Now that the holidays are in full swing and we inch closer to the New Year, we can’t help but think of January as a chance at a fresh start. And like every other year before this one, we know we’re going to look back at the past year and roll our eyes the bad decisions we made. And we’ll be the first to admit–some of the worst decisions we’ve made in the past year have definitely been hair-related. To over-heating, over-coloring, and falling back into bad habits (some shampoos with sulfates smell so good!), we definitely acknowledge that our hair care routine has some room for improvement.
So in 2019, commit to treating your hair with the kindness that it deserves! In order to help with that commitment, we’ve provided a list of 11 better ways to treat your hair in the New Year. Check them out below!
1. Commit to Less Heat
We know you’re tired of hearing it, but this age-old piece of advice is worth repeating: cut back on heat styling. It’s the number one step you can take if you really want to improve the appearance and overall health of your hair. Now we know cutting out heat styling altogether is unrealistic for many, so instead, pledge to at least cut back in the New Year. Create a plan to wash your hair on the weekend so you don’t have to explain your blow dryer ban on weekday mornings. You can also opt to style your hair in ways that look just as great with wet hair, like braids, buns, and twist-outs. Heat-styling may be a tough habit to break, but we promise, your hair will thank you in 2019.
2. Trim every 6-8 weeks
If you’re Afro-Latina, it’s possible that you grew up being fed the idea that cutting your hair was a big no-no. I remember my mother forbidding me to get haircuts throughout elementary school, as she was afraid it “wouldn’t grow”. We now know that this old wives’ tale couldn’t be more wrong! In fact, when you trim your ends, you preemptively remove the most delicate part of your strands (the ends), and leave in its place the newer, stronger part of the strand. By cutting away your brittle ends, you can prevent your ends from splitting further up the shaft. And contrary to popular belief, end breakage is actually the primary culprit behind your lagging length gains.
3. Protect Your Hair While You Sleep
It may seem like overkill, but there’s a reason that sleeping on satin, whether it be hair bonnets or pillowcases, has suddenly become all the rage. The reason behind this is that traditional cotton pillowcases cause friction between the hair shaft and the pillow. And repeated friction = breakage. Satin pillowcases and bonnets are a great alternative because, unlike cotton pillowcases, satin texture isn’t as rough and isn’t as absorbent. That means satin sucks less moisture from your hair during sleep. If, like me, you can’t stand snoozing with anything other than your own hair on your head, go with a satin pillowcase. It’s less annoying and just as effective!
4. Use Leave-In Conditioner Every Day
That’s right: Every. Day. Many women of color–and Afro-Latinas especially–struggle with retaining moisture at their ends due to the curlier pattern of their hair texture. And although weekly deep-conditioning is a great way to give your hair a one-time mega-dose of moisture, it’s the daily upkeep that will keep it consistently hydrated. A daily leave-in conditioner can be exactly the extra step you need to keep your hair soft and strong. Remember when using a leave-in conditioner to pay special attention to the very ends of your strands, as they’re the part of your hair that’s most in need of moisture.
5. Use At-Home Hair Masks
Yes, they’re fun to whip up in the cocina, but DIY hair masks also work! Raid your kitchen cabinet for everything from avocado to coconut oil to offer your hair a little extra love before wash day. Not only are homemade hair masks effective, but they’re usually inexpensive, making it easier for you to commit to a New Year’s resolution of pampering your strands. Look to the internet (or your madre) for the perfect recipe for your hair pattern and texture.
6. Experiment with Protective Styling
Although we live for wash ‘n go’s and the occasional silk press, we know that once in a while, our hair needs an extended rest from the daily wear and tear. In the past, we’ve avoided protective styles because they can sometimes be pricey, and all too often, they’re too time-consuming for our busy schedules. But in 2019, we vow to let our hair get some much-need R&R under Senegalese twists, box braids, micro-braids, and faux locs once every few months.
7. Deep-Condition Every Wash
As young Latina women, our schedules are packed and sometimes it seems that deep-conditioning our hair is just one more thing we need to worry about in an already busy day. Yes, it’s more time-consuming than a quick wash-and-rinse with shampoo and conditioner, but it really makes a difference. Unlike regular conditioners, a proper deep conditioner attaches itself to the hair fiber to provide longer-lasting moisture. And not only does deep-conditioning replenish the lost moisture, but it works to prevent future damage too. And since hydrated hair is equal to healthy hair, it’s essential that you use any chance you get to replenish its moisture.
8. Use Protein Treatments
If your bathroom counter looks like a graveyard for split ends, it may be time to start incorporating protein treatments into your hair care routine. Protein treatments are different from regular deep conditioning because they contain essential amino acids that bind to the hair shaft, making it stronger and less prone to breakage. These treatments are especially effective for Latinas with high-porous strands (i.e. heat and color-damaged). Opt for a protein treatment once a month, but be careful of over-treating. Too many protein treatments can make hair brittle!
9. De-tangle with Care
How many of us have memories of standing in front of the mirror before school while our mothers roughly dragged a hairbrush through our tender little heads? Well, turns out, that method of detangling is a big no-no. Not only can it cause breakage to your ends, but it can pull out perfectly healthy strands from the root. The best way to detangle is to use a wide-tooth comb and either hair oil or a leave-in conditioner. In the shower after shampooing, saturate your hair with conditioner and detangle again with a wide-toothed comb. After you shower, apply a leave-in conditioner first and wait until your hair is semi-dry before detangling again. This method ensures that your hair is always lubricated when you detangle, thus preventing breakage.
10. Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo
When the natural hair movement really took off a few years ago, the number one advice the natural hair community was touting on the internet was this: stay away from sulfate-filled shampoos. There’s a reason for that–sodium lauryl sulfate is a detergent that works to strip the hair completely of its natural oils. And while this may be nice for that squeaky-clean feeling after you shower, over time it zaps all moisture out of your hair, leaving dry and frazzled strands. Stick to sulfate-free shampoos most of the time. But, if your hair is feeling cakey and volume-less, go ahead and opt for a shampoo with sulfates once a month as a clarifying treatment.
11. Pamper Your Scalp
If you’re properly moisturizing and hydrating your hair, chances are, you’re going to experience heavy strands sometime in the near future. Moisturizing products can coat the hair and leave stubborn residue. This residue can build up in the scalp, clogging hair follicles and pores and preventing speedy hair growth. You can combat build up by treating yourself to an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse. Known for its clarifying properties, ACV also acts as a mild exfoliant and pH balancer. And if you want to spoil your scalp further, treat yourself to daily scalp massages. Scalp massages increase blood flow and aid in lymphatic drainage, both of which promote hair growth.
Read: Michelle Obama Keeps It Real About ‘Leaning In’ Saying It ‘Doesn’t Work All The Time’
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