Sunday, August 2, 2009

8 tips for retaining length for relaxed and/or colored hair

Sometime last year, I decided I wanted long beautiful tresses. You know, like Beyonce's, but real. I knew that I was facing a challenge because of daily flat ironing, bimonthly relaxer and semi annual highlights. After some digging, I stumbled across the Long Hair Care Forum (LHCF). This site is amazing, but proceed with caution. You'll spend hours pouring over the information.

I also found Healthy Textures, a blog by Macherieamour (a LHCF member). On this site, I found an awesome hair challenge that gave me the roadmap to growing my hair to great lengths. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the page again, but I can share my version. The original version uses lots of Mizani products. I'm sure those products are lovely, but I swapped them out for drugstore products and made some additional changes to suit my hair needs. With or without the Mizani products, I've seen significant growth.

Over the next several weeks, I'll share my weekly hair regimen. It does take a bit of work, but the results are so worth it. In the meantime, here are some of the tips that I've picked up that have really improved the health of my hair:
  1. I never dry my hair on a high setting. Medium is a lot less damaging. Cool is the best, but I have no patience for the extra drying time.
  2. The best way to dry my hair is under a hooded dryer or air drying. Again, this is a lot less damaging. I will blow dry my hair on medium to straighten it, but only if it's 80% dry from air drying.
  3. I restrict flat ironing to once every 1-2 weeks.
  4. I always wrap my hair at night. This one's a no-brainer, but totally essential.
  5. I try to do a pre-shampoo with oil and deep condition every time I wash my hair.
  6. I try to "stretch" my relaxers, meaning that instead of getting my hair relaxed every 6-8 weeks, I try to stretch it to 10-12 weeks.
  7. When my roots start to get fuzzy (7-8 weeks post relaxer), I usually do a braid out. This means that I braid my hair in sections and either dry it under the hooded dryer or allow it to air dry overnight. This technique lets my hair rest for a few weeks, which really helps retain growth.
  8. About 6 months ago, I started moisturizing my hair with a creme moisturizer followed by oil. On LHCF, this technique is referred to as sealing because the oil helps to seal in the moisturizer, allowing it to better penetrate the hair.
I'll elaborate on some of these topics in the coming weeks, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg (I'm not nearly as hardcore as some of the members on LHCF).

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