Step #1 Find a water based moisturizer
Many products use the word “moisturizer” in the title of the product but upon closer inspection they don’t seem to provide much moisture. A good place to start is the ingredient list. If the first or second product isn’t water then you might want to move on. I will say that products that list water and aloe vera within the first line of the ingredient list tend to be pretty moisturizing. When it comes to a moisturizer I tend to prefer natural or mostly natural product lines. This is the only staple product that I tend to seek out natural lines because, in my experience, my hair is usually moisturized better than drug store product lines.
Step #2: Find a conditioner and shampoo
In general, shampoos that do not contain sulfates or harsh detergents will be more moisturizing. There are quite a few drug store brands and natural lines that fit this criteria that are also wallet friendly. I always say it’s best to experiment with less expensive products because you may find that a product like Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa, which is less than four bucks works well. When it comes to conditioners, you want to get a product that has slip. Slip basically refers to the quality of a conditioner (or a detangling leave in) that makes the hair slippery and thus easier to detangle. I like to get products that specify “dry and damaged” hair on the packaging. While my hair isn’t damaged my line of thinking is that if it works for damaged hair then it’ll work for me. I apply this logic when selecting deep conditioners which you should consider investing in and using twice a month.
Step #3. Find a leave-in and styling product
I am a fan of light leave ins as opposed to heavy and thick products on wash day because I want a product that won’t add unnecessary build up. My hair is usually in need of moisture 2 days after wash day and requires moisturize approximately every two days. Using a light leave in on wash day insures that my hair won’t feel weighed down and greasy. This is particularly important for me because I wash my hair every two weeks. In terms of the specific qualities I look for in an after wash leave in, I prefer aloe vera and water based leave ins. My hair can tend to feel dry and crunchy after wash day and I find that aloe vera smooths the cuticles of my hair allowing it to feel moisturized longer. You can use pure aloe vera gel, add a few tea spoons to a leave in product or use a leave in that lists it high on the ingredient list. When it comes to styling products, I actually recommend water based products. I have the best braid out when using water or aloe vera and a light leave in. If you are planning to wear a wash and go, you will need to use a gel like product that won’t lead to super crunchy hair. By using your leave in under the gel product you can retain hold while also keeping the hair soft.
Step #4 Develop a styling regimen
I have gone into detail about my styling regimen in this post in which I emphasized the importance of taking into consideration your lifestyle when styling your hair weekly. If you did the big chop and have less than five inches of hair you will find that wash and gos or twist outs each week may work well. As your hair grows longer you will want to play around with protective styles such as twists, braids and updos if they save you time during the week or you find that your hair becomes more easily tangled with added length. Once you find a style you like, stick with it. What works for others doesn’t have to work for you. Just as what works for you may not work for others. Your hair is beautiful and a weekly styling regimen that shows off your fabulous tresses without taking a million hours is what you will likely want to stick to.
As I mentioned with products, there is likely not one styling tool that will give you “dream hair”. A wide tooth comb (preferably seamless), bobby pins and hair-friendly hair elastics are the basic tools you will need. Even with the right tools you will need to manage your hair carefully. Doing so, will make you hair journey infinitely easier.