Skip to main content

7 Ways to Build More Protection into Your Hair Regimen

Avatar • Oct 2, 2011

Natural Hair, Natural Hair Photos, Natural Hair Styles
Style Icon Monica

By Audrey Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black Hair

Last week we discussed the importance of looking at protective styling from a holistic standpoint. (A holistic protective styling regimen is one where protective measures are instituted throughout the entire regimen from cleansing to conditioning and general handling.) Actual hair styling is just a bullet point in a holistic protective styling regimen. When all of the pieces of protection (styling and otherwise) are combined and applied, length retention is maximized in the shortest time.
Now, as I mentioned before, this is the optimal scenario.

But because protective styling is so multifaceted, success can still be had when following only a majority of the components and leaving a few select others out. The premise is that following other protective elements religiously can buy you leeway for others—within reason and moderation of course. You can’t be protective everywhere in your regimen, but fire up your flat iron every day. (Sorry, lol.) But you could for example, color treat your hair or press it for a style change and still go on to have a gorgeous mane. You have to determine an appropriate balance of the “bad stuff” for your regimen and your situation.

Here are 7 great tips for building more protection into your hair care regimen:

1. Work & Handle Hair Slowly!

Short, quick bursts of combing activity stress hair fibers and can lead to breakage of even strong, healthy fibers. Any elastic material (hair included) can be broken with the right stress and force at the right angle of contact. Give your hair a chance to maneuver into position when you are detangling or simply arranging your hair. If you meet a tangle, carefully dislodge individual strands one at a time. Avoid tightening or breaking through your tangles by understanding where the tangle originates and how the strands are physically intertwined. Then simply “reverse engineer” your tangles and unintentional locs.

2. Have a Love Affair With Conditioner

Conditioners are perhaps the most important product in any hair care regimen. A good conditioner can make up for a multitude of hair sins— it’s not a permanent fix or panacea, of course, but the right conditioner at the right time can make a huge difference. If nothing else happens in your regimen, your conditioning should be a regular ritual. Aim to condition your hair no less than every 7–10 days. Some more resilient strands may require less conditioning. Whatever your regimen strategy, be sure to get your deep conditioning in like clockwork.

3. Go Seamless

Avoid styling tools and hair ornaments with inner seams. These are the lines that are created during the natural manufacturing process of hair tools, especially combs. These lines simply indicate that the tool was mass produced from a mold. You can pick up a seamless comb from places like HairSense.com and Tenderheaded.com Use larger styling tools (wide-toothed combs) when possible and work down to smaller tools if a smoother look is needed. Finally, try to incorporate fingerstyling into your routine whenever possible. The “no seams” rule also follows for fingernails as well; ensure that your nails and hands are not snagging your hair. Keep a fingernail clipper or file in your bathroom or styling location to quickly remedy any problem hang nails that pop up. Remove hand or neck jewelry that interferes with styling.

4. Cleanse Your Hair Protectively

Cleansing time is a great opportunity to build protection into your regimen. Carefully detangle your hair prior to washing— and wash and work in sections whenever possible. If your hair is too short to realistically accommodate working in sections, simply keep your hair oriented downward so that hair and product flows along the natural orientation of the cuticle. Keeping your hair organized in this manner will reduce the opportunity for tangling and unnecessary breakage.

When you are cleansing your hair, ensure that your water is not too hot or too hard (mineral heavy). Hot water is very damaging to our hair, and if your hair is color-treated, it will also fade your color quickly. Hard water is equally problematic for black hair because it can leave invisible, drying films on the hair. Finally, stick to sulfate free products whenever possible to avoid stripping the hair during the cleansing process.

5. Color Your Hair Protectively

If coloring is your thing, commit to only coloring your hair no more than 3 shades lighter or darker than your natural color range. For the safest color changes, stick with rinses, semi-permanents and deposit-only colors. These colors will not damage the cuticle or cause structural changes within the cortex. If you prefer more adventurous coloring, have it done professionally and ensure that you maintain a proper protein/moisture balance for your hair. Although maintaining this balance is important for all hair types and conditions, it is absolutely essential for those with relaxed and/or color treated hair. Learning to pick up on signs of too much usage of either component is vital to breakage reduction and control.

6. Use Heat Protectively

Using heat protectively is simply a combination of using heat sparingly and using it under the proper conditions. Rapid heating is what causes damage to hair fibers. If you can slow the rate of heat transfer to your hair, you will cause less damage to your tresses. We can slow down heat transfer to our hair in two ways: (1) by having an appropriate moisture buffer inside the hair fiber, and (2) by having an adequate layer of a low conductivity lubricant (silicone or oil) outside of the fiber. To achieve the best heat protection—only use heat on hair that has been deep conditioned within the previous 24 hours, and always use a thermal barrier (heat protectant) to regulate heat transfer to your hair. Using indirect heat sources like hooded dryers is another way to control the flow of heat to your tresses.

7. Reduce Chemical Use

If your hair is chemically treated, stretching out the length of time between your touch up applications will help build more protection into your hair care regimen. While this technique will not undo any damage you incur from these processes, it can still improve the overall condition of your hair when compared to chemically treating on a more rigorous schedule. In The Science of Black Hair book, we discuss how relaxer deferment in particular can reduce overall chemical exposure, instances of overlapping, and the creation of stress points along the fiber. With hair coloring, you simply want to avoid taking multiple spins around the color wheel—especially if the colors you are selecting are several shades outside of your natural color range.

And that’s it! Wherever you can build in protection, you’ll give yourself freedom in other places in your regimen.

Ladies, do you apply any of these tips? How do they work for your hair?

Audrey Sivasothy is a Houston-based freelance writer, health scientist and  author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care (available on Amazon.com & Barnes&Noble.com).

