by Nicole Har­mon of

You don’t need to spend hun­dreds of dol­lars on prod­ucts or keep your strands hid­den in pro­tec­tive styles to achieve healthy hair. Fol­low the­se tips to reha­bil­i­tate your nat­u­ral coils.

Step 1: Shampoo your hair at least once a week

The aver­age person’s hair grows between ¼ and ½ inch a mon­th. Wash­ing your hair more often can help you achieve the max­i­mum amount. Your scalp is just like your face. You can’t main­tain a healthy grow­ing envi­ron­ment with­out cleans­ing away the sebum (nat­u­ral skin oil) in and around your hair fol­li­cles. Opt for a sul­fate-free mois­tur­iz­ing sham­poo that can gen­tly cleanse and con­di­tion your hair at the same time.  You can still co-wash, but don’t for­go a week­ly sham­poo unless your co-wash pro­duct says it’s meant to clean the scalp.  If you’re ner­vous about sham­poo­ing your hair, start with a pre-sham­poo oil treat­ment.

Step 2: Use a pH balanced shampoo

The pH of human hair is between 4.5 and 6.5.  African Amer­i­can hair, espe­cial­ly Type 4, has nat­u­ral­ly raised cuti­cles which make it more sen­si­tive to pH than oth­er hair types. A sham­poo that is pH bal­anced will pre­vent exces­sive cuti­cle swelling when you wash your hair.  That means your coils will be eas­ier to smooth and seal when you’re ready to style. If your sham­poo doesn’t men­tion pH bal­ance on the label, look for cit­ric acid in the ingre­di­ents list.

Step 3: Make sure detangling is a breeze

The most impor­tant job of a con­di­tion­er is to make your hair easy to detan­gle. If you’re not using chem­i­cals or heat on your hair and you’re still not see­ing longer length, you may be los­ing pre­cious strands in the show­er.  If you’re using the right sham­poo and con­di­tion­er for your hair, when you work from end to root, you should only have 2 or 3 areas where the comb gets snarled.  Choose a rin­se-out con­di­tion­er that con­tains 2 or more of the fol­low­ing ingre­di­ents in the top 5:

Caprylic/Capric Triglyc­eride
Cetearyl Alco­hol
Cetyl Esters
Guar Hydrox­ypropy­lt­ri­mo­ni­um Chlo­ride
Shea Oil
Stear­ami­do­propyl Dimethlyamine

Step 4: Use a deep treatment at least once a month

Look at a strand of your hair.  90% of what you’re look­ing at is ker­at­in pro­tein.  Your body uses the pro­tein you eat to cre­ate ker­at­in pro­tein for your hair and skin.   You real­ly are feed­ing your hair and skin when­ev­er you eat eggs, meat, and cer­tain veg­eta­bles.  Adding more pro­tein to your diet can strength­en the hair that’s cur­rent­ly being “built”. Once a hair emerges from its fol­li­cle, your health and what you eat doesn’t affect its appear­ance any­more.   Your hair is at your mer­cy and dai­ly comb­ing and styling chip away tiny pieces of ker­at­in from each strand.  It’s up to you to replace those lost pieces with pro­tein from hair prod­ucts; oth­er­wise your hair will break just as fast as it grows.   To begin reha­bil­i­tat­ing your hair ASAP, add a deep treat­ment that con­tains hydrolyzed pro­tein to your reg­i­men.  Try Aphogee Two Step Pro­tein Treat­ment, Joico K-Pak Deep Pen­e­trat­ing Recon­struc­tor, or Carol’s Daugh­ter Monoi Repair­ing Hair Mask.

Step 5: Get a haircut if you’re experiencing moderate to severe breakage

If you’re expe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant break­age, it’s like­ly that the cuti­cle lay­er has been worn away at your ends. That hap­pens dur­ing chem­i­cal treat­ments, but also from basic comb­ing and brush­ing. Even the best prod­ucts can’t revive severe­ly dam­aged hair, so you’ll need to at least get a trim in order to see a real trans­for­ma­tion. Choose a trust­ed styl­ist to take off ½ to 1 inch. After that, fol­low the rest of this reg­i­men so you can give your hair time to grow a few inch­es before it needs to be trimmed again.

Step 6: Find 2 easy styles for your current length

The most dif­fi­cult part about grow­ing your hair out is the awk­ward length phas­es you’ll have to go through. If you have a good cut, your hair should be rel­a­tive­ly easy to work with. Keep your ends in the best con­di­tion pos­si­ble by alter­nat­ing between 2 low-manip­u­la­tion hair­styles. For exam­ple, many wom­en have short­er hair in the front than the back. Give the front some time to catch up by bob­by pin­ning it out of the way instead of try­ing to make it blend with the rest of your hair. If you fol­low the oth­er rehab steps, you will have new style options in 2–3 months as your hair grows longer. Check out the Hair Lib­er­ty DIY sec­tion to learn easy styles for any length using bob­by pins, hair acces­sories and/or braids.

