Q. I have kept my type 4A hair very short for two years. I'm growing out my hair now but I'm not sure how often I should get my hair cut.

Dickey: Your first cut, depending on how short your hair is, might require clippers. The second cut should be two-and-a-half to three months later, once your hair becomes long enough to blow dry with a comb attachment and lightly flat iron so that the dead ends can be seen and cut bluntly. Then, cut your hair religiously every two and a half to three months thereafter. Once your hair becomes tangled and coarse on the ends, that's a good indicator of your ends need to be trimmed again. You should have rapid growth if you follow these rules for cutting.

Q: I have super kinky hair (currently a medium-sized 'fro) which I love. It is beautiful when it is soft pressed out and easy to manage. This is my first time going natural. Braiding it every night to keep it from matting and the dryness of it — and the stress of it when I do not press it out — is getting to me. I do not know what products to use and what to do. Please help. I love my hair and do not want to go back to relaxing it. I need help on how to maintain, strengthen and moisturize it as well as info on how to manage my hair myself.

Dickey: I love that you love your super-kinky medium 'fro. That’s a journey unto itself with your texture having been overlooked for so long. I’m glad to see you on the other side. The goal for you is to get your hair in its optimal condition.

For starters, stay far away from conventional shampoos with sulfate-based surfactants that dry out your particular hair texture. No amount of any conditioner will replenish what those old dinosaur formulas strip away from kinky hair. Your hair should never ever — not even after cleansing — be left feeling hard, dry or coarse. Instead, use Hair Rules Daily Cleansing Cream, a non-sudsing cleanser formulated and designed with principles similar to those established by the skin-care industry. Squeaky clean no more! You wouldn’t wash your face with bar soap, so why dry your hair out with those old formulations that are particularly damaging to kinky hair. Also, you cannot over-condition your hair, and water is not the enemy. So do both often if you’re wearing your hair natural. Rinsing with just water is also a great way to keep kinks detangled for wash and wear results! To get a better understanding of what I mean, go to hairrules.com and look at the Kinky Curling Cream application video. It will help to further liberate your gorgeous kinks.

As far as haircuts go, skipping regular cuts can make kinky hair feel coarser than it really is. Also, kinky curly, tightly-wound, springy hair needs to be blown out straight to more accurately see the split ends that need to be cut. Never go beyond two and a half to three months before getting a hair cut or trim if you’re growing it long. That’s four to five haircuts a year. Be sure that your hair is the same thickness from root to ends. It is a misconception that kinky hair will not grow long or grows slowly.

Before Hair Rules, there was no a standard of hair care offering easy, wash and wear styling results for the truest classification of kinky hair. But, we do know the process for women with textured hair, especially kinky, has been fraught with struggle and frustration fueled by misinformation and marketing hype. Now, you just need to learn the rules, and you can learn to love and embrace your natural texture, and it seems you’re on your way!

Q: I'm in my mid-40s and have pencil-size corkscrew curls that I would love to embrace. My problem, whether hereditary or other, is that my hair is very thin on top. It's not quite male pattern baldness, but my scalp definitely shows. I usually let my hair dry naturally and then I use a curling iron to straighten the top, to me this makes my hair look fuller. I'm sure this is damaging what hair is there, but I don't know what else to do. Would you possibly have a suggestion on styling or products to use?

Q: Dickey: I’m assuming you’re wearing your hair in a straight style? The great news is that your hair is curly and can camouflage much of your baldness if you can just break the habit of straightening, and embrace the curl. Perhaps you should experiment with styling the curls on your day off (or on the weekend), placing them in a position that best masks the sparseness. Once hair is dry, fluff the top, and see if that doesn’t fill in the top. Then get a cut that will support that result. The longer you get your hair to grow, the more it will cover and draw less attention to the top. But you’re correct: the more you apply heat to those curls, the more fragile and weak the hair on top will become. Consult hairrules.com and try to find the texture that most closely matches yours. Then follow the product recommendation on the site.

Q: Are there any products or secrets to keep curly hair from frizzing up?

Dickey: The answer is yes. Frizz is a natural characteristic of curly hair simply because the texture itself is naturally drier, and dry hair wants to expand and separate, becoming flyaway and frizzy. Soft, nourished hair, on the other hand, wants to unite and stay together, forming a neat, defined curl pattern. So:

Rule 1: Use Hair Rules Daily Cleansing Cream to cleanse without drying out hair. Stay away from shampoos that contain sulfates and strip the hair, leaving it hard and dry.

Rule 2: You can’t over-condition curly, naturally dryer hair, so apply conditioner daily and don’t rinse it out entirely.

Rule 3: Apply your styling product to soft, wet curls IN THE SHOWER. Your curls look best when wet, so apply your product, place curls into the position you like them and DO NOT TOUCH the hair until its completely dry. Either let it air dry, gently diffuse (again not touching curls until dry) or sit under a portable hood dryer.

Q: I'm at my wits end with my hair. It's dry, really rough to the touch, the curl formation is horrible, and the tangles are phenomenal. What on earth is going on? I can't understand what my hair needs, and I can't seem to find a conditioner that delivers moisture my hair will accept.

Dickey: I’m sorry you’re frustrated. When was your last haircut? Your stylist should be cutting your ends so that you’re not feeling the coarseness, which is really old hair that should have been cut. Also, try washing your hair with Hair Rules Daily Cleansing Cream, or at the very least, use a no-suds/sulfate-free formula for one month. Condition with Hair Rules Quench Ultra Rich Conditioner, and leave it in for 15 minutes or so. Then, slowly rinse it out. You should feel a difference immediately. For good curl definition, apply (saturate in fact) your soft, very wet curls with Hair Rules Curly Whip in the shower. What you see wet is how your curls will set. Then, sit under a pre-heated portable hood dryer for 15 minutes or diffuse with a blow dryer — but DO NOT TOUCH your hair until completely dry.

Q: I have naturally curly hair, but since I have been straightening it every day for quite a while, and now it doesn't curl right. This is so sad; I really want my curly hair back. Is there anyway of getting it back to curly? Do I need to chop it all off?

Dickey: No, don’t chop it off, but DO get a healthy haircut and take off as much of the straight stuff as you can handle. Then, start cleansing right away with Hair Rules Daily Cleansing Cream to help re-hydrate your hair. Shampooing with conventional shampoos can strip the hair of its natural oils. When compounded by excessive heat styling, the combination completely zaps hair of all moisture, leaving it dry, brittle and inflexible — which is why it won’t revert easily to its curl pattern. Start deep conditioning to add moisture back into the hair. Try Hair Rules Quench Ultra Rich Conditioner and a super-hydrating styling product like Curly Whip. In addition to reinvigorating curl definition, it will help to re-condition and hydrate your parched, heat-styled hair And, if you want to continue straight styling, then always use a lightly moisturizing leave-in conditioner as a protective buffer — so that you burn off the product rather than the natural oils in your hair — or worse yet, the hair itself. Hair Rules makes a great one: Nourishment Leave In Conditioner.

Q: How do I preserve a twist for more than one day? Whenever I do a twist out, it looks great the first day but once I sleep on it and wake up in the morning it is all over the place. Some parts matted to my head, and others just sticking out all over the place so I end up either re-washing or slapping on a headband.

Dickey: Try sleeping with a silk scarf, or re-twisting larger sections loosely with Hair Rules Hydrating Finishing Cream the night before.

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