I remember my decision to go natural and my first big leap into natural hairdom―washing my hair all by myself―like it was yesterday. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, what products I should be using and what to expect from this journey. Luckily, there was a large online community of natural hair sisters (and brothers) just waiting for me to stumble upon, however, it took a long while before I found it. The first leg of my journey was full of a lot of stumbles (click here to read about my natural hair journey) and was more than a little frustrating. It is because of these early stumbles that I decided to share my natural hair regimen with my readers.
This list is a maintainable list of affordable and relatively easy to acquire products. You will find no $30 jars of Kinky Curly Curling Custard or products that can only be purchased from a small online store that regularly runs out of stock and takes three weeks to deliver your product. Also, this list is not set in stone and I’m quite sure it will change and evolve as I discover the perfect combination of products and procedures for my hair.
So without further ado, here is my natural hair regimen including favourite products, blogs, vloggers and styling methods.
I’m almost positive that I have the world’s driest hair. If I don’t moisturize my hair regularly and profusely I’m left with very dry, brittle strands. It took me a long time to realize that my hair felt like a Brillo Pad because it was just begging for some moisture and not because I had the world’s most uncooperative hair. As a result of this dry hair, which is even worse during the winter months, deep conditioning has to be a regular part of my hair regimen. Currently, I alternate between an oil rinse one week and an avocado-coconut milk deep conditioning pre-poo the other (that’s pre-shampoo treatment for natural hair newbies) which has made a big difference not only in the dryness of my hair but also in the manageability (my detangling time has been cut, shedding while detangling has been greatly minimized and my hair feels very soft).
Shampoo and Conditioner
After months of battling dry, brittle hair I finally realized that my dry hair was being made worse by shampoo, the same hair cleanser that I, or rather my hairstylist, had used for years. I decided to forgo shampoo altogether and embrace co-washing (that’s washing and conditioning your hair with conditioner). First, I apply conditioner to my scalp and massage in circles to loosen dirt, product, etc., rinse and then add a second round of conditioner to my strands. I co-wash with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Moisturizing Conditioner and when I feel my scalp could use a little extra cleansing to remove product build-up I do an apple cider vinegar rinse. According to Tiffany the Curl Whisperer (on Curly Nikki), apple cider vinegar rinse or ACV rinse in natural hair-ese “can remove product buildup, restore the pH balance of the scalp and hair, promote blood circulation in the scalp―which can stimulate new hair growth―and give the hair a soft, healthy sheen.” I use an ACV rinse made of 1 tablespoon of ACV for each cup of cool water once or twice a month.
Styling my transitioning and then all-natural hair has been…interesting. It began as an impossibility then morphed into a frustrating challenge and then into a fun exploration. There have been a few products, both homemade and store-bought, and tutorials that have made this process much easier. Eco Styler Gel was an early lifesaver. In the beginning I used the Eco Styler Olive Oil Styling Gel for twist outs, braid outs and roller sets and the Eco Styler Super Protein Styling Gel (mixed with some olive oil for moisture) for puffs and buns. Recently, I decided to go the all-natural route when it comes to gel and I’ve started making my own flax seed gel. Pros of the flax seed gel? No flaking, no alcohol, all-natural, unbelievably affordable (3/4 cup of flax seeds needed to make a batch of gel cost about 20¢), great hold and very easy to make. I also noticed that my hair felt much softer after using the flax seed gel. Click here for a great tutorial on making your own flax seed gel.
Other products that I’ve found useful for styling are two great recipes from one of my favourite natural hair bloggers and vloggers Whitney of Naptural85. In addition to being one of my fave vloggers and bloggers Whitney is also my hair crush and hair twin as we’ve both got similar hair types. Whitney makes a lot of her own products and I’ve found her Thick and Fluffy Pomade-Type Moisturizing Creme and Thick, Silky, and Creamy Moisturizing Creme very useful for my twist outs and braid outs as well as for moisturizing my hair. Click here for a tutorial for both.
