Well-planned hair regimens help to take out some of the uncertainty and guesswork when it comes to achieving our hair goals .
This only requires an element of planning beforehand, however, we suggest first writing down a list of attainable and tangible hair goals, it’s important not to make vague goals such as, “healthier and longer hair’. If you want longer hair, specify how much longer exactly and be realistic with the time frame that it will take to achieve these goals. For instance, if you have an average hair growth rate of ½ inch per month, setting a goal to achieve 4-6 inches of hair growth in a year is a feasible and practical goal. Setting a goal of 6 inches in 3 months is lofty, unrealistic and likely to lead to disappointment and demotivation.
Picture what your hair would look like in its healthiest state and break that down into separate categories with manageable steps. Remember that nothing is set in stone and you can make adjustments as you go along, what's most important is establishing that initial routine and following through, consistently.
If all this sounds overwhelming or you’re wondering where to begin, don’t worry! Keep on reading for our top tips on building a hair care regimen so your hair can thrive!
Hydrating and Moisturising
Effective moisturising always begins with hydration first and foremost. Hydrating the hair involves first saturating the hair with water long enough for water molecules to penetrate deep within the hair. We most commonly do this when we wash our hair. When you’re washing your hair you allow for water to permeate all areas of the scalp and hair.
Moisturising is what we do to try and maintain the hydration for as long as possible. Keeping your hair moisturised is an important step in maintaining healthy hair. The tighter your curl pattern the easier it is for your hair to be prone to dryness. Kinks and coils can obstruct the distribution of the natural oils from the scalp, as it takes longer for the sebum to travel down the hair shaft, allowing your hair to dry out more quickly than straighter hair types. This means it's important to take extra precautions the tighter your curl pattern is when moisturising. It’s essential to find a good moisturiser to achieve optimal levels of moisture. Prolonged dryness will eventually lead to breakage and prevention is always the best cure. The most suitable moisturiser will predominantly be influenced by how porous your hair is, as this will determine how the product is absorbed.
We recommend grabbing a spray bottle and your favourite oil or cream moisturiser, sectioning your hair into even parts, spraying/misting your hair with water, then following up with your desired moisturiser. This is a great method that leaves your hair both hydrated and moisturised.
Sealants – Lock in the moisture
After hydrating and moisturising your hair you’ll want to make sure it retains the benefits of your hard work for as long as possible. This can be done with a sealant. Sealants are oils or creams that help to lock in the moisture of your hair. The difference between oils that seal and moisturise will be determined majorly by the size of the molecule.
Oils with larger molecules like jojoba, olive oil or rice bran oil are less likely to penetrate beyond the outer hair cuticle layer, sealing in moisture and providing sheen. Oils such as coconut oil are composed of smaller molecules that are likely to penetrate more deeply into the hair shaft acting more as moisturisers than sealants.
For more tips on how to create the perfect moisturising routine, check out our blog post about using the L.O.C (leave-in, oil, cream) method to revitalise your dry hair!
Cleansers and Clarifying Shampoos
If your hair is beginning to look dull, lacking in shine or extremely dry, it may be signs of too much product build up. Type 3 and 4 hair tends to be very low porosity which leaves it prone to product build up. Build up is a mixture of the remnants of left over product applications, grease, dirt and other impurities. It can contribute to dry hair, an itchy scalp and breakage if left untreated.
To remedy this issue you’ll need to cleanse the hair with a gentle clarifying shampoo, ideally formulated for targeting build up. A clarifying shampoo will deeply cleanse the hair of dirt and impurities. Clarifying shampoo, although perfect for giving you a clean slate of fresh hair to work with, can also strip your hair of many of its natural oils. For this reason we recommend using clarifying shampoo no more than once a month or so, when you notice significant build up. In between this time we suggest sticking to co-washing, or more gentle cleansing shampoos.
Hair consists largely of a protein called keratin. Through sun exposure, styling and manipulation, our hair can quickly become depleted of keratin, leaving it brittle and dull. If you find that despite your best efforts hydrating and moisturising your hair remains weak, dry and fragile, you may benefit from a protein treatment.
