basics of a hair regimen

regimen
AltogetherLovelyCoils

 

A hot mess is what my hair would be if I didn’t have a hair regimen! It would be like an untended garden! It would be ungovernable! Can I get a witness!? If you do not have one I suggest you reconsider. You will see a vast difference in the manageability and health of your hair. If your hair is flourishing without it then… as you were 😉

As you might have seen from the hair glossary a hair regimen is what you do to your hair – e.g. washing, conditioning, the products you use, and the frequency – in order to take care of it and keep it healthy.  There are “levels” (it gets deep) to all these steps, but for now I’ll outline the basics to get you started. I’ll do a post for each one at a later stage.

Wash

  • Washing is absolutely vital to the health of hair and scalp. Washing takes away the gunk (build-up) caused by products and dust particles that accumulate between washes. When you take forever between your washdays your scalp and hair shaft clog up not allowing any moisture in.
  • Figure out how often you want to wash your hair. If you have a TWA you can wash your hair more frequently. When I had a TWA I’d wash it everyday, but the longer it grew I’d wash it less and less often. Now I wash my hair once a month (don’t judge!). If I had the time I’d definitely wash it more regularly.
  • Choose a shampoo that is kind and gentle to your hair. You may also choose to pre-poo before using a shampoo. You can also choose to co-wash sometimes. I’ve been mostly co-washing and I shampoo once in a while. I’ll be trying out my own natural-ingredient-based concoction; I’ll let you know all about it and if it works 😉
  • So once you have figured out (based on logistics and how your hair reacts) how often you’ll wash your hair stick to that until a change is necessary.

Condition

  • Follow up your wash with a conditioner. Conditioners add back to hair what the shampoo took away – all the moisture, natural oils and nutrients! Also, it repairs the hair that has been damaged. So do this after each wash. Failure to do so, especially after washing with a shampoo containing sulphates, will leave hair dry and cause split ends!
  • I used TreSemme Naturals for the longest time until they decided to discontinue it and replace with the Botanique range which I haven’t come across in my neck of the woods (sigh). It sounds amazing – has all natural ingredients and no parabens and sulphates… but dololo eMzansi. If you spot it, please holla. In the meantime I’m open to any that is good.
  • There are also leave-in conditioners. As the name implies, unlike the others, this one needs no rising out after applying. Instead it is meant and designed to be left in the hair in order to keep it smooth and from tangling.
  • There’s also deep conditioning which you can do after each wash instead of normal conditioning. Adding oil that penetrates the hair shaft (e.g. olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil) to a regular conditioner makes it a deep conditioner. There are also deep conditioners on the market.

Moisturise

  • Between wash days it is important to regularly add moisture to the hair. Our kinky coils get dry just too quickly mayn! We addressed this in the previous post –dry hair is prone to breaking. So add moisture by adding water (or a water-based product) to your hair and then seal that moisture with an oil and/or a cream (see LOC/LCO) to retain that moisture for a bit longer.
  • I have a spray bottle filled with water and sometimes I add aloe vera juice. I divide my hair in workable sections and spray my hair until it is slightly damp and I follow up with olive oil (or I add this to the spray bottle and skip this step), and then follow up with unrefined shea butter (I’ll talk about shea butter and where you can find it!) then I twist up and move on to next section. If you have short hair, no need to divide, see what works for you.

Style

  • Twist out, braid out, bantu knot out, cornrows, up-do’s, flexi/perm rod set style… list goes on. These are some examples of styles you can do between wash days. And of course before the “outs”, twists, braids and bantu knots are also styles you can wear. Care should be taken when installing a style – pulling too hard stresses the hair follicles and rough handling breaks the hair. Low manipulation hair styles and protective ones are great for keeping hair in good shape.
  • If your hair is a bit longer and you want it to be stretched out the following morning, remember to prepare it the day/night before. Make braids or twists (maphondo) at night and undo them in the morning and style as you wish. The less heat (from blow dryers and flat irons) you use to straighten your hair, the less damage caused to your hair. Also, keeping natural hair in stretched-out styles will cause less tangles and knots.
  • After washing my hair I keep it in chunky twists for a while, and then I’ll take out the twists and keep it in a high bun with my ends tucked away, and switch it up as I go.

