By Fran of HeyFranHey.com

It’s easy to become a creature of habit with beauty regimens. Most of us read tons of blogs and watch countless hours of Youtube videos, yet rarely try the products or techniques suggested. It’s almost like we fall into the daily trance of being a part of the natural hair community but are actually pretty resistant to change. And this is understandably so, considering how much information is out there.

Taking into account that no two heads are alike and the usual disclaimer of “what works for some will not work for others”, it can often be a guessing game deciding which technique is worth trying. Of course there are exceptions. Some naturals, particularly the newer ones, jump on every bandwagon in search of this flawless regimen. Then you have the veteran naturals who know every oil, every mixture and the Trichologist break down of the hair follicle, who will tell you, “No thanks. I know what works for me.” and yet their hair hasn’t grown in years!?

At the end of the day, we have to come to terms with the fact there’s no natural hair rulebook. Yes, there are scientific facts supporting a lot of our methods. But even those don’t always hold true for all of us. I’ve come to understand that the winning formula is to be a sprinkle of the wide-eyed newly natural combined with a dash of the “set in my ways” veteran. Here are a few of our usual methods that I’ve willingly and recently modified with much success:

Deep Conditioning

Most of us shampoo and condition (or just co-wash) our hair and then deep condition afterwards. We either plop on the DC under a cap while still in the shower or we sit under our steamers, hooded dryers or heat caps. Either way, we’ve been accustomed to the idea that our hair should be squeaky clean before a deep treatment. Not just me, right? A few weeks ago, while doing my usual treatment, a friend of mine asked, “When you put on a face mask, do you steam first and then apply the mask or do you apply the mask and then steam?” I looked at her like she was crazy and responded, “The steam opens your pores so you can then apply the mask and have its nutrients penetrate. Who puts on a mask and THEN steams?” and she cleverly retorted, “the same person who is now steaming their hair after washing it.” Wow.

Why did I wash my hair to then re-open the cuticle with steam, to then close it again with more products and a cold rinse? Why not simply steam first with the deep conditioner and now lifted cuticle, then effectively cleanse and close? Not only is it logical but also one less time your cuticle needs to be opened! I tried it and it made a world of a difference! Our goal with natural hair is to be as low manipulation as possible, right? My hair was shinier and had a lot more fullness and bounce to it. Almost as if the strands had finally been properly cleansed and were less weighed down. What was the lesson? Stop doing as you’re told and actually think about what you’re doing to your hair.

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I'm a natural hair, nutrition and fitness blogger from New York City. Battling a kidney related illness that doctors couldn't seem to fix, I became obsessed with alternative medicine. After months of researching and finally curing myself, it became quite evident that healthy resources in our urban communities were lacking. I began my health & wellness tumblr in Dec of 2010 as somewhat of a journal, hoping to shed some light on my journey to health as well as our disconnection with healthy living. It's been my goal to create a safe haven where our wellness concerns could be shared and hopefully cured, as naturally as possible.

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80 Comments on "Rethinking Old Hair Habits"

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[…] D.C to open up your cuticles and allow the product penetrate the hair shaft. Although,  I read an article by Fran of HeyFranHey.com that challenges this entire […]

Shanna

I do sometimes deep condition first but shouldn’t we also clean our faces before steaming then apply the mask.
I’m a bit confused as to whether co-washing or washing before deep conditioning is that bad.

Chloe Coleman

I’m not exactly nervous about trying new conditioning treatments so I got the idea of mixing used coffee grounds with my conditioner and SLATHERING it on my hair, rather liberally, then shampooing it out and “semi deep” conditioning, leaving conditioner on while I exfoliate and shave my legs in the shower (5-10 minutes). Will report back with results

borboh

How do I treat my transiting hair to natural one.I mean products to use,oil mixture needed.thanks

borboh

How do I treat my transiting hair to natural one.I mean products to use,iol mixture needed.thanks

Sylvia

Do you use Aloe Vera Juice or gel to seal your hair? What brand?

jj

I think co-washing/shampooing (to get rid of build up and dirt) with cold water (so the cuticles aren’t opened), then steaming with a Deep Treatment (so that cuticles are opened to absorb nutrients), and then rinsing with cold water will work. You’ll only be opening and closing the cuticle once as well. Plus the nutrients from the Deep Treatment won’t be rinsed out because you won’t be co-washing/shampooing after with warm water.

