It has literally taken five years for me to figure out how to make my curls pop and retain moisture. The hardest part is figuring out what products my hair likes and what it doesn’t. First, I tried to figure out my hair type. I’m a 4b, 4c but what does that mean? It wasn’t helpful.
Next I read about the LOC method. Liquid, oil, and creamy usually left me with creamy flakes. My hair doesn’t like to be styled with creams. I can moisturize my hair with it after it’s styled or use it for twists, but that’s it.
The Dickey Method was the next technique I tried. It required putting your conditioner and stylers in while your hair is sopping wet. This was helpful but my hair dried super fast. I started doing twist outs, puffs and afros. Dryness was always an issue.
I was frustrated and didn’t understand why my curls were so gorgeous wet and turned into a bush when it dried. I have sisters whose curls popped. I was determined so I started my research. I noticed my tresses were getting damaged from the color I put in it and I wanted to save it. I bought moisturizers, conditioners, and oils but the damage continued.
Finally, a co-worker told me about something called the Curly Girl Method. I came across a Curly Girl Method challenge on the fabulous Ty Crable’s YouTube challenge and downloaded the book on my kindle. It changed my life. Everything started clicking. I started trying out gels. I never used them because I didn’t like the way it made my hair hard. I didn’t like that.
I started hearing about hair porosity. I learned that I have low porosity hair. That means it’s hard moisture to even get into my hair follicles. A lot of products just sit on my hair. It would take three days for it to become properly hydrated. Once that moisture seeps in, it’s stays a while.
I took all of this knowledge and created this routine:
1. Pre-poo – Yes, I do. This just prepares my delicate tresses for the excessive manipulation involved in cleaning the hair. Some people use coconut oil to pre-poo, but that didn’t do anything for me. I use conditioner, Tresemmé Botanique is my favorite right now. I just wet my hair with warm water and apply the conditioner. I use my fingers or paddle brush to de-tangle my hair. I cover my head with a plastic cap for 10 minutes.
2. Co-wash – I rarely use shampoo because it strips my hair of moisture. I wash my hair with a cheap conditioner or an actual co-wash. I’m more concerned with the actual conditioning. The brands I use are Eden’s Body Works, Shea Moisture Professional, and the Tresemmé conditioner I used to pre-poo.
3. Hot oil treatment – I combine about 1-2 teaspoons of grape seed oil, sweet almond oil, macadamia nut oil, and jojoba in a small container and hear it up in the microwave. Test it before you stick your hands in it so that it’s not too warm. I section my hair and put a generous amount of my concoction on it. I sit under the dry 10-15 minutes.
4. Deep condition – I do this often. I use a lot masques. Some of the ones on my stash are Shea Moisture JBCO and Raw Shea. I like to mix those together with oils (usually olive and coconut) and sometimes an egg, some honey, and/or mayonnaise. Yes, I’m serious. I don’t really like the mayo though. I also use other masques from Eden Body Works, DevaCurl, and Pure Oils by Silk Elements. I make sure I cover each stand of hair from the ends to the roots. Then I de-tangle with my fingers or paddle brush. When my hair was long, I’d loosely twist sections after I applied the conditioner. I either use a deep conditioning bonnet (It looks like silver foil. My husband calls me a baked potato when I wear it.) for about 45 minutes or a plastic cap under the dryer for about 20 minutes. I rinse it out.
5. Leave-In conditioner – I use a lot of conditioner. I apply apply my leave-in in the shower while my hair is soaking wet. I give it 5 minutes to soak in. I try to use a leave-in from the same brand of styler but that’s not always possible. I have some from Shea Moisture, Design Essentials, and Eden Body Works in my cabinet right now. I’ve also used a little bit of my Tressemme as a leave-in. Some naturals advise against this but it works for me.
6. Oil – A light coat of oil helps keep my hair from crunching when I use gel. I usually use a thick oil like olive or JBCO. Sometimes, I stop here when my curls are defined enough or I want a lot of volume. If I want well-defined, tight curls, I need a styler.
7. Styler – This is where the magic happens. This is how I keep the definition that hair has when it’s wet. I use gel. My favorites are Kinky Curly Curling Custard, Design Essentials Natural Honey, and Eco-styler Olive. I’ve tried other Eco-stylers (pudding and the clear), Shea Moisture’s Curling Gel Souffle, Camille Rose Curl Maker, Miss Jessie’s, Carol’s Daughter and DevaCurl but they didn’t give me the same pop as the first three I mentioned. I’m on the fence about aloe vera gel. It works well with the Eco and KCCC but only so-so when I use it alone. Next I’m going to see how my stylers (all of them) work when mixed with olive oil. I’ll let you know. I apply the gel while my hair is still wet. I mist it with my water bottle if it gets damp. The wetter the hair the more defined the curl pattern will be.
8. Oil – I carefully seal with oils again. Jojoba, cocoa butter oil, and JBCO work well. I take care not to alter the curl pattern. Next, I let it air dry, diffuse it, or sit under the dryer. If there is a cast, I get rid of it by scrunching my curls and gently applying some sort of moisturizer.
9. Moisturizers – I mostly use my leave-in conditioners to moisturize my hair. I put a little on my index finger and slid it between my thumb from root to end. I may use a moisturizer like Design Essentials Daily Moisturizing Lotion too. I usually moisturize my hair in the morning and at night. I’ll refresh my curls by spritzing it with water and using a cream to retain the moisture. I like SM’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Deva Curl’s Curling Cream, and Eden Bodyworks Curl Defining Cream. I use the creams to refresh because they don’t define my hair well. They don’t combine well with my gels either.
10. Bonnet – I sleep in a silk or satin bonnet. I use a scarf for some styles. This is because materials like cotton will suck the moisture right out of your hair. It will leave it dry, brittle and damaged. Trust me I know. That’s how I got this routine.
So what’s your routine? What products work best for you? I’d love to hear from you.