It turns out caring for long hair is a balancing act. The top of your hair gets oily faster, while the bottom tends to remain dry. If you wash it every day, the ends get frizzy. If you don’t wash it every day, the scalp turns into oil central. The trick is to have 2 types of shampoo and 2 types of conditioner – one harsher and one gentler. You can adjust your use of each shampoo and conditioner depending on your hair’s needs!
Brush Before Washing & Use an Oil Pretreatment
Before stepping into the shower, I brush my hair. I basically never brush at any other time, because brushing wet hair is damaging and brushing dry hair breaks apart my curls and makes my hair triple in size. (Lord knows I don’t need more volume.) Also, brushing before washing makes it easy for me to distribute the shampoo and conditioner in the shower.
I then apply an oil pretreatment that I make at home. It is a blend of castor oil and black seed oil – which a friend of mine calls “black gold!” Black seed oil is amazing for hair.
Two full dropper heads does nicely. I use this pretreatment daily, just before showering. Do not apply this above the ears. It’s meant to moisturize the driest parts of your hair and will cause lots of oiliness if applied to the scalp too often. You shouldn’t drench your hair with it either! I did that once, and definitely regretted it. It won’t seem like you’ve put enough on, but don’t worry about that. This one step will strengthen your hair greatly with time.
Rotate Between Nourishing and Harsher Shampoo & Conditioner
Choose a mostly natural, repairing shampoo that smells great, cleans gently, and softens hair. The idea is not to strip the hair of all natural oils!
Use only when you can tell that your hair is a little dry at least (for me it’s about 3-4 times a week). Apply all over (from head to tips). I use L’Occitane’s Repairing Shampoo and Lush’s Cynthia Sylvia Stout, which smells heavenly and actually has stout in it (among other things). Stout is apparently ‘extremely conditioning.’ Of course, you don’t have to have 2 gentle shampoos, but I love both of these so much that I’ve decided to use both. (And actually, I use the Cynthia Sylvia Stout every day because I’m addicted to the full-bodied smell!)
The harsher, possibly more chemically based shampoo does strip the hair of oils. A “clarifying” shampoo removes buildup and gives your hair a fresh start when it is getting too oily.
I love Pantene Pro-v, but the fact of the matter is – if I use it every day I do not end up with “luxuriously soft, smooth hair.” For some reason I used to, when I lived in California. Maybe it’s the humidity, or maybe in the 6 years I’ve been living in Boston, MA my body chemistry has changed. Whatever the reason, Pantene been demoted from everyday shampoo to clarifying shampoo, which I use 2-3 times a week.
Apply the clarifying shampoo to the scalp area only! (By now you get the idea :P) Applying it to the ends of your hair will dry it out too much. As I mentioned before, I use the Cynthia Sylvia Stout everyday. When I use Pantene shampoo I apply the Stout one afterward.
Phew! On to conditioners!
On days when you need emergency moisture, you should use a hair mask of some kind.
I’ve been using a deluxe sample of Ojon’s color sustain PRO for emergency moisture lately, 2-3 times a week. I got it in a Birchbox a few months ago. I know it’s for color treated and damaged hair, but that’s just all the more reason for me to use it! I apply it all over my hair, count to 60 twice, and rinse.
Most days, though, I use any Pantene conditioner. In my experience, all of Pantene’s shampoos and conditioners do the same things to my hair, so I don’t pay attention to the labels that promise “sleekness!” “volume!” “rainbows!” or whatever. I also once heard from a friend that there is no difference – and he heard on good word from a friend of his, who worked in the shampoo industry or something. We’re talking science and fact here folks. (I’m starting to sound like Colbert..)
My only warning: don’t over-condition. If you do, expect fly away hairs en masse.
Use a Leave-In Moisturizer to Reduce Frizz
After showering I wait for my hair to dry partially. Then I apply the R&B cream from Lush as a leave-in, overnight moisturizer. I lurveeee the R&B cream.
It smells great, and really does tame frizz, but it takes some fiddling to figure out the right amount to use for your hair. I never, ever apply it to the hair above my ears. It flattens the top of my hair as it dries and looks odd. I also apply a small amount when I wake up to calm the little bit of frizz that appears after moving around in my sleep. It makes a HUGE difference for my hair throughout the day.
Never Sleep on Your Hair
I try not to sleep on my hair. I make a long, loose twist and let it trail above my shoulders on the bed. Tossing and turning on your long hair causes breakage and frizz. I’ve been doing this for years. Once you get into the habit of it, it doesn’t feel unnatural anymore 😛
Happy Frizz Fighting,