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Wash Day Regimen

I’ve been getting a lot of requests to post about my hair regimen and I planned to post this sooner… sorry for the delay.

Before I tell you about my regimen, I will tell you a little bit about my hair. I am 100% Nigerian and my hair is extremely coarse, nappy, kinky, coily, and wiry in its natural state. If you follow the hair typing system, I would describe it as 4c with 50%-75% shrinkage. Both my mom and my sister have thin, fine, soft hair… but somehow, I ended up with the polar opposite. I have a full head of hair; my hair is thick, dense, and super dry. Whenever I go out, people (Nigerian guys especially) ask to touch my hair. Its softness surprises them, which is a good indicator that my moisturizing techniques/ products work well for my hair. Below are two old pictures that help give you a sense of my hair’s thickness and texture.

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Regardless of what stage of your natural hair journey you are in, you should develop a hair regimen that works for you and maintain it for a few weeks or months to assess your results. Like any good experiment, you must conduct multiple tests over time. When I first big chopped, I laid out a few simple hair rules and followed them religiously. For newly naturals who recently big-chopped and are feeling overwhelmed, don’t fret. Natural hair is really easy to manage if you keep things simple. Less is definitely more. As long as you understand a few basic concepts about how hair grows and what it takes to retain length, you will have long hair before you know it.

Tips for Newly Naturals

1. Carve out a few hours every 1-2 weeks to dedicate to “Wash Day.” For me, this day is usually a Friday evening after work and usually takes 2-4 hours from start to finish. Dedicating one day to do your hair helps eliminate unnecessary manipulation during the week and promotes consistency, which leads to results. I generally wash my hair every week, or every other week depending on my schedule.
2. Find products that work for your hair. I think every regimen should contain 6 essential products: a cleansing shampoo, a detangling conditioner, deep conditioner, liquid moisturizer/ leave-in, styling product, and an oil. It is okay to be a product junkie… the only way to determine what works for your hair is to try a bunch of products. Natural hair care is all about trial and error. And what works for one person may not work for you, which is why it is important to learn your own hair.
3. Only comb your hair on wash day with a wide tooth comb when it is wet/ saturated with conditioner. Combing hair dry leads to breakage. If you must detangle during the week, gently use your fingers. It is good to develop habits that keep your hands out of your hair as much as possible.
4. Always sleep with a satin bonnet, scarf or pillow case. This will help your hair retain moisturize and prevents friction which can break your hair.


My Natural Hair Care Routine

Being natural for four years has taught me the importance of not only maintaining a consistent regimen, but also adapting it periodically to account for change. Although my hair is at a decent length now, I probably could have retained more length if I adjusted my wash regimen sooner.

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PRE-POO
The night before wash day,  I unpin my twisted undo and finger-detangle each two strand twist using coconut oil from tip to root. I combine two smaller twists into one twist, so by the time I finish this process, I have a total of 8 large twists (4 on the right side, 4 on the left). It generally takes me about 1 hour to section off my hair and detangle. If your hair is still short, you can probably skip this step.

SHAMPOO
I only recently started washing my hair in sections last month, instead of piling my hair on top of my head and massaging my scalp. Because I used to wear my hair in box braids quite often, I never had to worry about this. However, I quickly realized that once your hair passes a certain length, washing your hair stretched and in sections is essential if you want to retain length. I shampoo my hair in the shower using a lower sulfate shampoo. Although sulfate shampoos strip moisture from your hair, I prefer shampoos with sulfates because I like my scalp to be squeaky clean. Since I have acne prone skin, I do not like product buildup or residue left from co-washing (“washing” hair with conditioner) lingering on my face. I use a quarter sized amount on each section and massage it through my scalp. I let the shampoo run through the entire length of the twist as I rinse and repeat for all 8 twists.

CONDITIONING
After shampooing, I step out of the shower to condition my hair. I unravel one twist, lather with conditioner, finger-detangle and re-twist. Because I also finger-detangle the night before, this step lets me catch any shed hairs I may have missed during the pre-poo. It is important to detangle your hair thoroughly and remove all shed hairs, so that they do not snag other hairs and cause tangles/ breakage. I repeat this process for all 8 twists, then rinse thoroughly in the shower.

DEEP CONDITIONING
I use either a moisture or protein based conditioner depending on my hair needs… sometimes I rotate weekly. I apply the deep conditioner to each twist and then sit under my Heutiful Hair Steamer for 20-40 minutes. In my opinion, this step is not necessary, however, I love the way it makes my hair feel… whether or not it actually makes a difference is questionable. Days when I do not feel like steaming my hair, I simply cover it with a shower cap and let it sit for an hour before rinsing.

