What type of tools do you need for Natural hair maintenance?
Well, the list is very simple; your hands (of course), water, and moisturizer. Those are the basic tools that you need to maintain your natural hair. Some with naptural hair elect not to use a comb or brush, but for those who want to detangle without only using their hands, a wide tooth comb and brush need to also be a part of your list.
Of course, your hands are probably a given, but water is an important tool that is often forgotten about. Naptural hair loooves water. Water is a great detangler/moisturizer. In the summer, when I wear box braids I keep a spray bottle filled with water mixed with a little water soluble eo - (essential oil - I like lavender) in the refrigerator.
I lightly spritz my head after coming in from a day under the hot sun to give it some moisture. When it dries, the lavender leaves a nice clean smell. I also use the water mixture before and after I take down my braids to help with detangling. The water and eo mixture can also be used with extension styles as well.
Now during the cooler months, and depending on what hair style you are wearing (like a transition style that requires your permed ends to be straight or curled) it may not be wise to use simply water as a moisturizer. When it comes to a moisturizer you will have to experiment with a few to find out which one your hair likes best.
An important note on moisturizers : The moisturizer I am referring to is 'hair moisturizer' a moisturizer put on for your hair, to be gently massaged, rubbed or brushed through your hair and to ends - to give it a healthy-looking sheen and to prevent dry ends. Some people 'religiously' use moisturizers on their scalp - the old 'grease your scalp' mentality. In reality you do not have to 'grease your scalp'. Our scalp produces it's own moisturizer called sebum.
Some people who have dry scalp and/or dandruff believe that 'greasing' their scalp helps or prevents this, but it does not. Dry scalp and/or dandruff are actually a result of too much oil on your scalp. Dandruff can be managed by a mild anti-dandruff shampoo or if more severe you should seek the care of a dermatologist. For those with oily scalp tea tree oil with it's natural drying antiseptic qualities is a remedy. Check out this website for more details http://www.ishrs.org/articles/scalp-skin-conditions.htm.
Some people have a reaction to oil-based moisturizers. So for those who are prone to break-outs due to oil-based products, you should look for moisturizers that are water based - water should be the first ingredient. Also when looking for a moisturizer be conscious of products that contain 'cones' Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, silicone, etc.
These ingredients are usually found in conditioners and shampoos, but are also found in moisturizers. Again you must experiment with products to see what's best for your hair, but it's been my experience that moisturizers that contain 'cones' especially ones that you plan on using daily or even weekly, tend to leave natural hair sticky and gummy, and result in scalp build-up.
Seek out moisturizers that contain ingredients close to our scalp's own sebum like shea butter, sweet almond oil, jojoba and mango butter, and make sure they are high-up on the ingredient list. And for those who can not break the habit of 'greasing' your scalp you can massage your scalp with the balls of your fingers to distribute these natural moisturizers throughout your scalp.
Now to cut out the hassle of trying to decipher ingredients on the back of products, the simplest thing to do is to use natural products. Although you will also have to experiment with these, you will not have to worry about putting chemicals on your hair. Natural products can be a bit more expensive, but if you keep the products you use to a minimal, and keep in mind less is better to extend your products, in the end you may find that you will actually save money in comparison with the products you used before you were natural.
Check out this site http://www.fromnaturewithlove.com/ (and Naptural Links at the bottom of the blog) for natural ingredients/products.
Peace and blessings...