Healthy hair doesn't just happen -- it's usually the result of judicious care. But what if you don't know where to begin when it comes to a structured routine for your tresses? Don't worry; a hair regimen doesn't need to be complicated or expensive, but you should make time to perform a basic set of steps on a regular basis to keep your mane as healthy as possible.
A hair care routine should consist of the following:
- Deep conditioner
- Protein treatment
- Daily styling aids
Look for a good-quality, moisturizing shampoo and use it at least once per week. Focus on cleansing the scalp first, rubbing in circular motions with the pads of your fingers (not the nails) and letting the motion of the water work the suds down the length of your hair. Avoid piling the hair on top of your head or diligently rubbing shampoo into your ends, which are the oldest and often the driest sections of your mane. Rinse thoroughly.
Good shampoos to try:
- Jason Natural Apricot Shampoo
- Aubrey Organics
- Kinky Curly Come Clean
- Alaffia Shea & Virgin Coconut Enriching formula
Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner. This is when you focus the product on the hair, not the scalp. Use a wide-tooth comb to work the conditioner through; you'll get better coverage this way. Look for conditioners designed for dry and/or damaged hair, as these usually contain the emollient ingredients that black hair needs. Instead of following a shampoo with a conditioner every time you need to clean your hair, you can co-wash instead, which is ideal for women who exercise frequently. You want rich, creamy formulas that completely coat your hair.
How often should you deep condition your hair? The answer depends a great deal on how dry your hair is. If you take care to condition it regularly and always use a leave-in conditioner after shampooing, you probably won't need deep treatments more than once or twice a month. If you apply a lot of heat to your hair, you may need to deep condition at least once per week. Find a product or products that work for your tresses; there are a few good drugstore brands available that won't bust your budget. There are also some salon brands that work wonders if your hair is in need of moisture ASAP.
Try these deep conditioning treatments:
- ORS Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner
- NuNAAT Karite Special Intensive Mask
- Milk Protein & Olive Oil Really Deep Conditioning Treatment
- Kenra Nourishing Masque
As with deep conditioners, how often you need a protein treatment depends a great deal on what you do to your hair. If your tresses are 100% natural -- that is, no chemicals at all, including color -- your hair can be perfectly healthy without any major protein treatments; an occasional mild reconstructor will keep your hair strong, but it's not required. On the other hand, if you color, relax, texturize and/or heat style your locks, you'll need more frequent and more intense treatments. These range from two-minute reconstructors you apply after a shampoo to spray versions that you add before styling; you may also need a serious treatment if you're experiencing extreme breakage. In those cases, it's usually best to have a stylist apply them, although you can visit your local beauty supply and find products for home use (such as ApHogee).
Try protein treatments like:
- Kenra Platinum Recovery Mask
- ApHogee Keratin Two-Minute Reconstructor
- Mizani Kerafuse Intense Strengthening Treatment
Daily Styling Aids
There are literally tons of styling products for our hair. Most offer differing results depending on the final style you want to achieve. Want perfect ringlets on your natural 'do? Then look for water-based gels or curl creams. Are you flat ironing your mane? Then you'll need a good heat protectant and oil-based moisturizer; a good smoothing serum may help as well. Relaxed hair will benefit from a daily moisturizer, especially when you focus on the ends, but you may also use mousse if you're creating a curly look via a straw set, Bantu knot set or braids.
Sticking to It
Now, all of this knowledge does you no good if you only deep condition haphazardly or you forget about applying protein to your relaxed and colored hair. Each of us needs to determine a schedule that fits into our lifestyles, whether you're a college student, corporate executive, busy mom or homemaker. Maybe you need to keep a hair journal until these steps become second nature for you -- plus, if you're very busy, it's all too easy to forget to deep condition or to put it off until you have more time. When it comes to hair, you often need to make time; taking proactive steps helps to prevent problems down the line.
Try scheduling hair tasks into a day planner, online/computer calendar, desk/wall calendar or whatever method best works for you. A sample regimen may look like this:
- Sunday: Shampoo, condition, deep condition
- Monday: Daily moisturizer
- Tuesday: Daily moisturizer
- Wednesday: Daily moisturizer
- Thursday: Co-wash, moisturize
- Friday: Moisturize
- Saturday: Moisturize
- Twice this month: Two-minute protein treatment
- No regimen is complete without nightly protection in the form of a silk or satin hair cover or pillowcase!
Create your own hair regimen. Your goal may be longer hair, stronger hair or simply healthy hair. Follow a routine with products that work with your texture and good hair days will result.