Most writers will tell you that they are also avid readers. I am no exception to the rule. Interestingly, one book that has informed my understanding of hair care is not really a hair care book at all. It’s a little book called, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. In the book, Hardy states that, “Success is not doing 5,000 things really well. Success is doing a half dozen things really well— 5,000 times.” And it’s true. When I heard this, it immediately made me think of the very well intentioned but over the top, bank-breaking hair care regimens and routines I’ve seen over the years. We are doing too much, and we get to this point because we really don’t know or want to accept the basics of healthy hair care. Let’s face it— the basics are boring. Cleanse, condition, moisturize and keep my hands out of my hair can’t be all, right?
So what happens? We indulge in distractions. We build unnecessary complication into our regimens. We end up following 5 different hair care gurus’ regimens hoping that something (or some magical new combination of things) will be “the thing” or “the product” that allows us to break from the pack. We’ll have 4 different moisturizers and more rare, exotic oils than BP and Exxon combined. (Is Kentucky Bluegrass Oil really better than Polynesian Fairy Island Oil or does Bohemian Muskrat oil top them all?) We’ll have enough vitamins and supplements to make GNC and the FDA nervous. We’ll deep condition for 2 days straight, rinse, repeat, try a new honey-avocado pre-shampoo growth mixture, apply a clay mask, work in some henna and do 3 different length checks in a span of 72 hours all because someone in a book, behind a screen or behind a chair told us to. Perhaps I’m exaggerating here, but you get the point. It is all fluff. We’re “maximizing the possibilities” and that makes us feel good. But does your hair really need 4 different oils in your oil mix to make your hair softer? No one ever really had healthy, vibrant hair before the Internet, right? We might see some progress doing these 5,000 hair care must-dos and using the 5,000 more product must-haves, but the problem with this method of regimen building is that it is unsustainable long term. In an effort to do 5,000 things right, we don’t realize that it’s really the handful of basic things done well every day that carry the regimen forward—not the fluff and complication we add in. Doing a few basic things simply and repeatedly IS sustainable, and that’s how we achieve success in hair care.
So, what are the basics you should do simply and really well?
No rocket science here. Regular cleansing is essential for hair and scalp hydration. Add additional moisture to this step by using a sulfate-free cleanser or light conditioner. Reduce unnecessary manipulation to your tresses by managing your hair in sections throughout the process. Whether to pre-shampoo with oil or conditioner is up to you— but it is not a requirement for healthy hair.
Conditioning follows naturally after cleansing. Never mind the 20 different ways to deep condition your hair—just keep it simple. Take a moisturizing conditioner product of your choice and leave it on your hair until the desired softness is achieved. The end. Adding oils, other conditioners, honey and other extras we tend to want to mix in our conditioners—is purely optional. Your hair will still thrive without the mixology. The key is to simply be consistent with whatever you’ve chosen to do. If you’ve decided to condition weekly— make sure it happens every week. Keep your focus and momentum.
Like conditioning, your individual product choices and time frame for conditioning are dependent on your own head of hair. The key is to simply be sure that your product is a hydrating product and that you remain consistent with its application to keep your balance in check. Moisturizing and sealing go hand in hand—so an effective moisturizing routine will always have an oil or butter to seal the hair.
• Low Manipulation
I talk at length about keeping the manipulation down as much as possible. Simply reducing your contact with your hair overall, done many, many times will improve the health of your hair. I subscribe to a holistic interpretation of protective styling where the entire spirit of the regimen is protective.
Whether it’s improving hair health, losing weight, or saving money— the process is simple. You must identify the handful of basic things that matter and execute them flawlessly many, many times. I once tweeted that other people’s regimens should be templates, not mandates for your hair care, and it’s true. Start with the basics, execute them well, and strive to make them habits without the fluff.
What are the primary steps in your natural hair care regimen?
Yeah no point going to extremes…there's nothing wrong with doing extra stuff…just as long as you don't think you HAVE to do it. I see nothing wrong with presenting info on different techniques…unless they say you HAVE to do them, it's all just information for whoever is wanting it.
