I’ve finally worked out a hair regimen that takes care of my hair’s everyday needs and – hopefully – long-term length retention.
My regimen’s fairly flexible. I’ve talked before about how you should be ready to change things up if your hair isn’t responding to the products you’re using or the styling techniques you’re implementing.
It’s important to be reactive to what your hair needs – so if it needs moisture but moisturising’s not on the agenda for another few days, throw out the rule book and give your thirsty strands want they want!
That said, it’s important to have a routine in place for cleansing, moisturising and caring for your hair. How this works is entirely up to you. It depends on how much time you have, your budget, your hair type and of course, your lifestyle.
Just so you know, my hair consists mainly of 4a curls with a few tufts of 3c at the top and sides. It’s low porosity, very fine…and sometimes diva-ish. I also exercise quite a lot, so if I’ve been sweating a lot, I need to adapt my hair regime to take this into account.
I call this the lazy girl’s regime because I really don’t have so much time to spend on my hair right now. Caring for black hair can be really time-intensive, and it’s a pretty big commitment if you want to retain length and have healthy hair.
There’s really not much to my regimen. There are areas that I want to work on, like learning how to protective style properly, but all-in-all this is what works for me.
So here’s my current natural hair regimen, more or less:
Moisturise – spritz with water, seal with oil and add a little curl cream, paying particular attention to the ends. If I can’t be bothered to spritz, I simply run my wet hands through my hair while I’m showering. This provides enough moisture and it’s warm, which helps the moisture soak in. I never apply too much moisture in the morning – just a touch, otherwise my hair shrinks up.
Stretch – once my hair’s damp I stretch it using a high bun, braids, twists or a lazy kind of bantu style, i.e. roughly parted sections. If I’m rushing out, I’ll stick it in a bun and leave it. Styling is one of my weaknesses – I really need to work on this.
I rarely have time to mess about with my hair before bed but on the rare occasions that I do, I’ll stick in a few braids so my hair’s nice and stretched ready to style the following day.
I ALWAYS sleep on satin type bedding, so wrapping up my hair for the night isn’t a problem, though I have to say that it seems to retain more moisture if I also wrap my hair in a satin scarf. I need to work on my bedtime routine too – maybe incorporating more twists or braids ready for the following day.
Time permitting, I’ll co-wash during the week. Sometimes my hair starts feeling a little dry and isn’t responding to moisture so well, so I’ll get a light conditioner and use it to co-wash. This is especially important if I’ve been exercising. When I co-wash, I always use another conditioner afterwards. So I co-wash with a bog-standard conditioner, then condition again with a moisturising conditioner – it softens my hair and helps me retain moisture until wash day.
Wash & pre-treat – I wash my hair once a week, usually at the weekend as it’s quite a long process. I use a moisturising shampoo most of the time, but on the fifth or sixth week I use a chelating shampoo. See below.
Before I wash it, I always prime my hair with coconut oil or use a conditioner as a pre-treatment. This ensures that my hair’s as strong as possible before I start washing it. Shampooing your hair can be quite stressful and tends to strip it of moisture.
If I can be bothered I’ll do a hot-oil treatment before shampooing and give myself a head massage, using a simple mixture of olive oil and some essential oils like tea-tree and lavender.
Deep condition – I always deep condition after washing. Sometimes I leave the conditioner on for just a few minutes while I’m detangling my hair in the shower. When I have time, I leave on the conditioner under a heat cap for 20 minutes. Other times – usually when I can’t be bothered to do the entire process in one go – I’ll DC overnight.
Trim – I’m a little devil for seeking and destroying single-strand knots. I used to dust my hair all the time but now I’m limiting it to once a month to try and retain length. Sometimes I don’t need to take off much at all.
Every five to six weeks
Chelating shampoo – Every five or six weeks, my hair becomes extremely dry and unresponsive to moisture. The solution to this is to use a chelating shampoo. This is quite a harsh shampoo but I use it to rid my hair of minerals in hard water that become attached to the hair shaft. I can tell when this needs doing by the way my hair feels. It’s usually every six weeks but if my hair needs this on the fifth week, then so be it.
Chelating shampoos are also handy if I’ve used a new product that doesn’t agree with my hair. It’s like re-setting my hair to zero – my curls come back and it feels as if it’s absorbing moisture again.
Protein – I always follow up my chelating shampoo with a protein conditioner to rebuild my hair up again. I follow this with a moisturising conditioner, as the whole chelating process is quite drying.
So that’s my regimen, in quite a large nutshell. I tend to go overboard when blogging. Keep a look out for my hair regimen breakdown, coming next…
In the meantime, head to the Natural Hair Forum UK, where you can ask all your questions about growing healthy black hair, products and styling.
Have you worked out your hair regimen yet? Don’t agree with some aspects of mine? Leave your comments below…