I give you my regimen with this caveat: I've tried A LOT of products over the years and can now pretty much look at a label and tell if my hair will like it or not based on the ingredients. It took trial and error to find products that worked for me. I suggest learning your hair's characteristics and then researching ingredients that work or do not for those particular qualities.
So here's a summary of my hair:
* Fine Strand
* Medium Density
* High Porosity (wets fast and dries very quickly)
* Pen Spring Sized Curl Pattern
* Easily Tangles
* Likes Mild Protein
*Susceptible to SSKs (which have been under control since 2012)
Short list of products that work for me:
Elucence Moisture Balancing Shampoo (I dilute shampoo in a nozzled bottle and apply to scalp and along my hair)
Jessicurl Too Shea Conditioner
ORS Replenishing Pak
AO White Camilia Smoothing Conditioner
Sweet Almond Oil
Hello Hydration Conditoner
Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor Conditioner
Aphogee Keratin and Green Tea Leave In
Ingredients that don't play nicely with my hair:
- Wash with shampoo when I have time (maybe once a month)
- Stay in a high bun- I usually wear a headband, bow, fabric to dress it up
- On wash day: Pre-poo with oil and let it marinate for a few hours and then start detangling hair with fingers that has been sectioned in 4 large sections. The original 4 sections become 8 that have been twisted or wound up and pinned (as if doing a banu-knot). When washing take down a section, hold it taunt and shampoo, focusing on scalp, rinse, then but back in a bantu knot and secure with clip (If I kept the sections in twists then I wash in the twists (I don't have issues with shampoo not being fully rinsed out). I apply DC and sit under my steamer or sit around the house for an hour. Rinse spray on leave in or squeeze it in my hair if your a lotion-y leave in. Air dry in twists or my bantu knots. I style into my bun after my hair is dry and stretched.
- Wear a satin scarf around the house and to bed.
- During the week I re-moisturize maybe 2-3 times a week. (I use a mix of distilled water or rose water, conditioner, and oil) I haven't found a commercial product that works the way I want it to.
Here is a more detailed post I wrote last year about my hair:
Lately, I'v been pondering about my hair's characteristics and how that affects the products I've used and the way I handle my hair. A youtube video by Kimmaytube and a pH database thread on LHCF really challenged me to think about how I contribute to the appear and "health" of my hair. I would describe my hair as fine-stand, tightly coiled, naturally frizzy, medium density, prone to tangles, SSKs, and breakage, and, lastly, highly porous. But what does that mean in regards to its maintenance?
I've regularly looked for tips and techniques to help me with my hair but never really took what I knew about my hair and consciously researched how these characteristics related to each other. So far in the 4 years tracking my hair growth I have purchased dozens and dozens of products with hits and misses along the way. I've also tried many methods like loose hair, non-protective styling, protective styling (weave, wigs, twists, braids), baggying, frequent moisturizing, non-frequent moisturizing, etc. Basically I've taken a reactive instead of proactive approach to my hair care.
Success #1: Identifying my ideal pH
I viewed a Kimmaytube video in which she stated that certain pH's directly correlated to how she maintains her hair and how she can predict how her hair will look by the products used. I wanted to get to that level with my hair. So, I proceeded to read up on pH (knowing how dry and quickly my hair loses moisture) and made a running list off all the hair products that have been successful with my hair and noticed a trend... products (particularly conditioners and leave-ins) with a pH between 3-4 flattened out and smoothed my hair and kept it somewhat moisturized. This pH range is acidic and makes the stands compact by providing a positive charge and more hydrogen bonds between the keratin scales. My hair is overly porous and thus can lose up to 50% of its water content. It swells with water then loses it quickly. So it makes sense that my lifted cuticles respond so well to products that help smooth and lay them flat.
Success #2: Moisture and How to Seal Cuticles
Products with my ideal pH level tend to be formulated for dry, damaged, porous hair. As I reflect, I have actually been on the right track as far as moisturizing products go. I've had good results with AO White Camilia SMOOTHING Conditioner, Jessicurl Too Shea Conditioner, and Giovanni SMOOTH as Silk Conditioner. (notice the smoothing trend). I will definitely go back to these products and add others like Joico Moisture Recovery. Next, I fell off from sealing but will re-introduce sealing with butters like sweet almond butter and hemp butter. I found a great article on how to make these butters from carrier oils and hydrogenated oils and will be experimenting. Additionally, I will use porosity controllers like Roux, do ACV rinses, and cold water rinses to constrict the cuticles.
Success #3: Understanding the Importance of Protein for Highly Porous Hair
Protein actually helps my hair by fortifying the hair cuticles and allowing the shaft to better hold onto the moisture it receives. A stronger hair shaft that is less prone to break will help me immensely with my split ends. I always knew my hair tolerated protein but didn't know why until now. My revamped regimen will include regular use of mild protein like Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor and AO Island Naturals Conditioner.
On-Going Challenge: Styling
My hair does well in a number of styles (when done by others). I prefer protective styling for ease of use and my general styling inabilities. But I understand that my hair actually retained the same length when I did numerous WNG puffs as when I was under a weave. I've lost the most hair during de-tangling sessions and blow-drying. I'm still trying to get my technique down. I would like to achieve styles on my own like bantu-knot outs, cute cornrows, twist outs (they look very sad right now), caruso sets, twist-n-curls, etc. This will have to come with practice.
Overall, I think I've finally reached a point of truly understanding my hair. I think it's just the beginning but I'm happy about the progress I've made. It took my 4 years but I suppose that's why it's called a hair journey. :)