In 2005, I decided to cut off all my relaxed hair and go completely natural. I didn’t have the patience to grow out my natural texture, so I immediately did a big chop. I went from shoulder-length, relaxed hair to two inches of natural hair in a matter of a couple of hours.
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I actually had no idea what my hair would look like without a relaxer, but I knew I was tired of my dull, lifeless hair. I was unwilling to get a relaxer every 4-6 weeks; to burn my scalp and spend the next few weeks trying to cover up the burn scars. I was ready to explore what was naturally given to me and all that came with my new hair journey.
On the day of my big chop, the hairstylist took such good care of my new hair, but now it was my turn to figure out how to maintain my new healthy, natural hair. I was living in Philadelphia at the time, so there were tons of Black hair stores for me to grab some new products. I naively thought I would go in, head to the natural hair sections, and grab what I needed. Who was I kidding? It was 2005, and the only products I saw on the shelves were Carol’s Daughter. I bought what I could and began experimenting to see what worked and what didn’t work on my hair.
Those initial products served me well, but as I learned more about natural hair, I knew I needed more from my products. I had spent all my life relying on other peoples’ products to take care of my hair. I wasn’t getting the results (growth, moisture, minimal frizz) that I was looking for, so I began to make my own products with ingredients in my kitchen. I heard from a hairstylist once that “if you can’t eat it, it doesn’t belong on your skin and hair.” I wanted to take care of my hair in the most natural way possible, so I took her statement to heart and began creating simple recipes to support my hair journey.
Experimenting with creating my own products allowed me to really get to know my hair. I learned what I needed and how to take care of my natural hair on my own terms. Each week I would spend time creating products to see how they would work on my hair. One week, I would try something for moisture; another week, I would create a styling product; and then another week, I would create something for growth. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but it was important to spend time with my hair. I spent so much time in my younger years manipulating my hair to be something that it wasn’t. When I began to wear my natural hair out and proud, I didn’t want to miss out on experiencing my hair in all of its shapes and forms. Creating DIY haircare products was and is an act of love for me. If you’re like me and feel like you’ve tried every product out there and still aren’t reaching your hair goals, it might be time to try your hand at these DIY natural hair recipes:
Deep Conditioning Banana Hair Mask
Bananas are so helpful for your hair. Whether you are looking to add moisture into your strands or trying to grow your hair past your shoulders, bananas have you covered. This is the banana hair mask that I use, but feel free to mix it up to suit your needs.
What you need:
- 1 Banana
- Optional add ons—pick 1 or 2: egg, honey, coconut oil, avocado
- Fork or hand mixer to mix
- Take a ripe or even over-ripe banana and put it into a bowl.
- Mash banana completely so there are no chunks left.
- Add enough water so that the mixture is easy to apply to hair. You will want a loose paste consistency.
- If you are adding in any of the bonus add-ins, put them in the bowl and incorporate them.
- Apply the mixture on dry or slightly damp hair and coat the hair completely
- Put on a shower cap to cover hair and protect your clothes
- Pro tip: add a heated bonnet or wrap your hair in a warm towel
- Let the hair mask sit on your hair for 15-20 mins.
- Rinse thoroughly before you begin your wash day routine
I’m obsessed with how much moisture and shine bananas give my hair. Not only does the moisture last for the week, but this DIY treatment costs me less than $1!
Bentonite Clay Wash
OK, so you might not have bentonite clay in your kitchen, but this natural shampoo swap was a game-changer for my wash routine. I found most shampoos still left a film or residue on my hair. I have low-porosity hair and need my strands to feel really clean, and bentonite clay was the only product that truly cleaned my hair and scalp.
What You Need:
- ¼ cup of bentonite clay
- ½ cup of water
- Applicator bottle
- Apple Cider Vinegar (optional)
- Combine clay and water together in the applicator bottle
- Shake to combine completely
- Apply to your hair as you would a traditional shampoo
- Softly massage your scalp to remove any product residue
- Rinse and moisturize with your conditioner of choice
Bentonite clay can be a bit drying, so make sure you follow up with a deep conditioner to help balance out your strands. After a clay wash, I know my hair is beautifully clean. If you’ve noticed that your shampoo isn’t really cleaning your hair all the way, you may want to try and swap your shampoo for a simple clay wash. Having a styling gel that actually works for me opened up so many new styling options. Today there are tons of flaxseed gel options on the market, but you will often find tons of ingredients that your hair probably doesn’t need. This three-ingredient gel is as natural as it gets.
Flaxseed Styling Gel
I have such a hard time with gels and styling creams. I find that they either make my hair hard as a rock or super frizzy, and neither of those results is a good look on me. Making flaxseed gel has become a staple routine in my house. Flaxseed gel is the perfect combo of control and softness that keeps my wash ‘n go style looking good for the whole week. Below is my recipe and if you would like a bit more help making your DIY flaxseed gel use this link.
What you need:
- ¼ cup of flaxseed
- 2-3 cups of water
- Small saucepan
- Bowl or glass measuring cup
- Optional: Rosemary essential oil (5-10 drops)
- Add water and flaxseed into a pot
- Turn on the stove to medium-low heat
- Bring mixture to a simmer and continue to stir
- Simmer until the mixture becomes similar to a gel consistency
- Take off of the stove and let it cool
- Drape stocking over bowl or glass measuring cup
- Pour flaxseed gel into the stocking
- Release stocking from the bowl
- Squeeze the liquid out of the stocking until only the flaxseeds are left inside of the stocking
- Discard flaxseeds
- If doing so, add the rosemary essential oil and stir to combine
- Pour in a mason jar or any jar with a lid
- Store in fridge
Since my big chop 15 years ago, the Black natural hair market has exploded. You can find complete aisles dedicated to natural hair. I have tried most brands on the shelves today, yet I still come back to my DIY haircare swaps. We as Black people have fought for the right to wear our hair as we wanted. So whether you buy commercial products or decide to use some of these DIY swaps, your hair is beautiful in any length, texture, or style. To my natural hair community: all hair is good hair. Wear it out, wear it proud.