Many naturals at some point in their natural hair journey have lamented on their hair not growing and “my hair has been this length FOREVER” or something else along those lines. The problem usually isn’t that there’s no hair growth, but that there is no length retention. Many naturals hear length retention and automatically think protective styling, but it includes way more than just tucking the hair away.
Curly hair, regardless of texture, porosity, density or curl pattern are all prone to breakage. Breakage is the ultimate enemy of length retention; breakage is typically caused by over-manipulation, neglect and of course, lack of moisture. For undeniable success with length retention, moisture is the number one key. It is very important to develop and stick to a moisturizing routine. My name is Chloe and I’ll be sharing with you my tips for successful length retention.
TIP ONE: CLEANSE MORE OFTEN
The ultimate “moisturizer” is water, plain old H20, not shea butter, not curl cream, but H20. Incorporating more water into your routine, particularly through washing can drastically change the health of curly hair. Curly hair is naturally dry and requires more moisture than normal to maintain. Cleansing more often removes product build-up which prevents moisture from entering the hair shaft. Products used as sealants should not be used on hair that has not been properly moisturized first, this will only seal dryness in and create a “seal” over the hair shaft further preventing moisture from penetrating the hair.
Sulfate-free cleansers are always the preferred choice for many naturals, as they considered to be more gentle on the hair shaft/providing conditioning capabilities while still removing dirt and buildup.
Some gentle cleansers I swear by are:
- CURLS Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Wash
- DevaCurl No-Poo Decadence
- Camille Rose Naturals Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse
These have my curls feeling so refreshed and clean but very soft.
TIP TWO: DETANGLE THOROUGHLY AND GENTLY
Detangling tends to be the step many naturals rue on wash day. This is a step where naturals should not skip as this step removes tangles and shed hair. There are a few things that make or break your detangling session; namely, your tool(s) and product(s). I personally prefer to use products made specifically for detangling and use my fingers as my main detangling tool. Finger detangling is said to be the most gentle way of removing tangles from natural hair as you are able to feel and reach for the tangles at a more controlled pace. I personally prefer to keep my fingernails trimmed to prevent snagging as I finger detangle my hair and I only detangle on dripping wet hair. I love to use really slippery products specifically made for detangling, namely conditioners and pre-shampoo treatments.
Some of my favorites are:
- DevaCurl One Condition Decadence
- Camille Rose Naturals Moroccan Pear Conditioning Custard
- DevaCurl Wash Day Wonder
These all have an incredible slip and help me to detangle with ease.
TIP THREE: BE CONSISTENT WITH DEEP TREATMENTS
Deep conditioners/treatments are formulated to penetrate the hair shaft for deeper moisture/strengthening results. They are usually designed to either moisturize, strengthen, or a combination of both. These treatments are used to improve the physical appearance; sheen, luster softness and most importantly, the health of the hair. Deep conditioners tackle breakage, frizz, dry/itchy scalp conditions, and elasticity problems.
Being consistent with deep conditioning treatments is a major key to retaining moisture with natural hair. Though most treatments usually produce results within minutes of application, the true test is continued use – the more it is in use, the better the effects on the hair. The more you moisturize, the more you are better able to retain moisture. In addition to being consistent with deep conditioning, the way in which you deep condition is also important. It is always recommended to follow individual product instructions to achieve the best results, additionally, utilizing heat in the form of steam is also a way to enhance the deep conditioning experience.
While moisture is important for routines, balancing that moisture with protein is vital for keeping kinky hair as healthy as possible. This balance is solely dependent on personal preference and hair porosity, so there really is no one set way to keep this balance. Personally, I use products with light proteins on every wash day, light proteins such as hydrolyzed wheat protein and silk amino acids. My favorite deep treatments are:
- Soultanicals Afrotastic
- Curl Elastic
- Strands of Faith Intense Deep Conditioning Treatment
- CURLS Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Mask
- DevaCurl Melt into Moisture
- DevaCurl Deep Sea Repair
- Carol’s Daughter Rhassoul Clay Softening Hair Mask
TIP FOUR: BE VERY THOROUGH WITH MOISTURIZING
This step usually follows deep treatments and is vital for maintaining and retaining moisture in kinky hair. I personally like to layer my products when styling and moisturizing as I do believe this helps to weigh my hair down and minimize frizz with my hair. I usually like to start off with a light moisturizer such as a leave-in conditioner or hair milk and move on to heavier styling products such as creams, puddings, and custards.
Always be extra careful when reading ingredient lists for products and know the possible effect of each of those ingredients before using them on your natural hair.
Products with humectants such as honey and glycerin, fatty alcohols such as Cetearyl alcohol and Cetyl alcohol, are ideal for max moisture and softness. I tend to go for products with more natural oils and fatty alcohols than heavy butters such as shea butter, because my hair, though I like it weighed down, it has the tendency to be greasy with overuse of butters. So with that, I take extra care when choosing heavy creams for use. This is not to say that all butters will be greasy on natural hair, but just be mindful of the effect it may have. My favorite moisturizers and creams are:
- CURLS Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave-In Conditioner
- Jane Carter Solution Curls to Go Curl Cocktail
- Eden BodyWorks Curl Defining Creme
- CURLS Blueberry Bliss Twist ’N Shout Cream
- Camille Rose Naturals Almond Jai Twisting Butter
Naturals where are in your “natural hair journey?” Is your flourishing or is are you struggling? Drop your comment below with any questions you have about all things natural hair! We’re here to help you on this journey.