Black male hair care, is there even such a thing? Unless you're plugged in to metrosexual central with your Beats by Dre cans or iPod earphones, it's very unlikely that hair care is of any concern to you. It exists to be washed and, after a few weeks, cut off. That's about it!
Christine Rupiah runs a personalised natural skin and hair care blog. We got in touch to chat about hair care tips – some do's and dont's to guard brothers against self-inflicted, potentially life-long damage to their hair.
What are some of the mistakes you've seen people with natural hair make?
The natural hair industry in Africa is still growing and a lot of products on the market aren't conducive to healthy haircare. People tend to not read labels and thus use products that contain mineral oils, parabens, toxic dyes, fragrances and alcohol. Being a product junkie is also a mistake we frequently make. Pretty packaging can con you, just as using any product just because it worked for someone else can. Get to know your hair and what it responds well to and it will show.
Is there a difference in the type of hair products used by black men and women to take care of their natural hair?
There isn't really a difference except in price and availability. Men can and should use women's haircare products. The chemical compositions are the same, the packaging is different but they all serve the same purpose.
What products would you recommend for men who care for the up-keep of their natural hair?
I would suggest using natural and certified organic products as much as is possible. Natural oils and waxes like jojoba, amla and argan can penetrate the hair shaft making hair supple but strong. If you can't pronounce the ingredient – it's likely that it won't be good for your hair. Always read the label.
Are there any other general natural hair care tips men should pay attention to?
Good nutrition and being properly hydrated go a long way in terms of general wellbeing and that also translates to better and healthier growth. Not washing your hair daily but rather spritzing it with water is also quite good for natural hair growth. Be gentle when combing or brushing especially the crown of your head. If you notice excessive hair fall or it's a painful chore – STOP. Use a soft-bristled brush and make sure you use a wide-toothed comb. Gently and slowly does it.
Stay away from trends. If you colour it often; go two shades up or down your colour spectrum and if you must bleach it; please get treatments or you're in for dry straw-like hair and stunted growth. Dyeing your hair makes the strands weaker, it will break if it is not properly moisturised. Be gentle with your hairline. Make sure you wash off any facial products thoroughly to ensure they don't cause damage to your temple and nape hairs.