Sometimes we don’t realize how a little tender, love, and care can go a long way.
Maximizing Your Hair’s Potential
For someone who is not a professional, when it comes to maintaining natural hair, it is likely for damage to occur from improper manipulation. Natural hair is art itself, so tend to it carefully and gain experience as you style. To allow your hair to thrive, you can’t just buy all the best items for your hair, and you must learn to use them correctly. It is possible to misuse hair products, so be sure always to read instructions and proceed mindfully.
When you style your own hair, you have to remember to think like a hairdresser. Not only are they focused on creating beautiful hairstyles, but an experienced stylist knows to protect natural hair at the same time. They don’t rush, skip steps, or become lazy during the process.
It’s incredible to see how a little patience goes a long way for hair. Your hair’s overall health is dependent on your treatment.
Keep reading to find out how to maximize your hair’s potential with the right products and techniques!
What’s Your Hair Type?
Your hair care routine should be consistent, but mutable. As you go through life, things change, and your hair does too.
From all the things we do – cleaning, styling, and maintaining hair – over time it begins to affect our tresses. Our age, gender, and hormones are also factors in hair change as we grow. As we become older, naturally our hair becomes weaker and prone to breakage due to chronic manipulation. Damage such as split ends, thinning, or significant frizz is results of hair that aren’t cared for properly.
To keep your strands lively, you must give your hair the best TLC you could provide. Besides getting your hair done all the time, in between styles you should be able to treat your curls to ensure health and shine.
We all want flourishing, healthy hair, but it is easier said than done. You must commit to everlasting care!
Do you moisturize your hair every morning just to have it feeling parched by the evening? Chances are you’re currently battling issues keeping you from hair greatness. Many natural-haired girls are following popular natural hair regimens, but not realizing their hair products, and method choices aren’t for them.
The more tightly coiled your strands are, the more prone you are to dryness and damage. Type 4 naturalistas have to remember always to moisturize to ensure hydrated strands. And I’m not just talking about putting some oil in your hair every morning and calling it a day; I mean designing a unique routine that works according to your hair’s conditions.
Combating dryness is something many women are looking to do, especially in extreme weather conditions. The sun’s rays or the cold wind is no match for your natural hair. No matter where you live or what you’re into, you want to ensure your hair thrives every day, all day.
What you need for optimal moisture are the correct hair products according to your hair type. Your hair type helps you find the hair products.
But your hair’s behavior will designate your techniques. Think about your hair’s porosity in addition to its texture:
Low Porosity Hair
If you have low porosity hair, your curls are tight and resistant to any liquid.
Since it’s harder to absorb moisture, you must ensure you are using hair products and methods that help open up your cuticles. Products low in pH are meant to close your cuticles, as they are more acidic. Alkaline-based ingredients are found in dyes, bleaches, and perms to help penetrate the product through the strands.
You may need to search for those hair products with the basic chemical to open your strands to allow a smooth flow of moisture. Added heat (steam, warmer water, diffuser, heat cap, etc.) can also help with moisture absorption to reduce frizz and dryness.
When using conditioners or products that have to be left in, let it sit longer than the written time frame.
There’s no harm in leaving in hair products for hours, or even overnight, as long as your hair is getting its needed nourishment.
Medium Porosity Hair
Medium porosity hair requires the least amount of maintenance due to its looser cuticle layer and easy acceptance of hair oils.
When it comes to dying and styling hair, having a medium porosity gives you an advantage seeing that it provides a healthy shine, and holds styles in place for an extended period. Regular hair routines involving deep conditioning and proper moisturizing can increase your chance of maintaining excellent product absorption.
If for any reason you’re still unsatisfied with your hair’s ability to retain moisture, consider protein treatments or hair products with protein-filled ingredients to help.
High Porosity Hair
High porosity curls tend to absorb moisture quickly and dry at a faster rate.
Soon enough, hair may begin to feel brittle and parched. It can appear with age due to the frequent use of shampoos, towels, combing, brushing, excessive or improper heat use, chemicals, dirt, and the list goes on. This is why it is strongly encouraged to treat your hair delicately.
