Detangle With Care
Detangling on dry hair is a major no-no. Leatherwood advises, “It’s easier to detangle your hair in the shower, when your hair is full of conditioner and wet. Section the hair off into two parts, then split that that into four. You have to take your time — be gentle and detangle from the bottom to the root.” Making sure you have the right detangling tools is an absolute must. Felicia recommends her Detangler Brush, which catches fairy knots and smoothes hair at the same time. After detangling, put your hair into double-strand twists and rinse out the conditioner with the twists still in. “You’ll have a little bit of conditioner, but dry it with your T-shirt and your hair will feel like butter.”
Ditch Your Cotton Towel
A traditional cotton bath towel can pull and stretch the hair, stripping out moisture, which is not good at all. “A much better option is to carefully squeeze and pat your hair dry with an old cotton T-shirt or, ideally, a microfiber towel. It’s far more caring for your hair and really helps to reduce breakage,” François shares.
Try to avoid heat drying and styling if you can until your hair is in better shape. If you are going to apply heat, use a heat protectant, keep temperatures low, and use a blow dryer with a comb attachment to prevent further damage.
Protect Your Edges
ICYMI, damage usually happens at the hairline regardless of texture, and that’s why it’s called “baby hair.” It’s the finest, softest hair, but you can avoid breakage by keeping your baby hair soft and moisturized.
Get Regular Trims
Don’t be afraid to get haircuts, my friends. Tangles, single-strand knots, and split ends are characteristics of needing a trim and ends that are begging to be set free. Getting a trim every three and a half to four months will keep your kinks and curls popping and looking their best.
L.O.C. It Up
Adopt a routine of using leave in conditioners, oils, and creams to keep your hair hydrated and protected at all costs. Leatherwood likes using the Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave-In Conditioner for all hair textures and Obia Curl-Enhancing Custard for kinkier hair.
A big thing to remember is that healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp; think of it like your skin — you never want it to get dry. “At the salon we use a scalp treatment that blends grape seed, sweet basil, tea tree, sage, and peppermint oils. All are good for deep cleaning and anti-fungal. If the scent is overpowering, you can cover with sweet orange oil,” Dickey shares. Hair oils like jojoba, castor, avocado, and lanolin oil are all great for sealing and moisturizing since they don’t sit on top of the hair.
Be Mindful of Protective Styles
Raise your hand if you live for a protective style? Me too. Protective styles are great because they give your hair a break from constant manipulation, offer style versatility, and literally protect your ends during colder months. The key to wearing braids, twists, weaves, and wigs is to not wear them for too long or forget to take care of your actual hair underneath. “Three to four weeks is as long as you can wear a hairstyle before your scalp gets funky and you have too much stress on strands. Remember a protective style is meant to protect your hair,” says Dickey.
If your hair is shedding and breaking after a style, then it wasn’t protective after all. To treat the hair underneath your protective style, we like François’s SCALP NOURISH~MENT Braids and Locs Spray, which is packed with hydrating and nourishing oils that soothe the scalp and promote hair growth.
Not to be forgotten, your take-down method is as important as your style preparation. “It’s more about being preventative than what you do after. So, when you do the prep work with the moisturizers and oils, your hair is super lubricated before take-down, and then the process isn’t as damaging. Your hair won’t be matted and dried out,” Dickey adds.
When taking out braids and weaves, sometimes hair can collect balls of debris (yup, pretty gross); for this, Leatherwood recommends using a softening product like Hawaiian Silky Miracle Worker 14 in 1. “I would spray a little bit of that and dilute it with water. Once you break it out, use the detangler brush and it will loosen it up.”
Sleep With a Satin Scarf or Pillowcase.
If you’re sleeping with a cotton pillowcase, toss it right now. The fibers rubbing against your already-stressed strands cause friction and even more breakage. Swap it for a silk- or satin-lined scarf and pillowcase to protect your hair while you catch some zzz’s.