1. Start with a fresh trim.
Start with a nice, fresh trim. If your hair ends are severely damaged cut off those thin, damaged and brittle ends. Broken ends which are severely damaged and thin cannot be made healthy again no matter what product you use or what it promises.
2. Take hair pictures and start hair care journal.
Write down your thoughts and feelings about your hair, hair goals and the time frame you want to achieve them? Do you desire thickness, length or both? Take pictures of your hair every month or every relaxer to monitor your hair's progress. It amazing to see hair transform from thin and lifeless to thick and beautiful!
3. Clip those ends.
Clipping your ends at every 8 - 12 weeks depending with very sharp scissors. Clipping off 1/8 to 1/4 inch every 2-3 months will still allow you to retain length. Prevent split ends before they start because you can’t repair them once they are here.
4. If you choose to shampoo, shampoo 1-2 per week.
Always use a moisturizing shampoo (sulfate-free)! Many of us were taught to shampoo our hair monthly but this only results in dry hair. Water is the supreme form of moisture. Dry hair needs moisture. For growth to occur, it is very important to keep your scalp clean and healthy. To prevent tangling, it is best to shampoo in the shower. Focus on the scalp and work your way through to the hair ends. Don't pile all of your hair on the top of your head. This will cause tangling and breakage.
5. Deep condition with high quality protein and / or moisturizing conditioner weekly.
Deep condition your hair with plastic cap under the dryer at lease once per week! Moisturizing deep conditioners penetrate the cortex layer of the hair infusing moisture into the hair strand. Protein conditioners strengthen the hair by penetrating the cortex and adding amino acids to the areas of the hair strands that are weak. Use good quality penetrating water based deep conditioner with lots of slip to detangle the hair. If you are unable to deep condition under a dryer, apply a warm towel on your hair then apply a plastic cap and leave on for at least 15 minutes. Another option is to apply a deep penetrating conditioner to your hair followed by a plastic cap at night before sleeping. In the morning, rinse out the conditioner and style as usual.
6. Use a leave-in conditioner.
This is important! A high quality leave in conditioner will moisturize, detangle and protect the hair when heat styling. Leave-in conditioners will also prevent breakage and protect the hair from weather damage.
7. Look at your stash of products!
Read the ingredients on all of your hair care products. Don’t use products containing petrolatum and mineral oil to moisturize your hair. Products containing these ingredients will only coat the hair and not penetrate the hair strand. Therefore, the hair will not be moisturized. Stay away from alcohol based products as these will lead to hair that is dry, brittle and prone to breakage i.e. hair spray, gels, mousses and spritz.
8. Keep moisture in the hair.
To put it simple, dry hair breaks! This is why it is so important to keep the hair moisturized. Many people seem to think "My hair just won't grow!". False. What's really taking place is, the hair is growing yet it is breaking at the same rate hence, no length is retained. It is your job to apply moisture to your hair every day. Hair that is hard, brittle and dry needs moisture. Moisturizing increases elasticity and decreases breakage. When moisturizing the hair, focus on the hair ends. If your ends are dry, they will eventually split and break. Tip: Moisturize the hair when it is wet and use a light oil to to seal in the moisture.
9. Never use bristle brushes on wet hair.
Always detangle wet hair with a wide tooth comb or denman brush.
10. Relaxed ladies, listen up...
A. Don't overprocess your hair. If you relax your hair more than every 8 weeks, you are overprocessing your hair. It is best to relax every 8 to 10 weeks. If you can go a little longer without experiencing breakage, go for it. Overprocessing your hair will definitely result in damage and will ultimately lead to breakage.
B. (Caution: You may disagree with the following statement, Remember I did not write this) Say away from no lye relaxers (box kits). These relaxers are promoted as being less damaging yet far from the truth. Ca hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, guanidine hydroxide (calcium hydroxide with guanidine carbonate) and lithium hydroxide will dry out the hair over time and leave mineral deposits on the hair making it difficult to moisturize resulting in constant dryness, split ends and dull looking hair. Using lye relaxers are highly recommended. Lye relaxers will allow the cuticle to lay flat resulting in shinier hair without the mineral deposits. If you have to relax with a no lye relaxer you MUST use a chelating shampoo after neutralizing. A chelating shampoo contains chelates which will attach themselves to the mineral deposits left on the hair and remove them.
11. Limit the use of direct heat.
The use of direct heat should be limited to 1 - 4 times per month or just special occasions. Using direct heat on a daily basis will definitely result in damaged hair. Whenever you do use direct heat, remember to use a heat protector prior to the direct heat application. Use only ceramic / tourmaline irons instead of marcel irons. Ceramic/ Tourmaline irons are less damaging to the hair. Also, never use heat on dirty hair. Heat should should be used on clean hair only. No more than 2 days after washing the hair. Using heat on dirty hair only bakes dirt into the hair. Dirty hair will burn faster and of course, cause damage. Limit blow dryers to 1 -2 times per month. It is best not to blow dry the hair at all. I only use hood hair dryers.
12. Wear protective styles.
Protective styles are styles that protect the hair ends. Usually the hair ends are tucked away protecting them from drying out. These styles involve little or no heat and does not require much manipulation of the hair. Styles such as twists, braids, buns, up-dos, cornrolls, or any other style that hide the ends of your hair. Our hair ends are the most fragile because they are the oldest. These styles protect the hair in extreme cold and hot temps.
13. Know the difference between breakage and shedding.
Don’t be alarmed with hair shedding. Typically, hair sheds 50-100 strands daily. Each hair follicle has a cycle of growth which eventually will lead to death. Everyone has a different growth cycle. Shedding is different from breakage. If you see a white bulb (hair follicle) at the end of the hair strand, this would be considered normal shedding. If you don't see the follicle this may be considered hair breakage.
14. Protect your hair at night.
Always sleep in a silk/satin scarf or bonnet or use a silk/satin pillow case. Sleeping with a cotton scarf or pillowcase will cause the the hair to dry out. Cotton is very absorbent and will absorb moisture from the hair.
15. Avoid hair stylist who don't value healthy hair.
Some stylist focus more on hair 'styling' and less on hair 'health'. Find a stylist who specializes in healthy hair. If you stylist is scissor happy, heat happy or chemical happy you will never see any results.
16. Make It Simple
Find a simple hair regime that works for you. Be patient and consistent. Stick with your regime and don’t give up despite hair “set backs”. Hair normally grows 1/4th to ½ inch per month. Be patient and give your hair that extra TLC.
(credit: Saleemah Cartwright)
Basic Regimen to Get You Started!
You Will Need:
1 Clarifying Shampoo
1 Moisturizing Shampoo
1 Moisturizing Deep Conditioner
1 Protein Deep Conditioner
A Leave-in Conditioner
1 Natural Oil
Wide tooth comb
Satin/Silk Scarf and/or Satin Bonnet
- Shampoo your hair with a moisturizing shampoo 1-2x/week (Preferably sulfate free)
- Use a moisturizing deep conditioner with heat (At least 30mins) after every shampoo
- Always follow up with a leave-in conditioner
- Use a water-based moisturizer 2x/day (Morning & night) then seal in the moisture with a natural oil
- Always wear a satin/silk scarf or bonnet to bed
- Relax at least every 8 weeks (If You can go beyond that, even better)
- Do a protein treatment when needed (Whenever the hair feels very limp, mushy, overly soft etc.)
- Trim when needed
- Use a Clarifying shampoo (remove buildup) 1-2x/month (depending on the amount of product you use)
- Use a wide tooth comb to comb/detangle your hair. You'll experience less breakage.