It’s been almost 2 years since I had braids installed on my hair and now that I’m really focusing on growing my hair out to maximum lengths I decided that I’ll start protective styling on a more constant and consistent basis. My hair goal for 2015 is to retain 6 inches of hair as the average growth rate is 1/2 and inch a month. During December of last year and March of this year I wore wigs as away to protect my hair and retain both moisture and length, however, now I’m leaning more towards more braid styles. My first being long, medium sized braids.
The morning of my hair appointment I decided to ensure my hair was well moisturised and ready to have braids put on my hair and have it last for a maximum of two months.
Pre-treatments are the best thing to do to retain moisture. Especially if your hair is extremely dry and thirsty and shampooing usually leaves your hair feeling really dry. A pre-treatment can be anything from a conditioner mixed with your favourite moisturising oils or your favourite oils mixed together for a hot oil treatment or even an avocado and banana hair mask.
I started by pre-treating my hair with Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment. This hair treatment is a balm made of Ojon oil which is known as “nature’s golden elixir” and found only in the rainforests of Central America.. The oil is rich in essential lipids similar to those in unprocessed, virgin hair. I originally used this at the beginning of my natural hair journey 3 years ago while my hair was dyed. I loved how soft it left my hair and when i came across it all these years later I decided to purchase it. Now that my hair is absolutely chemical free it hasn’t managed to “wow” me. So now I’m just trying to use it up until it is empty. I left the treatment on my hair for almost and hour with a shower cap on.
Starting with a clean slate is the best thing to do before you install a new style. Although co-washing (washing your hair with conditioner or a conditioning cleaner) is extremely popular and great for refreshing the hair in between wash days, shampooing is extremely important in any hair care regimen and essential for healthy hair. Shampooing cleans the hair of any product build up and dirt from the environment, as well as cleansing the scalp. There are plenty of moisturising sulfate-free shampoos on the market if you’re concerned about harsh surfactants that may strip the hair of moisture.
I washed my hair with my Aphogee Shampoo for Damaged Hair. I bought this product after my hair straightening disaster. I can always trust this shampoo to leave my hair extremely clean, soft and refreshed.
3. Protein and Moisture Balance
Protein and moisture balance is another essential aspect of maintaining health, strong hair. Ensuring that your hair is both strong (not mushy, too soft or over moisturised) but still well mositurised creates a good base for styling your hair.
I used my Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor. This light protein treatment has consistently left my hair soft and a prevented my hair from breakage due to manipulation. Being that the protein treatment only needs 2 minutes to do it’s job, it left me with enough time to deep condition my hair with my SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow and Restore Treatment Masque. This masque has to be the best deep conditioner I have used from SheaMoisture thus far. It smells delicious, it leaves my hair very well moisturised for almost a week at a time and it makes combing a breeze. This deep conditioning masque is said to restore strength and resilience to damaged, brittle or chemically processed hair, help to promote growth by supporting hair’s elasticity, reduces the appearance of breakage and shredding. So it would have even been great to use without the 2 minute reconstructor. I had the deep conditioner in my hair while I sat under my hooded dryer for 10 minutes before rinsing it out with cool water.
4. Leave-in Conditioner
Leave-in Conditioners smooth the hair cuticle making it shiny and full of life. They also leave the hair tangle free, making it easy to comb and style. Although many may not use leave-ins, they are very beneficial to prevent split ends, breakage and manipulative damage.
I used my SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow and Restore Leave-in Conditioner. This leave-in is extremely light and doesn’t weigh the hair down.
5. Moisturise and Seal
Moisture has been a constant trend in this routine for prepping hair for a protective style and it should be a constant trend in any hair routine. Moisture and hydration is key for healthy hair. Of course hygral fatigue is real and you’ll know when your hair is over moisturised and limp and lifeless, but knowing your hair’s porosity will help you understand the best ways to moisturise your hair. Using a cream to moisturise and an oil to seal in moisture is key to ensuring you don’t lose moisture as quickly as you’ve put it in your hair. It maintains the shine, softness and improves the overall manageability of your hair.
I used my SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Transitioning Milk. This is a great cream to use if you find that your hair is highly porous or very thirsty regardless of whether you are transitioning or not. I started using this when my hair was dyed and it has been consistent in my hair journey so I continue to use it. It also works great as a styler for for twist-outs and braid-outs.
I finished off with my Organic Argan oil from Neal’s Yard Remedies. Argan oil is another oil that has been consistent throughout my hair journey. Argan oil is packed full of essential fatty acids and vitamin c and is said to treat and prevent split ends as well as tame frizz.
How do you prep your hair for protective styling? What are some of your best hair practices?