However there are some practices that can be beneficial to all regardless of your hair type or structure.
Moisturize: The coily/curly structure of the Afro-textured hair shaft results in hair that is prone to dryness and breakage because it is difficult for natural oils to travel down the shaft.
To combat this condition, it is essential to moisturize.
Moisturizing hydrates the hair while infusing essential emollients leaving hair softer, suppler and more manageable.
There are different ways to moisturize the hair.
One way is to add water or a leave-in conditioner then using an oil or butter to seal in the moisture.
Condition: Conditioning is not new.
We were doing it all along, simply because after shampooing, this step is known to make our stresses silkier and softer.
A popular trend in the natural hair community is to "co-wash," where washing is done with a conditioner instead of utilizing a shampoo.
This is mainly to prevent dryness caused by some shampoos that strip the hair of oils in the cleansing process.
A protein based conditioner will impart protein for growth and repair.
Conditioners also nourish, restore moisture, in addition to adding body and shine.
Deep conditioners are beneficial because they help to prevent breakage, protect, and strengthen the hair.
Use Safe Hair Products: It's 2013!...
We're no longer feeding our bodies with junk and unnecessary additives, so the same goes for hair care.
Use products with natural ingredients which are safer and beneficial to the hair, as opposed to chemically laden products.
Some silicone additives can cause extensive product buildup, and certain sulfates can be harsh, stripping the hair of its natural oils.
Alcohols present in hair products can cause dryness as well.
The key here is to read labels carefully and experiment to find which products work best for you.
Protective Styling: This is styling where the hair isn't loose or fully exposed.
The ends are shielded from elements that can cause breakage.
Examples of protective styles include wigs, braids, weaves, head wraps/turbans and updos.
The rule of thumb here is not to overdo it.
If you wear only protective styles, then you're just concealing the very essence of being natural.
Protective styles promote growth and length retention over time, because of a relief from daily styling techniques than can cause breakage and hair loss.
Your night time routine is also crucial for hair care and maintenance.
Protecting the hair by wrapping with a silk or satin scarf will help to prevent breakage, tangling and matting.
Trim Regularly: Say bye-bye to those split ends.
Trimming is not only essential for removing damaged and split ends, but it improves the overall appearance of the hair, creating a more even and uniformed look throughout.
The ends/tips are the oldest part of the hair.
These sections are usually thinner because of the disintegration of the cuticle (protective layer).
Proper trimming will remove the already damaged hair replacing it with healthier hair.
Low Manipulation Styling Techniques: Some may think that because Afro-textured hair is coarser than other textures, it can withstand intense styling and manipulation.
However, the coily structure of the hair places it at a higher risk for dryness and breakage.
Consequently, this hair type should be styled and handled with low stress and low pressure methods.
You might want to reconsider those tight micro-braids which place a lot of stress on the hair (especially around the edges).
We're aiming for fullness, not baldness.
Your hair will thank you for an occasional twist-out, which gives it a sense of freedom by just letting it be.
Minimize Exposure to Heat: High temperature from repeated use of styling tools like flat irons, curling irons, and hair dryers can severely damage the protective layer (cuticle) of the hair.
This results in moisture loss which leads to frizzy, dry, and brittle hair.
These high temperatures also mercilessly denature or degrade proteins found in both the cuticle and cortical layer of the hair.
A protein treatment might be necessary to restore, rebuild, and strengthen heat-damaged hair.
Diet: We are what we eat.
I cannot emphasize this enough and I have a feeling that you will be hearing it again.
Aim for diets that are rich in essential fatty acids, protein, water, in conjunction with adequate rest and exercise.
Hair is primarily composed of the protein keratin, so adequate amounts of dietary protein will promote hair growth and strengthening.
Consuming healthy oils will help to restore shine to dull, dry hair.
Mind & Body: Our emotional state is just as important as our physical state.
Stress can be detrimental to our bodies and can also take a toll on the hair, causing thinning hair and hair loss in some cases.
While most of us will experience stressful situations at some point in our lives, it's important that we remain in control and find ways to eliminate it is much as possible.
BE YOUR OWN KIND OF NATURAL: We all have our reasons for choosing to wear our hair in its natural state.
Whether it is through self-actualization, excessive damage, or simply experimenting, we need to embrace it, adore it, love it, and rock it.
It's okay to flirt with accessories, wear chic hairstyles, test and try new products, and share experiences while expanding your natural hair knowledge base.
Have fun with it, that's the only way to find internal and perpetual bliss with your fascinating curly locks.