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Our Crown: Hair Care Tips for “Black Girl” Hair

As Black people, our hair is our “crown!” It’s a form of self expression and personal style (even self identity for some), but it’s not always easy to manage. As a kid, I always wanted long hair (as did one of my Black half sisters, as I recently discovered). At one point, my hair was so long that I could sit on it in the bathtub. God bless my mom for doing everything she could to grant my young wishes!

Today, I tend to keep it shoulder-length: a little past my shoulder when straightened and a little above my shoulder when curly.

Finding the right hair products and routine can be a long journey and can change as we grow. For years, my routine has worked best for me, living in the moderately humid northwestern climate, and as a product of nature and relaxers, having multiple hair types on my head. My routine may not work for everyone, but it works for me, and I hope it’s helpful to you!

(Note: I’m not a trained cosmetologist, but I have a lifetime of experience with my head of hair. Also note: none of the manufacturers of my haircare products paid me to use or promote them here.)

  • I don’t always use “Black hair” products. Black hair care is a billion dollar industry, and while many of those products work well for me, they can be expensive. Fortunately, I’ve stumbled upon less expensive (yet still effective) alternatives. The Jason® Thicken & Restore Biotin + Hyaluronic Acid shampoo and conditioner, for example, work well to help detangle and soften my curls. I’ve also fallen in love with the OGX® Quenching + Coconut Curls Conditioner with Coconut Oil, Citrus Oil & Honey (which has been easier for me to find in stores). Both smell amazing!

  • I don’t shampoo my hair every time I shower. You might be thinking, “EW,” but trust me on this one. Limiting shampooing to once a week helps preserve my scalp’s elasticity and naturally-conditioning oils. A healthier scalp means healthier hair!

  • When shampooing, I make sure my hair has plenty of water in it. Instead of squeezing out excess water before adding shampoo, I keep my hair pretty saturated. This helps lift my hair, so I can work the shampoo down to my scalp and remove any dandruff and product buildup (and reduce additional tangles).

  • I comb through my hair while conditioning. Some people may comb out their curls while they’re still dry or after showering using a leave-in detangler. I prefer to do the following, to reduce static and time:

    • I wet my hair thoroughly

    • I ring out excess water

    • I load it up with conditioner

    • I place it in a clip or tie

    • I let it set for a few minutes, while I do other shower tasks

    • I unclip/untie it and run it under some warm water

    • Then, I comb through it with a wide tooth, starting at the bottom and working toward the scalp (this avoids combing smaller tangles into massive knots)

  • I prefer t-shirts over terrycloth. After ringing out the majority of water with a towel (only squeezing, never rubbing), I add my curl cream. As far as curl creams go, my favorite is the SheaMoister® Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. That said, it may be a bit heavy for some, in which case the SheaMoisture® Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Style Milk may be a better option. After adding my curl cream, I scrunch out more water using a t-shirt in an upward scrunching motion. Unlike textured towels, t-shirt material keeps curls intact and controls frizz.

  • I allow my hair to air dry the rest of the way, scrunching every once in a while. I have tried using curl diffusing blow dryer heads (which do work well!), but I prefer the air dry route. It keeps my curls more pronounced. That said, giving my curls some time to dry before going places does take some planning. I usually give my hair a few hours to dry (on humid days, it doesn’t dry completely, but I don’t mind. The wet curl look is still “in,” right?).

  • Before bed, I put my hair into a “pineapple.” After all of that work, I like to maintain my curls for a few more days. To do that, I put my hair in a “pineapple” ponytail on the top of my head. This avoids crushing the curls, while I sleep (and I move around a LOT, when I sleep!). The next day, I’ll put it back up in a ponytail and add some hair spray/curl cream to keep the flyaways at bay. Then, I secure my baby curls with a bobby pin.

  • I rewet ‘n’ go some mornings. Some people prefer to shower in the morning before going about the day. I prefer evening showers, so if I want to turn my “pineapple” pony into a down due, I rewet to reset. Thankfully, I have a handheld shower head, so I can flip my hair over the tub to soak my curls (large enough sinks work too). Then, I restyle.

  • I treat my locks to some argan oil. Wet or dry, I like to add in some argan oil to infuse even more moisture into my curls from time to time. I love the feel, the smell, and the results of the hair spa-like experience.

  • I go to a pro to relax my new growth. Every six months or so (depending on how fast my hair is growing), I go to my hair stylist to apply a relaxer to the new growth. The relaxer makes my hair far more manageable, while maintaining its curl. By far, my favorite relaxer is Redken® Shape Control, which of course they discontinued (thanks a lot, Redken!). After running out of Redken, I switched to a PRAVANA® relaxer. Unfortunately, it takes twice as long, but hey, it is what it is.

  • I press it straight from time to time. One of the beautiful benefits of curly hair is the array of style options! If I want to wear my hair straight (and prefer to straighten it before haircuts), I can! Before straightening, I make sure my hair is dry, brushed out, and doesn’t have much (if any) product in it. Sectioning it off with clips/Bobby pins, I make sure to use an ionic flat iron and products like Straight Sexy Hair Smooth and Seal Aerated Anti-Frizz Spray by SexyHair® to avoid breakage and get the most shine. Curly hair can be brittle, so heat protection is a must!

Black hair is beautiful! Celebrate it!

  • I embrace dry shampoo, after straightening. To make the straight style last longer (and control oil), I’ll use a little dry shampoo. It takes a lot of muscle and time (about 30-45 min) to straighten my entire head of hair. Why not get the most out of it?

I know. I know. That’s a long list of products and routine, but it’s worth it (and it’s yet another reason why guys should pay on dates! 🤪).

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