A couple of months ago, I was having dinner with one of my best friend’s from college. She was natural all the way through school and then ended up relaxing her hair when she entered the corporate world. Last year, she returned to natural with a BC for personal reasons and has been growing it out ever since. However, she does go to a salon to straighten every couple of week. So, we haven’t hung out in almost a year and what do we start discussing first? HAIR!! LOL! She’s actually the one who turned me onto CurlyNikki.com, so this is all her fault;-)! Anywho, she let me blab on and on about hair and asked me what she should do if she wants to wear her hair curly.
Well, there is soooo much information out there, far more than there was when I went natural 11 years ago. Some things were intuitive for me (only detangling with a head loaded with conditioner), others took a little time to figure out with trial and error (gel alone = curl hold but dry, crunchy hair;gel mixed w/grease or a cream styler = supple hold PLUS moisture). However, for the newly natural or those contemplating making the leap, the information overload can be very overwhelming and natural hair can seem like more effort than it is worth.
Therefore, I always try to limit the advice I give to a few key items, which are as follows:
- Get rid of sulfate shampoos. Co-wash or use sulfate free poos. There are tons on the market now.
- Wash your hair downward in the shower (not upside down under the sink).
- Detangle hair (carefully) with a wide tooth comb when it is fully saturated with water and conditioner.
- Deep condition at least once a month.
- Moisturize (with a leave-in or regular conditioner, whichever you prefer) and comb through one more time with a wide tooth comb or fingers (these steps changed my wash day detangling life).
- Seal moisturizer into ends with an oil or butter.
I close with, if you don’t remember anything I say, remember this. ”Condition, condition, condition … did I mention CONDITION? There is no such thing as over-conditioning!” (There is, but they don’t need to know that as it is not often a problem for curly, coily and/or kinky hair.)
Since we are starting this GOC, I thought this post would be timely for those still seeking a regimen or needing some basics.
I agree with everything above.
One thing I’d stress is that although it’s important, imperative even to get the basics down (detangle, wash, condition, moisturize, seal), one must develop their own routine. How often you trim and style, and whether you detangle on dry hair prior to washing or on wet hair full of conditioner, depends on you, your lifestyle and your hair. Do what works for you. There is no right answer.
My routine and philosophy has changed quite a bit over the years… and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I was a hard core CurlyGirl (no sulfates, no silicones, co-washing multiple times a week) for a year or so. It didn’t work for me. I modified that routine (no harsh sulfates, some silicones, co-wash and poos) and my hair thrived! I now start the detangling process before I get in the shower (on dry, oiled hair) and I notice far fewer shed and broken hairs than when I was solely using the water stream method. Before Gia, I styled twice a week, now I style once a month. Routines change but the basics- wash, condition, detangle, moisturize, seal- stay the same.
So yes, check out your fellow curlies’ routines, research around the web and adapt what works for you. Listen to your hair, keep a journal of products (and ingredients) tried, take tons of pictures and enjoy your journey. Things are only as hard you make it. That would be my advice to a newbie!
Thanks all! Glad you enjoyed and added your own pearls of wisdom!!
Isn't it funny how certain things really are intuitive?! I stopped relaxing my hair almost 10 years ago, and one of the first things I worked into my hair routine was conditioning. Without being told or being helped I knew that conditioner was probably the single most important product I used for my hair. My rule in the beginning was I would always condition my hair twice as often as I shampooed it. (So since I shampoo once a week, I will make it a point to condition twice a week.) Whenever people would ask me about being natural, I would always tell them conditioner will become your new bestfriend.
Until recently, I would wear my hair straight most of the time and only curly sometimes. Then last year (as a personal challenge for myself) I decided to flip that and start wearing my hair curly most of the time and straight every once in a while. When I was keeping my hair straight most of the time, I made it a point to deep condtion my hair every week and do a hot oil treatment at least twice a month. This ensured my hair was strengthened and remained elastic to help combat the damaging affects of my weekly blowdry/flat iron sessions. For the people out there who still love their blowdryers and flat irons (fyi…i still love my flat iron too :-)) , i would suggest doing more than what's listed in the article to ensure that your hair remains as free from damage and breakage as possible.
Stick to one product for at least a month to see how it is working for your hair.
Excellent post, ladies! I haven't had a relaxer in about 10 years, but I'm just now learning to understand and 'get to know' my hair. This site has been a fantastic resource and posts like these is why!
When I was newly natural, I didn't understand that whole listen to your own hair mantra. I just thought well it looks good and (INSERT NAME HERE) said that (INSERT MAGIC BULLET) here should work so I am going to do that. What new naturals should note is this: notice how your hair feels when using new products or trying new routines, then compare to a day later, then a week later. It may take time for your hair to protest via shedding/breakage something you are putting on it or doing to it, but ultimately the FEEL of your hair should be your first clue. Also, don't let ANYONE tell you that your routine is wrong. I can't tell you how many people told me I should only style on WET hair, which led me to frustration and lots of breakage. When I finally learned that my hair can't be styled wet, LOADS OF FRUSTRATION OFF MY SHOULDERS. But the key is you have to try things out to know whether something works BETTER than your current routine…
OH, and WATER is your friend… (gosh that got long winded!)
I totally agree with you Nik!! I should have said at the end, as my last piece of advice, "Start with these, but always, always, ALWAYS listen to your own head of hair." If these don't work for you, learn and adapt. I finger detangle on dry hair with a pre-poo oil or cream first now too … BUT, that's because my hair is stretched by TnCs. I always give that advice because I've found that a lot of new naturals I know are going at their dry WnGs with a comb and would never think to not use shampoo and just wash with conditioner (and are troubled by dry hair). But, you are absolutely right, all advice needs to be tempered as you stated above=).
Sometimes we need to go back to basics and then build from there and I feel as if I definitely need to do that. Thanks so much for this post(: