Hair Liberty’s Nicole Hollis, our Resident Curl Chemist, is back from hiatus answering your most urgent hair questions. Got one for her? Email me at nikki@curlynikki.com using “Hair Liberty” in the subject line and she may answer your question right here on the blog.

I work full time in a “professional” environment. Not saying I can’t wear a protective style, but it’s been very difficult to find a protective style, that I can actually do myself, that looks half decent…which means, that 9 times out of 10, I’m rocking a twist out or a wash and go. Now, I can get 3-4 days out of a WNG if I use the right product (Kinky Curly Curling Custard). But is it possible to WNG or twist out on the regular and still maintain length?? I just cut off 3 inches of split up, jacked up ends so I’m evidently doing something real wrong.

Protective styles can do more harm than good if you’re not careful. The main goal with natural hair is to protect your hair from over-manipulation. Some people use protective styles to keep their ends from rubbing up against their clothes all day, but that’s rarely a problem for natural hair because it shrinks so much. If you can’t easily braid or pin your hair into an updo or bun, you’re better off with a twist out or Wash n Go.

When you’re manipulating your hair, whether it’s to wash it, detangle it or style it, your hands are up on top of your head (and your arms are getting tired). Low manipulation means you keep your hands down as much as possible. A Wash n Go that lasts 3 days keeps your hands down much more than a protective style that’s difficult to put in and has to be re-done sooner than later. It’s also important to shampoo your hair at least once a week and you might be inclined to skip washes once you have a protective style in. it’s not worth it!

If you’re already doing low-manipulation styles and split ends are still a problem, you may have fine hair. The two most important strategies for healthy fine hair are:

More frequent trims – Ends that are severely damaged will split further up the hair shaft if they aren’t cut off. That means you can start with a ¼ inch of damage, but if you don’t get rid of it, it will turn into an inch of damage very quickly. It’s better to get small trims over time so you don’t have to cut off 3 inches all at once.

Strengthening Products: Fine hair needs to be reinforced with a strengthening product every 2 washes. Try Nexxus Emergencee Strengthening Polymeric Reconstructor, Living Proof Restore Mask Treatment, or Ouidad Deep Treatment. Those products all work in different ways, but they are all very effective when used regularly. Even if you’re not sure you have fine hair, strengthening products are worth adding to your routine when you’re trying to grow your hair long.

How do I know when it’s time to trim my hair?

These are a few signs that your hair is overdue for a trim:

  • When your hair is wet, the ends clump together like very thin threads. You have to wash and detangle in small sections.
  • When your hair is dry, the ends catch on each other and knot easily.
  • You find single strand knots often (knots can happen anywhere on the strand, but they are signs that something in your routine is causing problems and you should be getting trims at least every 10 weeks).
  • If you straighten your hair, you feel like you have to curl your ends under because they look “raggedy” when hanging straight.
  • If you straighten your hair, the upper portion of the strand smooths out easily, but the ends seem to require extra passes (the ends should need the least heat, not the most)

If those are issues you experience all the time, you’ll need to change up your routine in order to see your hair improve. Check the Hair Liberty Product Ratings to make sure you’re using the best products for your hair type and don’t brush your hair….ever! When you need to detangle or style, start with your fingers then switch to a wide tooth comb. And remember, you can’t avoid damaging your hair, but you can slow down the damage cycle. The absolute longest anyone should go between trims is 12 weeks.

Hair Liberty (def): The freedom to rock whatever style you want, whenever you want. Curly, straight, natural, relaxed, whatever! Free yourself. For more info, visit www.hairliberty.org