jj
What I don’t understand is how does the DC penetrate your hair strands and cuticles if you’re DC’ing before you shampoo or co-wash? Isn’t there still build up and dirt that the DC has to get through? That doesn’t sound effective. Plus If you do DC before shampooing/co-washing then when it’s time to shampoo/co-wash aren’t the nutrients from DC’ing being washed out as well? Because you’re rinsing your hair with warm water thus opening the cuticles and releasing the nutrients that the DC provided for your hair strands. And then you close your cuticles with cold water? Leaving your hair… Read more »
choco bunny
OMG! This has been my question as well! If you DC with dirt and build-up on your hair, when the cuticles open, won’t that dirt enter the shaft? And then when you co-wash after you’re washing out your DC. I don’t get it either and no one will seem to address it when people pose the question on a blog (><)! I have a steamer so I just co-wash first with warm water so the cuticle is open, then I apply my homemade DC in the shower while the cuticle is still open and then sit under the steamer. When… Read more »
Rosa M.

After you apply the Deep Conditioner…you then apply HEAT either using a hooded dryer, steam cap ect. The heat opens up the cuticles of the hair allowing it to penetrate into the hair. Hope this helps.

Kiki

I’ve started deep conditioning before co-washing and I love it. My question is, when you deep condition, should you rinse before co washing or deep condition, leave it in for a bit, co wash and then rinse?

Sable

Im not sure if anyone asked this question already but wht kinda of aloe Vera do you use and how you use it. I’ve never tried it before s I’m clueless but I’ve learned from reading this that I need to try thing:)

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afford it or did not find a…

good university to pursue their dream courses in graduation and post-graduation.but, in most of these cases students fail to score good marks in their higher primary and senior secondary education, therefore, they always end up taking admission in low …

Megan
I like this post but some of the things I read and some things I see in blogs and the comment sections just slay me. I won’t knock doing what you believe works for you but please stop spreading pseudoscience like the alkaline water mumbo jumbo. http://www.chem1.com/CQ/ionbunk.html I have been natural for about 10 years and I love the wave of acceptance, openness, and self love. But I also see a lot of naturals spread and fall victim to pseudoscience and quackery. Being natural, inside and out, is just not that darn complicated. Your body has the amazing ability to… Read more »
abhiola
oh my goodness THIS! i thought the same the same thing when read she drinks alkakine water every morning. being a pharmaceutical chemist student, i always find it amusing when i read all this pseudoscience on hair blogs and they actually believe what their saying, passing on all these incorrect and misleading messages to the public. i think people need to think of their hair care the same way they think of having and driving a car. you dont need to know exactly how it works, you just need to know how to care for it enough for it to… Read more »
nitrogen in back tires

Your website is very fantastic, i truly appreciated the report that you wrote, nevertheless it i did will need some far more data since i didnt entirely understand the end.

Anne

1.my hair is so soft it falls apart no matter what i do. and it tangles so easily. i live in nigeria and our stylists are so clueless. i don not know wat to do.
2.it grows fast but it never stays so it feels like ive had thesame lenght for years.
3.and finally there is a section at the back of my head that is so soft it feels like its not mine. people say its because i sleep face up this section isnt growing. is this true?

Julia
Hello Anne. Please use henna. I live in Nigeria also, but I was able to order for henna. It strengthens each strand of your hair, therefore your hair would be strengthened but still soft. I learnt sleeping on a particular side inhibits hair growth on that side. Please don’t forget to seal your ends religiously and tuck in your ends.. I learnt, from an article, that the best way to effectively seal up is this: apply a thick oil like castor oil, or any butter, such as Shea butter; then for each twist that’s been sealed, wrap the end round… Read more »
Ama

Hey Julia,
Thanks for sharing. You seem to know a lot about natural haircare. I live in Nigeria too and honestly, most stylists here are TOTALLY CLUELESS about natural haircare. I would like to get in touch with you as i’m just groping in the dark re:natural haircare. Other than honey, olive oil & shea butter, i’m clueless. And my hairline hasnt improved at all which is why i went natural in the first place. Please help!

Julia

Hello Ama.
You can shoot me a mail on Julesnatural@gmail.com.

Cheers.

