by Shelli of Hairscapades

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:

  1. Get rid of sulfate shampoos. Co-wash or use sulfate free poos. There are tons on the market now.
  2. Wash your hair downward in the shower (not upside down under the sink).
  3. Detangle hair (carefully) with a wide tooth comb when it is fully saturated with water and conditioner.
  4. Deep condition at least once a month.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.)

I’ve offered 1-5 as advice in some form or the other over the last several year. However, I added sealing in 2010 as I only learned about it last year. So, at 11 years into this thing, I’m still learning too!!

Since we are starting this GOC, I thought this post would be timely for those still seeking a regimen or needing some basics.

What words of wisdom do you offer to the newly natural, those interested in going natural or those who just want to improve the health and/or lengthof their hair?

CN Says;

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!