Wear a satin or silk scarf to bed
When you sleep your hair is in direct contact with fabrics on your pillowcase. Protecting your crown with a scarf when you sleep is your first line of defense against breakage. Choose fabrics that will minimize friction and retain moisture. Silk and satin scarves are perfect as the hair will not catch or rub. You not only protect your hair against breakage but you also preserve your style and gain smooth edges without using much product.
Detangle with your fingers
Tangling happens if the hair is left wet without styling. Detangling should be done at least every wash day if you do not want freeform locs. Using your fingers will regulate the tension you put on your hair and help to identify the knots without squeezing them and making them tighter. Finger combing also ensures your hair sheds less which improves length retention. You will also be able to notice changes in your hair quickly as your are more familiar with the texture, thickness and overall feel of your hair.
Part hair into sections to moisturize
After detangling, shampooing and conditioning, taking adequate time to moisturize your hair is key to managing your natural kinky curly hair. To ensure that all of your hair gets the essential nutrients and oils from your products it is best to part the hair into manageable sections. For long or short hair it is important that each strand is covered. Make up to 4 sections for the best results.
Wear protective styles to retain length
Braids, weaves and natural hair wigs are versatile protective style that you can count on. When choosing a style make sure it suits your lifestyle, for example wigs are better if you are very active as they can be taken off and washed without hassle, the same goes for natural hair extensions such as clip ins. Braids are recommended if you prefer longer periods of resting your hair in between styles.
Find Your Perfect Texture in Natural Hair Extensions
Braid or twist hair at night to reduce friction and preserve your style
Wrapping your crown in a satin or silk bonnet is not enough especially if you rock a fro, you will still end up with tangles and flattened hat hair. Take a few minutes each night to braid or twist the hair. Sections are not important but this will give you a chance to remove shed hairs, lightly detangle and stretch your hair without using heat. If your hair is tightly coiled you could bun or pineapple your hair and make sure the ends are tucked away. If you want to reset your curls be sure to add water and your favorite moisturizer before braiding.
Mist hair frequently with water and seal with oil.
Your curl pattern prevents sebum from traveling down your hair's shaft. Sebum is your body’s natural oil. This means that afro hair is prone to dryness. Regularly spritzing with water or leave in conditioner can battle this. It is also important to seal in this moisture using and oil. You can do this daily or every few days depending on the weather and your hair's hydration needs. Some women can simply use water and a light oil while others may need a heavy cream to prevent dryness.
Avoid using too much heat
Using blow dryers and hot irons (especially without a heat protectant) can cause a host of problems. Your curls may seem like the most resilient but each curl and kinky represents a weak spot in the hair that makes it very delicate. Using heat too often will thin out the hair and direct heat can cause damage deep inside the strand. This affects the chemical structure of your hair resulting in limp straight hair or heat damage which is irreversible. Use heat once a month or less and on the coolest setting possible, if you see steam or hear a sizzle, stop! Hair can be stretched using other methods such as banding or threading.
Trim split ends regularly
If your goal is long and healthy hair, regular trims are essential. Hair grows from the root not the ends but getting rid of small problems before they have a chance to cause major damage will lead to better length retention. The hair at the ends is the oldest and is prone to knots, splits and frays. Single strand knots and split ends can not be repaired and must be removed. If not treated early the same split end can travel higher and knots can get bigger.
Change styles to prevent tension thinning
Wearing the same style for more than 6 weeks can be stressful on your hair. The follicles can get weak from being pulled in one direction all the time. This is not exclusive to braids and weaves, even parting your hair in the same place can lead to thinning. Rotate your hairstyles with a rest period in between is the best way to protect your crown. For example, wear braids for 6 weeks, choose a natural hair wig for 4 weeks then a 2 week break.
Managing your natural hair takes perseverance and patience. As your wear your natural curls you'll discover moisturizers that you love and others that you'll want to avoid. You'll find a satin scarf that stays on or a bonnet that simply works. The key is to not give up, embrace the kink and enjoy.