You can incor­po­rate one rehab step at a time, but you’ll see the most dras­tic improve­ments when you fol­low all six of the­se steps. Once you have a steady rou­tine, don’t change what you’re doing.  When you feel like try­ing some­thing new, exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent styles and styling prod­ucts.  The way your hair looks is the result of your pro­duct choic­es and styling tech­niques.  If you want to see a big improve­ment, it’s time to make some big changes!

Ladies have you tried any of the­se steps? How do you reha­bil­i­tate your hair?

Nicole Har­mon is a Cos­met­ic Chemist and the Founder of  She has received rave reviews for her sem­i­nars on eth­nic hair edu­ca­tion and sci­ence. She’s on a mis­sion to help the Pro­duct Junkies of the world save MONEY, sort through mar­ket­ing HYPE and buy SMARTER!

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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42 Comments on "6 Steps to Rehabilitate Your Hair"

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Natural Rene

Thank you~A Good top­ic~HHBR pH bal­ance Nat­u­ral hair and skin prod­ucts
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massage sài gòn

. Lo?i mas­sage vip thì có mas­sage qu?n 1, mas­sage qu?n 3


All I know is my show­er has lil hairs all over it when I con­di­tion­er comb. I dont comb my hair through out the week . And I get lil to no shed­ding may­be one hair every oth­er day . So is it shed hair that is com­ing out?


Hel­lo, My hair is relaxed and I get a touch up every 3 months or more. My hair grows pret­ty fast because after a mon­th and half or so I get new growth! The prob­lem is that my hair comes out in long strands and it’s vis­i­bly thin­ner! Not sure what to do. I start­ed using more oil and I do a week­ly oil treat­ment with sev­er­al oils com­bine. Not sure if I should stop the relax­er or if I should do some­thing else. I would appre­ci­ate the advice ladies!

It’s prob the relax­er, unfor­tu­nate­ly. I’ve nev­er had a relax­er so I can’t real­ly give much advice on this besides stop relax­ing lol sor­ry. But if I did have a relax­er, I prob wouldn’t straight­en my hair so much. I feel that the point of a relax­er is to relax, and then that’s it! why go the extra length just to get it straighter? May­be fig­ure out some styles that take advan­tage of the relaxed tex­ture, rather than fur­ther dry­ing the hair with heat to get it straighter. Water saves hair every time, believe it don’t be scared of it.… Read more »

names of ph bal­ance sham­poo for dry hair


I spent years(im 10yrs nat­u­ral) wash­ing my hair week­ly and while it was lo0se and suf­fered stunt­ed hair gr0wth(stuck at CBL)… It took me fol­low­ing advice fr0m Cipri­ana of 2fi­nal­ly get my hair 2grow beyond cbl. And she 0nly wash­es her WL hair 0nce a m0n­th while in lo0se braids/twist.. Us nat­u­rals with Fine hair strand hav2 be EXTREMELY care­ful with 0ur del­i­cate strands unlike the medi­um and thick/wiry strand­ed nat­u­rals. Long sto­ry short every­thing does w0rk 4ev­ery­body. I stop 0ver manip­u­lat­ing my hair and Im not a cou­ple inch­es away from BSL :-)


I don’t use pro­tein treat­ments on my hair, but I apply hen­na month­ly.
Is that good enough?
How about apply­ing eggs on the hair? will it pen­e­trate?


Eggs are pro­tein and are just as good a pro­tein treat­ment when added to your favorite con­di­tion­er as any. If you are con­cerned about have pieces of egg-whites (cooked egg) in your hair and you want to still use house­hold items, try mayo. I hen­na my hair in leui of pro­tein treat­ments, because although it does not con­tain pro­tein, it is a strength­en­ing treat­ment that works in much the same way as a pro­tein con­di­tion­er.


Can you rec­om­mend some con­di­tion­ers to use? Also has any tried leav­ing in con­di­tion­er that you are sup­pose to rin­se out? I’ve been read­ing mixed reviews and just want to hear people’s opin­ion.


