Natural Living

How to Soften Coarse Hair: Natural Tips for Soft Hair

How to Soften Coarse Hair: Natural Tips for Soft Hair

Does your hair feel heavy and coarse all the time? When switching to natural hair products, heavy, greasy and dry hair may become more apparent. Not to worry – you don’t have to use harsh chemicals to achieve soft, silky hair. Add these simple steps to your hair care routine for softer, healthier hair!

My Hair Story

For the first few years of my natural hair journey, I tried every natural hair product I could get my hands on. The result was sticky, greasy, dry and frizzy hair; it didn’t matter which new product I tried. I even tried things like only using a silk pillowcase, and using the “no-poo” method. The latter method had the best results of everything I tried, but my hair still wasn’t feeling clean and soft. 

As someone with a curly, coarse hair type, my hair had always been a challenge. It seemed like the more I tried, the worse my hair became. I ended up coating it in leave-in conditioner all the time, which helped with all the frizz, but left it feeling heavy and sticky. 

The Natural Hair Care Rabbit Hole

There is a complex rabbit hole when it comes to natural hair care, with regimens like protein hair masks, expensive natural hair care brands, natural oils like castor oil and coconut oil hair masks….it seems like there is always one problem or another.

For me, the problem wasn’t actually that complicated. 

Fortunately, I figured out the solution to my hair problems one day while I was doing the dishes.

How Making Dishwashing Detergent Fixed My Hair

I was trying out a homemade dishwasher detergent one day, which called for citric acid. The purpose of the citric acid was to help remove the build-up on the dishes. I noticed how shiny the dishes looked, and thought to myself…what if I used citric acid on my hair?

I recalled the period time when I used apple cider vinegar to clean my hair in my “no-poo” days. It had been the most helpful thing I had tried for my hair, but because others were noticing the smell of vinegar, even with dry hair, I stopped using it and went back to a shampoo and conditioner routine.

Why Does Apple Cider Vinegar Make Hair Softer?

The acid in the apple cider vinegar helped to remove some of the build up, and also smoothed out the hair shaft.

This is because:

Hair is Acidic

It turns out, hair has a more acidic pH than hair washing products and water (especially hard water). So over time, product residue and minerals from the water build up on the hair shaft, clogging the pores so the hair can’t maintain hydration. This leaves the hair heavy, dry, greasy, and sticky.

There are easy ways using natural ingredients to get light, bouncy, healthy hair. 

Hair Rinses

The is my BEST tip. THIS was what my hair needed most.

Not just any rinses, but acidic hair rinses. I get the best result using a citric acid solution. It does not leave a smell in your hair like vinegar, and it removes residue from hair in a very effective way. 

You can also use vinegar, vitamin c powder, lemon juice, or aloe vera, but they may not give you the best results. 

How to Use an Acidic Hair Rinse

First and foremost: use an acidic hair rinse every time you wash your hair.

This is because hair wash and water bring the pH of the hair up, causing frizz and immediate build up. If you have hard water, this problem will be even worse. See this post for more on how to remove hard water build up from hair (hint: it’s pretty much the same regimen as listed below!)

Hair Washing Routine:

  1. Wash your hair with natural shampoo twice. In my experience, that extra wash really helps.
  2. Apply half of your acidic rinse (avoiding your eyes) and massage throughout your hair and scalp thoroughly.
  3. Rinse well.
  4. Apply a natural conditioner with a wide-toothed comb and allow to sit in hair for about 5 minutes while completing other shower tasks. 
  5. Rinse conditioner out well.
  6. Apply the rest of the acidic rinse and gently rinse out. 
  7. After exiting the shower, spray on a conditoner made from aloe-vera juice and filtered water to balance out the pH.
  8. Apply your favorite all natural leave-in conditioner on the ends of your hair. 

If you are just wetting your hair instead of a full hair wash, I suggest using the conditioner made with aloe vera juice and water in a spray bottle while hair is still damp. This will bring the pH back down closer to the natural pH of hair. 

Hair Rinse Recipes

These recipes are general guidelines: tweak them around a little until you find what works best for you. We don’t all have the exact same pH shower water, and our hair is all different. So a one-size-fits all recipe doesn’t work.

Caution: these ingredients are natural, but some are still strong chemicals on their own, being very acidic. Avoid contact with eyes, and keep away from children and pets.

Acidic Hair Rinse Solution with Citric Acid Recipe

Combine 2 cups of distilled or reverse osmosis water with ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon of citric acid crystals. Begin by trying the lower amount, then increase if needed. 

Aloe Vera Leave-in Conditioner Spray Recipe

Combine 1 part water to 2 parts aloe vera juice in a clean spray bottle. After leaving the shower, spray thoroughly in hair. You can add a couple of drops of essential oils for a more pleasant smell – but don’t overdo it!

Alternatives to Citric Acid

If you don’t have citric acid on hand, you can give these a try, but they may not work as well. Again, these are general guidelines and you may want to play around with the ingredient amounts a bit.

Vitamin C Powder: 

¼ teaspoon and 2 cups of distilled or reverse osmosis water.

White Vinegar:

1 tablespoon vinegar and 2 cups of reverse distilled or reverse osmosis water.

Lemon Juice:

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and 2 cups of distilled or reverse osmosis water.

Apple Cider Vinegar:

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 2 cups of distilled or reverse osmosis water. 

Other Useful Tips:

  • Use an occasional bentonite clay hair mask. This will help clean hair on a deeper level, removing toxins and oils from deep in the pores of the hair. It’s much more simple than many hair masks, and just takes a few minutes in the shower. I only recommend doing this every once in a while. It will leave your hair more dry than usual, so it’s a good idea to use a little extra leave in conditioner for the days following this deep cleanse. Check out this post for my bentonite clay hair mask tutorial
  • Use a wide-toothed comb in the shower when applying conditioner. This will help evenly distribute the conditioner, and remove tangles as well as detached hair.
  • For the detangling process, use extra conditioner along with a wide tooth comb and your own hands to detangle.  Avoid using a round brush on knots (or at all if you have curly / wavy hair) this will only cause more frizz and may lead to hair breakage on knots.
  • Avoid high heat: high heat tools such as flat irons, curling irons and hair dryers can lead to heat damage and hair breakage. There are some safer ways to use them every once in a while, but I don’t know of any all-natural heat protectant products. If I were you I’d just be fine with having natural, damp hair!
  • Cold water: I’ve read some articles that say using cold water at the end of your shower helps smooth the follicles out. I haven’t personally noticed a big difference between hot and cold water on my hair, but it’s worth a try if it makes your hair seem even shinier. 
  • Avoid using a lot of oil: in my experience, using pure oil like olive oil, avocado oil or excessive essential oils on my hair clogs the pores and causes my hair to be more weak, dry, and sticky. I prefer using an all natural leave in conditioner on the ends of my hair. 
  • Wash less often: in some cases, you may be washing your hair too often. Straight hair may need more frequent washing, but in my experience curly hair only needs to be washed once or twice a week. On wash days, always use an acidic hair rinse!
curly hair

Those are my tips for naturally softening coarse, dry, and heavy hair.

Comment below with what has helped you most on your natural hair journey!

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The Citric Acid I use

The Aloe Vera Juice I use

Glass Spray Bottles

Wide-toothed comb

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