Here’s a fun and quick lesson. The longer you are natural, the easier bad habits are able to die off leaving enough room for good habits to roam free. Don’t worry, it’s a proven fact…I’d even go as far as to say it’s pretty much common sense. Time, knowledge and patience all play major roles in warding off those bad hair demons, but eventually we all come to this place of absolute certainty on how to best care for our strands. With winter officially dawning on most of the East Coast, and even part of the West, this theory is officially put to the test.
Granted while Summer may just be a naturals’ most ‘ideal’ time to frolic and play with her Fro given the perfect dew points, the winter months can be just as crucial to a natural’s every day routine. Have you visited last year’s list of hair goals lately? I’ve always loved the idea of having a game plan, and implementing new adjustments at the start of a new year. Now, what’s always been at the top of the list involves a lesson the majority of us learn early on & that’s the importance of moisture retention. An easier equation to remember:
Moisture Retention = Length Retention
Once you’ve settled on a game plan conducive to your life style, it’s important to remain consistent and pay attention to changes in your hair, whether it’s an increase in single strand knots, or excess in shedding. Take notes and practice implementing necessary changes to your routine.
Where to Begin? Conditioning has always been the primary root to healthy hair, and for the winter months it’s important to find a deep conditioner that leaves your hair soft, free of drying agents and as an added bonus, makes the detangling process much easier. Your ideal DC should be packed with essential oils similar to Darcy’s Pumpkin Seed Moisturizing Condish or Shea Moisture’s Treatment Mask.
:Tricks: A good detangling routine will always be your secret weapon on the road to retaining length and keeping hair moisturized. Click over to Top Tools Used To Detangle Hair for a refresher course, then make note on whether or not you’ve been adhering to these practices. The detangling session purpose is far from just ridding hair of knots and getting to the styling portion. Hair when wet is in it’s most fragile state, so go slow…pay special attention to the ends of your hair for single strands, excessive roughness or anything that may slow up your routine. Practice smoothing the conditioner onto each section of hair ensuring even coverage.
How To Maintain? Nourishing the hair once you’ve washed & styled is all about preserving and maintaining all the work you’ve done during the wash process. The easiest mistake to make particularly during the colder months, is the over use of some of our favorite moisturizing hair goodies. Many of our favorite hair butters, pomades and puddings are excellent at sealing in the moisture during the styling process, yet often react differently when applied on 2-5 day hair that’s experienced shrinkage and loss of moisture. Relying on your favorite hair spritz to replenish moisture is the best 1st defense, then following up with a light moisturizing hair butter.
:Tricks: Stick with a light hair spritz similar to Shea Moisture’s Hold & Shine Moisture Mist or Jane Carter’s Revitalizing Spray. Avoid dampening the hair too much and go light on application. Follow up with a sealant, favorites include Karen’s Body Beautiful’s Creamylicious, Oyin’s Burnt Sugar Pomade, Pooka’s Shea & Olive Hair Butter, and for added moisture I tend to lean on LUSH’s R&B Revive and Balance Hair Moisturizer.
Protective Measures I’ve always been a fan of protective styling whether it’s the height of Summer or the dead of Winter, twisting up the FRO has helped to retain much of my length, minimizes moisture loss and helps reduce annoying knots.
Finding the right style that fits into your everyday work flow takes practice, but you have to experiment with what you like…or dislike. Play around with up-do’s, hair accessories, wigs, scarves…be creative! Often there’s this misconception that protective styling also equates less noticeablity with your Fro or it gives you the appearance of seeming younger (which…hey, I can relate to!), but striking a balance can work in your favor. My favorite up-do is a protective style that is perfect for work and always receives compliments.
:Tricks: Bobby pins are your friends when protective styling, so invest in good quality onces that will not snag on the ends of hair causing breakage. The above style was a simple twist out pinned into place a day or so after washing, and to preserve I tied the edges down using a satin scarf. Hair remained moisturized for days and virtually tangle free.
So these are merely the basics to keep you on the road to retaining length all year. If you have tips to share on how to retain moisture during the winter, please share!