Too often converts to natural hair care get overenthusiastic and want to try everything on their hair at once – Indian herbs, oiling, moisture treatments and protein masques. At worst this leads to disasters such as over-moisturised hair: at beast, it slows down the process of finding out which products and techniques actually work.
Adopting a Scientific Approach to Natural Hair Care
A key element of any scientific trial is keeping as many variables constant as possible, so the effects of a particular factor can be observed with minimal interference. This principle is important in natural haircare. Trying out a dozen different products at once will make it almost impossible to tell which products are having what effect – more seriously, it may be harder to pinpoint any allergic reactions that may occur.
One of the frustrations of natural haircare is that no one herb or product works equally well for everyone. This means it is important to try the ingredients of a herbal mix separately before using them together. For example, a blonde might avoid using her brunette friend’s favourite herbal hair wash of shikakai, amla and fenugreek because she found it darkened her hair. Had she tried the ingredients separately, she would have noticed only the amla had a darkening effect – leaving her free to enjoy the cleansing and conditioning effects of the shikakai and fenugreek. Still another friend might find the combination over-moisturising, but useful with the fenugreek omitted.
How to Record Natural Hair Care Experiments in a Journal
Keeping a journal, chart or even a private blog can help to observe and record the effects of various techniques and products on your hair. The observations need not be limited to products used – many people find their hair requires less frequent washing when worn in updos, or that it grows faster with daily scalp massage. A hair diary is an opportunity to record all manner of factors that you suspect might affect your hair’s behavior and/or growth – stress, vitamin supplements, type of washing and so on. In calendar form, it can also be a useful tool for reminding you when your hair next needs trimming or measuring.
The style of charting can be as complex as a spreadsheet or as informal as notes in a journal– the important thing is to provide accurate information. A typical week’s entry might go something like this:
- Monday: Washed hair with shikakai (25 gm soaked in 120ml water for 15 minutes, left on head for 20 minutes). Rinsed with 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar in 1L water. Hair feels soft but still crunchy on the ends.
- Tuesday: Lightly oiled ends with jojoba.
- Wednesday: Ends still feel crunchy. Deep oiled length with jojoba for wash tomorrow; braided for bed.
- Thursday: Washed hair with shikakai and rinsed with apple cider vinegar again. Hair feels slightly rough but is still wet.
- Friday: Brushed out hair once it dried – feels much softer, including the ends. Will pre-oil length with jojoba before using shikakai in the future.
A simpler method is to simply make notes on a regular calendar using abbreviations such as CO (conditioner-only wash), PO (pre-oiling) and ACV (apple cider vinegar rinse). This method provides less information but makes the frequency of various techniques visible at a glance.
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