Whether we’re donning our natural kinks or staying fly with relaxers or braids, those of us with afro-textured hair know that a spontaneous sleepover can easily lead to the premature death of our tresses. Due to the fragile nature of our curls, just one random night of sleeping on straight-up cotton sheets, sans headwrap or protective style is a recipe for dryness. And, any black girl worth her coils knows that dryness is considered an enemy of the black state.
Our hair is undoubtedly an expression of our black experience, and much like that experience, black hair is still subject to discrimination and controversy. Any hesitance to spend the night due to hair maintenance is totally valid. But if your partner or prospective partner is a self-sufficient adult, you may have more options than you think once you get there. Because while afro-textured hair may be more demanding, there’s plenty in the kitchen to help us navigate through our coarse curls.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Perhaps you fancy yourself a wash-n-go type gal, and need to get your rinse on before you head out the door. While there are plenty of no-poos on the market featuring ACV, you may find out your partner uses a heavier shampoo with alcohol and other drying ingredients. Don’t fret, nature has gifted us apple cider vinegar to use at our leisure. Apple cider vinegar, or ACV as it’s affectionately known, is great for lifting dirt and product without stripping hair of its natural oils. Since our hair is densely packed with tight curls, the oil from the scalp doesn’t reach far beyond the root of the hair. Dilute the apple cider vinegar in filtered water, and rinse your scalp.
You can’t enjoy a hearty oil without the OG of moisture — water. Contrary to popular belief, water is actually where hair gets its moisture, and the oils we place on top are what seals in that moisture. Take advantage of all that free water flowing through the taps, and don’t worry, type 4C curls, you don’t have to dunk your head in water to get moisture. Use the steam from the shower to soften your curls before you snag that oil.
Afro-textured hair craves vegetable oils like white folks crave avocado, and skipping out on moisture is a huge afro-don’t. You probably already know that not all oil is created equal: Cooking oils are vegetable oils that often have a higher smoke point for cooking as opposed to raw and unrefined oils that are ideal for hair. The high smoke point does indeed zap some of the oil’s natural nutrients for specific hair needs like detangling, but you can still use them as a hair sealant. Olive, coconut, avocado, sunflower — the possibilities are endless.
If you can get your hands on some chamomile tea, you’ll have a gentle cleanser that will soothe and cleanse your scalp. Even when my afro isn’t traveling, I always include chamomile in my no-poo recipes. Why? The gentle cleansing properties of this flower are great for removing oil buildup without removing the natural oils from our hair. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory properties that are excellent for keeping up with healthy blood flow on your scalp.
If you’re lucky, you may stumble upon some chia seeds in your partner’s kitchen. Depending on your boundaries — or lack thereof — you can turn this healthy snack into a decadent hair gel with a little prep in the evening. Chia seeds are loaded with omegas, fiber, protein, and filled with zinc and copper — all great things for your hurr. Before you hit the sack, mix a cup of filtered water with four cups of chia seeds in a bowl. Let this mixture sit overnight, and then heat it up in a saucepan the next day. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, and then strain the chia seeds. You’ll end up with a clear gel texture that’s ideal for looser curls. Type 3C curls, I see you.
OK, chances are you won’t find a toothbrush in the kitchen unless it’s the one used to get the grime from around the faucet — leave that one alone. You may find a spare toothbrush that you can have (forever) in the bathroom to tame your edges. Because as we all know, even if your ’fro is wildly untamed, it can still be gorgeous, especially if your edges are on point. Don’t forget to seal them in with some of the oil in the kitchen tho.