The “kitchen”, a relatively simple name for an area of the head that causes some African-American women maaa-jor distress. For those who don’t know, the “kitchen” refers to the nape, the area at the back of your head just above your neck. It’s an area that has no effect at all on one woman while the woman sitting next to her is waging all out war against it, going to extreme lengths to hide it, press it, relax it and do just about anything to get rid of what it looks like in its natural state. The nape area is often characterized by hard, coarse kinks that are at odds with the rest of the hair. If some women are not bothered by the texture of the hair, they’re bothered by the fact that the hair is often so much shorter than the rest of their hair. In many cases, the nape area of the hair has been inadvertently neglected and so is really just in poor condition. Learning how to baby the area can help grow it out while making it healthy, thick and lush.
It’s so easy to neglect the nape area because you can’t even see it, but you have to make sure that you give it the same level of conditioning as the rest of your hair gets, if not more so. The nape area rubs against jackets, clothes and scarves, and is easily stripped of protective oils, causing breakage and dryness. It’s vital that the area gets regular deep, conditioning treatments with moisturizing conditioners. Apply a deep conditioner daily.
Follow up your conditioner with a moisturizer, which should be followed by the application of a thick oil that will act as a sealant. The moisture will help keep the strands soft and supple, allowing them to grow almost effortlessly.
Use Protective Styling
Protective styling in general is used to tuck away the ends of your hair so that they’re protected, absorb moisture and retain length. Protective styling will keep your nape area safe from harsh elements in the environment, allowing it to remain safe and flourish. Buns, French braids and individual braids are perfect examples of protective styling techniques you can use. If you’re wearing extensions, don’t leave the nape area out like many women do to be able to wear the hair pulled up. Instead, braid the nape area as well so that it has a chance to rest and grow. Remember to keep it moisturized.
Make sure to ALWAYS wear a silk scarf or bonnet to bed, and make sure that they nape is covered. If you’re wearing coats with cotton or wool linings, wear a silk or satin scarf around your neck as well to protect the nape from rubbing against the rough fabric.
Your first reaction may be to alter the look of the nape area with heat or chemicals in order to straighten it out while camouflaging its short length. These “solutions” often make the nape area worse. The area is already extremely fragile. Strong relaxers or the intense heat of straightening irons will eventually weaken the hair, causing severe damage and breakage. That’s when you see people walking around with dried, broken stalks of straight, damaged hair sticking out of the back of your head.
It’d be best if you cut out relaxing the nape area altogether, but if you must relax it, try doing a sort of tex-lax in that section instead. With a tex-lax, you’re cutting down the strength of the relaxer by adding a deep conditioner to it and leaving it in the hair for mere minutes. The hair won’t get as straight, but you’ll be able to manipulate it a lot easier. Apply the relaxer to this part of the hair last. Double up on the moisturizing and conditioning to keep it healthy.
If you’re using heated straightening appliances daily, stop it! They wreak havoc on the hair in general, and cause the kitchen area to turn into a disaster zone. Use a straightening iron only occasionally, and use a cooler setting.