I still chuckle when my coworker says this – who, by the way, is the inspiration for this post! It’s like a whole different level from “you’re doing too much”. And when she left my office this week after telling me that I was “doing the most” I laughed and then thought of how we are sometimes overdoing it with our natural hair routines. You know when the pastor gives his pre-sermon disclaimer, warning the congregation that what he’s about to say may make some uncomfortable? “Yeah, I’m talking to you!” Well this post may do the same for some of us. I’m a bit uncomfortable in my chair as I type!
And after my several-part series on Shea Moisture’s Raw Shea Butter line, I’m thinking ‘wow! it really looks like I do too much on wash day!’ Actually, that was my way of reviewing each of the products in the way they should be used. However, there are times when I’m five hours and elbow-deep in some product or style and missing out on something because of this natural hair that I wonder, ‘am I really doing the most?’ And do I have to do this much?
Simplify Our Natural Hair Routine
It is so easy to get caught up in the natural hair cycle of routines, and products, and styles… (oh my!); with all of the natural hair blogs out there, and YouTube, the different ways of doing all the things we can do can be dizzying. One natural will swear by one routine, while another proclaims that this is the way you absolutely have to do your hair. You have the LOC method, the LCO method, and the oil rinse method for moisture; to lather or co-wash for cleansing; and more protective styles than you can do one one head in a lifetime! whew! I’m tired just thinking about it. We become distracted and adopt too many bits and pieces to our routines until doing our hair becomes a chore, sometimes even a burden.
Our bathrooms become mirror images of Dexter’s Laboratory and we have to add extra shelving in our kitchens to accommodate all the herbs and spices we measure and mix into our products.
Seriously! I used to have a separate shelf in my cupboard just for natural hair mixing ingredients. My sister used to call me Broomhilda because I was always in the kitchen over a pot of some natural-smelling herbs and oils. [insert Broomhilda’s chuckle here]
All the while we sometimes catch ourselves thinking, “I thought this natural hair journey would simplify my life!“
Either way, if you don’t want to admit it, I’ll stand and raise my hands high. There are times when I am doing too much with my natural hair routine. I read about all these awesome hair regimens and watch how-to videos that make me feel like I can conquer this mass of hair; and because I want to get it all right I incorporate it ALL into my routine. And then wash day turns out to literally be a day. Dedicated to hair. Um…
Seriously. So k.i.s.s. those bottles of pre-conditioner, co wash conditioner, rinse out conditioner, deep conditioner, and leave-in conditioner goodbye and repeat after me:
(okay, no, I am not calling any of us stupid! but the phrase really isn’t the same without that last ‘s’, is it?)
Natural Hair Challenge Time!
I’m proposing a natural hair challenge. I haven’t participated in a hair challenge since I first went natural over 10 years ago! It is well past time! I am going to call this challenge the “Basic Challenge”. Simple name, right? Basically! It’s appropriate since this challenge is going to be all about basic.natural hair.care. Yep, we’re going back to basics and doing the least with our hair. For a whole month! And I’m talking back to the days when I didn’t need a special product to do several different things because just my basic conditioner would work. You remember, those days before we all got our Advanced Degrees in Mixology 101!
(you see what I did there?)
We are going to stick to the very basics when it comes to doing our natural hair. For the month of January. Why January? Well I don’t know about you, but my bank account needs a new years’ rest after all the holiday shopping I did! This is not an exaggeration, people, these products get expensive! The rules for the “Basic (hair care) Challenge” are, well, pretty basic. This should use 3-4 products at the very most, depending on how you cleanse and what you use to moisturize. But the point is to keep it as simple as possible.
We are going to cleanse it. condition it. moisturize it. leave it.
If you wash every week, every other week, or once a month you can still participate in this challenge. The key is that we are going to use the same products for the duration of the challenge. And we’re going to take the minimalist approach to our natural hair care.
This is not difficult. Cleansing your hair regularly keeps product buildup at bay and helps keep your scalp nice and healthy. Whether you prefer to poo, or not to poo (co-What?) that is your preference and you should do what your hair likes. Don’t forget to section your hair into four, or however you section yours, and clean it up!
This is where the change may occur. Let me preface this by saying that I am one of those naturals who likes to slather deep conditioner on my hair (sometimes before AND after I’ve cleansed) and leave it on for hours and days at a time. This is going to be a big adjustment for me, so if I can do it… so can you. Period.
Conditioning should follow cleansing. So choose your moisturizing conditioner (yep, one), slap it on those coils, and leave it in until your hair feels conditioned. Preferably 30 minutes or so. And if you are in the shower, leave it in while you lather up and wash off; then rinse your hair out under cooler water. I know… this is big. But it doesn’t matter how many times during wash day you put conditioner in your hair; and your hair doesn’t care how much your conditioner costs. But being consistent is what is going to help your hair thrive. I’ve said it in previous posts… be consistent in your natural hair care, and your hair will consistently grow.
(If you are using a cleansing conditioner to co-wash, use a moisturizing conditioner afterwards and wash it out. Or don’t if you wish to use it as a leave-in.)
However you moisture your hair (oil before cream, butter to seal, just a cream) do it consistently so your hair can reap the benefits. Moisturizing and sealing are really pretty necessary for retaining moisture, so be sure you are using the same product(s) to do so. This is where you may use more than one moisturizing product (if you are moisturizing and then sealing); but remember, KEEP IT SIMPLE.
No, I don’t mean ignore it. I mean leave your hair alone after you style it. This would be protective styling at its best. Some people call it “low-manipulation.” Twists? Braids? Twist out? Bun? Whatever, just no every day / every night manipulation that will cause you to have to apply more product than necessary. You should be able to use a dab of your conditioner to re-twist, if necessary.
I always preach ‘no drama’ and the same applies for our natural hair. Most things in life should just be simple and basic. Find your products, use them for the best health of your hair, and then do it over and over. Consistency.
So What Am I Using?
I am going to stick with my Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter product lineup MINUS the extras. I’m just going to place those in my hair cabinet for this challenge and use the three main products:
I’m going to section my hair and cleanse in the shower, using my wide tooth comb only as I rinse the shampoo out under the running water. Then I will apply the masque and let the shower steam condition my hair while I wash and rinse. Then I will rinse my hair and step out of the shower. While my hair is still wet and sectioned, I will apply a bit of castor oil and seal with the moisturizer. That’s it!
Oh, and my leave it. style of choice will more than likely be bun to stretch and then twists. We’ll see which one…
We will begin our challenge on January 1st. Comment below if you want to join!