@Anonymous October 10, 2011 8:56 PM:
That's never gonna happen. Haha Folks fave to make money. Besides, people have to use theit discretion when buying (or not buying) what's advertised. I never do because I don;t have money to waste and I like to keep it simple.
"Mhmm, she done told y'all…" *looks around the room uncomfortably since she definitely was talking about me.
I already determined there is just too much unnecessary steps in some folks' routine. So then I guess Mrs. CurlyNikki (and others), you will take down all the ads and cut all hair tip advice on this site so that we can get down to our basic natural hair care?
I do way too much and my hair is suffering for it. Too much of a good thing. I have never seen breakage, but now I am seeing more breakage. My strands are coarse so I have always treated them as somewhat resistant. I think they are rebelling now. In the last 4 weeks, I have chelated 2x, used a protein treatment 2x, done a henna gloss, used bentonite clay and rhassoul clay. My hair is definitely telling me enough! It just wants to go back to the basics. I am going to listen to it.
I am a newbie to the site and having reading everything I could to learn about my hair. This post is like a breath of fresh air. I totally agree. Thanks Loretta
amen amen….to me cowashing is just another way to moisturize and it helps my hair a lot but anything else like scalp massages, mud masks, henna..etc are like spa treatments for my hair. If I have time and if I'm in the mood to just have fun with my hair that way, i will do them. Otherwise, they are so not proprieties.
Terrific post. Consistency and simplicity works well in other areas of life. I saw a You Tuber that was having great results losing weight and he lists his regimen as drinking 8 glasses of water a day, exercising 5x a week and eating 5 small meals a day. Simple, to the point and you're more likely to do it because it's less steps to have to remember.
I think she's right! If the old does not work then try something new, otherwise if it's not broke don't fix it.
This is so so true! Some of the stuff I see people do just leaves me so confused! I have always said that just like every single human being needs the same basic things likek food, water, touch etc. So every head of hair needs to be cleansed, conditioned moisturized and protected! It's so simple! Thanks for sharing this.
This post has to be one of my all time favorites. I used to complicate my life when I first went natural, but now I try to keep it as simple as possible. I've realized, with time, that less IS more, and that my hair doesn't react that differently to all the products, methods etc.
I absolutely love my hair right now, and my regimen is the simplest I've ever had.
Oh, and this post also goes with what I always say: "learn your hair." Just because it works for me, or for the natural next door, doesn't mean it will work for you!
Thank you. I hate it when applying 5 different products for no rhyme or reason. I'm back to basics in each one of the categories you listed.
I think there is a rush to grow the hair. Just give it freedom to grow at its own pace.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Very good,simply does it.I have simplified my regimen and i am so much happier because i can take it with me wherever i go and most important i'm able to stick at it.
I'm SO trying to keep my routine as simple as possible. I've never been high maintenance about anything, and I definitely don't want to start complicating things because I'm natural. I also hate putting a lot of products in my hair at once. I'm a little surprised by how many different things some people do to their hair, and I don't want to feel like I have to do a bunch of different things too. And I especially don't want to have to regularly pay for a million different essential oils (and really I don't think that's necessary).
Currently, I have a shampoo, a conditioner, a deep conditioner, vinegar, a couple oils, a butter, and a leave-in moisturizer. I wouldn't mind rotating shampoo or conditioner every once in a while, but otherwise I don't need anything else, and I may cut out a product or two if it's not necessary anymore. I have a TWA, so that doesn't require a lot of manipulation. I just cowash (or wash + deep condition [1 hr] weekly), might start a weekly vinegar rinse, sometimes use a leave in conditioner, always seal with a butter and/or oil, and done.
GREAT article! I SOOOO need to get back to the basics. 2.5yrs in and I think the last 6mos. have been the hardest for me… wanting to try all sorts of new products, but not being patient enough to see what really works. I just need to slow down and get back to the BASICS and K.I.S.