Healthy hair starts with a great hair routine. No one achieves any goal without a plan and so it is with your natural hair. When starting out on your natural hair journey, you would need to develop your own personalized natural hair regimen.
What is a Natural Hair Regimen?
Simply put, a natural hair regimen is a set of routines you follow consistently to keep your hair healthy. It provides a structure and lifelong process of taking care of your hair.
Imagine you have a goal to lose a few pounds before the end of the year, you plan out in advance to include everything you’ll need, from a meal plan to a workout plan to your workout wears and more, you follow through and then repeat consistently. This is what having a Natural hair regimen looks like.
It is what you do to your natural hair on a daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly basis that makes your hair feel and look it’s best.
Building your hair care regimen may seem like a challenging task but it doesn’t have to be.
How to Create a Natural Hair Regimen
A healthy hair regimen should include the following elements:
- Nighttime care
Pre-poo is done before washing your hair. The process involves treating your hair with oils or conditioner treatment before washing it. This is optional and you might just do it often. But if you have kinky hair, this is a phenomenal step to add to your wash day prior to cleansing.
Pre-poo is a great way to prevent moisture from escaping and to preserve the natural oils found in the scalp and hair which shampoos tend to strip off. Prepoo allows smooth detangling of hair as well as improves the texture, shape, and sheen.
There are two products you can use to prepoo your hair:
Oil-based product: using penetrating oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, or Babassu oil.
Water-based product: Using a plant gel like aloe vera, avocado, or a moisturizing conditioner.
Alternatively, you can do a hot oil treatment whereby you heat up the oil before applying it to your hair.
Cleansing is a necessary element in your natural hair regimen. Healthy hair begins with a clean scalp. How often you wash your hair is dependent on you. Many naturals wash every week while others wash every other week. You need to learn and do what works for you.
Types of cleansers
Soaps are great cleansers used by many naturals (especially African black soap). They are usually formulated for washing and cleaning and are made up of a compound of natural oils or fat with a strong alkali. If you are not a fan of shampoo, soaps are great cleansers to use.
These are shampoos that typically do not have ammonium or sodium lauryl sulfate and will not leave your hair feeling stripped or squeaky clean. They are gentle cleansers that leave your hair feeling clean and soft.
These are shampoos that strip your hair of product build-up leaving your hair squeaky clean. If you use a lot of oils and styling products you will need to consider using a clarifying shampoo once in a while to remove this product build-up. If you have hard water in your area, you should use clarifying shampoo.
Chelating shampoos work on a deeper level to remove stubborn mineral deposits in your hair. These types of shampoos are also great if you use hard water.
These shampoos are formulated to treat specific hair problems such as dandruff, itchy scalp, and even damaged hair. They are shampoos usually labeled as medicated, antifungal, anti-dandruff, or anti-itch.
Clays such as bentonite clay and rhassoul clay are great cleansers. They clarify your hair making it squeaky clean and soft.
When choosing a cleanser it is important to choose what works for you. If a shampoo contains multiple sulfates, it would do the work of clarifying rather than moisturizing. You need to decide what exactly your hair needs.
This is another important element in your regimen and it usually comes after cleansing. Conditioning is a great way to keep your hair moisturized. Any good regimen should have a conditioner in it. A good conditioner should have a good slip and close the hair cuticles, making it soft and easy to detangle.
When conditioning your hair, make sure to focus on the hair and not the scalp. You can use a wide-tooth comb to work the conditioner through and detangle your hair.
Types of Conditioners
Regular conditioner: This is also known as rinse-out conditioners. It is formulated to stay on your hair for a few minutes and then rinsed out.
Deep conditioners: Deep conditioners are formulated to be left in your hair for a longer period of time (30 minutes to an hour) and then rinsed out.
Deep conditioning is an important step in your regimen. It is an intensive and nourishing treatment. You can easily get away without using a rinse-out conditioner. However, deep conditioning is a must. You can decide to deep condition weekly or bi-weekly. It all depends on your preferences.
Leave-in conditioners: These are designed to be left in your hair once applied. That is, they do not require a rinse out. This is a light conditioner that can be used on a daily basis. Leave-ins makes your hair easier to detangle, less prone to frizz and hydrate the hair. They are mostly used in the moisturizing step.
This involves every other thing you do to your hair to strengthen, soften, nourish, or revive it. This is where protein treatment and ayurvedic treatments come in. These treatments should be done often.
The frequency of doing a protein treatment will depend on the porosity of your hair, how damaged your hair is and the potency of the product. You should do protein treatments at least every 6-8 weeks. Seek moisturizing treatments if your hair feels dry.
Moisture is the real deal! It’s is so important and should not be skipped in your natural hair regimen. Moisture is the answer to so many problems; breakage, dryness, tangling, and hair loss.
Depending on your hair porosity, you may need to moisturize daily. Moisturize your hair using the LOC or LCO method and ensure you focus on your ends.
Moisturizers you can use include; water in a spray bottle, a leave-in conditioner, a hair mist, aloe vera juice and steam.
Detangling is another super important element in your hair regimen. You really need to be careful when detangling because you can end up losing a lot of hair. When you detangle you always want to have some sort of moisture in your hair. Never detangle on completely dry hair.
You can either use a comb to detangle or your fingers. Always take time to detangle and start from the ends of the hair working your way up to the roots. You can decide to detangle once a week or just on your washdays.
Trimming is one overlooked element that’s really essential. You want to trim those ends often to remove split ends that lead to breakage. Ideally, you should trim your hair every three months to retain length and avoid breakage.
Moisturizing won’t be worthwhile if you don’t seal in the moisture. Whenever you moisturize your hair, use a sealant such as natural oils or butter to keep your hair moisturized throughout the day.
Experiment with different oils to find what your hair likes. Some examples include olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, tea tree oil, almond oil, castor oil, carrot oil, Shea butter, mango butter, and Cocoa butter.
If your goal is to grow your hair long and retain length, protective styling is an important part of your natural hair regimen. A protective style is any style that keeps your ends tucked away and reduces hair manipulation.
The number of styles you can do is limitless. From braids to buns to twists to cornrows and so many other styles. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Night time care
Nighttime care shouldn’t be an option in your hair care regimen. Ensure you moisturize your hair at night. Cover your hair with a bonnet at night, or sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase.
Tips for Creating a Natural Hair Regimen that Works
1. Create a hair regimen that has a daily, weekly, and monthly structure. Try working your hair care routine into your lifestyle. Eventually, it would become a habit.
2. Your hair care regimen won’t work if you don’t stick to it. Keep it as simple as you can. This would help you not give up.
3. You can get an accountability partner to help with the struggles. You can have your washdays together, go to the salon together, and just keep tabs on each other.
4. Don’t stick to a routine that isn’t working. Moreover, don’t quit after one week of trying. Give it up to a month or two. If your regimen isn’t achieving the results you want, adjust it! You’ll need to experiment to get the best results.
A Simple Natural Hair Regimen that Works
If you are having trouble creating your own personalized regimen, here is a simple regimen you can follow for a start and modify later.
Weekly or bi-weekly
- Deep condition
- Treat (Protein or Ayurveda)
Your natural hair regimen doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t need a truck of products. Be consistent and stay on track. Don’t be afraid to switch things up once in a while. Our hair usually requires different things at different point in time, hence, the need to re-evalute your hair regimen.