A natural hair care routine refers to the steps and products used for maintaining healthy hair and retaining length. The goal of any hair care regimen is to increase the moisture levels in the hair while minimizing breakage and damage. The great thing about a hair regimen is that it is customizable, allowing you to incorporate products that your natural hair responds well to and omitting those that are unnecessary for you.
You don’t have to break the bank to create your routine and build your product range- majority of the products in my arsenal are very budget friendly. The focus should be on consistency and showing your hair love, rather than building up an expensive collection of hair products that are of no use to you. In this post I talk about some of the crucial reasons why people fail with their hair routine and how you can simplify your regimen for optimal results. With that in mind, I wanted to break down the outline of a hair care routine for beginners or for those of you who are looking to start fresh.
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To start off your simple hair care routine you’ll need a few basic products, some of which you may already have. I’ve included links to some of my personal favourites in case you don’t know where to begin or are curious about the ones that have worked well for me.
Sulfate-free shampoos are a staple in the natural hair community as they do a great job of cleansing the hair while maintaining it’s natural oils. Since curly and coily hair is more susceptible to rapid loss of moisture and hydration than straight hair, it’s important that you’re not doing any unnecessary stripping durning the cleansing process.
For the most part, in my personal experience, most shampoos all do the same thing: clean. If you are just starting out and wanting to build a basic yet effective natural hair care routine, stick to inexpensive brands. I prefer to use the Garnier shampoos as they are extremely affordable (less than $4 a bottle!) and my ultimate favourite is this one.
Deep conditioning is one of the MOST important steps in a natural hair care routine. This is the step that sets the foundation for moisture and deep hydration of your curls and coils. Deep conditioning promotes elasticity and aids in preventing damage caused by heat, environmental factors and regular styling. One of the major contributors of breakage in natural hair is lack of moisture. Your hair needs all that hydration that we were once taught to deprive it of. Remember when you used to fear water going near your hair? Well gone are those days!
By deep conditioning regularly, your hair becomes noticeably soft and manageable. I highly recommend investing in this cult favourite by SheaMoisture, it is honestly a game changer. I’m also a huge fan of this one by Aussie and this one by Garnier Whole Blends. After I have applied my deep conditioner, I sit under this hooded dryer attachment for about 20-30 minutes and allow the heat to open up my hair cuticles and help the product penetrate.
A good protein treatment will help with repairing damaged hair and provide restorative strength. Think of protein as a fertilizer that provides the building blocks for strong hair strands. Protein treatments are to be used no more than once a month. They are great at bringing life back to limp or over moisturized hair. Some people like to make their own protein treatments at home but you run the risk of overloading your hair with protein when eyeballing ingredients rich in protein such as eggs, yogurt and mayonnaise. I stick to my favourite protein power treatment (which is actually made with yogurt and honey!).
Although often overlooked, I can’t stress enough the importance of adding a leave-in conditioner to your wash day routine. It is applied after you’re done washing and deep conditioning the hair. Leave-in conditioners help to provide extra moisture that is super beneficial to curly and coily hair textures. These conditioners are formulated to be left in the hair and not rinsed out. It’s important to note that not rinsing out a regular conditioners does not then make it a leave-in. My two holy grail leave-in conditioners that I’ve been using for years are from Garnier and Cantu.
Oil is a great way to seal in all that good moisture you’ve spent your time applying to your hair. Since oil is not water soluble, it will slow down the process of moisture escaping. In this post I go more in-depth about the best method for moisturizing natural hair using the LOC/LCO method. I really like using a mixture of extra virgin olive oil (the same kind that I cook with) and Jamaican Black Castor Oil.
Okay so now that you have your essentials, here is a simple outline of how you can use these products to create a natural hair care routine that will allow you to have better control of your hair and achieve healthier, more manageable natural hair.
Basic Natural Hair Care Routine
- Moisturize with a water-based moisturizer, cream or hair milk and seal with oil nightly, even if your hair is in a protective style- focus on your scalp and the ends of your hair. This can be modified to be every other day or even every two days. Don’t over do it if your hair isn’t feel dry or your scalp isn’t feeling itchy (which is often a sign of dryness).
- Use a satin or silk bonnet, scarf or pillow case to protect your hair while sleeping.
- Use a mix of water conditioner to finger detangle (or use a wide tooth comb) before shampooing to minimize shedding if your hair is prone to tangling in its wet state.
- Shampoo your hair. You can choose to either wash weekly or every two weeks. It all boils down to preference, time and whether your hair physically feels dirty. I recommend at most, washing every two weeks if your hair is not in a long-term protective style such as braids, sew-in weave, etc.
- Deep condition with indirect heat. I find it very beneficial to sit under a hooded dryer or heat cap, with a shower cap or plastic bag covering my hair, even if it’s only for a few minutes
- Wear your hair in a protective or a style that requires low manipulation and keeps your ends tucked away to prevent snagging on clothes
- Apply a strengthening or protein treatment after shampooing. This would replace the deep conditioning step in the usual weekly/biweekly routine.
- Trim if your dead ends if necessary. I usually trim my hair every six months unless I notice an excess amount of split ends or if my ends are feeling rough to the touch.
- Take down your existing long-term protective style. It’s important to not keep amy protective style in for too long as it will lead to breakage and stress on the hair, especially the hair line.
- Evaluate your current products and make adjustments according to the status of your hair. If you have recently added a new product into your routine, make note of how your hair is reacting to it. Is it making your hair feel dry and brittle? Are you noticing more product build up that usual? Is it irritating your skin or your scalp? These are all important things to make note of and pay close attention to.
Hopefully this breakdown was thorough and answered some of your questions. Though embarking on a natural hair journey or mastering your existing routine may seem overwhelming, once you understand why you’re using certain products, it becomes more manageable. Feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comment box below and let me know how your natural hair care journey is going!