If this is your hair’s type, the key is to find products and methods that help to increase and seal moisture. Protein treatments, hot oil treatments, apple cider vinegar rinses, or hair masks are all ideas to try out and add to your regimen if you haven’t already.
The kinkiest of curls requires high maintenance, but so does everything great.
Learning to Deal With Your Strands
Not everyone can have a professional cater to the health of their natural hair all the time.
And no matter how well your stylist might know you, he or she will never know your strands the way you will if you take the time to see to them. Your hair needs persistent attention to flourish in all the ways you can imagine.
I’ll give you the steps to put to the test towards optimal natural hair health.
Appreciating Your Natural Hair
First and foremost, you need to appreciate your natural hair as is.
Yes, this is a step itself because enjoying it comes with understanding the maintenance necessary for you to be able to rock your tresses confidently. For me, a girl with 4C hair, I used to hide my natural hair under constant protective styles simply because I hated the way my own hair looked on me.
After I did my big chop, I learned to love my look no matter how my hair. But I began to resent it again once it began to grow out. I learned that the only reason I wasn’t enjoying my natural hair anymore was that I wasn’t even caring for it well enough.
Be honest with yourself, are you patient with your methods or are you rushing through and expecting better results? It really was a wake-up call for me once I realized how much of a difference I began to see once I took my hair care more seriously.
It’s not as hard as it may seem if you take it a step at a time.
Starting With the Right Hair Products
You need to find hair products that are safe for your hair. Listen, I used to pick my shampoos and conditioners based on the best-looking bottles.
Now I’m sure many of you are smarter than I used to be and know actually to look at the ingredients. Specific hair products may claim to be natural; however, only the ingredient listing will determine whether you should use it or not.
Anything with alcohol strips your hair of its natural oils, leaving it drier than before. Other components to avoid include sulfates, parabens, silicones, and even fragrance! It is becoming more popular now to revert to DIY shampoos, conditioners, pastes, and oils to ensure your hair is receiving all organic nutrients. Look for moisturizers with water as its first or second ingredient for added hydration.
Sealants help trap and increase the moisture for a longer time. It’s the quality of the product that matters, not the quantity.
Should I Shampoo?
Yes, this is a real question! There has been a lot of setback from the use of shampoo for many natural women.
Rather than using shampoos that bring forth dryness, many women have been co-washing in place of them, or even creating their own, natural shampoos. For those living in warmer areas, or who are active, or pretty much sweat or swim all the time deal with the battle of keeping hair clean without stripping the scalp too often from its natural oils.
The use of shampoo is entirely up to you. The issue for naturals is that washing with shampoo too often (or using chemical-based shampoos) induces dryness and breakage. Lengthen the time frame between wash days, but in between, you can touch up with co-washes, dry (organic) shampoos, and apple cider vinegar rinses.
To help on wash day, before using shampoo, you can do a pre-poo treatment with oil or conditioner to help prepare the scalp for the cleansing process.
Section your hair when you work with it. It definitely helps to give each area of your hair specific attention, and it makes it easier to work the back of your head.
When using shampoo, you really want only to wash once. Any other needed wash should be from your conditioner to refrain from a too-clean scalp. Take the time to lather the shampoo throughout your strands and make way around your scalp to rid of the dirt and product buildup.
Washing with warm water allows your cuticles to open for a full clean, and rinsing with cold water closes the cuticles and promotes sheen.
Conditioning Your Curls
Whenever I condition my hair, I’m basically doing a deep condition.
Unless you’re completely content with the state of your hair after wash day or don’t have the time, I recommend taking your conditioning to the next level every time for better results.
This is my favorite part because this is where I really take my time to ensure my hair feels softer and stronger so that I can style effortlessly after. You can purchase an organic deep conditioning mask, or you can create your own.
Here’s the deal: you can condition regularly after shampooing, or you can deep condition within your wash days. It helps to condition only in between your designated shampoo days to keep up with a clean and moisturized scalp daily. Especially during the colder months, you should switch to deep conditioning more often.
If you can, begin with dry hair. Wet hair is weaker and dryer, since it becomes easier to comb through tangles, essentially ripping your hair. I noticed by adding enough hair products to each section, and I could easily detangle by hand which reduced shedding during the process.
