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The Ultimate Regimen: 6 Steps to Rehabilitate Your Hair

By January 27th, 202125 Comments
The Ultimate Regimen: 6 Steps to Rehabilitate Your Hair

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.

Read On!>>>
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:
Behentrimonium Chloride/Methosulfate
Cetrimonium Chloride
Polyquaternium 7
Polyquaternium 37
Stearamidopropyl Dimethlyamine

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? 


  • Anonymous says:

    Ladies, think back to the relaxer days. What were you doing to your hair then? Relaxers are about the worst thing we can do to our hair yet many of us still managed to keep some hair on our heads. We washed with sulfate shampoo, used mineral oil and petrolatum, and every other nasty ingredient that is now no good for a natural. I honestly believe it's not the products. I think it's how we care for our hair. We have let others care for our hair for so long that we don't know how to do it ourselves. Every company is now jumping on the natural hair bandwagon trying to make a dollar off black women. Please be sensible, don't try to follow every other natural or buy up every new product. I'm a product junkie but I now realize that products don't make my hair into something it's not. Yes, good products can help maintain healthy hair. But treating the hair gently, especially when detangling seems to be the most important thing for me. Also, twisting or braiding my hair when it is wet keeps the tangling to a minimum. When I try wash n gos or I don't detangle then twist or plait my wet hair, I have more tangling of the hair because my hair is very dense. The twists or plaits don't have to be small to work for me either. I just realized that with my type hair, I have to stretch it during the drying process to avoid too much tangling. Find your regimen, stick to it, achieve healthy hair, and forget length. Length will come on it's own. Do YOU!

  • Anonymous says:

    I like the site: She has the best section on ingredients. Silicone dries my hair (Why? moisture cannot penetrate when my hair is in a silicone glove) and protein makes it feel like straw.

  • Anonymous says:

    If I were newly natural or the poor woman who has chopped 3 times in 2 yrs, I would stay away from the info in this article. Sinderella-if you're using conditioner only make sure your product doesn't contain any non-water soluable cones. this article is telling you to use cones tha will cause build up and everybody knows it. why do you think all of these companies are advertising their products as silicone free. Silicones will coat your hair and now allow the good stuff to get in. the good stuff is moisture. Shampoo will dry your hair out and you will never get a good balance of moisture in your hair even if you're using the best conditiner because you're constantly re-drying it. Proteins will cause your hair to break if your hair doesn't need them or doesn't like them. proteins is good if you're over moisturized. their are signs and you should read. Just read. Read Curly Girl. Even if you don't go CG this book is excellent for information. Read the Science of Black Hair. She's a scientist. There are really good books out there that should be your starting point. they'll give you the solid foundation you need. If you listen to gurus like this you'll definitely be bald. this article is a disgrace and I don't know why it was posted.

  • msjoker says:

    Thanks Nicole, for the article; thanks commenters for the interesting feedback to her article. I won't weight in on the complaints, I'll just say that I'm sure the intent of the piece was to arm folks with helpful info about their hair. Personally, I'm starting to be just a wee bit over all the Method/Regimen business. I have neither the $$ or patience to investigate every routine and product. Life is too short for me to focus that much on hair when I'm not getting paid for it. I'm cool with doing what I feel like at a given time; I trust my hair won't literraly fall out and that's my only concern. It's hair, not my heart.

    Let's use the good sense we were given to determine what works or not(within budget!); if you're pulling all your hair out or spending time you don't have trying to maintain, do something different! Folks want to quote India Arie saying "I am not my hair" but then get all obsessed with it.

    My mom has never been a hair-doer kinda person but I was saddened by what her hair looked like recently under her wig. A regular wash/condition/after-condition would put her waay better off, I don't care if it's sulfate/cone-free or not. The basics are not "evil"; we won't all have hair to our waist no matter what and not everyone cares to. I admire very long hair on other people, but the truth is if mine ever got past shoulder length, I'd probably break out in hives with the desire to go Halle Berry. Stop judging your hair and each other. Peace and Blessings!

  • ThriftyKinkyCurly says:

    So Nicole how about all the ladies who have been using the Curly Girl method of not using any Shampoos such as myself? My hair has never been as healthy or has retained length as it's been since I stopped using shampoos and 'cones. Sure ones hair is not going to look that great for the first few weeks of using no or low 'poo's and avoiding cones because ones hair has been so used to sulfates and silicone's. At the end of the day, the method you mentioned does work for many natural ladies but NOT ALL.

    By the way the expert in your WEBMD reference Liesa Goins states "The experts interviewed for this story told WebMD that you should shampoo at least every 14 days, but every seven to 10 days is recommended". It is RECOMMENDED to wash 7-10 but it won't do any harm if a natural wants to wash every 2 weeks. Your article makes it seems as though it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. And again while there are cones that are water soluble, not all cones are created equally so to speak. So the article is still mis-leading at the end of the day. Every single natural does not need to use silicone's and there ARE ways to cleanse the scalp without the use of sulfates.