Why is my com­ment in mod­er­a­tion? it wasn’t rude in the least

I wish that this was writ­ten last year, lol! I pret­ty much did every­thing on the list, with the excep­tion of an intense pro­tein treat­ment. I had used Giovanni’s Recon­struc­tor and Aveda’s Inten­sive Restruc­tur­ing Treat­ments, but felt that my hair need­ed some­thing heav­ier. So in Feb­ru­ary of this year I tried Aphogee, after real­iz­ing that as long as I was gen­tle with my hair as it dried it wouldn’t break off. I recent­ly did anoth­er treat­ment, (try­ing to space them 10 — 12 weeks apart), and what a dif­fer­ence regard­ing the shed­ding and excess break­age that I used to encoun­ter.… Read more »
Nicole Harmon

That’s awe­some, Trini! Con­grats on the length reten­tion and thanks for com­ment­ing :)


Actu­al­ly, I use a the aztec clay to wash my hair and to keep it from being too dry. I found that ALL sham­poos dry my hair out so I opt­ed for the clay. Iv also been using this awe­some intense mois­tur­iz­er for nat­u­ral hair… u can put it on your skin too. It’s called The Gud Stuff… Gud Name lol! If any of you try it out let me know what you think…

Nicole Harmon

Thanks for shar­ing your expe­ri­ence, well­ness­mind­ed :)


I wash my hair every day because I work­out dai­ly. Is there some­thing gen­tle any­one can rec­om­mend that I can wash my hair with dai­ly?

Nicole Harmon

Hi Johan­na, my rec­om­men­da­tion for a dai­ly sham­poo is CURLS Creamy Curl Cleanser. I hope that helps, thanks for com­ment­ing!


The best thing you can try to do is co-wash (wash with con­di­tion­er) instead of using sham­poo. It’s more gen­tel­er, cleans­es your scalp and it will help you main­tain that mois­ture that your hair needs.
I hope this helps


i work­out about four days a week, some­times more.

imo, i only rin­se my hair with water while in twists and may­be add an acv rin­se. i use my fin­gers to mas­sage my scalp.

then add my pro­duct.

i’m not swim­ming in chlo­rine so i don’t see a rea­son to throw sham­poo in it because i did a 30 min. weightlift­ing ses­sion or ran four miles or what­ev­er.

if you have to use some­thing, may just co-wash — con­di­tion­er wash.


Thanks I’ll try the acv rin­se


Use a no lath­er sham­poo. most of those are gen­tle enough to not dry out your hair but cleans your scalp

in the past year i’ve had to reha­bil­i­tate my hair as a result of the ‘mon­key see mon­key do’ men­tal­i­ty i devel­oped as a result of watch­ing yt videos, and even read­ing blogs. lol. my hair hair become incred­i­bly dry and brit­tle and there was break­age. i have to say, it has tak­en me about 10 months to get my hair back. one of the main ways was NOT DOING SUGGESTION NUMBER 1.  i have stopped using sham­poo on my hair and only put it on my scalp. i real­ized that i expe­ri­enced hair fall/shedding and break­age as a result… Read more »

I only sham­poo my scalp as well. I do this once every week (every 5–7 days) with dilut­ed sul­fate-free sham­poo applied via an appli­ca­tor bot­tle. This method leads to a clean scalp and non-stripped strands. In my mind, sham­poo is for the scalp and con­di­tion­er is for the hair.

Nicole Harmon

I’m glad you’ve found a rou­tine that works for you, mer­ry! Hyspin brought up some of the same con­cerns you did. Please read my reply above if you have time, but the key part is “Clean­ing your scalp is the main rea­son to sham­poo once a week, but you don’t have to wor­ry about expos­ing your hair to sham­poo if you’re using the right pro­duct.” This video is also real­ly help­ful: Con­grats on the great look­ing hair! I know that’s all any­one wants :)


I clicked the link to the Hair Lib­er­ty DIY sec­tion and it went to an arti­cle on how to straight­en relaxed hair. Hmmm.

Nicole Harmon

I’ve emailed Leila to have the link updat­ed, Dan­de­lion. Sor­ry about that. Thanks for the heads up!


Cetearyl Alco­hol unlink oth­er alco­hols behaves like a emol­lient rather than draw­ing mois­ture out.
I am sure some­one else could explain this bet­ter.

Mrs. Nieves

I always thought prod­ucts with alco­hol in them make your hair crunchy.

Nicole Harmon

Mrs. Nieves — You might be think­ing of “SD Alco­hol” or “Dena­tured Alco­hol” those are dry­ing to the hair and usu­al­ly found in styling prod­ucts. Thank you for com­ment­ing, I’m sure you helped oth­ers!