It does take longer, but remember how well patience helps your natural hair in the long run. Make sure when you add hair products, to focus on the ends, as they are the driest part of your strands. As you glide your fingers down each section, you will feel your hair becoming softer and silkier. I know I’m using just enough product when I can smoothly run my fingers through the product-filled sections.
Just make sure not to overdo it, you’ll know you are if your hands feel gunky from the product overload. Cover with a plastic cap and leave in for as long as you please, with added heat if desired. Any in-depth treatment or mask will be beneficial if dispersed evenly throughout the hair.
Don’t worry about running out of too much product too quickly. If you don’t use enough, then your treatment becomes a waste, so make the most of it.
Protein vs. Moisture
What’s more overwhelming? Not knowing what type of hair products to buy, or knowing what you need but unsure of which brand to trust the most?
When you’re still getting to know the ins and outs of your natural hair, you become more skeptical of your purchases and techniques. But this is totally fine, as it assists in the long run when you can figure out what your hair needs without having to consult a stylist.
To figure out what your hair needs, in addition to your porosity test, you can perform a strand test. With a strand of wet hair, you can stretch it and let go to see how your hair acts. You know you need moisture when you can barely stretch it out, and if it stretches out or breaks, you need protein. You can also take the time to feel your tresses to find out where you stand.
Too much protein in the hair actually causes it to give a hard feel, and too much moisture has the hair feeling overly soft and still breaks easily. Too little protein is stringy, limp hair, and too little moisture is just dryness and weakness.
Any treatment you decide to use to help the status of your natural hair should line up with your hair’s condition and what it needs to thrive.
Protein treatments are great every month or so, but they don’t take the place of moisturizing treatments. Be sure when you purchase conditioners or masks, you know what all ingredients do for your hair.
You want to balance your hair’s nutrients so that there is an even amount dispersed throughout your scalp. You can find treatments that run from mild to severe, depending on the state of your natural hair.
Whether you’re looking to restore or repair natural hair, you can always find methods that cater to your exact needs.
The LOC (leave-in conditioner, oil, cream) method is a comfortable, simplified way for most curly cuties to “lock” in the moisture for all-day hydration.
If you can, try to apply your hair products before attempting to detangle to keep from too much breakage during styling. However, you choose to seal your moisture, be sure to focus on the ends and to not saturate your hair with products. Unlike a conditioner or mask, you won’t be rinsing out excess hair product.
So, use enough for each section to be able to air dry before you start your day.
Outside the Bathroom
To help with your hair’s ability to retain moisture, you have to be able to commit to your hair outside your natural hair regimen.
This includes some pieces of your lifestyle. Our bodies are made up mostly of water, so just imagine how important it is for your hair to stay hydrated throughout the day just as you would. Drinking a lot of water and balancing a healthy diet improves your body’s health naturally, and your hair as well.
You can maintain your moisture throughout the day by ensuring you stay hydrated. You can also protect your hair from the sun and extreme weather with hats or wraps.
And at night, you can also help your hair by sleeping in silk or satin bonnets, scarves, or pillowcases to keep from reduced moisture. Simply keeping from playing in your hair too often helps with humidity a bit also.
I know, I love getting my hair played in as well, but massaging the scalp with oil regularly helps.
Taking It a Day At a Time
If you’re discouraged about your hair’s turnouts, help bring more life and bounce to your strands by taking the time to moisturize, nourish, and define your curls.
No blog or website can tell you exactly what you need. It’s my job to give you the correct information for you to take into account your hair, and make the necessary changes to your routine to ensure your hair has what it needs. You can moisturize as often as required, however, you see the best fit for your kinks.
The kinkier you are, really help your 4C natural hair by purchasing products meant to maintain moisture throughout your regimen. Taking the best care of your hair is not temporarily stripping your hair from everything to restoring with store-bought oils.
You have natural oils, and it puts you at a disadvantage for your hair to be immaculate because it begins to behave differently. Some tips include staying away from hot tools as much as you possibly can and minimize the chemical treatments like coloring and perming.
There are safer options to be able to style your hair however you please. But the one thing to always keep in mind is that hydration through your processes benefits your natural hair, beautifully.
Natural hair is a lifestyle, so welcome to your journey!