But, as someone who cut her hair off so it stopped right above her ear and now has hair that stops at her bra strap when flat-ironed, and as someone who did a pretty great job of neglecting said hair during her college years and managed to grow hair this long in one year, let me tell you that it does not take all of that.
Regardless of your hair’s specific texture, this is what you need in your hair routine if you plan on getting long, non-chemically processed hair:
1.) A shampoo, a deep conditioner, and a leave-in conditioner that YOUR HAIR RESPONDS too.
This means you’ll have to go out there and try stuff at random somewhat. But keep reading, I’ll give some recommendations.
I shampoo once every 2 weeks because it dries my hair too much. I condition my hair every other day. I use a leave-in conditioner every day.
Most importantly with these products is this: FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE SPECIFIC BOTTLE! This goes for all hair products. Some will tell you to concentrate on your ends, some will tell you to concentrate on roots, etc. If you want the desired results you need to follow the instructions.
Also, get in the habit of parting your hair in sections (I use four) when you are washing your hair. They don’t have to be even or neat, it’s just for keeping the hair untangled and making application easier.
Even if it is not that thick, parting your hair allows you to evenly distribute the product which makes you use less of it because you don’t hit the same spot twice.
I actually part it in four sections with my fingers and hold them with ponytail holders, I then part those sections in half to apply product and comb it through. If shampoo, I scrub and let it sit there while I do all sections then wash them out in order and repeat with conditioner.
APPLY ALL HAIR PRODUCTS BY FIRST PARTING IN SECTIONS THEN FOLLOWING THEIR DIRECTIONS. Saves you money and saves you time.
2.) Something to moisturize your hair with daily.
Some classic B&B hair grease does just fine but anything that says “hair milk” or “hair lotion” or something to that effect will also work.
Dry hair breaks. That’s what we want to avoid. Now, you may not have to do it daily if your hair makes a little more natural moisture and it may change with the seasons but just make sure your hair doesn’t get dry.
Try to moisturize right after you get out the shower. Dab your hair with a soft towel or a t-shirt until it is damp and apply products following their instructions.
3.) A curl cream for when you’re in a rush.
This can be anything that says “hair putty” or “curl activator” or simply “curl cream.” I use these for when I don’t want to do a lot of work but need a curl right away.
4.) A spray bottle for spraying water (and you really don’t need this you can just splash yourself).
These can be found at any beauty store and most dollar stores.
They are helpful tools because, when styling or combing your hair, you need it to be at least damp if you do not want to damage it. A spray bottle will allow you to dampen your hair without making a giant mess.
5.) A wide-toothed comb or your fingers.
I, personally, prefer to use my fingers to comb my hair unless I’m combing conditioner through.
If you have extremely curly or kinky or coily hair, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU COMB YOUR HAIR AT LEAST ONCE A DAY! Also, comb your hair as it dries. Hair that springs back when you pull on it tends to tangle as it dries because the hair starts curling into each other.
To me, the best way is to comb your hair is in the shower (while using conditioner if it’s my conditioning day. Otherwise I do it last, put in a leave-in conditioner and comb it through).
SIDE NOTE: If you’re wondering why your curly hair has a lot of puffy areas check to see if your hair needs are M.E.T. .
*M oisture: Is that section too dry? Some sections of your hair may require more moisture than others. In dryer, humid, or windy times of the year, I moisturize my hair and braid it and keep it under a hat for a week at a time so that enough penetrates before I wear it down.
*E nds: Are your ends split, dead, or damaged? Try to clip your ends about once a month and this won’t happen and, if you’re taking care of it, you should only have to clip off a super tiny amount (about 1/8 of an inch.)
*T angles: This is the culprit of my puffiness most of the time if it’s not moisture. If the hair is tangled, it will not curl.
6.) A method of doing your hair at night that keeps it from being tangled.
Tangled hair means breakage. You can prevent it from tangling when you sleep on it by simply parting it in sections and clipping/tying them; you can twist the hair or braid it.
What I tend to do is braid it into two, messy french braids because this is quick. They don’t have to be neat or cute either you’re just sleeping in them.
7.) A satin cap and/or pillow case for sleeping in/on at night.
I have both for in case I travel or if I lose my cap (happens often).
The goal for these is to keep your ends from rubbing against some hard material and breaking or splitting.
That’s it! The formula to long, natural hair. Just make sure you are consistent.
As a bonus and for those of us who don’t have hundreds to blow on hair, here are a few of my favorite inexpensive product lines for natural, ethnic hair:
This brand can be found at Family Dollar and some Walmarts. My mother used this on my hair when I was a little girl and it is what I still love to use to this day.
Each product on their line ranges from $1 – $5 so this is a big money saver. However, some of their products get used up quickly which is why they are inexpensive.
- Dove Advanced Hair Care Quenched Absolute series
These can be found in Walmart, Target, and Walgreens to my knowledge. After one wash with their shampoo and conditioner I COMPLETELY saw a difference. After one week, my hair naturally retained more moisture.
Their products are about $5 each.
- L’ÒREAL EverSleek Sulfate-Free Smoothing System
Found in Walmart, Target, these products do what they say. I love the Leave-In Creme in the pump bottle.
Products are about $7 a bottle.
- Olive Oil Hair Products
All of these are great!! They can be found in virtually any store that sells hair products. I use their Hair Lotion regularly and so does my father.
Products are about $5 a bottle.