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Natural hair tips for beginners

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By Ariel Worthy

Times staff writer

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Nothing is more liberating than wearing your hair the way it naturally grows out of your scalp. However, a lot of women come to it years after wearing hair that may be damaged or rocking styles that have a different set of rules. While there are a lot of blogs and hair advice out there, it can be hard to know what is best for your hair, and it requires a lot of trial and error. Here are a few common mistakes that new naturals make.

  • ν Looking at the length. It can be hard not to do it, especially if you have gone through the big chop, but if you spend your days worrying about how long your hair is getting and using any means necessary to stretch it out (using blow dryers and flat irons), not only are you potentially damaging your hair, but you’re are stressing about your hair when you could be enjoying it. There are a number of styles for each length and each length has its positives—don’t miss them because you can’t appreciate where you hair is right now.
  • ν Using the wrong tools. It might come as a shock that the brush that said it is good for natural hair might not be good for your hair. That paddle brush may feel good on your scalp, but there’s a good chance it’s shredding your ends if you’re using it to detangle. Look for tools that are good for your hair texture, and not someone else’s. The same goes for products. Just because a protein-rich moisturizer is good for your friend’s curls, that does not mean yours won’t end up feeling like straw. You don’t have to be a product junkie to discover what works for you, but it is worth it to try different products over time.
  • ν Not trimming it enough. If you don’t straighten your hair often, it is easy to go months, even years, without getting a proper                                                                                       trim. But the daily demands of manipulating your hair, from detangling to twisting, can cause damage to your ends. Left alone, the damage can split up the shaft and make things look raggedy up top. How often your hair needs to be trimmed depends on your hair and how you handle it, but every six months is a good rule of thumb. Also, it is encouraged that you go to a professional to have your ends trimmed. You don’t want to snip away and cut too much.
  • ν Overdoing the heat. The versatility of natural hair is one of the best things about it, but applying daily heat is a guaranteed recipe for damage. In fact, many women who use flat irons frequently find that over time, their hair doesn’t curl up quite the way it used to.
  • ν Not moisturizing enough. Natural hair has a tendency to be dry. So it’s vital to impart moisture and seal it in. From your wash-out conditioner to your leave-in to your daily moisturizer to your oil, liberal use of hydrating products (and water itself) will keep your hair elastic and healthy.
  • ν Not detangling. Skipping detangling is a recipe for, well, tangled hair. Every time you shampoo, you should apply a slippery conditioner and work a wide-tooth comb (or your fingers, depending on your texture) through your strands. You’ll find that you shed less and your hair is easier to manage throughout the week.