    There is a another blogger named JC who has a PH.D in Material Science, newbies should look her up.

  • ThriftyKinkyCurly says:

    Also for the newbies if your hair is feeling stripped from mild or strong sulfates there are other options

    Shampoos with no sulfates :

    * Devacurl
    * Dr. Bronners castille soap (I use the peppermint oil one)
    * Shea Moisture has many shampoos with no sulfates at all (the green line is for thin/fine hair, black and orange line is for itchy/dry scalps, the yellow line is for dry hair, and the pink line is for those with thick curly non dry hair)
    * There are clays and powders (Bentonite clay you can find at your local health foods store, Aritha and Brahmi powders also cleanse the scalp you can find them online – such as smallflower . com – or at your local Indian food store if available)

    You do NOT HAVE to include proteins in your regi, many naturals are protein sensitive. Also you DO NOT HAVE to use silicone's, while some silicone's are water soluble (meaning they don't cause messy build up) it is not necessary to use them unless you want to cover up severely damaged hair. Silicone's COAT your hair to give it a healthy look but it does not make damaged hair become healthy.

    There are MANY Youtube tutorials and online articles regarding silicone's, sulfates, low poo's, clays/powders, the Curly Girl Method etc. Just do Google searches on everything you are interested in, that's what helped me build my regi and keep my sanity lol

  • ThriftyKinkyCurly says:

    *so much
    *have NOT


  • ThriftyKinkyCurly says:

    Yea, like many others have said I'm so glad I figured my hairs needs out but choosing to stop going on blogs because there's no much conflicting information that it gets confusing. Also as others have already started, for the newbies DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU, unless you have a PROFESSIONAL stylist that is well versed with natural hair washing/styling techniques that suits YOUR hair, do what you feel is right for your hair.

    I have used a regular sulfate shampoo since September, I now use Betonite clay (personally) to clarify. I also use Dr. Bronners castille soap every 2 weeks as a shampoo (co-washing in between), which has NO SULFATES including mild sulfates and my hair is doing marvelously.

    However shampoo'ing every week with a mild sulfate can be a good idea if you have a looser hair texture/curl pattern (3a-3c) and/or if you accumulate lots of product buildup from styling aids, and products that contain silicone.

  • Nicole - Hair Liberty says:

    Hi ladies, The Internet is full of myths about how to care for natural hair. It makes me sad to hear about women like Sindarella who realize that their hair is not making progress after following years of bad advice. Your length retention will tell you whether or not you're following a good regimen. This isn't the only acceptable regimen, but it's certainly one of the best you could ever follow.

    To newbies out there: Don't follow advice without making sure it comes from a credible source. This article is a "cheat sheet" that was put together after hundreds of hours of research from *expert* level professionals. Hair care experts include Trichologists, Dermatologists, and Cosmetic Scientists. Scroll to the bottom of this article to access the references for this piece….

    The majority of women with healthy hair (natural or relaxed) are using shampoo and silicones in their regimen. That's a fact. If you have concerns about either of those, please read these articles:

    I love you, ladies. I created Hair Liberty to save you time, frustration, and money. Merry Christmas!

  • Anonymous says:

    To 4mysister I so agree God Is Awesome and If God can create all of us so different so beautiful natural women I am sure we can all come up with a regimen that works for us as indivisuals as well as be open-minded when someone offers their experience and knowledge I for one am very happy to read all of the wonderful words of wisdom and grateful that I have a "choice" to make concerning me. Peace Pam

  • 4mysisterz says:

    I stand by this motto "Do what works for you". I know that there is alot of info out there but to me you have to experiment to find your own method. My biggest concern about the article is trimming every 10 weeks. I don't believe you should have a scheduled trim. If your ends are bad trim them. This may be once a year. For so long I had been getting a trim every six weeks bc that's what I was told and that's the main reason my hair never grew pass the typical bob. This is a "personal" opinion. I believe this article is great because she is telling people what works for her. She is doing "her". I don't think people should bash this article because you do not like her method. She basically took time to share what she is doing. For all of you who hate it upload your method. It may work for me and it may not. I wish naturals were more open minded bc we want others to accept us but we can't accept others regimine. I'm not saying change your routine but I am saying accept the fact that when God made your routine he also made many more that "work". Be blessed:)

  • Sindarella says:

    Ugh ive been natural going on two yrs anf I big chop three times with in those two yrs becuz of of my dry n spilt ends and SINGLE KNOTS WHICH IM STILL SUFFERING FROM…. I ONLY USE CONDITIONER AND OLIVE OIL… HELP ME PLZ…. MY HAIR IS ONLY FIVE INCHES LONG UGH HOW EMBARRASSING… I neva shampoo cuz it drys my hair

  • Sindarella says:

    Ugh ive been natural going on two yrs anf I big chop three times with in those two yrs becuz of of my dry n spilt ends and SINGLE KNOTS WHICH IM STILL SUFFERING FROM…. I ONLY USE CONDITIONER AND OLIVE OIL… HELP ME PLZ…. MY HAIR IS ONLY FIVE INCHES LONG UGH HOW EMBARRASSING… I neva shampoo cuz it drys my hair

  • Anonymous says:

    Bottom line… Learn what works for you, use common sense and educate yourself. There's a lot of info out there. Not all info is created equal.

