Tightly curly hair is by nature much more dry than straight or wavy hair for the simple reason that the natural oils of the scalp doesn´t glide down the hair as easily. But even dry hair needs to be washed regularly to be kept clean, and believe it or not- moisturized! Water is moisture and no oil or cream will moisturize your hair without water.
It is important to wash your hair regularly to keep it clean, healthy and moisturized. We wash the hair once a week or once every other week if it is in a protective style over several weeks. If we don´t wash it every week then it is extra important to check it often and moisturize the hair with for example a daily sprits of water mixed with your favorite conditioner (See post on moisturizing hair for more info).
Choosing the right products
When washing tightly curly hair it is extra important to choose your products wisely. You may have heard it before but I will mention it again. In most shampoos the main ingredient is sulfates. This is the stuff that strips away any buildup of products, oils and so on.
The problem for tightly curly hair is that it also strips away the natural oils on the hair that it needs to stay healthy and strong. In straight or wavy hair this is not a problem since those oils come right back, but for our tightly curlies not so much.. That’s why choosing a shampoo without sulfates (at least the strongest ones) is a good choice (click here for more on interpreting the ingredients list). You may even wash the hair with only conditioner as long as you keep an eye out for buildup that may need a “heavier clean”. (See post on preventing and dealing with build up for more info on that).
You should also be careful when you choose your conditioner. Many conditioners contain silicones and mineral oils that are not water soluble and if you are not using a sulfate shampoo you will then end up with buildup on your hair that prevents the hair from absorbing moisture and dry out and become brittle.
Our wash routine
On our wash days we start off by dividing the hair in four sections that we put in loose two strand twists or braids (parting the hair ear to ear and front to back). We do this to make the hair more manageable and to avoid it from tangling.
We start by rinsing the hair while still in twists and then shampoo one section at a time, rinsing it well and then retwist. We apply the conditioner one section at a time and retwist each section as we go. Then we put on a shower cap and let the conditioner do its job while we play in the tub and wash the body. After a few minutes it’s time to rinse. We rinse one section at a time by taking down the twist, finger detangling it a bit while it is sopping wet with lots of conditioner in and then rinsing that section and twisting it back up before moving on to the next section.
We always use a microfiber towel to wrap the hair and gently squeeze it to remove excess water. By being very gentle with the towel we minimize the risk of breakage and tangling caused by rough towel fibers.
After the wash it is important to seal all that moisture in the hair.
While the hair is still wet, we apply a leave in conditioner one section at a time, finger detangle and seal it with an oil. Retwist and move on to the next section. When all sections are moisturized we either band the hair (to stretch it as a preparation for styling) or leave it in twists over night to air dry.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature but quickly melts in my hand..
Today we banded the hair. We use soft terrycloth ponyo´s to stretch the hair while it dries.
By always keeping the hair in twists, only taking down one section at a time and then retwisting, we keep the tangles at a minimum making detangling a breeze and in that way minimizing breakage(See post on detangling for more details on that).