by Nicole Har­mon of HairLiberty.org

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
Dime­thicone
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 HairLiberty.org.  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, 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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Alexandra

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!

Nicole Harmon

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

zee

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

INSPIRED
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 »
Likewaterforchocolat

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 »
dawn

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.

hyspin
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 »
hyspin
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.

Mrs. Nieves

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

mangomadness

Not so. Some alco­hols are “good” moisturizing/slippery) while oth­ers are “bad” (dry­ing). Here a link from CurlyNikki for more info: http://www.curlynikki.com/2008/11/are-all-alcohols-drying.html

Nicole Harmon

Thanks for post­ing that link, man­go­mad­ness :)

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!

hyspin

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

Dandelion

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!

merry
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 »
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: http://youtu.be/CGKB9Fz9jzc Con­grats on the great look­ing hair! I know that’s all any­one wants :)

mangomadness

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.

Johanna

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?

merry

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.

Johanna

Thanks I’ll try the acv rin­se

telekendall

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

Alexandra

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

Nicole Harmon

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

wellnessminded

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…http://bit.ly/get-The-GUD-Stuff

Nicole Harmon

Thanks for shar­ing your expe­ri­ence, well­ness­mind­ed :)

Trini
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 :)

Gia

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

Ebone

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.

Julia

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?
Thanks.

Likewaterforchocolat

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.

Cherry

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 UrbanBushBabes.com 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 :-)

carmen

names of ph bal­ance sham­poo for dry hair

DOMFABULOUS

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!

Destiny
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 »
deandra

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?

massage sài gòn

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

Natural Rene

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