Whenever I think of creating or adjusting my natural hair regimen, Proverbs 22:6 resonates. “Train up a child in the way they should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
The purpose of your natural hair regimen is to train your natural hair.
There are three questions that I want you to ask yourself when creating your regimen and buying products.
- Is this as simple as it can be? I strive to maintain a simple natural hair regimen.
- What part will this product play in my natural hair regimen?
- Should this be done weekly, every two weeks, or monthly?
Weekly or Every 2 Weeks
- Moisturizing Conditioner
- Protein Conditioner
- Deep Condition
Your natural hair regimen does not have to be complicated, and you do not need a plethora of products.
Each element of your natural hair regimen should have a particular purpose. Each product that is a part of your regimen should serve as a primary contributor to that purpose.
This mindset will help you streamline your product selection, usage, and expenses.
The essential elements of a traditional natural hair regimen are cleansing and conditioning.
However, naturally curly hair has additional needs including:
- Cleansing (clarifying)
- Moisture conditioning (deep conditioning)
The specific purpose of each element of your regimen:
1. Pre-shampoo treatments should be used to add moisture to the hair. This is done before shampooing with harsh shampoos that strip the hair of its’ moisture.
Kira’s Pre-poo Treatment Recipe
• ¼ cup of almond oil
• 2 tbsp of melted shea butter
• 1 to 2 capfuls of olive oil
Directions: Mix all contents in a bowl. On wet or damp hair, pour oil mixture over hair. Cover hair with plastic cap for about 10 minutes. This is done before washing or starting another treatment.
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2. Cleansing is a two-part equation. It involves cleansing the scalp and cleansing the hair of old product (clarifying). It is critical to clean the scalp to rid it of environmental toxins and product build-up.
These toxins and build-up smother the scalp. This prevents the natural hair fa to secrete.
Also, blocked hair follicles can cause a host of other scalp related issues and problems.
Clarifying shampoos or cleansers strip the hair. This striping is almost to the point that the hair can “sing” or squeak.
It gives the hair the ability to start over with a “clean” slate, so to speak.
Clarifying the hair before introducing a new product is the same as starting with a fresh canvas when you are painting. It gives you a starting point to determine the performance of the product on clean hair.
Clarifying ends the relationship of previous products with the hair by stripping them away.
Clarifying should not be done on a regular basis. Adding this process to your monthly regimen or as needed will prove to be beneficial.
If you have extremely dry hair, clarifying should be minimized.
If you use products that contain “cones”, a moisturizing shampoo will not remove the “cones”, a clarifying shampoo is needed.
The clarifying shampoo that I use is Giovanni Tea Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo.
3. Protein Conditioners – Mild protein help to moisturize and add strength to the hair strands.
Healthy hair strands should be pliable and strong. They shouldn’t be too stretchy ( a sign that you need protein). They also shouldn’t be too stiff ( a sign that you need moisture).
This is where the moisture-protein balance comes in. If you find that your hair is more elastic (stretchy) than normal, your strands may need protein.
Kira’s Protein Conditioner Recipe
• 2 medium egg whites
• 1/2 cup of Greek Style Yogurt
• Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk Cream
• 1 cupful of olive oil
Directions: Mix all contents in a bowl. On clean wet or damp hair, pour mixture over your hair and cover your hair with a plastic cap for about 15 minutes. Rinse with room temp water, not hot water. You don’t want to cook the egg whites do you? Deep conditioning is a MUST after a protein treatment. Protein treatments should be done on an as needed basis.
4. Moisturizing conditioners are one category of conditioning for the hair. Particularly, moisturizing conditioners should do one thing. They should moisturize the hair with ingredients like humectants, emollients, and oils.
5. Deep conditioning is needed especially after the hair has been stripped using harsh ingredients or after a reconstructing protein treatment. I use Giovanni Direct Smooth as Silk or a homemade recipe with a heating cap for at least 15 minutes.
Kira’s Deep Conditioning Recipe
• 1 medium avocado
• Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk Cream
• 1 – 3.5 oz container of baby bananas – if you use whole bananas, puree those bad puppies like your life depends on it! If it is chunky on your finger, it will be chunky in your hair.
6. Sealing your hair strands with oil or butter should be done to “trap” in the moisture from the water and deep moisturizing conditioner. Remember that when your hair is wet, it is 100% moisturized. I like to use 100% yellow shea butter or oil (almond or avocado).
Sealing the hair should be done with every wash. Remember that a lot of products have dual purposes and can be doubled up instead of buying two products.
The last step is to rinse the hair with cool water. This will close the hair cuticle, which helps to reflect light providing shiny hair.
Clean Out Your Closet or Underneath Your Sink
It’s time to go to the product cemetery and exhume the dead.
Ok, no more mortician jokes.
Seriously, take all of your hair products and accessories out of the closet or cabinet to see what you have.
Take a heart-to-hair inventory of products and accessories that you have. Make the decision to keep or trash products based on three things:
1. Your budget
2. Your personal desire to keep the product – only keep products that you’re going to use
3. The expiration date of the product
The easiest and the most expensive thing to do is throw it ALL in the trash and start over.
However, you could easily be throwing money away if you decide to repurchase these products later.
Some products can serve dual roles. For example, oils that are used as your pre-poo can be used as your sealant and your body!
