The unconditional faith we place in the hands of our barbers exemplifies the secret love that we have for our hair, even if we aren't always willing to admit it. Our hair is so important to us that a fresh cut can completely transform the way we view ourselves. Talking about it from a purely aesthetic point of view is widely accepted, but I've found that discussing the health of our hair is much more taboo. So, let's talk.
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As a kid, I knew nothing about my hair except that it was dark brown. To give you an example of how little I knew, I would condition first and then follow it up with shampoo because 'c' comes before 's' in the alphabet (don't laugh at me, I didn't know any better, man). Eventually I found out I had been doing it wrong all my life, so to make things simple, I started using Old Spice 3-in-1 shampoo/conditioner/body wash about twice each day. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, my hair was so thin and weak that it would constantly fall out all over my desk every time I moved my head. The thought of one day being bald petrified me, but I knew I was headed down that road if something didn't change. The only problem was that I had no idea what to change because I was convinced that my struggle was purely biological.
When I explained the situation to my girlfriend, she asked me about my hair care regimen. I wasn't sure how to respond. I didn't understand what that had to do with my dilemma. It wasn't until I started using some of the products she recommended that I realized how much I had been neglecting my hair. For the past few years now I've been practicing healthy hair habits and it has changed my life.
Taking care of your hair as a black man requires that you let go of your false sense of hypermasculinity, which is a journey within itself. For example, at first I ordered all my products online because I was too embarrassed to be seen buying things with pink labels (#MasculinitySoFragile). Although it might take some time, I promise your life will be much easier once you abandon that kind of mentality altogether.
Without further ado, here are some tips to keep your hair healthy:
1. Wash less
There's no need to wash your hair every day. It dries the hair out, making it more susceptible to breakage.
2. Avoid harsh chemicals
Sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates and more can really damage our hair. Stay away at all costs.
The LOC method (leave-in conditioner, oil, cream) is a quick and effective way to keep your hair moisturized.
4. Protect your hair at night
Whether you have a fade or an afro, it's important to protect your hair at night because cotton pillowcases strip your hair of its moisture. Durags work for shorter hair, but not so much for long hair. Don't be ashamed to wear a bonnet (check out #BonnetBoyz on Twitter for inspiration). You could also buy a satin pillowcase.
5. Listen to your hair
Try new products, but don't hold onto something if it doesn't work. Everything doesn't work for everyone.
6. Be confident
Taking care of yourself doesn't make you any less of a man.
Disclaimer: The aforementioned tips are enough to get you thinking about the health of your hair, but as you become more conscientious, you'll find that there are thousands and thousands of articles written online by black women that will guide you through your journey.
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