By Fran of

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 that chal­lenges this entire […]


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


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


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


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


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.

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.


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?


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:)


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 …

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. 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 »
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 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. 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?

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 a bob­by pin… Read more »

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!


Hel­lo Ama.
You can shoot me a mail on



That was fast! Thanks Julia. Done…


what is a co-wash?

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 that no… Read more »

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?


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…


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


This arti­cle gets 5 stars!


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!


+1 On the low poros­i­ty!!!!


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.


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.


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.


Sounds like a good plan.


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?


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.



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!


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


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


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


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 :)


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.



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 »

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* .

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 — 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…

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 rel­a­tives… Read more »
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 »

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


+1…Great arti­cle too!


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.


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?


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!


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

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 »

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?

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 in… Read more »