Afro textured hair and the wonders of water

There is one substance that is decidedly under-rated when it comes to maintaining afro textured hair.

Within online communities and Facebook groups and wherever the rapidly increasingly global populations of veteran or rookie naturals reside; natural ingredients like coconut oil (one of my favourites) Shea butter, jojoba oil, tea tree oil and almond oil are regularly mentioned as favourite products.

Whether as pre-poo conditioners, leave-in conditioners or to seal moisture in the hair cuticles, some type of oil is usually recommended as the best thing to improve the texture of afro hair.

And if it’s not an oil it’s usually some expensive branded curling custard that costs near enough the same as a one-way train ticket from London to Manchester!

But the best that Mother Nature has to offer afro textured hair does not come with a price tag – and it trumps any oil in terms of transforming the texture of afro hair and promoting growth.

I’m talking about water, of course. Most black women were inculcated with the myth that water is public enemy number one and should be avoided at all costs.

We were told that it dries our hair out and we all experienced the process of shrinkage, where when wet, afro textured hair shrinks as it dries, and often ends up looking up to 50 per cent of its actual length.

But the truth is, afro textured hair loves water and as Audrey Davis- Sivasothy explains in her book The Science of Black Hair: “The proteins that make up our hair are attracted to water, and water is incorporated extensively into our hair’s natural bonding structure.”

Back in May when I first went natural my hair was extremely dry and damaged from using a permanent hair colour and from the over-use of ceramic straightening tongs (I was an uninformed newbie natural).

So after doing my homework and developing a hair care regimen that incorporates organic, silicone and paraben-free products; I also adopted the daily routine of spraying my hair twice daily with a homemade water mixture comprising: ¾ spray bottle of water (use distilled if you live in a hard water area), ¼ vegetable glycerine, 2 tablespoons aloe vera juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

The results have been amazing. Once dry and with a noticeable dullness to the colour, my hair is now black and shiny, is becoming thicker and it is growing. But I have also noticed that it has also gained an elasticity that it did not have before, and this is an important development.

“The elasticity of the hair is extremely significant,” says Davis Sivasothy. “Without it, our hair would snap off left and right, even with very little tension placed upon it.”

Moisturising the hair several times a week is highly recommended, with the optimum time being just before bedtime. After applying the moisture mix the hair should be covered with a satin scarf or bonnet to retain the moisture.

So if you want to repair damaged hair, improve the texture or promote growth; put water at the top of your list.


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