by Nicole Harmon of Hair Liberty
You don’t need to spend hundreds on products or keep your strands hidden in protective styles to achieve healthy hair. Rehabilitate your hair by following these hair care steps.
Step 1: Shampoo your hair regularly
The average person’s hair grows between ¼ and ½ inch a month. Washing your hair more often can help you achieve the maximum amount. Your scalp is just like your face. You can’t maintain a healthy growing environment without cleansing away the sebum (natural skin oil) in and around your hair follicles. Use a shampoo that says it’s for “dry” or “damaged” hair because those are usually the mildest formulas. You can still co-wash, but don’t forgo a weekly shampoo.
Step 2: Use a pH balanced shampoo
The pH of hair is between 4.5 and 6.5 (around the same pH as aloe vera juice). African American hair has naturally raised cuticles which makes it more sensitive to pH than other hair types. A shampoo that is pH balanced will smooth your hair’s top cuticle layer, leaving it shinier and easier to comb. That’s really important because the easier it is to comb your hair the less it will break during the styling process. Read How do I know if a product is pH balanced? to decide if your current shampoo is a keeper.
Step 3: Make sure detangling is a breeze
The most important job of a hair conditioner is to make your hair easy to detangle. When you condition your hair and finger comb from end to root, you should only have 2 or 3 areas where you get hung up on snarls. If you don’t already have a favorite, choose a conditioner that contains 2 or more of the following ingredients:
Step 4: Use a protein conditioner after every other shampoo
When you choose a good conditioner, the manufacturer has already balanced the amount of protein and moisture in the bottle. A rinse out conditioner that contains hydrolyzed protein will penetrate your hair and strengthen it against breakage. The most balanced protein conditioners are made for “chemically-treated” or “damaged” hair. ApHogee Intensive Two Minute Keratin Reconstructor, Joico K-Pak Reconstruct Conditioner, Nexxus Keraphix Restorative Conditioner, Aubrey Organics GPB and Ouidad’s Deep Treatment are a few great options. When you find the right protein conditioner for your hair, you should see a visible difference after the first use. Protein rinses off in water, so don’t worry about “protein overload”. Those with fine hair may want to use a protein conditioner after every shampoo.
Step 5: Get a hair cut if you’re experiencing moderate to severe breakage
If you’re experiencing significant breakage, it’s likely that the cuticle layer has been worn away at your ends. That happens during chemical treatments, but also from simple combing and brushing. You need to get rid of the oldest hair in order to see a real transformation.You don’t have to do the Big Chop. Just choose a trusted stylist to take off ½ to 1 inch. After that, follow the rest of this regimen so you’ll only need trims every 10 to 12 weeks.
Step 6: Find 2 easy styles for your current length
The most difficult part about growing your hair out is the awkward length phases you’ll have to go through. If you have a good cut, your hair should tangle less and be easy to manage. Keep your ends in the best condition possible by alternating between 2 low-manipulation styles. For example, many women have shorter hair in the front than the back. Give the front some time to catch up by bobby pinning it out of the way instead of trying to make it blend with the rest of your hair. If you follow the other rehab steps, you will have new style options in 2-3 months as your hair grows longer.
You can incorporate one rehab step at a time (shampooing more often, for example) but you’ll see the most drastic improvements when you follow all six of these steps. Once you have a steady routine, don’t change what you’re doing. If you feel like trying something new, experiment with different hair styles and styling products.
What do you do to rehab your hair?