  • Valerie says:

    Arent we suppose to be avoiding some of the ingredients up there?

  • Anonymous says:

    I wish there was a dislike button for this article. Shampoo is drying, conditioners with cones??? Are you serious? This article will leave some new naturals frustrated. Please do more research before you follow this advice.

  • Shannon Lenise says:

    Most of this advice is totally subjective! How are you going to say someone HAS to use products with artificial ingredients to maintain healthy hair? Nope. All this stuff is personal preference except trimming off damaged hair to prevent further damage.

  • Debbie says:

    trice, i'm where you are right now. I HAVE to shampoo (my hair hates CW) but every shampoo I've tried just dries out my hair and deep conditioning is just covering the damage done. Here are some options you could try…I've just started trying them after some research.

    1) Pre poo overnight or for 15 minutes or more with an oil (EVOO and coconut oil are popular) alone or mixed with conditioner

    2)Dilute your shampoo in an applicator bottle and apply to scalp only and then just gently scrub your scalp with the palm of your fingers.

    3) Use a moisturizing shampoo like Shea Moisture Retention shampoo (it didn't dry out my hair but I was allergic to it booo) or a no poo "shampoo" like Devacurl No-Poo.

    4) Just throwing this in here but you could cowash a couple of days a week to ramp up the moisture your hair gets in general. Personally I see this as a last resort because to me cowashing between washes is just extra work and I'm aiming for a KISS regimen.

  • Trice (BreatheFashion3c) says:

    I am so "ingredient-illiterate"…I have no idea what cones, parabens, pthalates, or any of those other materials are! I tried sulfate-free shampoos and they are sooooo stripping, I just couldn't get with it! I try to DC twice a week to counteract weekly shampoos, and it doesn't seem to be doing any harm, but I still cannot perfect my regi. Back to the drawing boards I go!

  • Onyeka says:

    Some people don't like cones on their hair….I'm not sure that is an ingredient that you would want to direct naturals to use in their hair especially when over time they can cause dryness and damage if the hair isn't clarified often.

  • shesweet says:

    I agree with experimenting. I have to say that articLI
    like this give guidelines on where to start for a person like me who's a bit clueless about caring for natural hair. Great ARTICLE!

  • Anonymous says:

    Step 1: It works for me but not for all. Other like ofther cleansing methods and frequencies.

    Step 2: I really don't think pH balance matters. I feel like it's residual Kimmaytube hype…

    Step 3: I appreciate the info on slippery ingredients. There's Bethrimonium Chloride in the super slippy Shea Moisture Purfication Masqie. I'll add glycerin to my homemade conditioning concotions (my hair loves it and I could use the slip!).

    "When you condition your hair and comb from end to root, you should only have 2 or 3 areas where the comb gets snarled." What is this based on? What "type" of hair is this based on? This sounds like a (inaccurate) arbitary statement…

    Step 4: I tend to stay away from protein and don't "get" the whole protein/moisture balance thing. *shrugs* Every other week seems excessive unless you chemically straighten, color and/or use tons of heat…

    Step 5: Wouldn't finding the cause of excessive breakage (dryness, rough detangling and/or handing, etc) make more sense than cutting…

    Step 6: I agree. Go-to low manipulation and/or protective styles are a must for cute and healthy hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    This article has a few good tips but like everything else, I think its most beneficial to experiment and find what works Best For YOU. I've been natural over 3 years now and im still working on my regimen lol. No one method or product is perfect for every curly girl and thats why these blogs are so helpful!

  • Anonymous says:

    Man, sometimes I feel bad for all the natural newbies…there's SO MUCH conflicting information out there, with every person talking as if they are the absolute authority on hair care.

    Granted, I've never chemically processed my hair, so I'm not necessarily trying to "rehabilitate" it. And I know that CG seems to be falling out of vogue, especially on this blog, but I've pretty much stuck with my routine of no shampoo, cone-less protein-less conditioner, wash-n-gos, and getting my hair cut every 6 months (i.e., basically the opposite of what this article advises) and my hair is long and healthy. I'm not saying that my routine will work for *everyone*, because clearly it won't, but I kind of take issue with the very authoritative tone of this article.

  • Annabel says:

    In regards to step 2, I have low porosity hair. I read that aloe vera is not really beneficial to my hair unless I am able to lift my cuticles and allow it to penetrate my hair shaft. Is this true?

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