How to Protect Textured Hair Year Round
Care for your curls with tips from these industry experts.
Protecting textured curls calls for a variety of care techniques. Whether you have a wavy, curly, or coily texture, everything from the hairstyles you choose to the products you use can make a difference in terms of long-term growth and overall hair health. According to celebrity hairstylist Kendall Dorsey, protecting your hair starts with a healthy lifestyle. "What we put into our bodies is exactly what we get in return," he says. "I start with a hair, skin, and nail vitamin." Other suggestions to integrate into your daily routine? "You want to get shower-ready with a shower bonnet," Dorsey adds. To avoid dehydrating hair or depriving it of essential oils at night, he also suggests protecting hair with a satin bonnet, scarf, or pillowcase. Here, we share more insight from experts in the hair industry to help you protect your textured hair throughout the year.
Test out protective styles and treat your hair with care.
In addition to wrapping hair with silk or satin materials, choosing low-maintenance hairstyles will preserve the health of textured hair. "The less someone manipulates their hair, the greater chance it will have to grow and not become broken," Paula Broadwater, owner of Harlem Natural Hair Salon, says. "Just look at people who have locs down their backs, as an example. If you put your hair into a style that doesn't have to be manipulated daily, you will give it a better chance of growing." She recommends a twist out, braids and twists (with or without extensions), crochet hairstyles, and faux locs—all are protective hairstyles to consider. And don't forget to detangle hair when it is not styled. "It is really important to detangle hair at least once a week," Broadwater adds. "A really great brush to consider is the Wet Brush Original Detangler Hair Brush ($16, amazon.com). It is great at detangling hair without pulling it out."
When it comes to hair that may be over-processed from chemical treatments like hair coloring or relaxers, try limiting styling and avoiding extensions, Broadwater notes: "If the hair is damaged from chemicals, we would recommend that the client use a protective style—like a halo braid or a curl set—with their own hair." You should also upgrade your routine: Other than cleansers, conditioners, tea rinses, and oils with all-natural ingredients to replenish processed hair, Adria Marshall, the founder of Ecoslay, suggests adding a strengthening treatment into the mix. "Since chemically-treated hair needs lots of protein, I strongly recommend our Matcha Boost Protein Shake ($14, ecoslay.com)," she says.
Use products that provide plenty of moisture.
When caring for textured hair with Type 2, Type 3, and Type 4 curl patterns—all with sub-classifications of A, B, or C—moisture is critical. "The hair of people of African descent tends to require more moisture than other textures," Broadwater shares. "A good regimen is to use oils on the scalp and hair between washes and to condition the hair with each wash. We also recommend a deep conditioning treatment at least twice a month if hair is damaged and once a month for maintenance."
Sticking with products that include specific nutrients will help hair, too. In fact, this is exactly why Marshall started her own hair care line. "Before creating Ecoslay, I was astonished to find that products with aloe vera, marshmallow root, and green tea, for example, worked best for my hair," she notes. "Aloe vera, coconut cream, and jojoba oil are particularly nourishing—we use these ingredients in our Banana Cream Deep Conditioner ($20, ecoslay.com). She also suggests matcha and quinoa as helpful ingredients for strengthening hair and protecting it from breakage.
Keep your hair clean.
No matter your curl type, keeping hair clean is always the most important step. "Co-washes are fine to do in between cleansings, but you need to [clean] your hair and scalp thoroughly on a regular basis," Marshall says. "Protein treatments are equally important—our hair is made of protein which wears down over time (especially if you color or chemically alter your hair), so it's critical to ensure that your hair gets a regular dose of it."
Prioritize hair health throughout the year.
As weather conditions change each season, Broadwater recommends using steam treatments, moisturizing conditioners, and natural oils between shampoos. To combat colder climates, Marshall also suggests increasing protein treatments from monthly to bi-weekly, depending on the harsh conditions in your region.
It is also helpful to stay in tune with your body—what you eat can boost the health of hair, too. "Remember that your body is going to keep all the nutrients that it can to ensure that you are living and breathing. But your hair needs nutrients, too, to keep it healthy," Marshall notes. "This means that you're going to have to increase your fruits, veggies, and proteins so that your body has some excess to give to your hair. Hair vitamins are a great way to get in these nutrients if you're not getting what you need from your diet."