Ama

That was fast! Thanks Julia. Done…

Anne

what is a co-wash?

Sheera
An old habit I’m working on: I don’t mess with my hair as much. I almost always wear my hair in double strand twists and I have a tendency to take down bits of it and re-twist so it’s neater (to me, no one else even notices … but I can tell the difference in feel and look). So … to combat my hand-in-hair syndrome when I come home I put on my bonnet and that completely prevents me from fiddling with my hair! (best thing for me is I thought of it all on my own lol … not… Read more »
Empress1

Hey Fran! I want to first thank you for sharing your knowledge with us all. Question, what conditioner do you use to co-wash after your DC?

Thembi

I started dc as a pre poo & time saver. Now that I no longer use shampoo @ home, I still find my do treatments far more effective on DRY hair; as the treatment is more likely to absorb (oil&water don’t mix.)

On the rare occasion I treat myself to a salon visit I still apply my dc just before leaving w a plastic cap and beanie. By the time they shampoo, my hair has absorbed the nutrients saving me time and money:)

Great article…

Sheree

Is it just me? I get the other stuff bbut i don’t get why it’s better to deep condition before you shampoo…

Brooklyncoily

This article gets 5 stars!

Tami

Hmm. I’ll try the dc and detangling techniques…but this low porous hair needs warm water to open it up for the dc. No steamer here!

Gemlocs

+1 On the low porosity!!!!

Lisa

Could you rinse out your hair with warm water before you apply your dc? You know the sideways rinse? I am going to try this method for the next few weeks and see how I like it. If I have gel in my hair, I will rinse it out first.

Tami

Well, of course I’ll wash with warm water before applying dc. That’s how low porous hair works – open up the cuticle, then apply moisture. Otherwise it’ll sit on top of the strands. If you have gel in your hair that isn’t water soluble, you need to shampoo that out.

Lisa

I know, I have low porosity hair as well so I invested in a steamer. I was just wondering if you could rinse out your hair in the sink so you can DC before a full wash. You rinse out the gel, using a t-shirt/microfiber towel to get out the water and slap on the DC. I use aloe vera gel or mainly natural ingredients so I didn’t think about non-water soluble products.

Tami

Sounds like a good plan.

Li

Hey Fran,

I use aubrey Organics GPB and Honey Suckle Rose conditoners as my ‘deep conditioners and I was just wondering: do you deep condition your hair while in twists and also I know for these conditioners the directions has for deep treatment about thirty minutes, so do you leave your conditioner in for the time stated on the bottle or longer?

Natalie

Hi Fran

Are you sealing with aloe vera juice or aloe vera oil/butter. I’m a bit confused I don’t see how you can seal your hair with aloe vera juice.

I DC, detangle then cleanse my hair with diluted black soap or shampoo. I agree it works better and saves me more time as well.

Nats.

Sheba

I have been experiencing “dry scalp” in the past two weeks and this article proves very helpful. I have naturally curly hair and usually wear the curly look daily while using a leave-in conditioner and detangling after showering. I am excited to try the chunky twist process tonight!

Jive

If you steam & deep condition, then wash…wouldn’t you just be washing all of the deep conditioner that penetrated your hair out?

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

If it penetrated, instead of just coating, then it wouldn’t be washed out.

Gemlocs

I love this article and sealing with aloe vera is very interesting.

Regina

Hi Fran, I LOVE this article and I really want to try your deep conditioner tips, but I’m a bit confused. So do you mean you now apply your DC to dry, “dirty” hair, and THEN wash it out in the shower? When do you detangle?
Thank you lovely 🙂

Etty

Actually, I do both. I deep condition before my co-wash with honey and olive oil, I co wash. And the next morning I deep condition again with honey olive oil and sometimes I add my conditioner. Don’t ask why I’m doing this twice, I just ended up realizing I was doing this twice.

hairgirl

lol

Kailyn
I had to rethink finger detangling in the shower. I’d been doing it for years, but I was always upset with how much hair would be in the drain after every wash. I recently (about three months now), started doing the same as Fran, finger detangling the night before with coconut oil and lots of patience, putting a cap on and going to bed. I then wash it all out the next morning. A final detangle with a super wide tooth comb has also done wonders for tangle prevention. I only have about ten strands coming out a wash (natural… Read more »
SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

I;ve also noticed that my hair has gotten fuller with (over a year of) finger-detangling. I must have been really pulling my hair out with all that combing and brushing (shower comb + modified ‘Denman’) *shudders* .

