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For a long time, African women tried to conform to the European standards of beauty by bleaching their skins and straightening their naturally kinky hair, among other things. However, the recent years have seen black women and men revive the trend of proudly wearing their afro-textured hair in its natural coiled, coarse or curly state. Western society has even adopted terms such as wooly, kinky, nappy or spiralled to describe natural afro-textured hair.

Although keeping your hair natural makes it healthier, longer and even more beautiful, most people don’t because of the high cost of maintenance. Coupled with the fact that most of the products needed are imported, many do not consider growing their natural hair. Well, I’m here to let you known that all that could change. How?

Here are 10 cheap and unlikely natural hair ingredients you’d never have guessed.

Henna:
You’re probably thinking, ‘Henna? No way. Isn’t that the stuff used for body art?’

I know, I was equally surprised when I found out. Popularly used as a form of temporary body adornment, henna is a reddish brown dye used for coloring the skin and hair, as well as fabrics. Using henna regularly on your hair cures dandruff and prevents it from coming back, as well as scalp itching and dryness. It improves hair growth, can be used as a conditioner and is an essential remedy for hair breakage when mixed with mustard oil. If you suffer from dry hair and split ends, henna is exactly what you need to properly nourish your hair.

For even more wonderful results, you can use henna together with amla powder, coconut milk, aloe vera, beetroot, eggs, curd or castor oil.

Vinegar:
Yes, this kitchen staple is also used for natural hair care. Aside being used as a cleaning agent, cooking ingredient and food preservative, vinegar can be used as a substitute for shampoo because it helps balance hair and scalp pH. The human scalp, which has a natural pH level of about 5, is slightly acidic. Your hair’s acidity level plays an important role in keeping the cuticle layer of your hair flat and closed. This makes your hair shiny, smooth and soft with left frizz. It also helps your hair retain moisture, prevents dryness, tangling and breakage.

Onions:
Red Onion
This vegetable is used for a lot more besides adding flavor to food. It has antibacterial properties which help fight scalp infections that contribute to hair loss. Onion juice provides extra sulphur to support strong and thick hair, promoting hair growth. Also, the sulphur from onions help in collagen production, which in turn aids in the production of healthy skin cells and hair growth. Naturally potent antioxidants, they help reverse the effects of premature greying. Onion juice may be used with honey, curry leaves, yogurt and olive oil for stronger and healthier hair.

Aloe vera:
Asides being used for skin care and as a laxative, aloe vera contains proteolytic enzymes which repair dead skin cells when applied to the scalp. When mixed with lemon juice, it acts as a great conditioner, leaving your hair shiny and smooth. It also prevents itching on the scalp and reduces dandruff.

Seaweed:
Commonly eaten in Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea, this popular sushi ingredient helps to promote scalp hydration, which improves the condition of dry hair. Seeweed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc,iron, vitamins A, B, C and E, all of which play vital roles in hair production. It can also be used as a face and hair mask. Come to think of it, no wonder Asian women have such beautiful hair.

Green tea:
Loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, green tea is one of the healthiest beverages. As a result, drinking or directly applying onto your scalp will stimulate the growth of healthy hair. Green tea contains 5 alpha-reductase which reduces the amount of dihydrotestosterone or DHT, which causes hair loss in both men and women, that gets produced. A tea rinse is great for getting rid of that dry or itchy scalp. Green tea also contains essential vitamins like vitamin B which help in controlling hair fall and getting rid of split ends.

Ginger:
Ginger contains magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and other vitamins that provide your hair follicles with nourishment. It also contains potent antimicrobial properties that help control dandruff. Ginger acts as a natural conditioner and restores moisture to hair. Gingerol, the active ingredient in ginger improves the circulation of blood which ensures faster hair growth. It also contains fatty acids such as linoleic acid which nourish hair. Ginger, in its paste, powder or root form, may be used with carrier oils ( coconut, jojoba or olive oil), lemon juice, cucumber, onion, moringa and garlic.

Banana:
Eating Banana
One of the most widely consumed fruits in the world, bananas are rich in potassium and fibre. Great for your hair and scalp, they prevent and control dandruff, split ends and breakage. They’re full of biotin, a B vitamin that promotes hair growth and overall scalp health. A natural shampoo and conditioner, a banana hair mask fortifies hair roots, moisturizes the scalp and deeply nourishes the hair follicles. They also contain folic acids that improve your hair’s luster.

Okra:
Popularly known as ladyfingers in many English-speaking countries, Okra is rich in vitamins A, C, and K and has calcium, potassium, and lots of other nutrients that are great for hair growth, moisturizing a dry scalp, and getting rid of dandruff. Used as a leave in conditioner, okra makes your hair soft and easy to comb. Surprisingly, this okra leave in conditioner doesn’t smell and makes for a great curl detangler. Regular use makes hair healthy while also creating a great curl definition. In the absence of a gel, you can use it to lay down your edges. Since it is all natural and chemical free, you have no need to worry about build up or flaking.

Rice water:
Rice water is the starchy water left over after rice is cooked or left to soak. It is thought to make the hair smooth and shiny, as well as help it grow faster. Rice water may increase the shine of hair, make it stronger, and detangle it. In fact, women in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia have used rice water as a hair treatment for centuries, and some credit the length and color of their hair to the fact they bathe it in rice water. Rice water for hair is comparable in action to an expensive conditioner. It helps to strengthen the curls and give them a healthy appearance. It also restores the cellular balance and hair elasticity, preventing split ends and breakage.

So you see, attaining that hair goal is now possible even without the need for an expensive budget. All the items listed so far are 100% natural, cost little to nothing and are easy to make by yourself. Be sure to try them out and don’t forget to have fun while you do.

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