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.
You can find LaTasha at Madu Salon or on Instagram (I got her to make an account!).
I think the points give everyone food for thought on how they handle their hair. They may not agree with the advice, but it certainly gives them pause. I don’t know that I wouldn’t seal. I haven’t been doing it anyways, and my hair is almost always dry – of course, that could also be because I’m not using enough product – who knows? Either way, let us know what works for you down the line.
Berry Dakara Blog
Yup, this is just food for thought. Her premise was that you don’t need additional oils since your products already contain oils. I will definitely monitor how my hair feels with these recommendations
So… this has kind of made me less likely to visit a natural hair salon! Because whilst I think stylists have good intentions, much of what they state is not consistent with the limited data we have about hair.
Coconut oil does not seal hair shut. It does not stop moisture from entering the hair. Water vapor from the air can still penetrate the hair strand so of course liquids can still penetrate your strand. Coating your hair in oil does slow reduce the uptake of moisture somewhat (though it still takes in a significant amount of water) but it also slows the loss of moisture, which is why it has an overall moisturizing effect.
For this I’m pointing to scientific data. (Journal of Cosmetic Science, pp 135-145, 2007)
This means point 1 and point 2 are simply incorrect. You also don’t account for different porosity levels. Hair with higher levels of porosity may need additional “sealing” to compensate.
Same for point 5. You argument seems to be that the protein makes YOUR hair hard. The same products don’t affect my hair the same way. What is the rationale for avoiding high protein products if it doesn’t make your hair hard? It just seems like a preference masquerading as a rule.
Anyway, this is not to criticize but just to remind other naturals that there is no good substitute for scientific data and that other people’s opinions are just that – opinions!
This article should do nothing to determine whether you trust stylists since it’s based on the advice of one stylist. And as a person who also loves data and research, I know that it takes more than 1 article/study to “prove” anything (especially one done on European hair) so I will go ahead and test this theory and see how it works for me. 1 piece of scientific data – especially one that doesn’t use our kind of hair – SHOULD be trumped by personal experience.
As for the proteins, the aPhogee treatment makes everyone’s hair hard to the touch as part of the way the product works before you wash it out. That’s what I was referring to.
Right, but you stated that other methods were “mistakes”. That suggests that only one way is the best way. But I guess that’s not what you meant.
But like I said, thanks for underscoring that stylists don’t ever know more than you know about your own hair! I’ll continue to trust in myself and in studies over other people’s opinions!
Really interesting post, KK.
Tip #2 about sealing in moisture is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I recently got a leave-in from Namaste Organics, a Nigerian brand. The 1st ingredient is water, but the next 3 are oils, so it really got me thinking- do I need to seal OVER this again? I guess not.
Few natural hair rules are hard and fast cardinal principles that apply to everyone, I think. People with high porosity hair can benefit from sealing heavy- maybe you’ll do a follow up post in the future saying which of these tips have truly twerked your hair game (sly post request, hehe)
About the protein treatment, my bestie experienced hardness from the Aphogee treatment (here pictured) with heat, hair uncovered. I used heat as well, on hair covered with a plastic cap and did not experience the same stiffness. Hair was alright, like hair post-shampoo. However, the APhogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor is less heavy than the 2-step treatment. Used it when I was transitioning and I think I should buy it again.
Try both ways with the Namaste. My thoughts are that if a product already has tons of oils, you don’t need more. Yay for a Nigerian brand! I’ve always used the Aphogee without a plastic cap (I feel like it says to use uncovered), so my hair also got hard. The 2 minute reconstructor is way less intense so maybe a better option.
And I’ll definitely keep you guys posted!
Hi KK, I am a little confused some of your hair regimen is what I implement in my regimen. You read other bloggers hair regimen and ask questions and this is what they been doing and you find out that what you are doing is totally wrong. The natural hair movement is getting a little difficult but I am going to stick with it. All I can say it want hurt to tweak and twirk my hair regimen. Thanks for the info.
We gotta stick with it even if it’s difficult! It’s always a learning process.