s. Shea Butter has been used in Africa for many centuries. It is produced from an edible nut of the fruit from the Karite tree, mostly grown in Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, and other Savannah Grasslands of West Africa. It is picked, dried and pounded and kneaded. The butter can be used on skin and hair. It is high in moisture, contains vitamins and stimulates healthy hair growth. Shea butter is also medicinal; it has been studied as an anti-inflammatory tropical cream being helpful in cases of arthritis and cases of rheumatism.
Through my research I have noticed that many of the products that are good for the hair originate from Africa and the Caribbean ironically. It’s a shame that very few of us use African products.
In addition Castor Oil has many medicinal and curative uses. I cannot emphasise how good castor oil is for your hair and skin. It acts as a humectant as it draws moisture into the hair and skin. Applying it to your hair will keep it healthy, soft, shiny and strong. Jamaican Black Castor Oil is considered one of the best.
Black hair requires a list of things I have mentioned some below:-
- H2o aka water – I cannot emphasise enough how good water is for the hair. Drink lots of it.
- Moisture – for those of you who have relaxed hair or regularly use hot appliances such as hair strengtheners and blow dryers, you need to invest in a good moisturiser which contains as much natural products as possible with a dose of oil. (Shea butter and Jojoba oil are good)
- Wash your hair and condition regularly with a good shampoo preferably a clarifying shampoo and one that retains moisture.
- Implement regular hot oil treatments at least once or twice a week, depending on the condition of your hair. Olive oil and safflower oil are good to use, once heated apply to hair from root to tip.
- Deep condition your hair at least once a week with a mixture of avocado oil and coconut oil as an example.
- Treat your hair with love; avoid styles that place stress on the hair and hairline i.e. less pulling. Reduce the amount of heat and chemicals you place on your hair. Ideally if you relax your hair this should be done between 10-12 weeks and no less with habitual treatments.
Just as what you eat determines how you look physically and feel internally. It is the same with ones hair, how you treat and manage your hair will determine the state or condition of your hair. African and Caribbean hair is said to be one of the most difficult hair types to maintain but it does not have to be. Treat your hair as you would your skin and your health, pay attention, nurture, get a regimen and be disciplined. The results will be evidently phenomenal. Keep in mind a woman’s hair is her crowning glory.
Image via Naturally Obsessed