Natural hair types, rejoice: There is no time better than the present to have curly, free-flowing, natural hair. We’ve been enjoying a pop culture and lifestyle-fueled renaissance of big and kinky coils. We’ve been seeing the hair trend everywhere from the red carpet to some of our favorite beauty blogs. This is great news for African American women who have been looking to transition from their relaxed ’dos into their more naturally curly state.
The best thing about this new natural movement is that more products that target these issues have now hit the mainstream markets and are ripe for the picking. Now comfortably out of the niche industry, natural hair issues as a bundle—mainly dryness and being prone to frizz and breakage—are being addressed slowly but surely, and we’re super excited to hop on the love train.
Read on for some tips on how best to care and maintain natural hair types. Let’s go, curl-friends!
Maintenance Guide for Natural Hair Types
1. Determine your curl type.
Different girls have different curls: Various salon and hair experts follow a curl chart that helps them categorize their client’s particular curl shape. This helps you better strategize a hair care routine that’s tailored to your specific type. This will also help you streamline which products you should focus on.
2. Prep hair for breakage.
Relaxed hair that’s reverting back to its natural textured state can go through an adjustment period. Experts say that this restructuring process, where the curls are slowly returning back to their original pattern, can take up to eight months, or until the scalp and follicles are fully healed. Be patient, and in the meantime, moisturize properly. And by this, we mean…
3. Start your week with a deep-conditioning treatment.
Choose a day where you can spend an extra 10 minutes to set your hair in the shower, preferably while it’s still steaming in the bathroom (hot air opens up the cuticle and helps the product absorb better). A deeply emollient tub treatment, like Suave Professionals Moisture Mask with Almond + Shea Butter, can serve as a weekly re-hydration boost to parched curly hair.
4. Do a full shampoo and condition twice a week, max.
Natural hair is typically extremely curly, meaning sebum doesn’t coat root to tip as efficiently as it does on straight hair. This mainly means curly hair is drier, can feel more brittle and can last longer between a full wash. When you do go the whole nine yards, choose a wash and care system that’s specifically for dry or naturally curly hair. These systems usually have formula cocktails that have more moisturizing and frizz-fighting ingredients, including beneficial botanicals.
5. Have an off-day ritual.
Pre-poo, co-wash or steam. Before you shampoo, give your strands a quick coating with a hair oil—we like botanicals like olive, coconut or marula for natural hair, such as those infused in Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil—to keep moisture from seeping out during the washing process. Natural hair types should also learn to co-wash, or wash hair with a cleansing conditioner, which employs a milder, gentler, silkier formula to remove grime without deflating curls or breaking the hair strand altogether. Round out those in-between days with a healthy steam session. This helps infuse some moisture to the shaft without fully wetting it, refreshes a not-so-fresh scalp and also breathes new life into those spirals.
6. Leave a leave-in bottle everywhere.
Stash one in your office drawer or gym locker, as it’s bound to become a daily must-have. A leave-in foam is what will help revitalize those coils in case the weather turns, or if you need to restyle hair anytime during the day. It also helps ensure your moisture levels are consistent so you don’t overdo it with product afterward. Over moisturizing hair can be just as bad as under moisturizing it, and keeping hair in an optimally bouncy state with leave-in conditioner helps you determine this.
7. Experiment with knots and twists.
Just because you’re wearing it curly doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with different styles. Bantu knots, twist-outs, and even braids are some cute updo options ladies with natural hair types can play with. Just make sure they’re comfortable enough that they don’t tug at your scalp, and be careful with creating and unraveling them.
8. Wear hair up at bedtime.
Try wearing hair in a turban scarf at bedtime to minimize friction on your strands while you sleep. Experiment with this look during the day too. It’s a fun, directional look that also helps keep your scalp fresh and free from environmental aggressors.