Over the past year, I’ve learned some things that have helped me enormously with my hair growth — well, more specifically, hair retention. I’m not one to take pictures of my hair (although I’m starting to) to compare with what it looked like a year ago or a month ago. I am going to begin taking pictures every quarter to track my progress. Pictures later, tips now!
- Co-washing rocks! Seriously, it does! At first, I really questioned the thought of using conditioner to wash my hair. As far as I was concerned, conditioner was meant to condition, not wash. I definitely need a trial and error period because, many times, the first time I do something it doesn’t work out that well. Same for co-washing. The first time I tried it, I was not pleased. But I was dealing with a flaking scalp and a really bad technique, so I gave up for a couple of months. This summer, I started co-washing about twice a week and, let me tell you, it was the BEST THING I’VE DONE! Now, I’m a co-washing queen! Why is it great? There are a couple of reasons: cheap conditioners (like Suave, Vo5, Tresemme and Herbal Essences) are good co-wash conditioners for under $5; your hair doesn’t have to deal with harsh cleansers and is moisturized every time you wash; my hair seems to like it and is retaining length. It’s looking great, feeling good and not breaking.
- Detangling with my fingers. At the beginning, I used to rip my comb through my hair with some conditioner just thrown in, not necessarily covering all the hair. I would lose a lot of hair. After doing some research, I heard about detangling by hand. It’s easy: jump in the shower and let the stream of water help you detangle as you rake your fingers gently through your hair, removing any loose hairs. I’ve lost a lot less hair using this technique.
- No more towel drying. In August, when I tried my very first wash ‘n’ go (it was a bit of a disaster), I read not to use a terry cloth towel to dry my hair, just shake my head before I started styling to get rid of extra water. The wash ‘n’ go still needs some work, but I haven’t used a towel since then to dry my hair and I’ve seen a definite change: less frizz and less tangles. Yay!
- Finding a good moisturizer. There are a lot of moisturizers on the market… and a lot of expensive ones. The best thing that I did was to find something or make something that will keep my hair soft and moist from wash day to wash day. This is a lot of trial and error, but I’ve found that butters, like shea butter, and oils, like EVOO, are the best for my hair. Once I figured out what worked, I could stop buying everything under the sun to try to keep my hair feeling good.
- Sealing my hair with oil. This too is a relatively new step in my regime. After moisturizing, I generously spread oil (I like EVOO and castor oil) to lock in the moisture that I had just applied. Especially now that the weather is getting colder and drier (although this morning is pretty damp and rainy), it’s extremely important to ensure that your hair remains moist in this weather.
- Styling your hair when it’s soaking wet. Why, you ask? Frizz is my enemy and I want to stop frizz before it starts. Yes, I know some people on the natural hair tip say to embrace frizz, I say, “really? For what reason?” If you can deal with frizz, you can style you hair with much more ease. When you comb/brush/style hair that is dry or drying, you will get frizz. Plain and simple. Here’s what I do: get out of the shower and while the hair is still wet, slap on my moisturizer, seal my ends with my favourite oil and style. If I can’t style right away, I put on a plastic cap to keep the hair wet and then I style when I’m ready.
- Get a hair bonnet. I am a loyal follower of the head tie. I’ve been tying my hair up with a head tie since I was 9 or 10. A head tie (or tie head for my Jamaican peeps!), because it’s tied tight, is not always a friend of natural hair. Tightly tied head tie can smoosh big natural ‘dos. I bought a hair bonnet that is held in place with elastic — a bright red one that the Hubby isn’t necessarily fond of, but my twist outs last up to four days without me doing anything to it, ’cause my hair isn’t crushed.
- Keep the product junkie-ism to a minimum. I love trying new products, I can’t lie. It’s fun to see what X product is going to do for your hair. But, I did go a little overboard at first and tried to get my hands on everything that anyone spoke about. Fun, but expensive. It will take some time to figure out what works, but keep the buying to a minimum. And, once you’ve found products that work for you, use them and don’t switch it up too frequently. If your hair loves olive oil, why are you trying to spend $60 on someone’s oil mixture? These ain’t days to waste money.
That’s it, folks. My tips — or at least what is working for me. So, any tips or tricks that work for you? Let me know by leaving a comment!