One of the absolute best things that you can do for your hair is develop a routine that meets its needs, fits your personal styling preferences, adjusts to your life schedule, and doesn’t empty out your pockets. This is especially relevant to many readers on this blog, because as college students we 1) desire to look our best 2) don’t have much to spend doing so and finally 3) don’t have much money to spend on this aim. Well, not to worry—I’m here to help you develop a simple routine that will make the care and keeping of your natural, transitioning, and even relaxed hair a breeze.
Disclaimers: Take all advice and product recommendations at your own discretion—every head of hair is different, and you’ll really have to go through trial and error to figure out what works best for you. I am NOT a hair scientist or cosmetologist, this is simply information gathered by years of personal experience and online research. And this is VERY basic; I haven’t even begun to get as comprehensive as this stuff can get it, but consider it a crash course. Also, side note: Most online natural and healthy hair communities use the word “regimen” instead—I prefer routine simply because it sounds like a friendlier word to me. Tee-hee.
Every routine should have these 4 essential components:
- Cleansing and Conditioning
- Deep Conditioning
- Moisturizing and Styling Products
Cleansing and Conditioning: This is the step that everyone is probably quite familiar with. My personal ideal schedule for washing my hair isat least once a week, but this is one of those things that entirely depends on your hair—how much you sweat, how long your styles last, how much time you’re willing to spend on your hair, etc. Cleansing and conditioning can involve either using traditional shampoo and conditioner duos, or cowashing may be employed instead—the practice of using conditioner to cleanse one’s hair. Cowashing doesn’t work for me, but it may for you. Recommendations: Silk Elements Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner, Cream of Nature Kiwi and Grapefruit Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner, Aussie Moist Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner
Deep Conditioning: To me, this is the single most important part of my hair routine. Moisture-based deep conditioning imparts internal moisture to my hair strands, keeping them supple. When hair becomes dry, it is more prone to breakage. Protein-based deep conditioning strengthens hair strands, providing structure. When hair becomes too stretchy, it will also break. I alternate the two: deep condition with moisture this Sunday, deep condition with protein this Sunday. This is what works for my hair; however, I will find that many people who have just started a healthy hair journey are more likely to need more moisture-based deep conditioning. Moisture Recommendation: Silk Elements MegaSilk Moisturizing Treatment. Protein Recommendations: Motions CPR Treatment, Aphogee Two-Minute Reconstructor
Moisturizing and Styling Products: Additional moisture added to the hair after deep conditioning is only secondary to me, but can certainly help retain moisture in the hair for the remainder of the week if that is necessary. There are many different types of moisturizers out there, from the watery formulations to the extremely thick and creamy ones. You will have to decide which works best for your hair and the style that you wear your hair in. In addition, you may want to employ styling products for your hair: to smooth down your edges if you desire that look, to add shine, to ensure hold so that a hairstyle lasts for a longer period of time. Moisturizer Recommendations: Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Leave-In, Elasta QP Mango Butter Moisturizer. Styling Product Recommendations: Ecostyler Gel (sleek edges), Elasta QP Foam Wrap (excellent for providing hold for long-lasting styles), Coconut Oil (great for adding shine)
Styling: I saved my favorite routine component for the last, because surely, after spending time caring for your hair, I know you want to make sure it looks fabulous 🙂
There are multitudes of ways to style your hair. The possibilities are literally endless. I will provide an abbreviated list of the styles that I wear most commonly, a brief description of each, and how long each ytypically lasts. Style Tutorials will be on the way for most of them, not to worry.
- Wet Buns-Simply entails placing the hair into a bun while wet. I employ a donut shaper. Can last up to a week, usually redone daily.
- Braid n’ curl-Braid hair and place small rod rollers on the ends. Results in a kinky wavy/curly look. Can last up to a week.
- Twist n’ curl-Twist hair and place small rod rollers on the ends. Results in a look similar to the braid n’ curl, but results in bigger, less defined hair. Can last up to a week.
- Flexi-rod Set-Set wet hair on flexi-rod rollers. Results in spiral curls. Can last up to a week. Starts out tame, may become a big fro by the end of that week. 😉
- Ponytail Flexi-Rod Set-A “cheat” way to do the previous style, involves putting my hair in about 8 ponytails and then setting the remainder of the hair on the rods. Can last up to a week. Results in a big curly look, a la Joan of “Girlfriends”
- Flatiron-Results in straight hair. Can last up to two weeks. Results in boredom after about three days.
To conclude: I hope you’ve enjoyed this crash course on routine building. Hopefully, you will now be on your way to building an excellent routine that works for you, your hair, your lifestyle, your personal style, and your wallet. 🙂