At the last Champagne, Cupcakes and Curltalk, a few people asked me to describe my regimen, so I promised I would do a series of posts on how I do my hair, and also giving general styling options for kinky hair.
Now I actually love playing with my hair, so tend to experiment with a variety of styles, in the order in which I most do them:
- Chunky twist outs (using fat twists for the purpose of wearing my hair out, and not to wear the twists as a style)
- Mini twists (smaller, neater two-strand twists that I DO wear as a style. These take longer to do, but then I don’t have to do anything else to my hair- except moisturize- for the next 2 weeks)
- Braid outs (the same as a twist out, but braiding hair in about 10-15 sections, instead of twisting)
- Wash n Go’s (I do these infrequently because my hair tends to get really tangled if I don’t stretch it out to dry. But as this is the quickest and simplest method of styling a fro, I come back to them once in a while)
- Kinky twists (twists with afro-kinky extensions)
- Braids with extensions
I used the last 2 as methods to grow my hair back the second time I transitioned to natural hair, however I have not done these for a while now.
As this is the routine I've been rolling with most often recently, I'll start with a quick feature on my chunky twist outs.
These are much simpler to do than proper twists, as they don't have to be aesthetically pleasing since they are only to set the style and you are not going to wear them out in public (well, I have been known to, but that’s a different story altogether). So they only take a fraction of the time to do.
I experiment with a wide variety of products (how else would I know what to recommend to Kinky customers?) but will keep this simple by talking about the ones I use most often.
Also let me apologize in advance for picture quality- I'm terrible at taking photos of myself!
I start by washing my hair. First I make sure my dry hair is free of any major tangles, by just going through it gently with my fingers. I usually cowash with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration conditioner, or if I’m experiencing any build-up, I wash with one of the Dr Bronner’s liquid soaps (very heavily diluted, and just on my scalp), Giovanni 50:50 shampoo or plain old black soap. I then deep condition (I do this every week without fail, unless my hair is in mini twists) with Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose conditioner or Elucence Moisture Balancing conditioner and sometimes add melted shea butter, honey, extra virgin olive oil, or whatever raw/unrefined oils I happen to have on hand at the time. I slather this mixture all over my head, cover with a plastic cap, and use one of those inflatable plastic hairdryer attachment thingies (I’m sure that’s the technical name) for about 20 minutes, or longer if I can be bothered to hold the hairdryer, then I cover with the towel and go about my business until the conditioner has been in my hair for an hour.
If I’m in a rush, or washing midweek, I skip the deep conditioning stage, but then I ensure I make up for this at the weekend.
The next step is to detangle my hair in sections with the conditioner still in, first using my fingers and then running a wide tooth comb through. This is the worst part of my routine, and sometimes I actually begin to hate myself. I have very thick hair that tangles really easily, and detangling can take forever! However I find making sure most tangles have been removed before wetting makes the process much easier. I run water over each section I am detangling (some people do all their detangling under running water- I do not! The amount of time it would take would mean I would waste so much water) and then quickly detangle with my fingers. Then I run my comb through when I think I’ve gotten rid of most of the knots. If I hit a snag, I put more conditioner on and gently loosen it. Once I’ve detangled a section, I braid it up with the conditioner mixture still in, to stop it from tangling again. I end up with about 5 or six detangled braids.
I then rinse all the conditioner out of my hair with it still in braids.
I get out of the shower, undo each braid and run some Giovanni Direct Leave-In conditioner through it, and then I two-strand twist the section back up (divide the section in two and twist them over each other- much quicker than having to re-braid the section).
When I am ready to style, I undo a big twist and part it, normally in 3 or 4 sections. I comb through the small section to make sure it is smooth, run some product down it (usually IC Fantasia gel, for hold, whipped with Shea Aloe Mix and a bit of olive oil), and proceed to do smaller two strand twists.
I repeat the twisting process all over my head, dividing each big twist into 3 or 4 smaller twists, so ending up with about 20 twists in total. If a section starts drying up, I re-wet it by spraying with a mixture of water and leave-in that I keep in a spray bottle. People have different preferences: some prefer to twist wet, and others dry. I prefer twisting my hair while still wet as I find it works better with my curl pattern, and I get better definition and hold than if I attempt to twist my hair dry. But it’s worth trying both ways to determine what works best for you.
(Ignore the bottle of Keracare on the bathtub. I’ve had this since before my curly girl days and now use it to wash make up brushes and combs... no offence to Keracare afficionados.)
When that is all done, I lightly re-wet the end of each twist and seal by twirling some Castor Oil over the end. This can be done with a variety of natural oils depending on individual preference, helps lock in moisture and smooths out the ends helping to prevent knots and split ends.
And that’s it. I then wait for it to air dry. If I’ve done it at night, I’ll hold the twists down with a satin scarf, and go to bed.
The next morning, or whenever I’m ready to go out, I lightly coat my fingers with castor oil, and begin to unravel the dry twists. Again this can be done with any oil, butter or leave-in product, based on personal preference. I have found unraveling with dry fingers causes hair to frizz unnecessarily, so I never do this. I fluff out each twist, et voila!
To maintain overnight, I usually ‘pineapple’ my hair- making one or two high bunches- and then tie with a satin scarf. Midweek I re-twist in big sections (about 6 or 7), with a little bit of leave-in spray, and without combing the hair first. (Note that the only time in this process that I ever really comb my hair is when I am detangling with conditioner. This cuts out unnecessary breakage.)
And that is it. It does seem like a long process. I'd estimate that it takes 30 mins to wash and detangle, an hour with deep conditioner in my hair and then just under an hour to twist. 2.5 hours on my hair is not too bad a way to spend a Sunday evening, especially considering I don't do anything else to it for another week.
Hope this answers some questions. I have been trawling the net for more regimen and styling ideas- especially for short hair- and will start to post up some of these really soon.
Until next time, happy experimenting!