Do you remember having your hair combed by your Mum as a little girl?? For me, it was always in the living room, in front of the T.V. Mum would be watching the news, the remote next to her on the sofa, me sitting in between her legs with that good 'ole pot of green Dax hair grease on the floor, and that red plastic comb in my peripheral vision- looking angry and aggressive. My head would be dragged in one direction as she pulled the comb through my hair, and there would be the familiar yelp of 'OOoowwww, You're HURTING ME!', as we came across a particularly tough section of knots.
Ok, so I haven't combed my hair in like 6 months. Like, seriously. And it's not because of my traumatising childhood experiences.And I don't have dreadlocks. And I haven't brushed it either.
There are some of you who are already screwing up your nose and writing me off as a lazy hobo, but hear me out - I have a very, very good reason for this. There is deep science behind my weird and wonderful ways. Deep and complex science. Which I will explain....
Hair structure:Your hair is made up of three main parts.
1) The cuticle
This is the covering or coat of the hair strand, made up of dead cells. Afro/ curly hair has more cuticle shafts than Caucasian or Asian hair and the cuticle shafts are more raised. This is why it isn't as shiny as other hair types, and also why it's often more fragile.
The cuticle controls how much water enters and leaves the hair strand, making the health of the cuticle essential to maintaining the correct moisture levels of the hair strands.
(damaged/ raised cuticles)
2) The cortex
The cortex is the main body of the hair strand and gives it the unique colour and curl pattern, as well as strength and elasticity.
If the cuticle is the door that lets moisture in, the cortex is the room that holds the moisture. Afro/ curly hair has a thinner cortex than other textures which is another reason our hair is more fragile, prone to breakage and can often be dry.Damaged hair is hair that has the cortex exposed.
Once hair is damaged to this point, the only solution is to trim it. Split ends and breakage are sings of a damaged cortex, and a cortex that does not have enough moisture to withstand manipulation.
This last part of the hair strand doesn't appear to have much function that we know about, but it is documented that heat application destroys the medulla of the hair, meaning that many black women have extremely damaged or non-existent medullas.
The more you touch, play with or and generally manipulate your hair, the more damage you do to the cuticle, the easier it for moisture to escape from your cortex, and the more likely you are to get split ends and breakage. Most brushes and combs have sharp ends and edges that damage the already very fragile cuticle of afro hair, and the harsh tugging and pulling (remember that sore head after having your hair combed as a child? - ouch!) that often comes with combing literally snaps off the ends of our hair.
You're probably thinking, 'so if you don't use a comb or a brush, how do you get rid of dead hair?'. Quite simply, finger combing.
Every couple of days, I divide my hair into sections, spray a mixture of water and conditioner on it and gently detangle using my fingers. While the hair is damp,I plait each section to prevent it shrinking up. It might seem like a long process, but I've noticed a massive difference in hair length and damage since doing this.
If you really can't step away from brushes or combs, the best method is combing gently while your hair is damp and loaded with conditioner. You really don't need to comb your hair every day, or even every 2 days.
When I do feel the need for a good brush, I really like the Goody Add Shine Jojoba infused brush. The bristles are super super soft and it's really gentle. The downside is that it costs 8 to 9 quid, aaannd I think it's discontinued in the UK. I hate when companies do that with my favourite products, it's just plain unforgivable - messing with a black woman and her hair stuff should actually be against the law. *sighs* I'm sure there must be one that's just as good that's cheaper..if anyone finds one gimme a shout!
Peace, Love and hair Grease xx