Saying the phrase ‘getting your edges snatched’ sounds pretty intense but for real though- you really don’t want that at any point during your healthy hair journey. The idea is to nurture the hair, keep it hydrated and healthy right? I’ve talked about Ayurveda a number of times on this blog so we’re at a point where I’ve incorporated this into all areas of my life and it’s actually replaced most of my hair care. With more time to do my weekly routines-I mean, I’ve always cared for my hair and it’s undergone plenty of phases but one of my biggest focuses after the first lockdown last year was moisture and hydration.
For those of you who are familiar with the hair type classification chart created by Andre Walker (Oprah’s Hairstylist), Many say the chart doesn’t matter but in some instances it helps. I know now my hair is type 4 and low porosity. The porosity is a huge deal because for years I wore braids (I love them, this is my favourite look!) I still wear them but I realized that my strands needed ultimate hydration that would retain the new hair after all the growth/gains. Also, I’m VERY focused on my hair and keeping its thickness! As we age, hair does go through some change and I’m not there yet; BUT it’s better to take care of the hair as naturally as possibly with the most benefits. I’ve got thick strands and as I’m ‘low porosity haired’ natural black hair enthusiasts call it. Hair length is definitely a last result for me BUT thickness, (intact edges and minimal heat damage are my focuses!)
I found both (Curly Proverbz) Farida Sharma and Khadija Dawn Carryl of (Henna Sooq) I perused quite a few You Tubers and stumbled on both their pages I had always bypassed. I think what got me was the fact that they promoted Ayurveda and that they both promoted curly, coily, kinky natural hair and it was pretty thick!!!
I watched her mention of amla and fenugreek which I had used for face masks in the past and for cooking too-but she kept referring to them as game changers. She then showed her before and after pics-mind you it’s been 10 years to see her full transformation. The results are amazing!! So with more time to explore and no need to rush my weekly schedule, I dove right in!
She talked about onion juice (sulphur based) which I was not a fan of, but the detailed content was what got me into that! She talks about tea rinses from chamomile to lavender to green tea (I had always seen tea as an ingredient for hair colour change in the summer (but I found out it eliminated shedding!)
I opened my cupboards and found Yerba Maté and coffee grounds which had been collecting dust in their bags for a few months. Apparently they’re DHT blockers and great for the scalp and follicles.
She then spoke the praises of Henna! I was so hesitant about henna because of the dryness I’d experienced previously not knowing there were new and updated ways to use henna!
I’m writing about herbs now that summer is here! All the fresh herbs work really well during the warmer months and I can’t wait to mix more of them to try out what works. I found out that there are many herbs I’ve known before but didn’t know all their names and functions. If you’re ready to get your kitchen messy while you cook too: here you go!
Here are some of the tools you’ll need to get started:
A fine strainer, vinyl gloves, cheesecloth, mason jars, ceramic bowls with plastic spoons (henna shouldn’t be used in metal as it could cause a reaction on your scalp and skin)
Henna (Neutral) It doesn’t dye the hair. It does strengthen the strands. (Your hair should be handled with care after an application of henna as the hair strands really get reinforced.) An excellent deep conditioner of your choice is required.
When you choose a henna shade to colour your hair, aloe vera powder, juice or puree is required to give your hair the moisture it needs while colouring or covering greys. It really works!
Tea Rinses – Green, White, Black, Nettle, Chamomile, Lavender (Mostly either eliminates shedding and/or strengthening or moisturizes the hair across the board.)
Roots – Garlic, Burdock Root, Garlic, Onion
Ziziphus which is dried red dates a staple I used to drink in Japan! (if you find it in powder form, it can be added into pastes OR as whole dates they can be brewed into a tea!) VERY GOOD for moisture and curl pattern formation.
Herbs and Roots – Neem, Ginger, Fenugreek, Ashwaganda, Cloves, Hibiscus, Licorice Root
Growth – MSM, Vitamin C, Biotin Oil/Serum,silica (bamboo)
Essential Oils – Rosemary, Sage, Peppermint, Clove, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Orange, Lemongras (Good for the scalp)
Moisture – Raw Organic Honey, Shea Butter, Aloe Vera Juice or pulp, Cactus (Nopales, find at a Mexican Grocery Store.)
Oils – Olive,Jojoba,Hemp,Coconut,Carrot,Avocado,Sunflower,Almond,Castor (Jamaican & Regular) *there are many more that are so ideal but it really does depend on your hair type and preference-what works for me may not work for you!
I tried henna a few years back to colour my hair when I didn’t need colour and now during quarantine, I started seeing greys! Yeahhhhh they’re here now. I had seen Mums and Aunties of friends with orange strands (henna dyed greys) and not liking what that looked like…….so I took my time learning how to set it up and mix the pastes. You can also buy the henna pre-mixed (Vatika) so you won’t have to wait for the dye to release for hours before application.
Henna mixed with indigo which gives a dark chestnut brown colour and wow-it looks good. I’m gonna play with what gets hair a lighter brown for a more sun kissed look! We’ll see what happens.
Hair YouTuber Farida has a system where you pre make these deep conditioner (I call them hair hockey pucks) they’re frozen pods. It takes some time to prepare but making enough of these to last 8-15 weeks saves so much time. Here’s a little secret: I go to the discount racks of my local grocers and buy old avocados and bananas the riper the better and whip that shit up-however many pucks that makes, I’ll make 30 or more! My hair is getting thicker so 1 puck is no longer enough so I use 2 now! Look at that-Everything needed in your conditioner base all from your fridge and pantry! Avocado, banana, plantains, hibiscus (sorrel),kale powder, herbs- I mean the list is endless. My hair is eating GOOD! 🙂 I have a bit of an apothecary on my shelf now with all the herbs and counting because it works!
