Q: What do you recommend for someone new to going natural?

A: It is a big decision whenever someone decides to go natural — primarily because it is not only a change in hairstyle, but it is a lifestyle change, too. I suggest starting with your own personal hair goals, asking yourself questions such as “What do I want my hair to look like, feel like, and how much time am I willing to give to my hair maintenance?”

When going natural, keep hair hydrated with moisturizing treatments that nourish both relaxed hair and new growth. Remember, hair is most fragile where natural hair and relaxed hair meet. So be sure to avoid excessively tight hair styles or styles that require rigorous manipulation. A style like the two-strand twist is a great option because it enhances and defines the natural texture and requires very little maintenance. And if you prefer hair that is smooth or silky, ceramic blow dryers and styling tools can be used to create almost any desired look while straightening new growth, as well. These styles will make transitioning from relaxed to natural hair easier… without compromising health or appearance.

Q: What's the best deep treatment process?

A: I’ve found that naturally curly hair needs intense moisture, regardless of how tight the curl. Here’s the best deep conditioning process:

  1. Cleanse the hair with a moisturizing shampoo that will gently remove all impurities from the hair and scalp while replenishing moisture. When shampooing, keep in mind that you have two textures of hair, so shampoo gently using the fingertips working through the ends of the hair. If you are shampooing too vigorously you may find that you will place unnecessary tension on the hair that has been previously relaxed, which could lead to breakage.
  2. After shampooing, towel-blot hair to remove excess water. (Excess water often prevents deep penetration of the conditioner.) For the best deep-conditioning treatment, I recommend Design Essentials Stimulations Super Moisturizing Conditioner. It hydrates deep within the hair shaft to restore lasting moisture and vitality to hair. It also contains peppermint oil, an organic ingredient that refreshes and stimulates the scalp. Hair is left in its healthiest state possible after a stimulations deep treatment.

  • Apply a quarter- to half-dollar size amount to the hair (depending on the length and texture).
  • Then take a large, wide-tooth comb and, beginning from the nape of the head (or back), comb conditioner through small section by section until you have completed this throughout the entire head.
  • Follow by placing a plastic shower cap on the head and sit for 5-10 minutes. To intensify the treatment, wrap a slightly heated, dampened towel over the top of the cap. This creates sort of an at-home steam treatment by trapping the moisture and steam within the cap, forcing the conditioner to penetrate the hair strand even more.
  • Allow this treatment to penetrate for 10–20 minutes depending on the amount of time have available. Once completed, rinse the hair with lukewarm water (almost cool). This will aid in closing the hair cuticle and locking in moisture. Rinse until all excess treatment has been removed from the hair.

Q: What can I do for an itchy scalp?

A: An itchy scalp is tricky. It can be caused by a number of reasons. Climate, diet, scalp irritation, or even more severe reasons like seborrhea dermatitis or dandruff. Most commonly, it is because of a dry scalp, or tension placed on the scalp.

I would recommend a moisture-intensive cleansing and conditioning regimen that would include using Design Essentials’ Therapeutics Rx Anti-Itch Shampoo (to alleviate dry, itchy scalp) and Design Essentials Moisture Retention Conditioning (to restore and retain moisture). If you are still finding that you are in need of further moisture, I suggest applying a scalp moisturizer such as Design Essentials Herbal Complex 4 Hair & Scalp Treatment to replenish moisture to the scalp without build up. To reduce itchiness or the appearance of dandruff, try Design Essentials Therapeutics Rx Hair & Scalp Treatment, which contains salicylic acid, designed to treat the symptoms of seborrhea dermatitis and dandruff. Both treatments only require applying a small amount to the scalp area where the itchiness or dryness occurs. Use as needed.

Be sure to consult with physician or dermatologist if you experience more severe symptoms.

Q: How do I know if my shedding is normal or if I'm shedding too much?

A: This is a very common question for women and men. It’s normal to shed between 35-40 hairs per day.

With naturally curly hair of any texture, the hair has a specific growth pattern in coils or curls. In some cases, because the curls are so tight, the hair that has naturally shed will stay within the hair trapped by its texture or curl. Meaning, if you wait a couple of days to shampoo, condition, style, comb, etc. you will find a much larger amount of hair shedding than if you shampooed, conditioned, styled, and combed on a daily basis.

If you find that the hair is shedding in larger amounts specific to an area, or following a specific action like styling, using a thermal styling tool, or unnecessary tension like tight ponytails, then you might want to consult a professional hair stylist for a consultation.

Q: How do I know when it's the right time to do the Big Chop?

A: The BC should be determined at your personal discretion. If you prefer to keep your length as is, then you can opt to grow your relaxer out until the natural hair reaches your desired length. However, if you are open to a short crop, then cut the relaxed hair and start off new with natural do’. The decision is yours!