Not so. Some alco­hols are “good” moisturizing/slippery) while oth­ers are “bad” (dry­ing). Here a link from CurlyNikki for more info:

Nicole Harmon

Thanks for post­ing that link, man­go­mad­ness :)

Step one seems to make sense but also seems a lit­tle again­st the grain too. Because say­ing once a week is your min­i­mum works all fair and good for hair that not curly that doesn’t suf­fer break­age at every manip­u­la­tion also con­stant manip­u­la­tion when wet would cause more break­age. I think it sounds log­i­cal but also doesn’t work with the anato­my of curly hair. Com­par­ing it to the face doesn’t work as straight for­ward first of all your face your not try­ing to make your hair on your face any longer, so con­stant­ly wash­ing it is more focus on skin… Read more »
Oh and i have done all steps at one point but notice that when I wash my hair more I manip­u­late my hair more and have to detan­gle just as often and end up with just as much break­age as weeks work of detan­gling as doing weeks apart. So I went back to my week­ly lev­el, I have gone of every two weeks if the style has last­ed that long and my hair still looks as shiny as day one, but that is also because I am not heavy hand­ed with pro­duct or plac­ing pro­duct on my scalp. Still wait­ing on… Read more »
Nicole Harmon
Hi hyspin, Thanks for shar­ing your expe­ri­ence. Clean­ing your scalp is the main rea­son to sham­poo once a week, but you don’t have to wor­ry about expos­ing your hair to sham­poo if you’re using the right pro­duct. I think that’s at the heart of the dis­agree­ments about sham­poo. If you use the wrong sham­poo for­mu­la­tion, it’ll make your hair more dry and tan­gled, and you’ll end up with unnec­es­sary break­age when you detan­gle and style. I’ve writ­ten an eBook to help wom­en with dry coils and curls find the right prod­ucts. The chap­ter about sham­poo will be pre­viewed on BGLH… Read more »
Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty

I com­plete­ly agree. If you work­out espe­cial­ly, your scalp needs to be cleaned on a reg­u­lar basis. Plus, if you are using a sul­fate free sham­poo, expos­ing it to your hair week­ly should not be a prob­lem.


I do all the steps except for #5. I’ve been doing so good with tak­ing such good care with my hair that I haven’t been need­ing a trim/cut (knock­ing on wood).
One step that also def­i­nite­ly helps is keep­ing my hair MOISTURIZED!

I under­stand that you do not think you need a haircut…however, even the best main­tained hair needs the ends to be clipped at mim­i­mum at least every 8 weeks. If it is in awe­some con­di­tion, then those ends will only need a dust­ing of clip­ping but if they have split up the hair shaft at all, there may be more that needs to come off. I am gen­er­al­ly known for hav­ing pret­ty healthy hair and thats in part due to my reg­u­lar trims. I got it dust­ed on Thurs­day and when I went to work fri­day every­one was com­pli­ment­ing me… Read more »

i don’t agree with this at all. i’ve seen MANY wom­en go for months to years with­out need­ing their ends to be trimmed to know that this advice is only true if you are tak­ing the worst pos­si­ble care of your hair, in gen­er­al. if i trimmed my hair that often i prob­a­bly would nev­er see any appre­cia­ble growth. or it would take like a decade to. flawed advice, for real.


This is not true.Trimming your hair does NOT make it grow. Alexan­dra, if your ends are just fine and you are still see­ing growth, no you do not need a trim. I real­ly only trim as need­ed or once every 6 months or so. Your hair will tell you what it needs if you pay atten­tion to it and if youare hap­py with it, then don’t get a trim.

Gaye Suzette
I agree. I did a semi bc of 4 inch­es back in ear­ly April. I haven’t applied any heat since March. My ends looked & felt real­ly good for a long time. I just trimmed 1/4 inch last week before putting my hair in two strand twists. The one thing I learned about my hair is that it doesn’t like heat. I believe between wash­ing with a sul­fate free sham­poo, deep con­di­tion­ing, mois­tur­iz­ing dai­ly & cut­ting out the heat real­ly main­tained my ends. AND I saw amaz­ing growth! If any­one is inter­est­ed in see­ing my growth check it out at… Read more »
Nicole Harmon

Sounds like things are going well, Alexan­dra. Thanks for com­ment­ing!


I was just won­der­ing is there a spe­cial reg­i­men for relaxed hair? espe­cial­ly in the stretch­ing stage. Because it seems like the­se steps apply major­ly to nat­u­ral hair. I’ve been able to stretch my hair for almost six months now, I just took out the braids I had on, and I can see the nat­u­ral hair grow­ing out, do you have any sug­ges­tions on how best to care for it pend­ing when I decide to relax it? Thanks