STYLING
After rinsing the deep conditioner out, I proceed to style my hair. I start by blotting my hair with a t-shirt instead of a towel (there is definitely a difference. I didn’t believe it at first, but the t-shirt method does not snag my hair or create frizz). I use the L.O.C Method to moisturize my hair. If you’re not familiar with this method, there is a ton of information about it online, so I won’t describe it in detail. In summary, it stands for liquid or leave-in, oil, cream and helps to maximize moisture retention. First I apply my favorite leave-in to damp hair, then I apply coconut oil, and lastly, I apply my cream, which is usually a hair milk or butter. I split each of the 8 sections into 2 two strand twists so that I end up with a total of 16 twists. I also apply a dime sized amount of castor oil on the ends of each twist. I pin the twists into an up-do that protects the ends and repeat the entire process weekly. (This is part of my “No Puff September Challenge”)

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I’m hoping that this new regimen helps me minimize breakage on wash day while maximizing length retention during the week. If you are feeling discouraged or need help creating a regimen, feel free to email me at ije.curltivate@gmail.com and I’ll gladly help!

Happy growing!

Sincerely,
Miss Ije ❤

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First of all… introduction!

Hello my fellow naturals, non-naturals, thinking of becoming naturals, Naija Babes, and African Sistas! Thank you for visiting my new blog, Curltivate. My name is Ijeoma (Miss Ije) and I am an American born Nigerian from Imo State, Nigeria– Igbo Kwenu.

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I am a twenty-something year old young professional currently residing in NYC. I recently graduated from New York University and work within Finance at a Fortune 500 Company. In my free time (which is limited), I enjoy travelling, running, learning languages, graphic designing, drawing, mentoring, and connecting with other Africans in the Diaspora. When I am not listening to Naija jams or dancing Azonto, my family members would say that you can most likely find me locked in the bathroom styling my natural hair.

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In its purest form, my natural hair is very dry, fragile, coarse, brittle, and prone to breakage. As a tender-headed child, my hair struggled mainly because it was non-malleable, difficult to comb and over manipulated. Struggle perms, braids, fake ponytails, and weaves cloaked my adolescence which led to severe damage to my hair and scalp and insecurity throughout high school. Thankfully, college is the perfect time for exploration and self discovery. After completing my freshman year, I decided to try something new. My friend Brittney formally known as Ms. Beauty Blogger on YouTube and my cousin Nneka both inspired me with their beautiful afros. So on July 4th, 2010 while most people celebrated America’s Independence Day, I locked myself in the bathroom, cut off all of my hair and finally gained emancipation from the creamy crack.

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I big-chopped right before my summer vacation to Nigeria and assumed that I would fit in since most young girls carried low cut afros while in boarding school… But, as a newly natural who last visited Nigeria ten years ago, what I saw and heard surprised me. I did not expect to see so many women wearing wigs, weaves and extensions and I hardly saw anyone with natural, unpermed hair; I also did not expect to hear so many Aunties asking, “When are you going to fix your hair.” See insult. Though the natural hair movement was growing in the U.S., at that time it did not have much traction in Nigeria.

Fast forward four years and I am impressed to see how much has changed. On my most recent trip to Nigeria in July of 2014, I received drastically different reactions from locals. This time, my natural hair fascinated the same Aunties who repeatedly asked if I was going to “fix my hair.” Instead, they greeted me with compliments (still mixed with some shade), “Chai this your hair dey too much oh,”  “you tried sha”, and they even thought that my natural hair was “attachment.”

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Hearing and witnessing changing attitudes and perceptions toward natural hair in Nigeria warms my heart. I created this website as a means to help promote and improve healthy, natural hair growth. I want Nigerian women and women with afro textured hair similar to mine to know that they can grow a healthy head of hair and feel omalicha (beautiful). Although I am a late contributor to the online natural hair community, I have been researching, learning, and documenting my experience over the past four years offline. I am finally ready to share my journey globally.

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No two journeys are the same… but I hope this blog teaches you something about natural hair care, inspires you to transition from relaxed to natural, encourages you to fully embrace your kinky fro in any environment, or simply keeps you entertained. I hope that you will join me on this mission to “Curltivate” natural hair in Nigeria, Africa, and the larger world!

Sincerely,

Miss Ije

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