By Risha Rox
I can still remember my first foray into natural hair care. I was a teenager living in California’s Bay Area. I was excited to be attending my first Festival at the Lake, a veritable cultural institution in Oakland at the time. To my dismay, I found myself low on conditioner while washing my hair. I recalled that a friend had recommended olive oil as a wonderful treatment for moisture and shine so I decided to try it out. Always prone to excess, I glug-glug-glugged it on, massaging it in with the scant amount of conditioner I already had in. My hair and skin both felt great after a quick warm rinse. I marveled at my rich, glossy, frizz-free curls which didn’t seem to change at all as it dried. Best hair day ever!
It was a gorgeous, sunny day. As I hit Lake Merritt with a friend, I could barely contain the self satisfied smirk tugging at my mouth corners. I was feeling myself and just knew I stood out with my lustrous hair, glowing skin and fly retro sundress. Sure enough, I received the hollers to prove it! When the umpteenth young man began to call to me, I gave a dismissive smile and casually sauntered by. As we passed, he suddenly shouted, “Ay y’all look! She got grease fallin’ down her back! She got GREASE fallin’ down her BACK!” My friend checked me out and confirmed. The olive oil had begun to melt out of my hair in the hot sun! It had run down my now slick back and even darkened the top part of my backless dress. The moment was so ridiculous that even I had to crack up laughing. My friend and I beat a hasty retreat through gales of laughter and I learned an important lesson.
This did not end my love affair for natural hair care techniques. In fact, it merely strengthened my thirst for knowledge. I’ll admit, I’ve avoided olive oil since then. However, I’ve learned a host of other techniques that require nothing but simple ingredients we often have laying around.
Make a paste of baking soda and water or egg whites. Make another mix of warm water and apple cider vinegar (about one tbs. per cup). Massage paste vigorously into hair and scalp. Rinse thoroughly with the apple cider vinegar mixture.
The Science: Baking soda and ACV are the best ways to cut through residue in the hair, yet they lack the drying and damaging elements of shampoo, which over-strips your hair.
Before applying your favorite moisturizing conditioner, add 1 or 2 tsp. (depending on length/thickness) of sea salt. Your conditioner will go “foamy”. Apply to hair, put on a shower cap and let sit for 30 minutes or you can go under the dryer for super deep conditioning.
The Science: Ever wondered why beach hair is the best hair? Well, salt causes your hair to retain moisture, so adding it to your conditioner greatly boosts moisturizing properties.
Make a blend of avocado oil mixed with jojoba oil. This dressing can be used after washing along with your favorite leave in conditioning cream. It is also great for anytime moisturizing.
The Science: Avocado oil is the closest to skin’s natural oil secretions, which means it will melt into your hair and scalp, for penetrating moisture without buildup or a greasy look.