Natural hair requires a ton of care, in part because it tends to be dry and delicate. The good news? It doesn’t have to stay that way for ever. Here are eight things your #hairgoals idols do that you can copy, too.
1. They’re strategic shoppers.
“Avoid buying a zillion different kinds of products,” says Anu Prestonia, hairstylist and owner of Khamit Kinks in Brooklyn, New York. While it’s tempting to stockpile various natural hair products (especially if you’re just transitioning your hair), you might be wasting money on things you don’t actually need. Instead, ask your stylist what will benefit you most
2. They don’t skip hair appointments.
Prestonia has noticed that women who are transitioning their hair shift from cutting it every six weeks to just about never once they go natural. Wrong move. “Have your hair trimmed or cut seasonally,” she advises. “That’s a minimum of four times a year.” You might be trying to grow it out (the struggle has never been more real) but trims help you avoid split or frayed ends, making your locks look healthier overall.
3. They know what’s happening on top.
“More and more women with natural hair are color-treating it,” says Prestonia, and that can cause serious scalp problems like excessive shedding, dry scalp, and even bald spots. And even if you’re new to natural, past use of chemical relaxers could have irritated the scalp. If you’re noticing — or feeling — tightness, itchiness, or any sort of discomfort, get it checked out by a professional ASAP. “The longer you wait, the more severe the issues may become,” says Prestonia. “Be proactive so that any damage can be halted, minimized, and healed immediately.”
4. They rehydrate.
Speaking of color-treating — doing it to your hair without using a mask afterwards is like taking a shot and skipping the chaser. “Coloring hair strips it of moisture and strength,” explains Prestonia. “Follow up your color services with a hair mask.” One like SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intense Hydration Masque, $13, is mega-moisturizing — it’s basically the hair equivalent of chugging a bottle of water the morning after a GNO.
5. They rinse their hair with cool water.
To be fair, the idea of a cold shower sounds fun to no one. But for the sake of your hair, take the temp down a notch. “Hot water will ‘melt’ the conditioning elements, rinsing them out of your hair,” explains Prestonia. “Cool or cold water causes the conditioning elements to contract and adhere to your hair for a longer-lasting effect.”
6. They change their hairstyle frequently.
Certain hairstyles can do a number on your hair. “Pulling the hair back [in a tight style] can damage follicles around the hairline,” explains Prestonia. In fact, any sort of style that tugs on hair, like combing and brushing it, can cause breakage. Not to say that you should swear off ponytails forever, but try to avoid wearing a style that’s harsh on your strands multiple days in a row.
7. They treat their hair post-extensions.
Taking out hair extensions isn’t as simple as just pulling them out, since they may have compromised fragile, natural hair while you wore them. “Extensions can be drying to the hair because of the harsh chemicals used to manufacture and color them,” says Prestonia. She recommends deep-conditioning your hair as soon as you remove them. It’ll be worth the extra time in your routine.
8. They condition, and then condition some more.
The single best thing you can do for natural hair is — you guessed it — conditioning. From conditioning in the shower to regular deep-conditioning treatments, your hair can’t get enough. “Leave-in conditioners are a great way to rehydrate and bring moisture and vibrancy to your hair on a daily basis,” explains Prestonia. “For best results, dampen your hair with water before applying it.” Go for a nourishing, fatty acid-rich formula like