By the end of 2021, I wasn’t pleased with my hair. It was thin, stringy, and looked very uneven, especially near the front. This was not what I expected my hair to look like 10 years into my natural hair journey. I needed to find a way to increase my hair’s volume and improve length retention. I’d already discovered some of the benefits of herbal hair care for natural hair. Now it was time to find out if I could grow healthy 4c hair using ayurveda and I discovered that I could do it in 4 easy steps.
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Starting My Ayurvedic Journey
Fall is a special season. It’s the time of year when I start counting down eight months of Canadian winter. It also marks the anniversary of when I started my healthy hair journey. Last fall, however, things felt different. I met my anniversary with frustration over how my hair journey was progressing.
When washing my hair, I noticed that I would lose perfect little 4c coils of hair. I marvelled at the beauty of my 4c hair clumping. On the other hand, I was all too aware that the hair fall was happening much too frequently. Each coil of hair contained anywhere between 8 to 15 strands of hair. I couldn’t find any roots attached which would suggest shedding. My hair was breaking and I didn’t know why. I needed my hair to stop breaking and I wanted to improve my hair health and length retention.
At this time, my use of herbs was limited to hair rinses and infused oils. I was ready to try something more potent, if my hair would tolerate it. Ayurvedic masks seemed like the best option. I observed ayurvedic journeys of fellow naturals like Pamela Morakinyo (@pamelayoungmorakiny) and Unyime Oba (@delpa_is_bae) and witness how consistency resulted in retention. I could only hope that this could work for me, too.
My Methodology to Grow 4c Hair Using Ayurveda
In order to determine whether ayurvedic masks worked for me and could grow my 4c hair, I had to approach this experiment methodically. First, I would keep track of which herbs I used, quantities, and frequency particularly in my crown. Next, I had to determine the overall duration for which I wanted to conduct the experiment.
I decided to concentrate on using herbs that with known benefits for reducing shedding and promoting growth. I would use these herbs weekly for 52 weeks – one year – at which point I would evaluate their effectiveness in improving my hair’s volume and length.
I like to keep my hair care routine simple and so adding ayurvedic herbs to kaolin clay masks seemed ingenious! In this way, each week I could eliminate the need for weekly shampooing and conditioning. I would capitalize on the cleansing properties of the clay while taking advantage of the conditioning power of the herbs. Triphala became an immediate favourite herb. It made my hair feel soft and I added it to all of my hair masks. Ashwaganda became another favourite and it aids in reducing shedding. Other herbs that I used regularly included spirulina, kelp powder, bhringraj, brahmi, rose petal, cassia, and fenugreek, among others.
On the weeks where I couldn’t make a hair mask, I would infuse yucca root with other herbs to make a hair wash. This allowed me to remain consistent with herbal use while not skipping any weekly washes. Of the 52 weeks, I used 7 herbal hair washes.
Grow 4c Hair Using Ayurveda in 4 Easy Steps
1. Develop a plan of action
- Determine which hair deficiencies you want to repair: Is your hair or scalp suffering from build up? Lack of moisture? Weakness? Stagnated growth or excess shedding? Loss of colour/greying? Dry scalp or excess moisture?
- Determine which herbs would help to correct those deficiencies: Will you use aloe vera? Healing clay? Hibiscus? Etc?
2. Keep a record of your progress
- How much of each herb will you use?: This is a perfect time to develop and tweak your recipes to suit your hair and scalp’s needs. Do you need more moisturizing herbs or astringent herbs? Will your recipe benefit from more conditioning herbs to balance the strengthening herbs?
- What type of ayurvedic treatment will you use?: Do you prefer to use masks, glosses, teas, or infused oils? Perhaps you will use commercial ayurvedic products such as shampoos, conditioners, or moisturizers.
3. Determine the frequency of your herbal treatments/products
- How often will you use the herbal treatment or herbal product?: Determining the frequency of use will allow you to be consistent in your routine. Will you use your ayurvedic products once a week? Once every two weeks? Once a month?
4. Set a measurable time frame
- How long will you use your ayurvedic routine? Set a realistic time frame for how long you intend on sticking with your ayurvedic hair care routine? Will you use your new routine for one month? Three months? Six months?
By February of the following year, I my hair was starting to thicken and my ends looked less fragile. It started to look and behave like it did when I was pregnant.
To determine if my hair was retaining length, I would try to create this style with my hair. I often wore this as my go-to style when I was in the middle of my hair journey. I loved it because it’s a simple up-do that requires no elastic bands or hairpins. Last fall, the sides of my hair were too short to allow this style to hold on its own. This fall, I have no problem with tucking in my side twists to create this style.
Time to Big Chop?
Protective styling alone wasn’t cutting it when it came to length retention (pun intended). When I decided to face my hair troubles head on I realized I had a choice: I could either cut my hair and start again or work on developing a solid routine while growing my 4c hair out.
My Reasons for Not Cutting My Hair
Even though I keep up with regular dustings, I believe that cutting my hair would simply be for aesthetics and that it wouldn’t aid in my length retention.
First, I don’t use heat or wear my hair straight, so the idea of potentially risking heat damage to my length to remove damage from my ends doesn’t appeal to me.
Second, I’m not convinced that a coily cut would benefit my hair. In observing my hair after it has been washed, my coilage (shrinkage) isn’t consistent. Some sections of my hair has more elasticity than others. I feel like I’d run the risk of having uneven hair because it doesn’t hang uniformly. While I wouldn’t notice the unevenness while my hair was loose, I might notice when I had to
I do, however, dust/trim my ends regularly and so I am careful to remove any noticeable damage to my ends. While this doesn’t ensure that my hemline is even, it removes any knots and split ends that may occur.
Since I wear my hair in two strand twists and hide my ends in a bun, no one ever truly sees what my hair looks like. Cutting my hair to shape it would only provide my hair a Band-Aid solution. I needed to get to the root cause of my hair breakage and stop it; otherwise, I would encounter the same problems after cutting my hair.
Can You Grow 4c Hair Using Ayurveda?
When I started my ayurvedic hair care journey a year ago, I wanted to know if ayurveda could grow my 4c hair?
While, I cannot prove that ayurveda grew my hair, I can say anecdotally that after consistent use my hair looks a lot healthier. Overall, my hair looks a lot thicker, darker, and sheen-ier. My length retention including my crown, which was the area where I was experiencing the most breakage, is now retaining a lot better.
Overall, I think that ayurvedic herbal hair care can be a great addition to a 4c hair routine, especially if you are looking to reduce shedding and breakage.
Have you tried ayurvedic herbal masks on your hair? What benefits did you notice?