When I decided to get my hair straightened two weeks ago, all I was concerned about was visiting a salon that wouldn’t be afraid of my extremely kinky hair, wouldn’t attack my strands with a fine comb, and wouldn’t try to use a crusty hot comb. Of course I also didn’t want heat damage, but there’s no way to suss that out before making an appointment (except for the one salon that told me all natural hair would get heat damage when straightened so I should instead get a keratin or smoothing treatment… ummm no thanks).
What I didn’t expect from my visit to Madu Salon in San Francisco was having a stylist that was not only extremely skilled with my hair but also prioritized working through my regimen to see if there was any room for improvement. My stylist LaTasha definitely gave me some hair therapy and offered suggestions for how I can tweak and twerk (her phrase!) my regimen! Here are five natural hair mistakes I was making in my regimen that you probably are too:
Mistake 1: Using Oils (i.e. Coconut Oil) to Pre-Poo/Detangle
One thing that I always thought I was doing correctly was coating my hair in oils – usually coconut – to detangle my hair and putting it in sections before washing it. However, LaTasha let me know that doing this blocks any moisture you might add during your conditioning period because oils fill your cuticles just like silicones.
Instead of pre-pooing and detangling with oils, you should use a thick cream based substance that contains both water and oils. LaTasha was extremely generous with product and I will now be too (especially since I have so many!)
Mistake 2: “Sealing” in Moisture
Along these same lines, I typically set my hair in a style – let’s say flat twists for example – and then use pure oils to take down the style in efforts to combat frizz. One of the first things I learned about natural haircare was “sealing” in moisture with oils, but LaTasha explained that sealing moisture in also means that you block additional moisture, making it impossible to rehydrate your hair.
Natural hair can always use more moisture, so using only the oils found in moisturizing products provides enough sealing that you don’t need to top it off with the additional, potentially drying step of a pure oil. That way your second day moisturizer (LaTasha recommended DevaCurl Set it Free) can actually penetrate your hair strands.
Mistake 3: Using a Wide Toothed Comb
Although I’ve done finger detangling in the past, in the past year I’ve resorted back to using a wide toothed comb in the shower because my colored hair became more difficult to detangle. As soon as I told LaTasha this out loud, I realize how silly and counterintuitive it was. Why would I use a harsher tool on my hair if it was more damaged?!
In addition to being gentler on your hair, finger detangling and raking products through your hair with your hands creates heat that opens your cuticles and allows more moisture to seep in. Win!
Mistake 4: Avoiding Holding Products
Since I don’t mind shrinkage, I’ve been known to avoid gels and products that say hold because I fear they will dry out my hair and make it stiff. This means that I can get a max 3 or so days out of a style before it poofs back up into my beautiful afro.
However, layering a holding product on top of your conditioner and working it through with your fingers reduces the amount of manipulation on your hair from trying to restyle it every night or every other night. By putting in the additional work and time on my hair on day one, I can actually get my styles to last longer.
Mistake 5: Using High Doses of Protein
Ever since I’ve been experiencing color damage, I’ve done the Aphogee protein treatment a few times. If you’re unfamiliar, the treatment hardens your hair to feel like a dry ramen noodle, all in the name of adding protein. Since the Aphogee treatment warns that touching your hair while it is hard can create breakage, it’s probably not a good idea right? Right.
Instead of high dosage protein treatments, LaTasha recommended regularly using deep conditioners infused with protein like Miss Jessie’s Rapid Recovery on my hair. These thick creams won’t harden your hair (who wants that?) but will instead both hydrate and fortify them.
So yeah y’all… I have a lot of changes to make! Although I was taking notes the entire time, what really won me over and let me know this advice was the real deal was that LaTasha NEVER asked about or said anything about my hair type! I’m trying to get another week out of my straight hair but I can’t wait for my next wash day so I can begin implementing LaTasha’s suggestions and let you guys know how my hair responds.