What is it that women talk about when they get together in the company of other women? No, not food. Or sex. Well, not my friends anyway. When we get together we talk about hair.
Women of color, in particular, are all about asking how we do things to our hair. In my own experience i have found that talking to other women and listening to what works for them helps me add to my own recipe for what works on my hair. Each time I learn something from these women I take their knowledge, try a few things out on myself, and then come up with an amended version that works for me.
My friend Karen Walrond, who writes the photography-inspired blog Chookooloonks, has a very specific recipe for her hair. It not only requires the right kinds of products, but it's a matter of timing and moisture-control as well. Take a look at her recipe:
1. Get in shower. Get hair SOAKING wet.
2. If it is a shampoo day (Wednesday), then shampoo. Otherwise, skip to #3.
3. Condition hair. If it is a shampoo day, comb out hair with a wide-toothed comb. Otherwise, comb conditioner through hair with fingers, until fingers can run through hair without snagging. Conditioner of choice these days: Giovanni "Smooth as Silk" Deep Moisture.
4. Rinse hair.
5. Still in the shower, divide hair into 5 equal sections: 2 in the front, 2 in the lower back, 1 section in the crown.
6. Apply liberal amounts of Kinky-Curly Knot Today leave-in conditioner in each section, making sure that the hair is coated thoroughly. DO NOT RINSE.
7. Get out of the shower. Dry off body, wrap towel around body, immediately, lest any drying of the hair occur. DO NOT TOWEL DRY HAIR.
8. While hair is still dripping in five sections, apply more conservative amounts of Kinky-Curly Curling Custard. Work through each section with fingers. Flip head over to make sure that the underside of hair is coated as well as the top.
9. Flip back over, finger style. DO NOT TOUCH HAIR AGAIN UNTIL BONE DRY (about 8 hours later).
10. Dress and go.
Apparently, Karen has to continue to keep the moisture in her hair. I'm familiar with this technique as I've been known to start styling my hair, stop when I see that it's not working, and start over again by putting my head under the faucet to get it wet all over again.
But not every woman does the same thing. Lucrecer Braxton of the blog Art-Slam, talked to me about how she styles her naturally curly hair.
How do you do your hair?
Most days, I wear my hair down and in order to do that, I have to wet my hair first, and finger comb a leave-in conditioner all over my head. I do not use a brush or comb on my hair unless I shampoo and condition. It is hair suicide to brush dry, curly hair unless you want a hot mess of split ends. If I am going to pull my hair into a ponytail, I will not wet my entire head down to style. I put in a little of the leave-in conditioner and wet just enough of my hair to pull it back. I usually end up with a rather fluffy puff of curls at the nape of my neck. I shampoo and condition once a week, twice in the summer.
Are you full on natural?
I am not currently full on natural. I apply a texturizer in my hair two or three times a year. My plan for this year is to be full on natural, since I do not apply the texturizer that often. I used to color frequently, but I don't do that as much anymore. Although, I do love a rich, shiny brown color. I used to pull out the silvers (grey hairs) that would pop up on my head, but I have come to embrace those and consider them evidence of my growing wisdom.
Do you have favorite products?
My hair texture is fine and Kids Organics Detangling Leave-in Conditioner and shampoo as my primary products. Favorite conditioner is Herbal Essence Hello Hydration, it smells amazing and is a great moisturizing conditioner.
Finally, my sister-twin (in my mind, anyway) Liz Dwyer of Los Angelista, told me how she gets her natural curls to look so amazing that I want to chop off her locks and simply place them on top of my head. Liz takes the idea of "recipe" to heart because she incorporates olive oil into the styling products she uses. "I don't shampoo my hair that much. Maybe once a week. I've used Creme of Nature shampoo for the past 20 years (gulp! I'm old!) and sadly, the makers discontinued this original formula. I stocked up when I found out they were switching the formula, but I only have two bottles left," she says. "I don't know what I'm going to do when it runs out because the new formula is horrible. I also wash my hair just with conditioner -- I'll use a good handful of Herbal Essences Hello Hydration conditioner and massage my hair and scalp with it. If I feel like that's not enough, I'll rinse with apple cider vinegar diluted with lots of water. My go-to conditioner these days is the Pantene Nature Fusion Moisture Balance conditioner. It smells amazing and leaves my hair really soft."
How do you do your hair? Let's hear your secrets.