For more insight from The Science of Black Hair— relaxed, natural or in between, visit us on the web at  www.blackhairscience.com and on facebook & twitter.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
23 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
BeautyIAM
BeautyIAM
9 years ago

Yes, I have been applying some of these tips to my hair care regimen. I have been working with my natural hair now for a few years and I am just NOW understanding how careful I need to be with my hair. I actually get excited for my wash days now because I have finally been trying new things to reduce damage to my hair. I recently added olive oil to my detangling solution and it worked so well. I was insanely happy with the results I got. I have also learned to not rip out my tangles. I carefully work… Read more »

shari
shari
9 years ago

[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/IMAG0024.jpg[/img]
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/IMAG0027.jpg[/img]

deena
deena
9 years ago

also, if you wear wigs or hair pieces, the combs can break your hair as well as those wig caps that they give you. pull the combs out with a pliers and use satin caps instead of those other ones. They are much gentler to your hair and cause less friction.

Aisak
9 years ago
Reply to  deena

Yes. Exactly. I just got a wig for my headshots and used the front combs for only a few minutes. It was uncomfortable and looked funny so I too it out. When I went to take out my braids the next day I had lost so much hair in the front. I am pretty mad about that. I usually know better about dangers to my hair but that caught me off guard. I just saw a lot of white stuff in the front. I thought I had something in my hair but that was all cuticles sticking out. Ugh. Good… Read more »

mangomadness
mangomadness
9 years ago

I follow tips #1 (careful finger-detangling and styling), #3 (nails perpetually filed, seamless hair ties, ‘fro-friendly hair accessories, fingerstyling only) and #4 (pre-shampoo detangling and washing in 10 twisted sections).

As for #2, I apply a leave-in conditioner every 5–7 days after shampooing. No DCs or rinse out conditioners for me…

HairItIs
9 years ago
Reply to  mangomadness

Same here. I always finger detangle before resorting to any tools (if I use a tool at all), I always take off my nail polish and snip/file any jagged edges before getting into my hair, and I stick to ‘fro-friendly accessories. Also, I don’t bother with rinse out deep conditioning, unless it’s a protein conditioner or henna (for obvious reasons).

Le Le
Le Le
9 years ago

I have not been able to find a seamless comb in regular stores, so I may need to just order one (which I was trying to avoid). For now, I’ll just be using my fingers.

Carla
Carla
9 years ago
Reply to  Le Le

Same here. I wish at least Sally Beauty had them, but I guess not. Fingers for now!

Monisola
9 years ago

I think some of the information on this site is really well contradictory. I am told that deep conditioning might be a myth, but then i am told to do it every 7–10 days. I know you must decide what works best for you and take advice with a grain of salt, but the contradictory advice does make it really hard to do that sometimes. For me, I don’t do moisture deep conditioning sessions but only protein ones once a month… I use something called a Deep Treatment Masque as a moisturizer like twice a week, so i don’t do… Read more »

df
df
9 years ago
Reply to  Monisola

well, she presents information from different sources.…you don’t have to do everything…this is all information to consider…the most important thing is to listen to your hair. Most of these aren’t universal rules, they are tips to consider and maybe try out…

Josie Lynn
9 years ago
Reply to  Monisola

I think some of the information about deep conditioning being a myth has to do with the amount of time people say you should leave them on. Some people think that by leaving a deep conditioner on for HOURS give them more of a benefit, when much of the data supports that after about 20–30 mins your hair has absorbed as much as it will take, and the myth is that long deep conditioning sessions have more value. But like many people say, do what works for your hair, some people can get away with using all “bad” products like… Read more »

Jc
Jc
9 years ago

Monisola,

I agree with all the responses above. BGLH presents information from various sources but as df said, you have to decide what works best for you.

If you looked at the deep conditioning post you will have noticed about 50% of people preferred long deep conditioning sessions while 50% reported that they did not. In the end, your hair is the ultimate guide, everything that you see and read is just a guide as to what may work.

df
df
9 years ago

all these tips have been so amazing
keep em coming!!!!

Brittany
Brittany
9 years ago

Can I get an article that is on one page? Geez. All these pages are beyond annoying. 95% of the time, I don’t even click through until the end.

lin
lin
9 years ago
Reply to  Brittany

I agree with Brittany. Now that you’ve changed the layout, I can hardly be bothered to read whole articles. 4 or 5 pages is annoying and time consuming when you’re using a smart phone. Good info though…

Pink Panties & Leopard Lipstick

Happy to report O already follow these rule! Put I’d be lying if I didnt admit that yes, I do slack on them from time to time, being time constraints or just being lazy. I, like some others, need to do better.

Great piece!

Zyaran
Zyaran
9 years ago

I came across this youtuber “Sistawithrealhair” titled Natural Hair Journey begininning steps of rollersetting.. Alot of the things that some folks aren’t supposed to works very well for her gorgeous MBL to WL hair. She uses a cotton scarf, and flat irons w/o heat protectant, and regularly cuts her hair and it’s so healthy and gorgeous. It had me drooling in AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. So check her out and enjoy.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ex6lXDk9J7Y&feature=channel_video_title

Cat
Cat
9 years ago
Reply to  Zyaran

Genetics baby! The majority of us would be (or was) damn near bald doing all of that!

adamson
9 years ago

I would suggest going comb-free. The best step in my regimen. Even compared to only combing/detangling hair with conditioner in it.

Candice
Candice
8 years ago

No heat and no brushing, pretty much let me get away with a lot else with no consequence (i.e., not moisturizing my hair often enough or deep conditioning regularly).

Tovah
Tovah
8 years ago

You are so right Candice, no heat/no brushing has saved my hair from me being lazy about moisturizing and deep conditioning. I’m going to do better though.….

23
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x

Shopping Cart