Basic “Grow Your Curly Hair and Keep it Healthy” Hair Care Tips
For those of us who have curly hair, we know that washing and styling days are an extremely different experience than those with straight hair. Below, after nearly ten years of being a natural curly-haired girl, I have compiled some of my tried and true hair care habits that have never failed me.
Apply an oil to your hair (avoid the scalp if you have skin issues) and let it marinate under a plastic cap at least an hour before washing. This prevents the hair shaft from expanding too severely known as hygral fatigue, as well as protecting the outer layers under the running water.
Avoid harsh chemicals and detergents (like sodium laurel sulfate) that will strip your scalp and hair of way too many of its natural oils.
If you absolutely must have the lather, try vegetable-based soaps from shops like Chagrin Valley or even goats milk soap from Creamery Creek. For more mainstream options, Shea Moisture and tgin are two highly reputed brands that are available.
Deep Condition at Least Once a Week.
My deep conditioners of choice are all Shea Moisture-based. I’ve tried other hair masques from other companies, but none have made my hair feel as consistently strong, soft, and resilient as these do. Feel free to test with the travel packs before committing to the full size; I can usually squeeze two uses from each pack.
Update May 23, 2020: As of November 2019, I no longer use Shea Moisture products. Instead, I have switched to brands that do not use shea butter or coconut oil in every product, as my hair and scalp are sensitive to these ingredients.
Detangle Your Hair.
I was surprised at how much of a difference a good, thorough detangling made in the quality of my hair. For years, after big-chopping and reading at how “evil” combs–even wide-tooth combs–were on curly wet hair, I would occasionally finger-detangle my hair.
One Christmas a couple of years ago, my sister Tiki bought me the Hercules Sagemann Magic Star Seamless 9″ comb.
Using it made my hairstyles last longer, look better, and even feel better. Even my level of breakage has reduced. I’ve comb-detangled during the conditioning step ever since.
Seal Your Hair with a Butter or Oil.
My hair and scalp are severely finicky, and there are many ingredients that it absolutely HATES, no matter how I use them. This has forced me to make my own hair butter sealant with ingredients that are friendly to me. I’ll post the recipe for this butter soon, but in the meantime, I will just say that sealing my hair with this butter not only helps my hair hold moisture longer, but most times it’s all I need between deep conditioning and styling.
Stay off the Product Junkie Wagon–and Stay with What Works!
Did I mention how finicky my hair is?
Did I also mention how much I am swayed by pretty packaging, YouTube stars, and five-star reviews?
From henna to Carol’s Daughter, I have tried products, techniques, and tools to see if I could get the magic results that everyone else got. Most times, my hair fared pretty well. A few times, it laughed in my face–and you haven’t lived till your hair’s laughed at you.
It’s taken me nearly the full time being natural to learn what my hair likes. Many of it’s likes have been what I used at the very beginning. Some, I have to make myself. And other products have–gasp–artificial ingredients!
But you know what? My hair likes them. And now I know.
And I’m not going to stray anymore.
Other hair care tips:
- Trim regularly. When you have trouble pulling apart your hair at the ends or your ends don’t curl right…it’s time.
- Wash and condition your hair in sections to make it more manageable and reduce the chance of tangles.
- Focus all cleansing action onto the scalp. Keep those follicles clear and dirt-free!
- Add any pre-sealant product (like a leave-in conditioner) to soaking wet hair, give it time to absorb, then add your sealant just as you begin styling on damp hair. Shocking the different this has made to my hair.
Above all…the #1 hair care tip I can give:
Listen to your hair.
Test how it feels after shampooing, after conditioning, while detangling. Be aware of what styles make it more prone to tangling, and how your scalp feels. So long as you’re following what it is saying to you, you don’t have to follow any trend or marketing ploy to get the health or beauty you want.
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