Thanks to my mother I have been natural my entire life. I only got around to experimenting with me hair once I got into college, mostly out of necessity as I could no longer sport the two pigtail braids that were my signature back in high school. Yet it would be some time until I could actually figure out how to properly care for my natural curls without twisting them and in the process I began to try something new by straightening my hair via heat styling.
Fast forward to the present and I really only ever straighten my hair during the late fall/winter and sometimes into early spring. Why? Well, to be honest I do love my curls and make a point to try to challenge western hair standards, however, I’m a very lazy natural. In order to get my natural coils looking fresh and defined, it takes at least 7-8 hours of work and waiting (I air dry my hair). That’s practically a full day of work! For straightening it can clock in at 2- 3 hours max, which is still a lot, but I still get time to do other things. Not only that but I can get my hair done in the evening once I get home from work and this is something I can’t do with my curls because they don’t set and dry that quick. So more often than not, my decision to straighten my hair is in response to my hectic schedule, which usually does not have room for a lengthy hair day, OR I have a job interview (Note: That is a topic for another time.) That said, with today marking the official start to winter I felt it would be beneficial to share a few tricks and products I’ve picked up that have helped keep my hair healthy in the winter when using heat styling.
The biggest point of contention when it comes to natural hair care is whether or not you should use shampoo at all in your routine. I’m pro-shampoo mostly because I sweat a lot and I have this pretty bad habit of using a lot of product in my hair. For this reason, I focus my shampooing to my scalp in order to remove all of that build up of whatever products I may have used without stripping my hair of its natural oils. . As a policy, I shampoo less and with less product. What that means is that rather than doing two washes I only wash once, and with a set of products that are not too harsh. I usually go for shampoo and conditioner sets that are free of sulfates, work to strengthen the hair shaft, and/or unwinds curls for easy detangling much like the Pantene Pro-V Curly Hair Series and OGX Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil line.
My current favorite is the Matrix Total Results Mega Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner available at Ulta Beauty. I was introduced to this brand via samples included in my teal swag bag from theCURVYcon this year and I have found a notable difference in how my hair feels with this compared to any product I have used before. Both the shampoo and conditioner have Shea butter that it helps reduce frizz and allows me to use even less heat that usual to straighten my hair. It is a bit in the pricey side though it is currently on sale and comes in a larger 33.8 oz bottle which should be enough for the entire season.
Naturally curly hair needs more moisture than any other hair type out there. While for the most part I go straight during this season of cooler temps, there are some weeks when I decide to wear my hair natural which isn’t exactly something you can easily do after straightening you hair for so many weeks back to back, yet deep conditioning with each wash does help restore my curls to their natural waves. Deep conditioners help keep your hair hydrated and protected against the harsh cold weather. But most importantly it coats the hair to protect it from the strain of weekly heat styling. My deep conditioners of choice are:
I also include products in my styling routine mostly to ensure that my style lasts as long as I need it to. (As a natural I tend to avoid straightening my hair more than once a week.) I don’t use hairspray because it contains high levels of alcohol in the ingredients which will dry out my hair so I turn to cremes and serums instead. For the past two years I have used the Herbal Essences Bombshell Babe Blowout Creme to ensure a flyaway-free result that isn’t greasy.
For my last two hair straightening sessions I have begun to use this Bumble and bumble Repair Blow Dry serum before blow drying. This serum helps protect against heat damage as well as repair any dryness that may already exist. I love it i very lightweight and how manages to reduce frizz while also keeping my hair presentable when its raining. The price tag attached is a bit steep compared to what I normally spend on a styling product, but you don’t need to use a lot so this is an investment that will last a while.
I usually get my hair blown out at Glady’s Unisex Salon in Corona, Queens where I get a wash and blow dry for $15. They are the best. Yet my schedule and budget isn’t always on my side for there to be a weekly visit, so that leaves me to seek an alternative, which in many cases involve me using rollers with a bonnet dryer or my Instyler. What I like most about this heat styling tool is it causes little-to-no damage since I get to control the heat settings and the barrel even distributes it as the bristles gently sorts and separates individual strands of hair– which a traditional iron cannot do. (Granted it takes a couple of uses to master the technique, but instructions are included.)
I should note that this particular version is on sale for $79.99 until January 1, 2017. Its an investment that you won’t regret. I’ve had mine for six years now so it paid for itself in the long run.
Have you noticed any changes to your hair during the winter? Do you have any winter hair hacks? Are you a natural that keeps her curls in the winter? If so, what are your tips?