The Scientific Method for Natural Hair
The internet is full of information.. many times conflicting. Some swear by mineral oil, while others abhor it. Some believe that sulfate shampoos are too drying so they use sulfate-free shampoos, while others think that sulfate shampoos work just fine. And then there are those that believe sulfate AND sulfate-free shampoos are drying, so they only co-wash (conditioner wash). Confused yet? With so many hypotheses available (both supported and unsupported by research findings), it is important to have a method to determine which methods will work best on your hair.
First, let me place a disclaimer. I am NOT a scientist. In fact, I didn’t even take Chemistry in college. ( I only took Biology and Human Heredity.) But when I think of how one should approach the natural hair journey, the Scientific Method immediately comes to mind. You don’t have to follow the method step-by-step; you can use it as a guiding principle. The key is to approach your hair journey with a more formulated trial and error process.
Formulate A Question
First, you have to come up with a question. It can be specific or pretty open. Do I need to deep condition overnight or will 20-30 minutes suffice? Will baggying my ends keep them moisturized? Will co-washing properly cleanse my hair? Once you have a question in mind, make some observations online. Check out videos and blog posts that address your question. Upon review of this information, determine if you need to refine it further. For example, when you research co-washing you can ask whether certain conditioners do a better job of cleansing the hair.
Hypothesize how the technique or product in question may work on your hair.
Make a Prediction
Based upon your observations and your knowledge of your hair, make a prediction of the results. For example, prior to testing co-washing, I predicted that it would not be enough to properly cleanse my hair since my scalp gets easily irritated.
Test with caution. If your prediction indicates that your hair and/or scalp may be damaged, then STOP. Experiment over. If there may be favorable results, then try it. I tried solely c0-washing for a few weeks with various conditioners. My scalp started to itch and there was clearly still build up on my scalp.
Analyze the Results
Take the time to analyze the results. Did you like the results? Would you like to incorporate it in your regimen or abandon it? Would you incorporate it with some tweaking? With co-washing, I decided to tweak my co-washing method. I decided to co-wash in between washes and to include an ACV rinse to my scalp.
So… you finally have an application for the scientific method! (That is, unless you went into the sciences.) Apply it on your natural hair journey as you try new products and techniques. It should help direct you on your journey.