This is a portion of an article that originally appeared in Sesi’s Summer 2020 issue. Subscribe here to stay up on current editions.
Rock those coils and curls with confidence!
By Ava Marshall
You may legit have no clue what your nonchemically treated hair is really like, and that’s OK. Just take some time to learn your hair’s specific needs. According to Vanezza Laudé, natural hair expert and CurlyFro founder, “One thing you must analyze is how your hair absorbs certain products (water-based, oil-based, protein products, gel, etc.). That will help you determine in what order you should use the products.” A porosity test can help: Gather some hair from your comb (or from your shower wall, tbh), and place it in a bowl of water. After letting it sit for a few minutes, you’ll see if your hair floats or sinks. If it floats, you have low porosity, which plays well with lightweight hair milks and oils. If it sinks, you have high porosity, which works well with thicker creams and masks.
Water is not only the key to life, it’s the key to moisturized hair — the ultimate #levelup for your strands. “Use it in conjunction with a light oil, or use a water-based cream whenever you feel your hair is dry,” Laudé says. Thirsty hair can cause breakage, which is the last thing you want, so keep things hydrated for shine and bounce.
From shampooing to detangling to conditioning, #washday can be tough on your strands — and your arms. For tresses that stay thriving, Laudé suggests separating pre-washed hair into sections first. To avoid knots while washing, twist each section, and then, wash your hair while it’s twisted. After washing, undo your twists or braids and finger detangle with conditioner or use a comb or brush, Laudé adds. When detangling, make sure your hair is wet, and work your way up from the ends to the roots to avoid unnecessary pulling or hair loss.
Natural hair not only defies gravity, but it also has so much range — we’re talking space buns, Bantu knots, wash-and-gos, the possibilities go on and on. To ensure the continued health of your hair (and a painless styling process), it’s important to moisturize and detangle before you begin creating, says Laudé. This way, your hair is easier to work with. Also, remember to be kind to your scalp and avoid styles that pull and tug at it.
While it’s perfectly fine to rock a silk press every once in a while, it’s essential you use a heat protectant when you do. Another alternative Laudé suggests? Stretching your hair, which you can do by Bantu knotting, twisting, or braiding while it’s damp. When your hair’s all dry and you take your hair down, you’ll be left with lengthened strands.
Part of keeping your hair healthy is keeping it protected even when you sleep. “Sleep with a satin bonnet, satin scarf, or on a satin pillowcase,” says Laudé. Cotton can be drying for your hair, so if you skip out on the proper bedtime covering, your hair can lose its moisture. Before bed, prepare your hair for the next day by twisting or braiding it or rockin’ a pineapple to keep your wash-and-go poppin’.
The less manipulation the better. Hold your hair down with protective styles, such as Senegalese twists, box braids, buns, clip-ins, or weaves. This will give your hair the space to chill, helping make it stronger and promoting growth. Consistency is important, too. Safeguard your strands against split ends by trimming on the regular — Laudé recommends doing so every eight to 12 weeks.
8. Be Patient
Natural hair is not easy; it’s OK to make mistakes and experiment. “[It takes] some research and time,” says Laudé. “Be consistent, be patient. Learn what your hair loves and stick to it … you don’t need a million products to care for your hair — the less, the better. Practice makes perfect. You got this!”
Main Image: Yao Landry/Pexels