You see, while some naturals make major hair care mistakes and then learn, my experience was quite different. I went into my natural journey prepared with all the tools (e.g., information from hair care forums, fotki albums, and veteran naturals) I needed to retain length. I retained that length and ultimately hit my goal. Then I threw almost everything I learned out of the window so that I could have more fun with my hair. Now, I am back to my tried and true practices and on my second journey to healthy, growing hair — including my ends.
Last year, I wanted to play more with my longer hair. I left my strands loose majority of the time in the form of braid-outs. I colored and bleached and colored my hair again. I manipulated my hair weekly, which included braiding and comb detangling. I cut here and there to remove knots, tangles, and split ends. By the beginning of 2015, my hair had lost so much length that it was no longer touching my waist. It was now at my armpit. Losing that length was not a revelation, but rather, confirmation of what my hair needs best.
My hair, especially my ends, thrive when they are stretched and bound in the form of twists or braids. Shrinkage is the biggest contributor to my hair’s propensity to tangle, knot, and break. (Just check out my photo in 10 Pictures of Natural Hair Shrinkage that Will Blow Your Mind.) Thus, why stretching and protective styling work for me. Another property of my hair that contributes to its inclination to break is coarseness; my strands are mostly medium, and those strands fair fine. However, the fine regions in the back of my head need no-to-low manipulation in order to stay strong.
Additionally, I do have a few must-have products to reduce tangling, knotting, and breakage of my ends. For one, a thick moisturizing conditioner that contains keratin is a must. My favorites are Aphogee 2‑Minute Keratin Reconstructor, Renpuré Originals Brazilian Keratin Conditioner, and OGX (formerly Organix) Brazilian Keratin Therapy Conditioner. (These are not to be confused with the BKT.) For two, my ends cannot do without shea butter mixed with oils (grapeseed, avocado, coconut, olive). Also, moisture is key to keeping my ends pliable, but too much of it can mean shrinkage and tangling of my ends. Moisturizing my strands once a week and keeping wash days to a minimum work well for me. Lastly, at the bare minimum, you will find me sleeping on a satin pillowcase if I’m not wearing a bonnet or scarf.
Ladies, how do you keep your ends in good shape?