Monday, January 14, 2013

Mastering your hair: the importance of a hair regimen

Mastering your hair regimen is key to the health and manageability of your natural hair. The added benefit of having a consistent regimen is that it takes some of the guess work out of having curly hair, which can be 'unpredictable'. However it's really not as hard to predict as we may think. You just have to take the time to learn how your hair responds to certain techniques/products and train your hair by doing them consistently. For example, if its properly hydrated it will be elastic and less likely to break, setting it in a stretched style will fight shrinkage, and hair that's cleansed regularly won't have product build up.

The first thing to consider is your schedule, because adopting someone else's healthy hair habits does you no good if you aren't going to do them consistently. So you need to find a day when you can devote at least an hour to your hair. (Sound like a lot of time for hair? -don't freak out, just keep reading to see what all goes into that time frame and you'll see that you can multi-task or even break up that hour.) The whole point is making this regimen work for you!
Step one
Pre-poo. (Yes, we're still talking about hair.) The term simply means before you shampoo. Before you hop into the shower or stick your head into a sink to wash your strands you need to detangle them. Everyday we shed 100-150 strands of hair, and when your hair is curly the strands falling from your scalp can have a hard time working their way out of your hair. To help them out:
  • Part your hair in sections
  • Apply a liberal amount of water and the detangler of your choice (you can also use conditioner, you just need a product that's slippery).
  • Using your fingers or wide tooth comb detangle from the ends to the root.
Step Two

Cleansing. Natural hair needs to be washed. (Water is curly hair's best friend.) I wash my hair once a week, that way dirt and product is lifted from my hair and doesn't block moisture from getting to my hair. You can cleanse with a shampoo, if you do make sure it is sulfate free (I can't stress that enough, natural hair is naturally dry-avoid chemicals that strip moisture from your hair, and while you're avoiding sulfates run away from parabens as well, your hair will thank you!)
Your other option is to co-wash, wash your hair with conditioner. (Again be mindful of the ingredients).
When I was transitioning washing my hair in sections wasn't necessary (because most of my hair was straight, and straight strands don't wrap around each other the way curly hair does). Now that I'm fully curly, I HAVE to wash my hair in sections, otherwise all of the detangling I did in my pre-poo was a big waste of time.
Step Three
BTW! Since this next part is done out if the shower feel free to do it while watching your favorite television program, or some other leisure activity if you feel like hair maintenance is taking up too much of your free time.
Moisturize. Seal. Stretch. After I've finished washing and conditioning (or co-washing, if that's your thing). I'm out of the shower, my hair is in four twist (after rinsing the conditioner from each twist I re-twist them in the shower.) now I need to Moisturize my hair. Once I add the moisturizer I want to seal it into my hair, and set it in a style that will stretch my curls (unless you want a wash n go, in which case moisturize, seal, and enjoy!)
  • To moisturize: working one section at a time. Apply a water based moisturizer (my fav: SM curl enhancing smoothie) from root to tip.
  • To seal: apply oil or Shea butter from the ends to 1/2 or 3/4 up the hair shaft. (Focusing on the ends.)
  • To stretch: So. Many. Options. You can put each section into two strand twists, braids, flat twists, or cornrows. Allow the hair to dry completely before removing and your'll have less shrinkage than a wash n go!
I prefer to do this in the evenings that way I can set my hair in a stretch style, allow it to dry overnight, and the next day I wake up with hair that's moisturized, stretched, and ready to style however I'd like.

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