Cardenie
Great article! I have as of late, been in the process of restructuring my hair routine after letting things go a bit after having my second child. One HUGE realization I had was washing my hair in sections. A total must for me now that my hair has gained length. I don’t wash in twists exactly, but my hair is sectioned, twisted and pinned to my head with a duckbill clip. I take down a section, cleanse (hair and scalp), twist back up and pin again. Repeat. My hair is usually in 6-8 twists. I also had started detangling before… Read more »
Bee Franklin

This article is sooo timely!!! I JUST posted an article on my blog – http://www.thelazynatural.com/2012/01/back-to-basics.html last night! I stopped sealing my ends over 6 months ago thinking it was a waste of time! My ends are ragged, thinning, I have tons of single strand knots and my growth is stagnant! I had to dust of my shea butter again! Didn’t have these problems when I was sealing with shea butter…ha! And the learning curve continues…

LBell
I am a veteran natural. A lot of the things people are doing now simply weren’t around when I first started out. Considering that, like the record industry, the “traditional” hair care industry is still playing catch-up, I truly appreciate all the innovative research and documentation naturals have done over the years to educate everybody. I always tell new naturals that if their longtime stylist won’t or can’t help them, go to the Internet. Also, most veteran naturals I know are only barely aware of the natural hair community online. Whatever new things they’re learning, they’re getting either from younger… Read more »
Sheera
That statement: “most veteran naturals I know are only barely aware of the natural hair community online.” is SO true for me too! I know I did not know about the natural hair community until maybe 1-2 months ago and since then I’ve become OBSESSED with natural and curly hair. I’ve been natural for 10-11 years, have had locs, twists, afros & every natural style in between. Since becoming knowledgable of the natural hair community online I’ve changed EVERYTHING. I’ve added oil to my hair care regimen (after having locs for a few years I was reticent to use oil),… Read more »
Shones

+1. I’ve learned more about natural hair in the last 5 years than I did in the first 10.

anastasia

+1…Great article too!

rw

i just thought i didnt need to detangle, so during the recent holiday season, i stopped and washed and go, then i decided to do flat twists and it was soo difficult, and didnt turn out well, so next day i detangled and it was a world of difference, lesson learned, detangling makes it shiny and manageable, and just because my hair is not very kinky and more s, i still need to detangle before every twist out, huge moment.

EG

Step 1 sounds like a co-wash…well a deep cowash. If that is the case, when does the author shampoo…once week/month/not anymore?

AGrlCanMac

Old hair habits, I’ve rethought: sealing your ends with vasoline. It works better than any butter, cream or shea butter mix I’ve made!

The other is the power of the simple shower comb. I have come full circle. I left it to try all these other fancy detangling combs and realized for my hair, nothing beats my $1 shower comb.

I am also back to making my own conditioners again and not buying the store bought ones.

I could go on. Great article and great message!

Shasha

OOOOOOOOh the shower comb, it’s my best friend!!!!!!

Maureen
Damn, this is a good article! I have to admit I feel like my current regimen is the best I’ve ever had, using only ayurvedic herbs and coconut milk to cleanse my hair and scalp and rinsing with ACV+honey and cold water afterwards. Still I try to make little changes every now and then, though when I do, it’s usually an affirmation that my hair hates shampoo or other harsh cleansers. Still I keep looking out for new steps I can add or leave out for that possible life-changing moment, maybe it’s alkaline water? Never heard of that before, btw… Read more »
Julia

Hello.
Are you saying that when I take off my weaves, I shouldn’t comb it, since it would have been dirty?
Please what do you suggest I do?
Thanks.

Eboni
I ABSOLUTELY agree with everything mentioned in this article! It took me a year (I don’t know why) to implement sealing my hair into my routine, but it did and no one can’t stop me now, lol. Ever since I started rinsing my conditioner out of my hair while in twists, it’s evolved to shampooing and conditioning my hair in twists as well. This SERIOUSLY has made a difference in how much I have to detangle – which is never…well I won’t say I NEVER detangle, but I have noticed that I don’t spend nearly an hour detangling my hair… Read more »
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