*This article was originally published on August 18, 2011. It was re-posted as part of our ‘Best of 2011′ Series
One of the most challenging aspects of switching to natural hair is getting to know it. To know how it communicates that it’s happy or sad with how you’re treating it. Here are six key indicators of hair health that naturals unknowingly ignore or misinterpret.
It’s easy to know when hair is BONE dry and on the brink of snapping… but trouble starts way before that. Stretching hair too far can dry it out, so can sleeping with it uncovered and neglecting to moisturize protective styles. This dryness can lead to the gradual breakage. Make sure that your hair always feels supple with a bit of spring when you pull at the strand. And always seal in water-based products with a butter or oil.
It doesn’t have to look like a bird’s nest for your hair to be tangled. As twist outs and braid outs soak up humidity, they shrink and the strands become gnarled. Just be aware of this, and pay attention to whether breakage ensues when you re-style your hair. Stretched styles are a great way to combat tangling.