by Evelyn Ngugi of NaturallyCurly

 I’m the self-proclaimed queen of styling old hair. I usually try to
shampoo my hair once a week, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered. You
know how it gets — one thing leads to another and your routine “wash
day” has come and gone. Over the two years and some change that I’ve
been natural, I’ve figured out what styles and methods work best to
maintain my hair during the extended periods of time that I’m just not
in the mood for a hair styling marathon. No shame!

The Before

The goal is to shampoo, detangle, and deep condition my hair every
Saturday or Sunday. My scalp doesn’t get oily very fast, but cleansing
and detangling weekly helps me control tangles. My go-to style is a twist out
on clean, wet hair. I choose this style because it’s a good starting
point for many other styles. It stretches my hair out enough to add some
length and prevent tangles that my shrunken hair is prone to.

The Re-style

That wet twist out can last 2-3 days without retwisting. My hair is
relatively fine and thin, so instead of getting big and fluffy over
time, it shrinks at the roots and gets piecey at the ends. Not cute! You
need to get to know your hair so you can restyle it accordingly.

Because I know my hair is fine, I know that I can’t layer and reapply
products as the weeks (yikes!) pass. Even on freshly washed hair,
layering products (leave in + styler + sealant, for example) only weighs
my hair down. I usually style using a leave in conditioner and a light oil or butter.
When I restyle my hair, I don’t use any products. Using a spray bottle
or just by running my hands under the faucet, I dampen a section of hair
with water and twist. Yes, you read that correctly – water is my
styling product. This prevents product build up that will force me to
wash my hair sooner than later.

The After

After two or three twist outs, I naturally transition into roll,
tuck, and pin hairstyles. With a box of bobby pins, hair pins and
headbands in hand, I attempt anything from the Grecian goddess “crown” hairstyle to the (albeit smaller) Janelle Monae-esque pompadour. Sometimes I just throw on a headscarf or bandana for a Rosie the Riveter look.

After I’ve had my fill of that, I retwist my hair (only using water!)
and roll my ends with perm rods. I have now ventured into the land of
the Twist N’ Curl. The curled ends give a fresh look to my average twist
outs, and the new hit of moisture from the water makes my hair soft and

If I’ve been good about sleeping with a satin scarf and my hair isn’t too tangled, I can re-twist n’ curl or bantu knot my hair (it gives the same look) one more time.

Twist n’ curls and bantu knot outs are my favorite hair styles, so I
try to end my old hair styling marathon on a high note. But if I don’t
want to grab my widetooth comb just yet…

The Final Stretch

Braid outs
have always been hit or miss for me. If I make the braids too large, my
hair will practically be straight. If I make them too small, my thin
and fine strands look so piecey that no amount of “fluffing” will remedy
the situation.

If my braid out succeeds, I can finally rock the big, stretched out
hair that my thick haired sistas enjoy on the regular. If my braid out
fails, well, at least my hair is stretched out to the max, and I can
divide into sections and detangle fairly easily.

By this time, my ‘fro is screamin’ for a cleanin’. After an hour (or
two) of tender loving care, my coils are cleansed, deep conditioned and
detangled. All is right in the natural hair world. For now…

 Do you style ‘old hair’? What’s your routine?