As just sun exposure can deplete your hair of protein, nearly everyone will benefit from a protein treatment now and then. Protein treatments are fundamentally strengthening treatments; they often contain ingredients such as keratin, hydrolysed protein and essential amino acids. These ingredients attach to the hair follicle and fill in any gaps or breakage, a good protein treatment will then allow these ingredients to harden, strengthening the cuticle layer and helping to repair damage and make the hair more resilient.
Protein treatments should be applied sparingly, however. Applying protein treatments too often can lead to a protein overload, which may cause breakage throughout the hair. This can be avoided by applying treatments no more than every 4-6 weeks.
Next, you’ll want to determine what hairstyle is best suited for you. What hairstyle you rock will certainly change depending on the time of year and the level of maintenance you can commit too. Protective hairstyles aim to decrease the stress of environmental factors on natural hair by keeping the ends of hair tucked away in order to discourage damage from pulling, tugging or heat manipulation. Summer is officially here, and for women with kinky and coily hair this can be a bittersweet feeling. Along with the pool parties and beach trips, the summer season also brings with it intense heat and increased humidity. This can wreak havoc on hair if you’re not prepared.
Protective and low maintenance styles can really be a lifesaver for women with type 3 and 4 hair and can help you have peace of mind in months with more extreme weather. Protective styles aren’t all created equal - from box braids to natural hair clips ins, there’s a wide variety to choose from depending on your personal taste and personal hair needs.
For some inspiration have a read of our blog post on the best protective styles for you to try this summer!
Once you’ve got the structure of your hair regimen down, it’s time to put together your product list. Choosing natural hair products doesn't have to be difficult. Ultimately the two primary goals you need to keep in mind when selecting products are: (a) find hair products that work for your hair type and (b) use them in the way that best suits your hair.
Remember, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a hundred different lotions and potions to get the results you want.
We recommend keeping it simple with 5 main products for your hair care routine:
- Shampoo/Clarifying Shampoo
- Heat protector (if you use heat tools)
Feel free to add or remove products as per required and remember that just because a product works well for another natural, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work well for you. If you feel something isn’t working well for your hair, feel free to discontinue its use and source something else. This is all about doing what works for you and your hair.
Next you want to decide on the scheduling of your hair care regimen. This naturally varies greatly from person to person. Assess your day-to-day routine as a whole and your energy levels throughout the day. This way you can schedule tasks for the time of day when you perform your best.
Some things you’ll want to consider are:
- What day/time is most convenient for you to do your regime?
- How much time will each task take to complete?
- How often do you want to wash your hair?
- How often do you want to deep condition?
- Will you style with heat tools?
Only you can answer these questions, but we suggest once again keeping it simple and realistic. If you are not a morning person, endeavouring to commit to a 90 minute hair care regimen at 6am on Saturday, is perhaps not the best idea. It’s a good idea to schedule the lengthiest elements of your hair care routine for when you have the most energy.
Evaluate Your Progress
Lastly, you want to periodically evaluate your progress, not only is this an important way to gauge the effectiveness of your routine, but it is also a great motivator. Oftentimes when we see ourselves every day it’s hard to notice our progress as the changes can be subtle. Taking pictures of your hair will give you a visual aid and means of tracking your improvement.
We recommend taking weekly pictures of your hair so you have a collection of visual data to refer to when trying to make the best decisions for you and your hair.
Example hair regimen:
- Wash and deep condition - 1x week
- Moisturise and seal - every three days
- Protein treatment - every six weeks
- Clarify - 1x month
- Hairstyles –braids/mini twists and clip-in extensions on special occasions
Some of us have grown up with a lot of misinformation about natural kinky, coily hair. These stories often follow themes that natural hair is ‘unmanageable, unprofessional, or otherwise unattractive’. These notions are as far from the truth as it possibly gets! What is true is that many people lack the essential knowledge to look after type 3 and 4 hair. Kinky, coily hair is versatile, incredibly diverse and very easily managed once you’ve got the correct regimen and products in place.
Love your natural kinks and curls, and celebrate your hair with pride!