On The Couch


5 min read

Following questions I received last week at both Social Media Week panels (which both turned into impromptu hair workshops), I thought I'd take this opportunity to update you on some changes I have made to my regimen since I last posted about it.

I'm always going on about the importance of building a regimen. The fact is, getting into a routine can help you better understand your hair, as well as make the sometimes mammoth task of tackling natural hair a lot less daunting. You are always learning a little bit more about your hair though, so it's likely that your regimen might change over time, and you find that some methods you might have once found effective no longer work for your hair or your lifestyle. This is particularly true as your hair grows, as ways of handling it when it was short might not work so well when you're dealing with more hair. For me, although I generally keep my hair at the same length, my busy lifestyle has meant that I find myself with less and less time to focus on it, however I cannot afford to neglect it. So as I find ever new and more creative ways to shorten my wash days over time, my regimen changes slightly.

These 5 tweaks have made dealing with my hair that much easier:

1. Washing in twists

I'd heard so many people talk about washing their hair in twists, but never tried it until I came across this video, and it has definitely simplified my wash days.

I tend to start by detangling into twists this size, washing, oil rinsing (see below) and conditioning in these twists, and then making them smaller as I add my leave-in, oils and styler.

I tend to start with twists this size, wash, condition and rinse without undoing the twists...

...add my oil and leave-in, divide each twist in two (or 3, depending on what look I'm going for), detangle with the curl detangling brush in the video...which we also stock, and then twist with my styler. I end up with twists more or less this size...

...and end up with a twist out like this. The biggest advantage is that I hardly spend any time in the shower. Most of my routine can take place in front of a mirror or the TV. I can also break down my wash days over several hours, or even several days if I need to (half an hour here, half an hour there, detangle and twist one day, wash the next, rinse out conditioner the next, etc)

2. Oil rinsing

Another thing that I'd read about but didn't try until quite recently. Find out more here. I tend to add a layer of olive oil to my hair after shampooing and before adding my deep conditioner (I don't rinse out until after I've conditioned). I have absolutely no idea what the science behind oil rinsing is, but all I know is that it works for me. It aids with detangling, adds softness and shine, and has reduced frizziness and single strand knotting over time.

3. Cold water rinsing

Rinsing your hair with cold water helps flatten your cuticles, which may have been raised through the shampooing process, hot water, steamers, or general wear and tear. With my highly porous, prone-to-dryness hair, I need all the help flattening my cuticles as I can get, so I try and include as many steps to my regimen as I can with this aim in mind. I find that the tap water in Nigeria doesn't get cold enough to be effective, so I tend to place a jug of water in the fridge which I pour directly on my hair as my final rinse

4. Aloe Vera Juice

I have always used Aloe Vera Juice in my regimen, either in my spritzes or added to whatever leave-in I'm using for my version of what most naturals dub the Kimmaytube Leave-in. Like rinsing your hair with cold water, aloe vera juice, which is acidic like our hair and skin, helps flatten your cuticles, which may have been raised especially if your cleansers are not pH balanced. Some cleansers like castille soaps have a high pH, so I have mentioned in the past that you do need to add an acidic substance to them, like lemon juice, to bring the pH down a bit.

I had always noticed a preference for products with some aloe vera juice in them, or vaguely paid attention to the fact that my hair was always less brittle when I added AVJ to my leave-ins. However, it was only after seeing Hey Fran Hey's method of "sealing" her hair with it that I increased the amount that I use during my wash process. I now keep my aloe vera in an applicator bottle in the fridge, and saturate my hair with it (literally just pour it on) after I have rinsed. This is even more effective than cold water rinsing, in my opinion (but I still do both), and has definitely contributed to the ease in detangling my hair. It has been by far one of the most effective factors in increasing my moisture retention levels.

5. The LOC method

I've explained right from the beginning that to moisturise your hair, you need to start on wet or damp hair, or by using a product with water as the first ingredient. After washing, I have always been an advocate of adding a creamy leave-in conditioner or moisturiser to wet hair, followed by an oil.

The LOC method switches this round a bit. LOC stands for:
Liquid. Oil. Cream.

The basic principle is that you moisturise first using a liquid (I use water, or aloe vera juice), followed by an oil to seal in the moisture from the water (I use a tiny dab of Pure Native Coconut Oil: But hang on, Nibi! You've said your hair HATES coconut oil!! I know, I know, but since playing around, I've discovered that I was using WAY too much before, and now literally a drop is all I need for my entire head), and then a creamy leave-in afterwards serves to soften your hair. I started using this method about a year ago, and the difference has been ridiculous. I now use less moisturising product after washing, and my hair retains far more moisture than it used to.

My number 1 complaint with my natural hair has always been dryness. The last 4 additions to my regimen have totally changed this. My hair is no longer brittle, my issues with retaining moisture are nothing like they once were, and generally I have been able to spend far less time fussing over my hair. Apart from these tweaks, nothing significant has changed in my regimen. I do deep condition more regularly (alternating between protein and moisture) due to the colour. Once in a while when I have time, or can be bothered... or even remember in the first place... I might do an ayurvedic or henna treatment, which I have promised I will go into in a later post. But nowhere near the amount of treatments and potion mixing I was doing when I first started experimenting with my natural hair.

As always, what works for one person doesn't work for everyone, so just keep this in mind as a guideline and not gospel. It's about finding out what works best for you!

Also remember if you are trying to find ways to switch up your regimen, change one thing at a time, and not everything at the same time, otherwise there is no way to know what has worked and what hasn't.

For ideas on where to start with building your own regimen, reach out our team of hair experts to get personalised advice.

Hope I've helped somebody somewhere!

Until next time, have a great one.