Curly Nikki shares 10 valuable tips for keeping fine curls strong and beautiful.

I started wearing my hair in its natural state in 2004. Although I've never had a relaxer, I always wore it straightened—whether it was blown out and pressed, or blown out and flat ironed. For the first couple of years into my natural journey, my hair was very dry and damaged. It would split if you looked at it wrong! During this early phase, I conducted frequent search-n-destroy missions (seek out splits and snip them off)—it was incredibly frustrating and disheartening, but improved the overall health of my hair. Today, I'm hard pressed to find a single split. My hair is finally thriving!!!

My strands are VERY fine and therefore susceptible to splits, breakage and tangling. It's taken me almost three years to develop a routine that works for my hair. I am just now, for the first time since I was a little girl, maintaining length! So, I thought I'd list some of the things that have improved the condition (and length retention) of my fine strands...maybe it'll help you too!

10.   Find a regimen and stick to it — Although my products change often, my routine stays the same. I try not to do too much to my hair and that seems to aid in length retention. This step will take the longest, lol. Product junky-ism is a real disease, and I'm in recovery. Relapses, however, are always right around the corner.

9.   Moisturize and Seal — Moisturize with a water-based product and seal with a heavier-oil laden one, or butter/oil. Some fine-haired ladies don't do well with butters or heavy creams...I thought I was one of them, but my hair loves rich, heavy butters. I'm really feeling un-refined shea butter. My hair is shiny, moisturized, and happy.

8.   Stretch the ends — Find a low-maintenance way to elongate the ends of the hair. My fine strands curl up on themselves, knot and then split. Wearing a Twist-n-Curl, or flexi-rod set, really keeps my ends stretched out and happy. For some reason, they seem to retain moisture better in this state.

7.   Use the Denman sparingly — It's very tempting to reach for the Denman to detangle...especially when the frizzy mess on your head is beginning to look like mission impossible. The Denman makes the process much quicker, and makes the hair much smoother, but for fine curlies, this comes with a cost. I had to learn the hard way that my wet hair, and any brush is bad news! The best way to detangle fine strands is with your fingers (and/or a wide tooth comb) and a crap load of moisturizing, slippery conditioner. It takes longer, but you don't damage your hair in the process.

6.   Avoid product build-up at all cost - Do this by lo-pooing or using products that don't contain cones or other ingredients that can build up over time. For me, build-up always leads to dry hair that tangles and breaks. I'm not anti-cones; my hair actually does quite well with amodimethicone.

5.   Only co-wash a few times a week — my fine strands didn't do well with all of the manipulation, and over time I lost more hair than I should have. I did daily co-washing for a year or more and my hair never showed an inch of growth. Sad.

4.   Avoid protein — my hair just can't handle it...not even in small amounts. My hair gets hard, brittle and will snap off at the slightest tug. I've actually read that many fine-haired curlies love protein. Try it out, assess the situation, and make a determination for yourself!

3.   Weekly Deep Treatments — this has been a tremendous help. I try to DT every time I wet my hair. Its hard, because I always feel pressed for time, but my hair thanks me later.

2.   Henna - Need I say more?! My hair has never been thicker, softer or happier. It also helps with number 8 since the henna elongates my curl.

1.   Gentle Handling — I know you've heard it before, but it can't be said enough—treat your hair like old fine lace. Be patient when detangling and styling and please, please, please keep your hands out of your head as much as possible. I have serious HIF (hand in fro) disease, and I'm sure this adds to the few splits and knots I do get.

Ladies, chime in with other tips and advice for us fine-haired ladies!

Disclaimer: These tips may not work for all fine-haired curlies; it's just a starting point...