Trim

  • Trim (or “dust”) when you have spilt ends, or when you can feel that your ends are damaged. You can also “search and destroy” your ends, this is where you randomly search for damaged/split ends and you snip them off. It is important to use hair shears and not paper scissors as hair shears leave a clean sharp cut. Be careful not to become scissor happy though – if your goal is to retain length then trim only when you need to. Also, if your goal is to retain length, don’t hold on to scruffy looking and splitting ends – the hair will continue to split up the hair shaft and cause more damage, making you lose even more ground. If you are not brave enough to cut your hair, seek professional help!

Once you have a regimen going you can better and more easily figure out what works best for your hair! Be consistent. Tweak when you need to. Everyone’s hair is different and although it may look similar, products and techniques that don’t work for me may be amazing for you. Be patient. Take care of what you eat; a healthy diet (topic for another day!) contributes to healthy hair. Drink your water!

new year tips for length retention

lengthcropped
AltogetherLovelyCoils: Length Retention! Pic from August 2016

Happy new year! I thank the Lord for allowing us to see yet another year. May it be an altogether lovely one for you 😉

I have heard people say to me “…ah! my hair just doesn’t grow” and “…my hair just falls off” and “…my hair breaks a lot.” Now, I don’t know what is going on with your hair in particular, but understanding the hair cycle can help you figure out the best practices for it.

I’ve learnt that when I see my hair strands on the basin or a place other than my head and, upon closer inspection those strands don’t have a white bulb on one of their ends, then it is hair that has broken off. However, if the hair does have a white bulb at the end then it is shed hair which often comes about as a result of a healthy and normal hair cycle. Simply, hair growth has a cycle; old hair makes way for new hair to grow by shedding off.

It then becomes important to know the hair growth cycle in order to better understand your hair. This will help you to know when it’s breaking in order to take the necessary steps to prevent further breakage; and when it’s shedding, which is (usually) normal.   The hair growth cycle has the following phases:

  1. Anagen/growth phase – cells divide and make new hair for the hair shaft. Hair can keep growing from 2 to 6 years, depending on genetics. Hair grows about 6 inches (that’s 15.24 centimetres) a year!
  2. Catagen phase – transitional phase lasting from 2 to 3 weeks, hair no longer grows. A club hair is formed in preparation for the next phase.
  3. Telogen/resting phase – for about 100 days hair sheds (about 100 strands a day) and the anagen phase starts again and so the cycle continues… Stress, trauma, etc. can cause more than normal shedding.

All the phases take place simultaneously – different strands are in one of the 3 phases at any given time.

If hair is breaking (i.e. has no white bulb at the end) then lack of moisture may be the cause. Type 4 hair is prone to dryness and when dry it is brittle and prone to breaking. The key is to keep hair moisturised especially if it is about to be handled. Manipulating dry hair may lead to unnecessary breakage.

To avoid breakage and retain length:

  1. Manipulate hair when it is slightly damp.
  2. Avoid excessive use of fine-toothed combs.
  3. I exclusively finger detangle. Although it takes time, it allows me to carefully unravel (where possible!) double and multi stand knots where a comb would have snagged or broken the hair.
  4. Handle your hair when you are in a good mood – negative emotions while handling hair can lead to frustrations and rough handling.
  5. Handle your hair when not in a hurry.
  6. You can’t go wrong with protective styles.
  7. Pay attention to hair accessories used, as some may be doing damage to your hair.
  8. What do you put on your head to sleep at night? Satin/silk scarfs/pillow cases are best. Unlike cotton and other material which absorbs moisture, they help retain hair moisture.
  9. Pay attention to your clothing that your hair does not ruffle against it. Collars are major culprits (if hair is not in an up-do).

Embrace shedding, and avoid breakage this year 🙂