Would you wash and dry a cashmere sweater and a cotton T-shirt the same way?
If you have textured hair, you know that just like cotton and cashmere, straight and curly hair are completely different kinds of fibers and must each be cared for accordingly.
My Life As A Product Junkie
Now technically I am Caucasian. But as an immigrant growing up in preppy Westchester, New York, I sure didn’t resemble the other Caucasians (read WASPS) around me. I felt very much like an outsider—different language (Romanian), culture, food (a lot of eggplant and even more garlic) and hair. My coarse, pin straight hair, which on more than one occasion led to being mistaken for an Asian girl (I was neither Asian nor a girl) began bending this way and that. At the onset of puberty (just when you need another variable in your life, right?), I was blessed with a mess of curls and no decent product available at that time. On rainy days it was flat and frizzy, on dry days it was pouffy (and frizzy).
I knew the punk rock kids used sugar water to set their mohawks but I didn’t really want to turn my head into a fly trap. I’d heard of people styling their hair with KY Jelly but I was too embarrassed to buy it. Brylcream just turned my mess into an oily mess.
So where did I go? To the ETHNIC (read Black) hair products. OH and I tried ALL of them. Thus began the life of a product junkie.
Fast forward twenty years. My husband and I adopted black twins with varying hair textures. I knew not to wash my own hair too often, but when I washed my daughter’s hair at all—disaster ensued: her hair would turn into a tangled nest defying me to comb it without bringing both of us to tears.
Ethnic Hair Care Journey
So ... it was back to the black hair care section. And what did I find? The very same products that had been there twenty years before. Unless I wanted to grease my babies’ hair down with a petroleum product or ‘gently’ texturize (code for straighten) their hair with LYE (no thanks) there were NO OPTIONS.
I didn't want my kids to feel the way I did growing up, which is why I created Free Your Mane!
When the world was smaller it was easy to say “ethnic hair” and here on the West Coast, we could decode what that meant: NOT caucasian.
Hair texture is just one of the many obvious physical differences that exist between ethnic groups. As tribes intermingle and populations around the globe continue to meld, we see more hair types emerge; from Caucasian, African, Oriental and Hispanic (to simplify) comes endless new combinations. So let's just call it Textured Hair because it’s not really about your ethnicity anymore or being ‘multicultural’ as that becomes the norm.
How Textured Hair Is Different
Yes, all hair—be is straight, wavy or frizzy—is essentially composed of the same thing:
- the cuticle—the very outer part of the hair that provides strength and protection for the cortex
- the cortex—the middle part of the hair that contains your natural hair color
- the medulla—the very inner part of thick, textured or course hair. Fine or blonde hair sometimes doesn't even have a medulla.
- keratin, a structural protein.
However, the shape of the follicle is what determines the hair’s shape and texture. Asian hair grows from a round hair follicle, while Afro hair sprouts from an elliptical one, and Caucasian hair follicles vary.
Turns out that other types of hair also benefit from the same formulations:
- Hormonally Challenged—Your hair will most like change texture again sometime around mid-life getting dryer and coarser. You're welcome.
- Chemically Processed—Chemical processes leave your hair needing heavier moisture delivery.
- Color Treated—Needs sulfate-free formulas to protect color as well as extra hydration.
So think of your textured hair as a fiber, a very special one that differs from straight hair and because of this difference deserves its own special products and care.
Best Way To Care For Textured Hair
Use a gentle (sulfate-free) shampoo that doesn’t strip natural oils. That squeaky clean feeling is not what you want for textured hair. Then you have to add tons of conditioner for the look you want.
What else does textured hair need? It needs moisture (not to be confused with frizz inducing humidity). Use a conditioner made for your kind of hair. Leave some or most of your conditioner in by not rinsing completely or add some back after you’ve rinsed as a styling tool. You’ll have to experiment and you may get different results on different days depending on the weather and your karma.
Okay just kidding about the karma, but seriously: textured hair is an adventure you have to embrace because now you can do it with healthy and effective products that are made just for you!
And please keep sharing your textured hair stories with us. We are constantly inspired by our very own tribe!