So you have avoided all things that damage the hair mentioned in Part 2: 5 Things to Avoid for Long, Healthy Hair. You’ve stayed away from heat, chemicals, playing in your hair, product buildup, and you’re extremely gentle when detangling your hair. However, you still face hair problems; your hair is frizzy, dry, crunchy, flat, or all of the above. Or maybe you’re just not achieving the your hair goals or just want to know how you can step up your hair care routine. Today I will discuss 5 things that you can do to your hair routine to get closer towards long and healthy hair.
Use Moisturizing Products
When you’ve avoided everything mentioned in Part 2 and still face hair problems, the next thing to look at is the products that you are using! The most perfect head of curly hair (if there is such a thing), will even look lackluster if crappy products are applied to it. Us curly girls have hair that tends to be on the drier side, and unlike people with straighter or wavier hair who do not need to be as selective with products, we need to be careful in choosing products for our dryness-prone hair. I’ve bought products that left my hair feeling dry, sticky, flat, and frizzy. I’ve also bought products that left my hair feeling moisturized, shining, and super defined. Believe me, with the right products, your hair can transform. Check out my article Product Recommendations fro Curly Girls to see which products I love and recommend!
Cleanse the length of your hair if you use silicones, butters, or oils on your hair
So in Part 2, we discussed how product buildup can prevent your hair from being moisturized. Butters and oils, when applied to dry hair, just sit on top of the hair and do not offer moisturizing benefits because they do not contain water. Silicones are another substance in MOST conditioning product, usually unless noted otherwise, that lead to product buildup. Silicones can be great in a hair care routine because they add slip (yaye for detangling) and add softness to the hair.
However, these products can feel great initially but after continued use, they can coat the hair and prevent the hair from absorbing water. This leads to chronically dehydrated hair that looks soft, due to artificial chemicals and the artificial shine from oils and butters. Click Here to see a list of water-soluble (silicones that can dissolve in water) and water- insoluble (silicones that must be washed off with shampoo).
I could go on and on about silicones and product buildup, and I think that I’ll write a separate article about it. For now, just know that you must cleanse the length of your hair to remove oils, butters, and silicones whenever you wash your hair (unless you wash your hair everyday, then you can just stick to “removing” twice a week and cowashing the other 5 days). Cowashing can be very beneficial to the hair. But unless you completely avoid products with oils, butters, and silicones, you must remove these heavy products from the length of your hair when you wash your hair. (The two exception to using oils or butters is right after washing when they can seal the water into the hair. The second exception is using coconut oil as a prepoo because the proteins are able to absorb into the hair. All thought the coconut oil doesn’t offer moisture (water) to the hair, it does provide benefits to the hair by adding protein. Besides these two situations, oils just sit on top of the hair and add shine or softness to the hair). Keep an eye out for my article on how I remove product buildup from my hair.
Wash/ Cowash to suite your hair’s needs
During a period of my natural hair journey, it was normal for me to go two weeks between washes. While I was in college, I went one month without washing my hair, and I did not wear protective styling (covers eyes in shame). Not only did this create MASSIVE amounts of tangles (it was taking me 4 hours to detangle), it left my hair dry and brittle. Going too long in between washes can lead to dehydrated hair, and dehydrated hair is hair that is prone to breakage. Ideally, my hair does best when I wash it every other day or twice a week. Unfortunately, it takes very long for my hair to dry so I settle for washing my hair twice a week. I recommend to wash hair at least once every week; you can go every two weeks if you consistently wear your hair in protective styling but I think that once a week is best; just try out different frequencies. I used to wash my hair only once a week because someone else recommended that routine, but now I realize that my hair thrives on being washed twice a week. Don’t be afraid to go outside of your routine; a change may be the very thing that your hair needs.
Wear protective styling—but do not keep them in for too long
Protective styling is truly a beautiful thing when it comes to growing long hair. Buns, braids, twists, ponytails, weaves (that do not need a leave out that requires straighteneing), and wigs keeps your hair from getting tangles and single strand knots, thus, reducing the risk of breakage from the detangling process. My hair thrives when I wear it in buns or braids, and keep it away and protected. However, “protective styling” can also be damaging to the hair when used improperly. I will discuss different styles that are not protecting your hair, but often thought of as protective styling:
Wearing wigs, weaves, braids, and twists for long periods of time-
These styles can give us a break from dealing with our hair while offering our hair protection. However, when they are left in for too long ( for months on end) and when the hair underneath is neglected, these styles can be damaging. Hair needs moisture and our scalp needs to be kept clean. If our hair does not receive water, it becomes dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. If our scalp is not clean, our hair follicle becomes clogged, preventing growth. Make sure that you aren’t leaving your styles in for months at a time and neglecting your hair underneath
Flat ironing your hair during the winter-
I often hear people say that they want to give their hair a break, let their hair rest from being curly, or take a break from washes. This is not protective styling; it is jus styling. Flat ironing or Dominican blows out are damaging and are counterproductive to protecting your hair to achieve growth.
Wearing tight braids, buns, weaves, wigs or twists-
All thought these styles can be extremely beneficial to hair growth, if installed in too tight, it can actually lead to hair loss. “Traction alopecia is a form of alopecia, or gradual hair loss, caused primarily by pulling force being applied to the hair. This commonly results from the sufferer frequently wearing their hair in a particularly tight ponytail, pigtails, or braids.” This can happen on any part of our hair, but is most likely to occur at the fragile and fine edges of the hair, resulting is patches of hair loss in our temple and crown area.
Trim your hair
When our hair leaves the scalp, it is no longer living; it is dead. This means that hair CANNOT repair itself and any damage is permanent. There are products that artificially “heal” the hair by fillings holes in the cuticle, but this is only temporary. Hair that has been damaged, whether it be from heat, chemicals, or even unavoidable wear and tear, needs to be cut off. Split ends can travel up the hair shaft. Damaged cuticles can snag onto other hairs and create tangles. Hair that is damaged needs to be cut if you want healthy and thriving hair. Deciding when to trim your hair is based off of your hair’s needs.
- If your hair has significant visible damage and breakage that you are trying to get rid of, you may need to cut it as frequently as it is growing (if hair grows the average of 6 inches per year or 0.5 inches per month, you can trim 1 inch every two months. At the end of the year, your hair will be the same length, however, you will have cut off 6 inches of damage.
- If you use chemicals and heat, without visible damage then your hair may need to be cut less often (a very small trim every 3-4 months) to prevent split ends from traveling up the hair shaft. **I trim my own hair every 4 months even though I don’t have visible damage. This is to get rid of and prevent split ends.**
- If your hair is relatively healthy, has no visible damage or straight pieces, and has few split ends, you could get away with trimming your hair once or twice a year. However, if you do notice an increase in split ends, your ends feel rough to the touch, or you notice that your hair is getting tangled more easily, you may want to increase it to every 4 months.
I hope you all found this article helpful! Please keep checking back for new articles and YouTube uploads!