So the holidays have come and gone, and you’re determined to set some new goals this year — ones you might actually stick with! Why not make natural hair goals while you’re at it? Take care of your locks this year and you’ll be amazed at what a difference just one year can make.
New Year Hair Care
This curly hair care tip is probably one of the most helpful things you can do to start the New Year off right. This isn’t just for all types of curlies; straighties could benefit from this as well.
Getting the big chop means just what it says — chopping, and chopping BIG. As in, not just trimming an inch or two but chopping ALL of your damaged ends. I know, I know. You’re thinking that if you do that, you’ll get rid of all of the “fabulous” growth you’ve managed to achieve in the past few years. Here’s the thing: if you haven’t been keeping up with regular (every 6-8 weeks) trims, chances are good that you’ve got several inches of dead ends. What’s more, all of that “length” you have is more than likely just scraggly ends just waiting to break off the next time you brush your hair.
You’ve got to get rid of those dead ends. For some of you, this will indeed mean cutting off nearly all of your hair and starting fresh. The good news is that for those of you transitioning, this is almost like an instant transformation — no long, drawn-out process that takes several months to a year. If you get rid of all of your damaged (from heat, relaxers, etc.) hair and only leave yourself with your new growth, you’ll be miles ahead of the game.
In addition, it’ll be in your best interest to make sure you only use a professional curl stylist — someone who specializes in curly hair of all types — for your trims. Otherwise, you may leave the salon with hair more damaged than it was when you went in, with the added “benefit” of a big frizzy mop atop your scalp.
Next to big chopping, deep conditioning is extremely important part of curly hair care. Deep conditioning will literally give your hair back the moisture and nutrients you may have stripped away from it. Even if you’ve been avoiding heat and other harmful hair care products, you’ll still benefit from feeding your hair what it needs.
Deep conditioning involves more than just the quick five-minute conditioning you probably do on a daily basis. It takes using hair care products that are good for your hair and free of sulfates (often known as sodium lauryl suflate and sodium laureth sulfate), formaldehyde (yes, it really is found in hair care products!), and parabens (such as methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl). DevaCurl’s One Conditon is perfect for deep conditioning curly hair. Alternatively, you can make your own deep conditioner.
It also takes time — as much as an hour from start to finish, depending on your hair type and how much hair you have.
After massaging the conditioner into your hair, scalp and focusing heavily on your ends, you’ll need to cover it with a shower cap. You will then need to sit under heat (a hard hat salon-style dryer is great if you’ve got one. If not, consider the Hair Therapy Wrap). When you’re done, remove the shower cap and let the hair cool for a few minutes before rinsing with lukewarm water.
After you’ve taken the plunge and have done the big chop (and even if you don’t need to do a big chop), you’ve got to keep up with trimmings. Make it a priority to get your regular trims, and you shouldn’t need another big chop again. That alone is probably enough motivation to keep on top of your trimmings.
Plug reminders into your phone, Google calendar, whatever. Just make sure you stay on top of them. While it might seem counter-productive to trim hair you’re trying to grow, if you don’t trim, you’re not actually growing your hair. Sure, you might see hair coming in at the roots, but your split ends are also going up higher, giving you even more wisps and strings at the ends.
What might start out as two inches of split ends will turn into three or four inches of dead ends six months later.
Defeat the Heat
Applying heat to your hair means you’ll not only risk actually burning your hair or scalp, but you’re also sucking the moisture right out of it. This drying gets you the bone straight hair you’re probably after, but your hair will be so much better off if you leave the heat alone.
Instead, air dry your hair. For some of you curlies, the thought of air-drying your type 3C or 4 hair sounds frightening. However, if you’re worried about frizz, consider doing Bantu knots to tame those tresses. When you twist out (which just means undoing the knots), you may be surprised at how much you like the results.
No, this doesn’t mean washing with two shampoos at once. Co-washing means eliminating shampoo altogether — and any extra drying-out that shampoos might be doing to your hair — and washing with conditioner instead.
The same rules about choosing good deep conditioners for curly hair care apply here as well. Once you find one that works well for you, skip the shampoo and apply conditioner to damp hair. Rub it into the scalp to clean your scalp, then finger comb the conditioner through or just leave it be. Let it set on your hair for a few minutes before rinsing with warm water.