Stretched and Moisturized Natural Hair: A How-To (A Throwback Post)
Lately, I've been approached by quite a few newly natural ladies who are trying to master the basics of how to care for their natural hair. One of the questions I've heard the most is how to maintain styles from day to day without major shrinkage, and how to master waking up to bed head. If you're natural, you are all too familiar with the monstrous bed head that we often wake up to. I've awakened to it too many times to number in the beginning of my natural hair journey. When I was new to the game, I'd be at a loss as to what to do when hair that was a perfect twist out or wash and go the day before was smashed to my head and shrunken the next morning.
In the beginning of my natural hair journey, I washed once weekly (as this was my routine when I was relaxed). I'd wash, condition, moisturize and twist my hair. Day one would yield shiny, bouncy, fluffy hair that had amazing definition. However, I had NO IDEA how to maintain that hair into day two, let alone days 3, 4 and on. One day I stumbled onto the solution (accidentally of course :)) My hair was particularly dry one day. Typically once my hair was dry and had lost its wash day flair, my routine would be to wash again. This was what my hair needed, right? Well, this particular day, I didn't have the time nor the energy to wash my hair. I decided to simply put a generous amount of leave-in conditioner in my hair and re-twist it, tie it with my satin scarf and go to bed. When I awoke the next morning, I unraveled my twists and WOW! Where did this length, definition and moisture come from? I hadn't washed my hair!!! This was absolutely mind-blowing to me, as I was under the assumption that the only time my hair could look this good was on a wash day. I was floored!
So what was happening? I had learned the art of preserving my style. Not only that, I had learned the art of stretching my hair in between washes. This revolutionized my hair regimen. Instead of relying on frequent washes for great moisture and definition, I had learned how to achieve this look and feel everyday of the week. What resulted was less frequent washes, hair that remains stretched between washes, and retains moisture well.
Fast forward to today, I still practice this same regimen. I now cleanse my hair once monthly with a clarifying bentonite clay wash and I simply re-moisturize my hair throughout the week with a moisturizing leave-in conditioner and seal (usually with one of the butters from the Nourished Hair Collection by Authenticality Company). At night, I twist my hair into two-strand twists and wrap my hair in a satin scarf. The following morning, I either rock my twists as a style that day, or I'll unravel them and pin up the front section or rock a full twist-out. To preserve, I re-twist my hair nightly/every other night to keep my hair stretched and detangled. When my hair begins to lack moisture, I'll moisturize with a leave-in conditioner and seal with a hair butter, then twist.
There are many ways to keep your hair stretched between wash days. These include plaiting the hair, flat-twisting the hair, wearing the hair in a pineapple (hair pulled to the top of the head with a stretchy headband) or cornrowing the hair. When you begin to experience shrinkage, simply add leave-in conditioner to the hair to ease manageability, detangle the hair in sections with a wide toothed comb, or finger detangle, and use any of the above stretching methods. This is great for preserving your hair overnight, or for simply lengthening the time in between washes. Of course, cleanse the hair when you begin to notice any kind of build-up on your scalp or strands.
Currently, I'm 2 weeks post wash-day. Yesterday, I wore my hair in a big afro, which I absolutely loved! After rocking the 'fro for a day, my hair was pretty dry and in need of moisture. I spritzed my hair with a mixture of water and gylcerin, I then finger detangled my (then big) hair into sections and used a rake comb to gently detangle individual sections. Next, I spritzed each individual section with the water/glycerin mixture and applied a small amount of Nourished. Organic Calendula Balm to individual sections. Lastly, I twisted the individual sections into two-strand twists. I repeated this process until my entire head was twisted. Since it was bedtime, I covered my hair with my satin scarf and called it a night. Fast forward to this morning, and here is my head, fully twisted.
I woke up this morning to twists that were super soft, shiny and well moisturized. Typically, when I practice this routine of keeping my hair moisturized and stretched, I can unravel my twists for a twist out and experience hair that looks and feels great every day of the week.
Natural hair doesn't have to be complicated. Using this method has simplified my regimen, as this method prevents and reduces tangles for me. As of now, tangles are usually a non-issue. I've learned what works for my hair. Of course, each individual should do what works best for them.
How do you maintain your hair between wash days?