Expensive Hair Products: To Buy or Not To Buy
I can honestly say that some of the most inexpensive (cheapie) products have worked well on my hair.
When I started my natural hair journey, cheap products benefited me in a major way.
They gave me the opportunity to experiment without paying an arm and a leg for products that I was unsure about.
I know it may sound crazy, but sometimes you must stop and ask: What purpose will this product serve in my regimen?
Your answer has to be sound and logical. You have a choice to buy or not to buy the expensive hair product.
So what do you do?
When you’re a new natural, try inexpensive products first.
Once you learn more about your hair, you can upgrade to more expensive products if you decide to do so.
Also, please do not let the fact that a product smells good be the deciding factor for your purchase.
Give Your Current Products a Chance
Giving your products a chance is about making a commitment, experimentation, and note taking. Yes, you have to take notes.
Plan to use products for four consecutive weeks before you make a decision to repurchase or discard.
This should give you ample time to use the products in varies ways to get a feel for what the products can do and to see if they live up to their purpose.
It is fair to expect that your hair’s reaction maybe not be favorable, at first. However, continued and consistent use can give a different result once your hair has a chance to adapt to the new products.
Before using new products clarify your hair so that you can start with a clean slate.
Clean out your product inventory.
- Take a picture of your product cemetery.
- Upload it to your Facebook page.
- Share it with the Curl Centric on Facebook.
A Simple Natural Hair Maintenance Regimen
Having a natural hair regimen is more than the products you choose to put on your hair. It also includes what you do to maintain your hair.
For many women with natural hair, the money and time spent on hair products and beauty shop visits reduce significantly.
So what’s the problem, you ask?
Many women haven’t settled on a natural hair maintenance regimen that will give them the results they want.
Learning to work with your hair’s tendencies, will reduce the stress and frustration associated with maintaining hairstyles.
The style that you choose ultimately dictates how the style will be maintained.
The purpose of a maintenance regimen is to help preserve the freshness of your natural hair style for several days, without having to do much else.
The solution is to develop a natural hair maintenance regimen that will day in and day out give your hair what it needs.
Ask yourself these three questions
- Does my maintenance regimen protect my natural hair?
- Does my maintenance regimen allow me to moisturize?
- Does my maintenance regimen produce the desired results all day?
Satin vs. Cotton
Protecting your hair from the wind and sun are crucial, but so is protecting your hair from lint and dryness.
Lint, along with your hair’s tendency to coil around itself is the core of most knots.
I had a co-worker who was standing behind me and said, “Oh, let me get this knot out for you”.
I said, “Sure, but don’t snap it off”.
She gently untangled that bad boy and a piece of lint from my sweater had curled itself up in my hair.
If you are sleeping on cotton pillowcases, there are two culprits: lint and dryness.
I’ve talked about lint, but dryness is so subtle. Your cotton pillowcase is robbing you blind.
Cotton Ball Test
If you drop a cotton ball in a small amount of water, the cotton ball will absorb the water robbing the jar of the liquid.
Applying that same logic to natural hair, sleeping on a cotton pillowcase sucks moisture from your hair.
Sleeping on a satin pillowcase or using a satin cap at night will work wonders. Also, satin will not rob your natural hair of moisture.
Just as our bodies need daily hydration, your natural hair needs to be hydrated as well.
One thing that I love about double strand or 2 strand twists is that I can mist (add moisture) them at night. I use a water and oil mixture to mist my twist.
Then I put on a satin cap without suffering the repercussions of messing up my natural hair style.
Once my hair begins to frizz, I just create an updo style to wear for the next week.
Night Time Natural Hair Regimen
Twist styles are low maintenance, and it’s easy to wash your hair while twisted!
Many set styles have to be wrapped or pin-curled at night. Some of the common ones include twist, braids, bantu knot outs and straight styles.
These styles cannot easily be moisturized daily. Understanding how often your hair needs moisture will help you choose natural hair styles.
How to Maintain the Twist Out
When I was a new natural, it took a while to gather the courage to wear my first wash and go. I was paranoid that my hair would dry out, frizz into a ball or become flatter on one side.
I did have some frizzy hair accidents because I have the hand in hair syndrome (HIHS).
HIHS affects the integrity of your set curl or twist pattern. I’d have to walk around with frizzed hair.
To combat the frizz on twist out type styles, once I styled my hair, that’s it. I leave it alone and don’t touch it!
Hand contact with the hair can cause frizz. When manipulating my hair, I wear rubber gloves.
I would rub the oil on my gloved hands and separate my curls and do all manipulation at that time.
I’d apply oil as needed to the gloves. This little trick has been a life saver!
I was convinced that I needed to carry at least an elastic headband with me, for just in case.
Then I remembered when I was relaxed, I carried hair accessories all the time.
Preserving or maintaining my natural hair style meant carrying accessories. I usually carry a headband, extra bobby pins, extra hair pins and a wide tooth comb.
So at anytime, anywhere, I had what I needed to have gorgeous natural hair all the day long.
Create Your Natural Hair Regimen In 8 Simple Steps
1. Take inventory of your current products
2. Understand the role that each product will have in your regimen
3. Create a monthly natural hair budget
4. Decide on your weekly, every two weeks, and monthly cleaning regimen
5. Use your products for four consecutive weeks to learn how to use the products
6. Find a few basic go-to hairstyles
7. Keep your hair moisturized
8. Protect your beautiful natural hair