I’ve also found Naptural85’s hairstyling tutorials extremely useful. I was able to achieve my Best! Twist out! Ever! using Naptural85’s twist out method and she’s also got a tutorial for braid outs that looks promising. One of my go-to hairstyles has been the puff and I’ve been using the knee high bun method that I first saw from BeautifulBrwnBabyDol. I’ve given the puff a switch up by adding twist out bangs, moving the puff to the side for an off-kilter look and I’m waiting for my hair to grow a little longer so that I can move my puff closer to the front.
Moisture. My hair craves a lot of this so I find myself moisturizing my hair everyday in addition to my weekly deep conditioners. Don’t be alarmed as this sounds a lot more labour intensive than it actually is. I give my hair a light spritz with an aloe vera spray (1 part aloe juice and 2 parts distilled water) and add some of Naptural85’s hair and body oil every morning before I have my shower and every evening before I go to bed.
Some Additional Tips, Tricks, Products and Blogs
- Hit up natural hair blogs for hairstyling inspiration. The natural hair blog Hi, I’m Currently Obsessed has been a lifesaver now and during my transition. Whenever I felt down about my transitioning hair or needed some styling inspiration I turned to this blog which is full of natural hair girls and guys in all of their glory. Best of all, the site is updated often so you can get your daily dose of inspiration. Other favourites include Moptop Maven, K is for Kinky, Curly Nikki and Huffington Post’s Top 5 Natural Hair Vloggers.
- Keep returning to thoughts of relaxing your hair? That’s natural. When I started transitioning I had thoughts, er, emotional outbursts in which I screamed, “That’s it! I’m getting a relaxer!” This is completely natural. Your journey is not going to be without its road bumps but stick with it. Success is just over the next mountain. Or blog post. Or hair washing adventure.
- If you must, use a smooth wide tooth comb and/or a paddle brush. I finger detangle, rarely use a comb and use my bristle brush a few times a year and use a paddle brush every once in a while when I’m doing a twist out to detangle my ends. I feel that all the tugging and manipulation leads to unnecessary shedding and breakage, doesn’t do any good for my curl definition and impedes hair growth, however, there are times, usually once a month, when I feel my hair just needs a good detangling. When I feel like this I use a smooth, wide tooth comb with no ridges or balls on the end of the teeth to detangle my hair.
- DO NOT use a towel. Buy a microfiber towel or use an old T-Shirt. Your coils and kinks will get caught in the towel causing unwanted and unnecessary breakage and the towel will also cause frizziness.
- Sleep with a silk or satin head tie or bonnet. Your cotton or poly blend pillowcase will suck the moisture from your hair and cause breakage. You can also use a satin or silk pillowcase if you’re a wild sleeper or want extra nighttime protection.
- Give your hair a quick rinse with cool/cold water before hopping out of the shower. This will help seal the hair cuticles and which leads to curlier, shinier, more manageable hair.
- Practice safe detangling. There are many ways to detangle natural hair. Some people like to do it before they wash their hair while others do it in the shower while their hair has conditioner in it. While there are many ways to detangle your hair always be gentle, take your time, detangle in sections and start from the ends and work your way down to the roots.
- Don’t forget your ends. The ends of your hair are the oldest and are also very in need of moisture as it takes the oils the longest to travel down your curly strands to them. Make sure to take extra care when you’re detangling and give them extra oiling attention.
- Work in sections. I’ve noticed a major reduction in tangling, detangling time, breakage, shedding and styling time since I’ve begun cowashing, styling and adding deep conditioner to my hair in smaller, workable sections.
- Protein treatments can be your friend. Whenever I feel my strands could use a little extra TLC I use Naptural85’s Mayo Deep Conditioner.
- When in doubt, protective style. Sometimes you and your hair just need a break. Don’t be afraid to tuck your hair away in braids, twists, extensions or even wigs and weaves for a few weeks to give it the opportunity to regroup. Just make sure you don’t forget about your hair. Wash it every week or two and make sure to keep it moisturized. Also, don’t leave it in any one style for longer than a month if you can.