This natural hair stuff doesn’t have to be as difficult or as confusing as some might make it out to be. One way to keep from pulling out your hair in frustration is to keep a simple and consistent regimen, starting with a handful of products. In my experience, there are just a few basic things you really need to get you started on a decent regimen.
Whether you use a commercial shampoo or a natural alternative, the choice is yours. Bottom line- clean hair will lead to healthy hair.
If you do go the route of commercial shampoos, it’s great to have both a moisturizing sulfate-free shampoo as well as a good clarifying shampoo to thoroughly cleanse all the random gook (gels, creams, butters) that you may have piled on throughout the week… aka product buildup. Apple cider vinegar and baking soda are also great for clarifying without stripping natural oils.
This is used to improve the condition of the hair and can come in the form of a moisturizer (to put back what you might have lost in the cleansing stage) a protein treatment or a combo of both as in the case with some deep conditioners. Generally, kinky or afro-textured hair craves moisture more than it does protein. So, protein treatments, while helpful, may not need to be used as frequently as a moisturizing conditioner. I’ll have more on all of this in a future post.
Leave-in conditioners pretty much continue the moisturizing process after washing and may even include a form of light protein to give the hair a good moisture-protein balance. I never skip this step!
Here’s where it all comes together. While the hair is still slightly damp, seal all that lovely moisture in with an oil or butter of your choosing, depending on what agrees with your hair (for many, porosity comes into play here and you may need something light). I like whipped shea butters as well as coconut and grapeseed oils, to name a few. Fiddle with a some to find what works.
While I often end the process at the oil or butter, many take it a step further with a styling product, usually something that provides some hold for flawlessly defined hair. These may include your soufflés, creams, gels and such. I have found, though, that I can get a well-defined twist-out or braid-out without a styling product just by setting the hair while it’s still damp and allowing it to dry completely.
So that, as they say, is that! My suggestion to “newbies” is always to start with just a few things, one… maybe two from each category. Assess what your hair needs are, read the labels and make your selections. Try ‘em for a few weeks and see how your hair responds. Even if your products change, be it due to the change in season or otherwise, your routine should stay pretty consistent.