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4 Natural Hair Maintenance Hacks for Black Folk With ADHD

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I’m Black, and typically what comes with being Black is a kinky curlier hair texture that, while versatile and gorgeous, can be a bit much to take care of at times when you live with different health conditions. 

When I first went natural, natural hair became a definite hyperfixation for me. I spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours dedicated to learning about my neglected hair texture that I didn’t even know I had. I big chopped and was obsessed with length checks, trying new styles the minute I could, and keeping a strict routine with my tresses. 

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Then I got busier and I worked jobs where I had to be careful what styles I got because I had to fit it under a hat or other head pieces, and the hyperfixation ended. My hair became a chore, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) plus chores equals a not-fun time.

Where I used to have weekly wash days, I started having biweekly ones. Then from there it changed to monthly, and I’m ashamed to say that at times I ended up washing my hair every two months. I’m trying to get better, but with ADHD it’s hard to stay on top of everything.

The plus side is that over the years, I’ve figured out some hacks for maintaining my hair in the meantime between washdays that ultimately help when the time comes. Now, this is for my hair, and everyone’s hair has different needs. This is what works for me, but take it all with a grain of salt.

1. Big chunky braids in a ponytail holder. Immediately.

I did not get the braiding gene, so don’t expect any good braiding tips here. We’re talking about big, messy “maybe I should put these under a bonnet” braids. The Celie from “The Color Purple” kinda braids. You know what I’m getting at.

After wash day my hair is typically very detangled. From there what I do is put it into four big chunky braids with some mini twists in the front for a bang. I put those braids in a ponytail holder, which isn’t exactly the cutest but I work from home and no one knows any better on Zoom. I try to pick easy “styles” (if you can even call it that) that keep my hair as detangled as possible. 

2. Mini detangling sessions throughout the weeks.

When I take my hair out of those chunky braids, I moisturize my hair as we’re supposed to. First I spritz it with water, but after I take conditioner and go through my hair lightly. Just enough to make sure my hair has some “slip.” I rake my hands through my hair doing my best to get any shed hair out while lightly detangling. This isn’t getting a big tooth comb out and the banana clips by far. It’s enough to help style my hair for the day while also stopping it from matting up, which means a quicker wash day when the time comes, and that makes my brain happy.

This is never intentional, as I don’t know when I’m leaving my house. I tend to wait until my hair is dry and I have the energy, then I go for it because I need that added pressure and urgency to do my hair. However, adding a small mini detangling session helps keep my hair from getting matted, even if I’m just putting it in a ponytail.

3. If you can afford it, get the protective styles.

Crochet, braids, twists, whatever it may be. It’s so much easier for me to go to someone else and have them do my hair versus doing my own. So yes, if I can afford it I go and have someone else wash, detangle (but not too much cause that’s a fee), blow out, and braid my hair. It’s more expensive so it’s not an easy option, but when it’s available to me it’s the best option.

4. Headband wigs are heaven-sent.

There are so many different types of wigs. U-part, half wigs, frontals, the list goes on. Headband wigs are picking up steam and I’m so thankful. I don’t always have the money to get full closure or frontal wigs and sew-ins, and trying to find a hair texture that matches mine is hard. Not to mention I live in Florida, so my hair reverts almost instantly when blown out or straightened. If you can slick back your front edges or at least pin them enough, you can slap on a headband wig and not have to worry about blending as much as you usually would with other wig types. It’s a quick fix, especially if you don’t want to untwist or unbraid your hair too soon.

These four hacks have helped me co-manage my natural hair and ADHD. It’s still hard, and I still fall off sometimes, but it’s not as bad as it has been in the past. Usually in life, I embrace a no-structure structured approach, but unless I want natural dread locs, that’s just not an option.

 As I always say, follow your strengths. Pay attention to how you work best, and follow your own lead. That’s the only way I make my hair work, and hopefully you can do the same.

Getty image by Delmaine Donson

Originally published: July 21, 2022
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