At first glance, this sounds like the most trivial of matters. But it is a legitimate concern because sickle cell sufferers the world over also want to join the hugely popular natural black hair movement. But before you embark on a hair journey as a sickler, consider the following:
Keeping your hair natural is a lot more strenuous than keeping it permed or artificially straightened. Unlike the case with processed or permed hair, where you can often go to a salon and have it professionally attended to, you may have to do a lot more of the work involved in caring for your natural hair. There will be days when you are too ill or too tired to care for your hair, and it may deteriorate into a shrunken mess.
You can prepare for the challenges of your natural hair journey by doing the following:
1. Establish an emergency network before you start. This is a network of anybody and everybody who is willing to jump in and help you when you are unable to carry out your care routine.
For example, locate a good salon near you which also deals with natural hair. This way, you can always rush there in an emergency, or treat yourself to professional hair care occasionally, and save energy. You can also identify friends and family members who would be willing to do a quick protective style when you are totally out of energy.
2. Whenever you are well enough, invest some advance care into your hair. Use the opportunity to do something really good to your hair such as an elaborate deep conditioning, or hair mask. This will lend your hair extra good condition, to compensate for the times when you are too ill to take good care of it. Such care can also help repair the hair after periods of neglect. You can use such periods when you are well also to mix or prepare natural hair care products and refridgerate them for later use.
3. Use natural oils and other natural ingredients for your hair care, so as to enhance the benefits you are striving to attain by going natural. Many women who go natural are doing so to break away from the harsh chemicals used to process and maintain permed or processed hair.
These chemicals are believed to have negative health consequences. Although not scientifically proven, it is plausible that these negative health effects could interact even more drastically with sickle cell anemia. Using natural oils such as coconut, olive, almond and jojoba oils, as well as shea butter, for such processes as deep cleansing, moisturising and hair masking can only enhance health benefits for your hair.
4. Learn a few simple protective styles, such as twisting. This way, you will be able to keep the hair protected for longer periods of time, till you have the energy to dress it again.
5. Invest in some stylish hair covering for days when you are too ill or too tired to style your hair but still need to look presentable. You can invest in: caps, hats, head ties, head scarves or wool caps. If you take your time to choose them well, you can find head coverings that accessorize very elegantly with your personal style.
Personally, I have an array of colourful head ties, which I love to wear – bad hair day or not.
6. Keep your goal in mind. Remind yourself why you are doing this: to reduce the amount of dangerous chemicals in your beauty routine, to enjoy your natural hair, to develop your sense of identity, to make a statement, or for whatever reason you want to grow your hair naturally.
Keeping your goal in mind will help you to keep going during the discouraging patches.
7. Don’t give up. It is very easy to give up on your natural hair journey because you will keep falling behind when you are ill. You will lose hair length if your hair gets entangled and breaks because you are too ill or too tired to follow your hair routine.