It has taken me forever to compose this letter because I wanted to make sure that I give you all of the advice I ever had and plenty of resources for stuff I don’t know!!! This is a fun process once you get to know your hair. I never liked doing my hair until I figured out all the cool stuff it can do.
When in doubt, go to YouTube. When I first cut off my relaxer 12 years ago, there was no YouTube, no girls making tutorials, no product lines for natural hair, and only hearsay as a resource. My how times have changed. Find a few girls (with YouTube channels) with hair that sort of looks like yours (curl pattern, length, thickness) and watch their videos. You’ll get so many ideas and tips.
You will inevitably buy a bunch of products (cause someone told you about it or because it smelled really good in the store or because it was on sale, etc) and not all will work. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can pawn the unused stuff off of someone else or just toss it. Don’t feel the need to “finish the bottle” if it isn’t making your hair fantastic.
Below is what works for me. About two years ago, I really started styling my hair and caring for it in a way that was really productive. I got a GREAT haircut (Deva Care) that was kind of expensive but totally worth it and then went from there. I try to use products that I can find in a regular store (Walmart, Rite Aid, the average Beauty Supply store) and are not super expensive. I don’t want to have to rely on specialty products that take forever to ship or I can’t afford if I go broke. Besides, most of my money is for mojitos and plane tickets anyway…
I only wash my hair about once or twice a week. (Sometimes I just rinse and condition midway through the week, especially if I already have a good curl pattern going.) And I don’t EVER use shampoo. I haven’t used shampoo in over two years (since that haircut). My hair loves me for it. Instead I use As I Am Coconut Co Wash as my “shampoo” and then Tresemme Naturals Moisturizer Conditioner. I detangle on the conditioner stage with a wide toothed comb in the shower (or sometimes my fingers) and then I dry my hair with a t-shirt instead of a towel. Towels are super rough. I don’t rub it, I just wrap it up and then take it down when it is time for the leave-in.
– wash products/tools:
No matter what style I intend to rock (wash and go, twists, top knot, curls, updo, blow-out, ‘fro, etc) I always put in my leave-in conditioner. This stuff is magic. It makes my hair feel like the finest silk (not really, but kinda). I section and clip my wet/damp hair into 5-8 sections (depending on what style I intend to do and where I put my part), add a little bit of oil (right now loving the Garnier Fructis Miraculous oil, but I may try a lavendar oil sometime soon; I hear evoo works great also), and then apply a small amount of Paul Mitchell’s The Conditioner (a little goes a long way) to each section as I go, and then brush through it with a modified Denman brush. This brush will totally define your curl pattern. It’s like magic. You can re-clip your hair or go on to style each section right after you condition (like if you’re twisting).
– after wash products/tools:
I’m super boring. I have 3 main styles that I rock on a consistent basis and everything else is special occasion (or I’m feeling bored) only.
– WASH AND GO: Not nearly as simple as it seems, but still pretty easy. All you do is put gel in your hair, section by section and use your fingers to define each curl. The gel I like to use is Eco Styler, because it doesn’t flake and isn’t full of alcohol. Any of the types will do (I prefer Olive Oil or Sport), but you’ll need a hold of 8-10. The hold is written on the bottle.
– TWIST OUT: This is my current go-to. I put no more than 8 twists in my hair, sometimes only 5. I do two-strand twists and I wish I knew how to flat twist, but I do not have the patience to learn, lol. (I also don’t know how to cornrow.) But none of that is necessary. Just add a little gel (or some pudding if you want a fluffier look) to the root of the section you want to twist, and spread the gel out as your twist down, adding a little more to the ends when you get there. They will tell you not to “borrow” hair if one half of the twist runs out of hair before the other. This is a lie. Borrow if you want to, it will turn out just fine as long as you unravel carefully. You can also twist on dry hair. If so, keep a spray bottle of water nearby and dampen each section a little before you apply product and twist.
Here are my best tips for twist-outs:
1. Detangle a little with your pointer finger as you go.
2. Roll each twist piece in your finger as you twist it to get bouncier curls.
3. Let your twists dry, but not completely, before you take them out. If they are a little bit damp, you’ll have bigger hair.
4. Get a spray oil and spray your head or put a little oil on your hands as you un-twist.
Here are some videos that I found helpful (YouTube has a TRILLION twist-out videos, it’s nauseating):
– TOP KNOT
: OMG, this is my current favorite style because of this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4oiEhf9M04
(listen to the lyrics in the first verse then peep the hair with the outfits with the sweatpants… she is my spirit animal) AND because it is so easy. All you have to do is put Eco Styler gel on the outside of your hair, gather it into a bun on the top of your head, and put a ponytail holder on it. Then tie a scarf around your head and let the gel dry your edges flat. That’s the easy simple standard way. This can also just be a ponytail if you pull the hair all the way through. If your hair is super short, you can use giant elastics to create more of a pony-puff.
BUT, if you want an ENORMOUS top knot bun (my fave), you can add some Marley hair. Here is me without and with the Marley hair:
Crazy, right? For this style, you need bobby pins and Marley hair. The trick is finding Marley hair that matches your own color. I lucked up and mine is a pretty solid match. There are many ways to attach the hair, but here is a video to help you put it in. I wish I could describe this one better, because I actually do a technique that combines a few videos, but if and when you buy Marley hair, I will send you a video of me putting mine in, if you want. Until then, this is the best video I have found: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y37yOjIV8xA
1. Bobby pins are your best friend. I keep them in my car, wallet, gym bags, purse, overnight toiletries case, and on my coffee table. Buy the littler ones and the big ones. Same with ponytail holders. Buy the regular ones and then buy the ones that look like the diameter of your whole head. You can wrap them around twice for a pony-puff.
2. Salt water is so awesome for curls. Whenever I go to the Caribbean or Central/South America, I have the best hair because humidity + salt = amazing big curls. Apply conditioner to your hair (as your apply sunscreen to your body), frolic in the ocean, throw a few twists in your hair, let it dry while you pre-game, untwist and then hit the island nightlife scene. #winning I am in the process of creating my own salt water spray for humid Baltimore days.
3. Put in oil and (any cheap) conditioner, and twist or bun, before you go swimming in the pool. Wash out chlorine ASAP. Unlike salt water, it is harmful to your curls.
4. Don’t be afraid to try new stuff, styles, products, videos, colors, etc. There is so much that can be professional, fun, easy, cutting edge, etc… you will always have something to do. We have way more options than our moms did when they were our age.
5. Some of my favorite YouTubers:
I hope this helps! HAVE FUN!!
P.S. If you want to know about Curlformers, I have a separate email I can forward you (including info for how to buy cheap ones), but that’s more work than anyone should have to do everyday.