Whether you are new to the natural scene or an OG curly girl, it can be difficult figuring out natural hair care regimen that works for you. Honestly, there is nothing more overwhelming to me than trying to create a hair routine that I can actually stick to!
The goal behind having a hair regimen is to maintain healthy, manageable hair. Depending on the qualities of your own natural hair (curly/kinky, thick/fine, long/short) the regime will vary, but every hair type can achieve 5-star status with regular maintenance and hygiene. It’s all about figuring out what works for you!
Generally, I think a good natural hair hygiene routine is as follows:
- Daily: Moisturize, style
- Weekly: Wash, deep condition and detangle, style
- Monthly: Deep cleanse, add in a repair treatment or hair mask, deep condition, longer protective style
Your hair regimen doesn’t have to be challenging, it just needs to cover the 5 basics of natural hair care: cleansing, conditioning, detangling, moisturizing, and protective styling.
1. Cleansing your natural hair:
Cleansing is probably the most obvious part of a hair regimen, but it is an area that can vary greatly for everyone. Some naturals prefer to wash once or twice a week, while others may wash only once a month. There is no wrong or right answer here, it just depends on your hair. Most shampoos have a tendency to over-dry ethnic hair types, so try to use a good moisturizing shampoo with the right oils so your hair doesn’t become too dry. I think a good rule of thumb is to wash once a week, but if you find that it isn’t working for you then you can extend the time between washes. Pre-pooing your hair prior to shampooing and co-washing with conditioner can significantly help your hair stay hydrated while cleansing!
2. Conditioning your natural hair:
Conditioning is absolutely most important part of a natural hair regimen and it should not be overlooked! Your hair loses protein and moisture just through day to day manipulation, and conditioning helps to alleviate potential breakage and combat dryness. If you don’t already, you should make it a habit to deep condition your hair regularly - I deep condition my hair after every shampoo, even when I co-wash it. But once a month is usually enough for most of us, but if you wash your hair more frequently, you should also condition it more frequently. Deep conditioning should happen at least twice a month.
3. Detangling your natural hair:
If you have natural hair, you know how much fun detangling your hair can be [insert sarcasm here]. Detangling pretty much sucks, but it is essential if you want your hair to grow. When you detangle your hair, make sure you have a lot of moisture in it - do not detangle your hair while dry! The main concern with detangling is that you can end up losing a lot of hair in the process. I prefer to detangle my hair with a good leave-in conditioner or moisturizing cream to give the hair some slip. After dividing your hair up into sections, use a wide-tooth comb and start from the ends of the hair and work your way up to the roots. Do not attempt to brush your hair to detangle it - it will be a nightmare, trust me.
4. Moisturizing your natural hair:
Some hair types tend to be oily, but ethnic hair is often dry and needs constant moisture to prevent breakage. I recommend moisturizing all of your hair every day, but if you feel like your hair is getting too much then you can spread it out. Just make sure that you pay extra attention to the oldest part of your hair - the ends. I prefer to use a lightweight moisturizer on my ends so they don’t look too weighed down. Also doing a heavier moisturizer at night gives your hair plenty of time to absorb the oils, leaving you hair much lighter yet hydrated in the morning. A quick moisturizing tip is to fill a spray bottle with a cup of water and a teaspoon of your favorite carrier oil when you feel like your hair needs a boost.
5. Styling your natural hair
Protective styling is a main key to growing and maintaining curly or kinky hair types. The goal is to use a hairstyle that requires little manipulation - the less you have to touch, detangle or style hair the better. This is particularly true if you hair the type of hair texture that is prone to breakage (like me) and you are trying to retain your hair length or grow your hair. Some of the most popular protective styles today include twists, faux locs, cornrows and braids. The selling point for these styles is that you don’t have to style your hair every day! With no daily styling, you prevent breakage because you are not manipulating your hair as often. All I love wearing my natural afro, it is definitely a lot of maintenance and takes up a lot of time. Protective styling helps to keep my hair under control and allows it to grow without breakage. Just make sure you give your hair some breathing time between styles - at least two weeks. Try a protective style you can do on natural hair in the meantime, such as cornrows or two-strand twists.
Natural hair care can seem daunting, but once you figure out the steps and frequency that your hair needs it gets easy! It may take a bit for you to figure out what steps and products work best for you, but your hair will eventually thank you. Stay at it my Naturalistas!