Growing natural hair takes effort

Natural hair can be a serious commitment for males. However, more men are deciding to trade their hairbrushes for hair picks.

Black males who decide to go natural should know what to do to keep their hair healthy, and how to avoid things that may damage their hair.

“People don’t realize how important their diet is to the health of their hair,” said Keisha Jackson, an associate at Foundation Creations Inc., located at 1617 S. Adams St., which specializes in health and beauty products for African Americans.

“Males trying to grow their hair should cut back on flax seeds and fatty acids.”

A licensed stylist for six years, Lisa Swanson, owner of Nubian Knots, a salon in Tampa that specializes in natural hairstyles, said she noticed that many males wash their hair, but don’t condition it.

“Males can buy shampoos that also condition their hair,” Swanson said. “There are a lot of products that have a shampoo and conditioner in one product.”

According to Swanson, males should use hair oil but not hair grease. Hair grease can clog pores and prevent growth. Swanson also recommends the use of aloe.

“Aloe is good for males trying to grow their hair, but they must remember to strain it out,” Swanson said. “They should not leave any traces of the aloe in their hair for a long period of time.”

Rashad Rushing, 21, a senior political science student from Lithonia, Ga., uses aloe when washing his dreadlocks.

“I get my hair washed once a month,” said Rushing. “I use herbal shampoo when washing my hair, but I stay away from products like beeswax. It causes your dreads to fall out.”

Another product that can be detrimental for males trying to grow their hair is petroleum. Petroleum has the potential to cause breakage of the hair, but it’s in nearly every hair product geared toward African Americans, said Jackson.

Both Jackson and Swanson admit that it does take effort to keep natural hair healthy, But Swanson, who has dreadlocks, believes that males who decide to grow their hair will not regret it.

“It has become a new form of expression for many males,” Swanson said. “But if you’re not going to keep your hair healthy and maintained, there is no need in even starting.”