Building A Natural Hair Regimen
BY COCO & CURL
A strong haircare regimen is the base for reaching your hair goals - whether that's boosting health, length or rolling with lifestyle changes. Our team swears by four key steps to building a routine: cleansing, conditioning, styling & protection, and daily hydration.
We've even thrown in some tips and regimen examples at the end to help get you started in revamping or building your own.
The first step to happy hair is a clean scalp and curls. You’ll know a cleanser works well for you if it strips buildup from your scalp and tresses without leaving them itchy and flaky, or dry and brittle.
For many Naturals, this usually means using sulfate-free shampoos. But that’s not true for everyone. Our co-founder, Sydney finds even these gentle shampoos over-strip her hair and skin of their natural oils – so she sticks with co-washes only.
Some people find it better to stick to one type of cleanser all the time, while others find they need to switch it up regularly (e.g. weekly moisturizing shampoo or co-wash and a monthly clarifying shampoo). To figure out what works for you, do a bit of trial and error with the abundance of cleansing options in the Natural community:
moisturizing shampoos |mild cleansers that leave hair detangled and soft – and can be used more often than harsher alternatives
Try: 103 Collection’s Luxury Botanicals Moisturizing Shampoo
co-washes or cleansing conditioners | low-foaming, gentle cleansers that detoxify hair without over-striping it
Try: Curly Temple’s Black Coffee Co-Wash
clarifying or chelating shampoos | thoroughly strip hair of stubborn mineral deposits from hard water or chemically-treated pool water, or grease from heavy oil use
- or DIY options like apple cider vinegar, which helps balance scalp pH and fight dandruff and fungal growth
To figure out whether to cleanse weekly, monthly or otherwise – listen to your scalp and curls.
- When your hair starts responding to daily styling products by looking limp rather than refreshed, and your scalp is itchy or full of build-up, it’s time to wash.
- If you’ve got dryness and breakage, you either need to wash less often or switch to a gentler cleanser (or both).
How long your hair needs between washes will depend on you, your environment and daily activities.
Conditioning is important before, during and after washing your hair.
Pre-Poos condition the hair before cleansing to minimize the amounts of healthy oils that get stripped away on wash day. Once applied, they’re often left on for at least 30 minutes, and can be enhanced by wearing a shower cap and applying heat to open hair cuticles.
Conditioners (moisturizing, deep, etc.) and Treatments (moisturizing, protein, etc.) are applied after shampooing or cleansing to infuse the hair with what it needs to maintain a healthy balance of oils and proteins. Some conditioners only need to be left in for a few minutes, while deeper treatments need to be left on for half an hour or more.
Try: 103 Collection’s Luxury Botanicals Moisturizing Condish, Naturally Free Inc.’s Quinoa Protein Treatment, or Curly Temple’s Hot Cocoa Oil Treatment , or Basique Opulence’s Ylang Ylang Indulgence Ultimate Treatment Elixir
Leave-In Conditioners help with detangling, and to extend the effects of all the conditioning you did before and/or after washing your hair. They can also be used with water-based moisturizers for daily styling.
All three of these types of conditioners can go hand in hand with a good cleanser to maintain a balance of freshness and moisture for your hair.
Sometimes your hair will “get used” to a good regimen, so you’ll need to change things up. A good pre-poo or deep treatment helps when your regular conditioner or moisturizing cleanser doesn’t give your hair its usual moisture boost. A protein treatment can help to revive hair that’s getting so moisturized that it’s starting to feel “mushy” (these usually aren’t necessary more often than every 1-2 months). And a good aloe vera DIY scalp treatment can help with occasional flare-ups of itchiness and dandruff.
Styling and protection is key to making the good effects of wash day last.
At night, use a satin or silk headwrap or pillowcase. In harsher weather, give your hair extra cover with a wrap or satin/silk-lined hat.
Beyond that, most Naturals find their hair benefits from spending majority of the time tucked away in styles that save us from bothering our hair every single day. People with more resilient hair can get away with short-term styles like buns or wraps, and wearing their kinks loose more often. Those with breakage and dryness prone hair should stick to longer-term styling like braids, twists or cornrows.
We know the urge to try all those fun braid and twist-out styles like our favorite bloggers – but be strong and keep in mind that many of them have their hair protected in between posts!
In between styles, and while you’re styling it, make sure you’re giving your hair a regular hydration boost. For many people this means daily or bi-daily moisturizer use. This is especially important for people battling dryness, breakage and tangling issues.
You can moisturize by steaming your hair in the shower, using leave-in conditioners, water-based moisturizing creams and sprays, and oils. While it’s important to focus on your tips, remember that your scalp also needs a bit of water and oil from time to time.
EXTRA TIPS – IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE!
Your hair crush’s regimen can be a great start, but don’t expect everything to work for you. It’s rare that your hair crush’s texture, porosity, density and thickness will be the same as yours. Add in other factors like daily habits, genetics and climate, and it’s not likely you’ll be able to completely copy someone else’s regimen.
Instead, if you need guidance, use someone who shares as many characteristics as possible with you as a starting point, and adjust according to your needs.
Have patience with a new routine, but know when to quit. It sucks when regimen changes don’t yield the results you expected. But you can only really be sure if something does or doesn’t work for you after using/doing it diligently for 1 to 2 months.
Still no luck after that point? Listen to your hair and move on to testing out the next method or product.
Be consistent with when you bother your hair and when you leave it alone. We’ve spoken a lot about bothering your hair – washing, detangling, styling, etc. And while it’s true that you have to be consistent with making sure you style, wash and maintain your hair – it’s equally important that you’re consistent with leaving it alone.
Leave it alone in between wash days, styling and detangling!
Check out these Natural hair gurus for tips on building a regimen for: