At least half the women I speak to about my hair when I rock a big afro, mention that they feel it’s expensive and hard maintain a natural afro hair care routine. But does it have to be?
Having been natural for many years now, I want to share with you how I’m able to spend roughly £20 a month, to naturally maintain my hair PLUS our 5 daughters hair too, plus our current natural afro hair care routine each month.
My Hair Story
I shared my hair story in more detail when I did a talk at Hair Stories 2016, (you can find the full talk audio here). But in brief, I was that little black girl who’s hair was messy more often than not, as I grew up with a very busy single mum who worked long hours.
I always wanted to have straight blond hair like my barbie dolls as I thought it would look neater and prettier. As soon as I was older enough to figure out how to put extensions in my hair, I would have single box braids down my back as much as possible.
Even though I learned to love my natural hair from Dr Malachi Z York, one of my greatest teachers, and found pretty things to do with it, like twists and bantu knots, at around 14, I thought it was time I tried to go bone straight!!!!
After using a home perm kit about 3 times, I quickly realised that I had no patience for beauty routines, it felt like I was wasting my life away!!!!! BORING!!!!!
So I put it back in braids or twists for a while, then when I hit college and my best friend had permed hair, it rekindle my desire to ‘fit in’, so I permed it again, then texturised it a few times, then I hit my limit of fussing with my hair and cut it all off.
Yep, that’s right, at 17yrs old, I went to the barbers and asked them to give me a grade 3 trim all over!!!
For the next 12 years I went from natural styles to a bald head and never returned to chemical treatments. I’ve been growing my natural hair now for about 7 years and in that time I’ve realised a few things.
5 Things I’ve Learnt About Natural Hair
- It CAN be cheap to maintain.
- You avoid 100’s of chemicals found in relaxers, texturisers, chemical laden shampoos, conditioners and styling lotions, that get absorbed into your scalp then burden your liver and kidney.
- Natural hair is generally stronger than chemically treated hair.
- You’re less likely to develop thinning, balding, scalp conditions when you stay natural.
- It’s a very empowering feeling to wear your natural afro hair with pride.
Why I’m Committed To Keeping Their Hair Natural
As a mother of 5 girls, I now understand that it takes time to maintain little natural afro girls hair, and like me, our daughters don’t always have perfectly neat hair, but I’m committed to keeping their hair natural for all the reasons above, but most importantly to reduce their exposure to an onslaught of chemicals in the name of beauty, especially as they are beautiful already.
I also really want them to feel very comfortable in their own skin. I want them to know that without having to chemically or artificially add anything to themselves or alter their natural state, they are already beautiful and enough. They can work with what they have (i.e braiding, twist, cornrowing etc) to be beautiful.
I was never taught this, so it took a long while for me to accept my own beauty, I HAD TO alter, extend or change myself to feel accepted, much less attractive.
If you want to go or stay natural, but feel it costs too much, takes too long or you just don’t know what to do, let me help you out.
Our Family Natural Afro Hair Care Routine
I’ve tried a lot of different ways to maintain our hair (especially my 4 older daughters and I), but this is what we do right now.
- Wash our hair every 2 weeks with a natural shampoo
- Use a monthly protein & moisture rich conditioning treatment
- Moisturiser and braid our hair, or leave it out and use water and oil on it every other day while finger combing it or using a wide tooth comb to keep it detangled.
Shampoo – At this precise moment, we’re using the Aunt Jackies Oh So Clean shampoo, but we have been subscribed to Curly Treats Box for a few months and been using the products that come in there, but before then and even sometimes now, we use African Black Soap or Dr Bonners Castile Soap or even a combination or bentonite clay and bicarbonate soda to clean our hair, then rinse it out with apple cider vinegar.
Once our hair is washed and clean, I towel dry it a bit then either moisturise it or once a month, use the following conditioner…
Conditioner – To keep our hair healthy and strong, we use a protein and moisture rich conditioner once a month as part of our natural afro haircare routine. Beware of regular cheaper conditioners, which often contain harmful chemicals and go for the natural ones instead or you can quickly and easily make your own.
To make our conditioner, which is enough for one adult and 4 children (for one adult, use 1/4 or half the quantities below as this mixture can’t be stored and used later):
Homemade Natural Afro Hair Care Conditioner Recipe
1 avocado (for the healthy fats)
2 eggs (rich in biotin, a vitamin for healthy hair)
2 ripe banana (to soften and nourish hair)
1/2 a can or 200mls of coconut milk (for the healthy fats to nourish your hair)
4tbsp of coconut oil (for the healthy fats and antibacterial action on the hair and scalp)
4tbsp of honey (to soften and moisturise your hair)
You’ll need to simply blend all the ingredients in a blender until it make a thick smooth paste. If you don’t have a blender, mash the banana, avocado and coconut oil, beat the egg then mix them with all the other ingredients together thoroughly.
Divide your hair into quarters and use as much conditioner as you need to fully saturate your hair and scalp all the way to the ends.
Then put each section into a twist, wrap your hair with cling film and then put on a cap (or a wooly hat) for about 30-45mins. This warms up your hair allowing the conditioner to be absorbed into your hair and scalp.
After this time, using luke warm water, rinse all the conditioner out of your hair fully. Start with cooler water so the egg doesn’t cook 🙂 , then when it’s all out you can use hotter water to get all the remnants out.
Towel dry then moisturise your hair.
Moisturisers – These are the natural oils I use on our hair most often, in no particular order
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Shea Butter
For their antibacterial action, I’ll often add the following essential oils (3 drops to every 10mls of carrier oil mentioned above:
- Tea Tree
- Geranium (for the pretty smell more than anything)
- Rosemary (to help stimulate hair growth)
- Peppermint (not when I’m pregnant or breastfeeding though as it can interfere with breast milk production)
After all that, this is how my hair will look
Aside from shipping cost of some natural shampoos, conditioners, essential oils etc, I spend no more than £20 a month on our routine and sometimes t a bit less.
My shopping list can look like this:
Shampoo – Dr Bonnors soap or Aunt Jackies Oh So Clean or African black soap or Bicarb or soda and vinegar – £6-10
Conditioning treatment ingredients (Avocado, eggs, bananas, coconut oil & honey)
Moisturisers – (Shea butter £2 + Coconut oil £2) or (Olive oil £2 + Coconut oil £2) = £4
Total – £20!!!!
I hope you’ve found this article useful, if so please share & please feel free to share your hair care routine below too.
Take care and stay healthy
The Naturally You Coach
About the Author: Leah Salmon, The Naturally You Coach, is a bestselling author, speaker, nutritionist and life coach, on a mission to help 100,000 black women to eat for health, think for happiness and live in harmony by 2020 or what she calls Becoming Naturally You. She does this through her books, programs, coaching, events, workshops, videos, articles and free weekly ezine, which you can join now and get a free recipe book in the yellow box at the top of this page!!!