I made my first set of pucks and of course I didn’t expect Rapunzel hair overnight but what I did get was incredible hydration!!! I realized that my low porosity hair needs a deep, deep conditioning EVERY WEEK! Not just deep conditioner either-I needed all those ingredients mixed with a rich conditioner (MANUKA HONEY & MAFURA OIL INTENSIVE HYDRATION CONDITIONER or
JAMAICAN BLACK CASTOR OIL STRENGTHEN & RESTORE TREATMENT MASQUE or Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle) on high heat. I had a bonnet dryer attachment that I used sparingly and started using it every week with my henna hockey pucks all mixed with castor oil, more herb powders and plenty more Jamaican Black Castor Oil…..my God! Really, I get it now-it’s a game changer!!!
My hair changed!! Shrinkage was tighter, curls were tighter, my hair got darker, shedding was minimal to none and it was growing alot even after my only trim of 2020! Heat damage from silk pressing was visible on my ends and my roots on those same strands were growing in thicker. The thicker roots became so apparent that the ends looked very thin and lifeless-so I’m really taking time with the ends and gradually trimming them off at home! We don’t have a choice right? I think this homebound haircare routine is teaching me how to really delve deeper into holistic beauty practice. Another thing I’ve found also is that many of these ingredients are found in Africa and India as well….most tropical countries actually have most of these plants so as I pick up provisions in any tropical market, I find many of these ingredients at a much cheaper cost. Even with the prices going up this year. (Jojoba is expensive now yooooo!)
Prices are going up on everything so I traded out tons of products for the herbal counterpart. Also, I bought my first massive stash of things late February 2020 and most of them have just about finished this month! For shit you use weekly 1 year plus is a long lasting period of time to have these kicking around!
I started taking Ashwaganda tincture internally and realized I can also use it on my scalp too! Ashwaganda happens to be one of the herbs used in the hair teas and hair pucks. So my goal was to get into adaptogenic herbs that can be ingested to balance hormones and sleep deeper as well as get it onto my scalp and strands.
During the last quarter of lockdown, greys started popping up in the middle of my head and a few light strands on my temples. I debated for awhile whether I’d be using drugstore boxed dye or getting it dyed at the salon. Lockdown made the decision easy. So this is where I am now I started looking into henna. For anyone who’s tried henna only a handful of times, there are so many methods to protect the hair from drying out. Aloe vera juice, powder or pulp is excellent in the mix (I’m re-iterating here again okay?) You know those snatched edges that often referring to on social? Amla powder is amazing for it! That dehydrated look when the hair dries out after a wash n go or the frizz that pops up after a humid day with a low bun looks very different these days with Amla involved. Another thing too……I started making my own hair oils because many of this mass marketed companies put the cheapest oil as their base with the herbs (mineral oil anyone?) That ‘s the worst for Black hair and skin!
Lighter colour wheel – Blondes, Light Brown
Many of the henna sites recommend adding lemon to the mixture-please don’t use lemon on anything! It’s not great for afro hair! This stuff is designed to strengthen, thicken and grow the hair! The strengthened strands are enough! Also too-you can’t go blonde with henna if you’ve got darker hair but you’ll see a lighter hue than you’re natural colour!
This is another option in case the salons don’t open for awhile longer in Ontario. Henna (good quality kind), brahmi, moringa, triphala, burdock root, neem, ashwaganda, castor oil, shikaikai, fenugreek, amla, tea rinses (black, green, chamomile, nettle, lavender) all these items are mentioned above; check them out to see how they’ll benefit you and your hair! I also ask myself if I can/will be able to eat any of these items for everything else. Many of them work well in foods too! Lavender lemonade anyone?
The key to making all this work for you is to pre make everything you’ll use because 1) it gets messy 2) It takes time 3) It is best to buy the herbs in larger sizes. (the amount of tablespoons you start putting into your concoctions because the stuff works so well, will have you finishing a 100g bag quick!)
The Afro/Indo connection:
Coconut milk, moringa, cloves and neem all come from both continents and are widely used in body, food and haircare. These ingredients are excellent starting points for mixing herbal ingredients together. I have always been a big supporter of Ayurvedic herbs for years but not to the extent that I discovered this past year!
I started mixing herbs into my regular hair conditioner alone and found some of the recipes on their YouTube channels. I found that I really liked AMLA, Fenugreek and Henna. I also found that nourishing masks (pre poos) before an actual shampoo really strengthens my hair and strands. I can see some new strands coming up within a few weeks of use. Another observation I’ve made is that when I use the herbs with heat its sooo good for 4C hair. I use an extension with a blow dryer weekly for optimum results. I’m looking to invest in a hair steamer though. It is summer and of course it is hot; but even 20 mins instead of a full hour under it; changes the hair tremendously.
Just want to note that not everything works for everyone but this is something worth trying once you see the transformation. If I do a follow up article I’ll show my before and after in a few more months. Hydration is really what took me by surprise here. Good luck on your possible holistic hair journey!
You could be making green sauce, pasta sauce, tea rinses or hair juice (to replace plain water.) That’s the best thing about natural anything!