Life After Dreadlocks: Creating a New Hair Care and Styling Routine

Afika James tells us more about her natural hair journey.

After being so inspired by Afika James’ transition from locs to loose natural hair, we’ve decided to check in on the naturalista to see how she’s getting accustomed to her new found look. Trying out a new style or a hair texture you’re not used to is no easy feat for many. In most cases, what works for someone else, may not work for you as well. Through her journey, James has learned how to find the tools and styling tricks that works best for her fine natural curls. Read on to learn more about her current hair styling routine, and the easiest way she chooses to care for her natural hair.

How This Naturalista Created A Styling Routine That Works for Her Hair Type

afika james wearing twist out from her new natural hair styling routine
The modified wash and go works for this curly gal! Try your hand at Afika’s wash and twist-out style. Photo credit: Debbie Lemonte of Dag Images

All Things Hair: How many months has it been since your transition?

Afika James: It has been five challenging months since my transition back to my natural tresses. I think about my locs and possibly restarting them again, probably every other day.

All Things Hair: Have you found your go-to hair care routine for winter?

Afika James: So as I am still learning what works best for my hair, I’ve had success with a very simple routine. I pre poo with favorite oils and sit under my hair dryer for a few minutes to make sure the oil is deeply penetrating my hair. I shampoo and lightly condition after that. A lot of my natural friends rave about leave in conditioner but, I think that too many products weigh down my hair and I much rather skipping that step.

Some days, I even put on a wig that I had custom made. It affords me the opportunity to switch it up without too much manipulation of my hair.

Afika James: I am also doing a lot of protective styling, I find myself longing for my Mom’s old lady cornrows that she gave my sisters and I during our schools days. Some days, I even put on a wig that I had custom made. It affords me the opportunity to switch it up without too much manipulation of my hair. That brings me to another major part of my winter and every day styling routine. This season I am all about very low manipulation so I finger comb as much as possible. I also love skipping the shower cap during my morning shower and having the steam penetrate my hair, my hair seems to really like that.

Most importantly, I am currently working hard on being consistent with putting good wholesome foods into my body and exercising. I’ve noticed that my wellness routine is helping my hair and skin to flourish. However, exercising more frequently mandates frequent hair washing and that ultimately leaves me with a clean healthy scalp — that my dear, is a prerequisite for healthy winter hair in my book!

All Things Hair: What are some of your favorite hairstyles to wear on your hair?

Afika James: Currently, my favorite hairstyle is the only one I have mastered thus far, so it is my favorite by default. I’ve coined it as the “wash and go twistout.” I’ve seen some tutorials of seamless wash and go’s but my fine, super prone to shrinkage hair does not work that way. And in typical Afika style, I had to change things up for myself and make it work for my hair type.

All Things Hair: Can you give us a quick tutorial on how to achieve your wash and go twistout?

Afika James: I do not have a fancy step-by-step natural hair blogger tutorial. Truthfully, I do what time permits that day. To achieve the aforementioned hairstyle, I shampoo and deep condition my hair to start with clean hair. I detangle in small sections, apply my styler of choice, then create two-strand twists. My weekends are mostly filled with home based activities, like catching up with work and family, so I am able to leave my twists in for the entire weekend. If not, I will adorn myself in my custom wig.

To finish the wash and go twist out style, I simply untwist, prep and pin my hair up. Depending on my mood, I’ll add makeup, earrings or no earrings and I go about my day.

To maintain the look, my nightly styling routine is as follows: I spritz my hair some water at night, then apply a light oil and cover with a silk bonnet. I sometimes wish, I had the time or was fancy enough to spend a lot of time trying different hairstyles but I am not there yet. As a graduate student who also works 9 hours a day, it’s a challenge to find the time.

Need more natural hair care tips? Here’s how to care for textured hair types and check out these curling products for 4a curl types to add to your styling routine.