by Nicole Harmon of HairLiberty.org
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on products or keep your strands hidden in protective styles to achieve healthy hair. Follow these tips to rehabilitate your natural coils.
Step 1: Shampoo your hair at least once a week
The average person’s hair grows between ¼ and ½ inch a month. Washing your hair more often can help you achieve the maximum amount. Your scalp is just like your face. You can’t maintain a healthy growing environment without cleansing away the sebum (natural skin oil) in and around your hair follicles. Opt for a sulfate-free moisturizing shampoo that can gently cleanse and condition your hair at the same time. You can still co-wash, but don’t forgo a weekly shampoo unless your co-wash product says it’s meant to clean the scalp. If you’re nervous about shampooing your hair, start with a pre-shampoo oil treatment.
Step 2: Use a pH balanced shampoo
The pH of human hair is between 4.5 and 6.5. African American hair, especially Type 4, has naturally raised cuticles which make it more sensitive to pH than other hair types. A shampoo that is pH balanced will prevent excessive cuticle swelling when you wash your hair. That means your coils will be easier to smooth and seal when you’re ready to style. If your shampoo doesn’t mention pH balance on the label, look for citric acid in the ingredients list.
Step 3: Make sure detangling is a breeze
The most important job of a conditioner is to make your hair easy to detangle. If you’re not using chemicals or heat on your hair and you’re still not seeing longer length, you may be losing precious strands in the shower. If you’re using the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair, when you work from end to root, you should only have 2 or 3 areas where the comb gets snarled. Choose a rinse-out conditioner that contains 2 or more of the following ingredients in the top 5:
Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride
Step 4: Use a deep treatment at least once a month
Look at a strand of your hair. 90% of what you’re looking at is keratin protein. Your body uses the protein you eat to create keratin protein for your hair and skin. You really are feeding your hair and skin whenever you eat eggs, meat, and certain vegetables. Adding more protein to your diet can strengthen the hair that’s currently being “built”. Once a hair emerges from its follicle, your health and what you eat doesn’t affect its appearance anymore. Your hair is at your mercy and daily combing and styling chip away tiny pieces of keratin from each strand. It’s up to you to replace those lost pieces with protein from hair products; otherwise your hair will break just as fast as it grows. To begin rehabilitating your hair ASAP, add a deep treatment that contains hydrolyzed protein to your regimen. Try Aphogee Two Step Protein Treatment, Joico K‑Pak Deep Penetrating Reconstructor, or Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask.
Step 5: Get a haircut if you’re experiencing moderate to severe breakage
If you’re experiencing significant breakage, it’s likely that the cuticle layer has been worn away at your ends. That happens during chemical treatments, but also from basic combing and brushing. Even the best products can’t revive severely damaged hair, so you’ll need to at least get a trim in order to see a real transformation. Choose a trusted stylist to take off ½ to 1 inch. After that, follow the rest of this regimen so you can give your hair time to grow a few inches before it needs to be trimmed again.
Step 6: Find 2 easy styles for your current length
The most difficult part about growing your hair out is the awkward length phases you’ll have to go through. If you have a good cut, your hair should be relatively easy to work with. Keep your ends in the best condition possible by alternating between 2 low-manipulation hairstyles. For example, many women have shorter hair in the front than the back. Give the front some time to catch up by bobby pinning it out of the way instead of trying to make it blend with the rest of your hair. If you follow the other rehab steps, you will have new style options in 2–3 months as your hair grows longer. Check out the Hair Liberty DIY section to learn easy styles for any length using bobby pins, hair accessories and/or braids.
You can incorporate one rehab step at a time, but you’ll see the most drastic improvements when you follow all six of these steps. Once you have a steady routine, don’t change what you’re doing. When you feel like trying something new, experiment with different styles and styling products. The way your hair looks is the result of your product choices and styling techniques. If you want to see a big improvement, it’s time to make some big changes!
Ladies have you tried any of these steps? How do you rehabilitate your hair?
Nicole Harmon is a Cosmetic Chemist and the Founder of HairLiberty.org. She has received rave reviews for her seminars on ethnic hair education and science. She’s on a mission to help the Product Junkies of the world save MONEY, sort through marketing HYPE and buy SMARTER!