Before addressing what you should start doing, let’s discuss what you should stop doing. When people approach me for hair care advice, the two consistent causes of concern are dryness and breakage, which is often misinterpreted as lack of hair growth. When prompted for questions, the two reoccurring issues in the regimen are lack of deep conditioning and dry combing. No, I do not mean detangling with an oil in small sections. I mean using an afro pick and maybe Luster’s Pink lotion finished with oil sheen. For decades people with afro-textured hair have been raised to comb their hair while dry, and this can cause damage when done improperly. It also stirs confusion when people want to return to their virgin coils and do not understand why their dry hair does not look like their wet hair. The afro style is equally as beautiful as a twist out or wash and go, but it must be done properly and infrequently. Until you understand how to properly achieve the style, here are the reasons you should stop picking your hair out.
All of that popping and crackling you hear when you manipulate your hair is the points of tension along your strands that are being forcibly broken. If you are not willing to generously lubricate your dry coils with oil and detangle from ends to roots, then I suggest that you abort the mission. The forceful pulling is snapping the hair at various lengths along the strands. This will stunt your length retention and leave you with the perception that your hair is not growing. Make sure to use products with plenty of slip whenever detangling or manipulating your hair to prevent breakage.
Telltale evidence of breakage is excessive dryness. When the hair breaks the ends are frayed and split, which makes it challenging for the hair shaft to retain moisture. Over time this split travels up the length of the hair and causes more breakage, tangles, and dryness. Aside from using quality products that impart moisture into your strands, reducing breakage will also help to reduce dryness.
The maintenance of a picked afro is probably the hardest to maintain. You can pineapple a wash and go and re-twist your twist outs in larger section, but what about an afro? You cannot effectively pineapple a picked afro and effortlessly shake it out in the morning. It will require more picking unless lumps do not bother you.
Lack of Clumping
The whole “my hair looks different when it’s wet versus when it’s dry” is usually a combination of shrinkage and manipulation. Dry combing your hair will separate the natural clumpage that your strands create while wet, so if curl definition is your desire, then stop combing while dry. It is important to allow your hair to set (i.e. dry) as is with little to no interference; this applies for any style. For the best twist out on wet hair, wait until the hair has completely dried. The same goes for a low frizz wash and go.
Before changing your product arsenal, explore which styling and maintenance techniques you can change. Products may not be the problem, as breakage is often a result of mechanical and moisture issues.