Let’s face it, most of us can’t waste dollars or time at a hair salon each week trying to maintain our natural hair. In 2001, when I first went natural, the Internet was a different space, and finding tips about maintaining natural hair was not an option. Now, thanks to sites like Curly Nikki and the Curly Girl Collective, hair maintenance and what to use/what not to use are widely discussed. Allow me to add my voice to the mix for all my fellow curly girls.
I asked Ericka Goodman and T. Nicole Merritt — two double-decade naturals — for quick hairdos for the on go for fellow Afro-ed woman:
1. Two Strand Twists
It took awhile to appreciate the greatness of twists. Sure, I had seen amazing twist jobs, and I’ve been impressed that people can spend such a long period of time twisting their hair every-single-solitary-night. But, I’m not that person, and no video tutorials will turn me into her.
I became an expert at three minute co-washing, which means substituting conditioner for shampoo during the wash process, while staying in a hostels, and using “timed” showers. It’s kind of like the “no-poo” rage, except no vinegar has to be involved. This is the best time to detangle your hair: while in the shower, with a headful of conditioner.
After the shower, I part my hair with my fingers in three sections, and rub a drop of moisturizer in each section, which right now for me is Hair Milk by Carol’s Daughter ($12) or an Olive Oil Creme ($5.99). I then apply olive oil for shine, which I started using while in Barcelona after running out of coconut oil. This is a great way to hydrate your curls and keep your hair from resembling a brillo pad.Next up its time for the pomade. I prefer Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar ($13.99) and uses oils, butters and other natural ingredients to lock in the moisture. I use this to seal my twists, and find that it’s a key ingredient for my good hair days. I use a dollop of the pomade for each twist that I place in my hair, which is about 10. I run out of steam at around three twists but, some people can create dozens of twists that can be worn for longer periods of times.
The beauty of twists is that they can be two hairstyles in one. For me, I can’t wear twists overnight or my hair will dry out, and the shrinkage will make my hair not to my liking. Instead, I tackle twists in the morning, and I remove the twists for a “twist out” after four hours. While backpacking, I would often wear my hair in twists during the day, and remove the twists for evening events. I know one thing: if done right, then I’ll have a multi-day hairstyle, which means I won’t have to repeat this process for a few days.
2. The Perfect Top Knot
Ericka Goodman has mastered the top knot for a sexy librarian look for a day at the office. She had this advice on the steps to create her look that takes less than 20 minutes, well, after the overnight deep conditioning:
“A perfect topknot, especially creating this look with thick natural hair can be a daunting task at first. But once you realize the process is as important as the styling, you’ll be well on your way to this classic look.I start by using a good masque (or conditioner) and doing a deep condition the night before. The morning of, I rinse and comb my hair out in the shower. Once all combed out, I apply a light styling balm like John Frieda’s Frizz Ease Secret Weapon ($7.16). I apply a dollop throughout, then wrap my a hair in a towel to allow it to dry a bit.
Once some of the water is absorbed — but still quite damp — I start using a comb brush to help me gather my hair (smoothing as I go) to the upper crown of my head. I then use a thick hair tie to secure a high ponytail. Then apply a bit more balm to just the hair extending from the ponytail, then I smooth it out with a brush. There after I use two fingers to roll the hair extending from the ponytail into a bun shape all around, while doing this I secure with hair pins until it creates one endless round knot.
The finishing touch is applying a light pomade. I use Keratin Complex Iconic Polish ($17.99) to fly always left at the nape of of the neck and hairline, which with the help of a soft small brush it will neaten without disturbing the structure of topknot.”
3. Getting Wiggy With It
Long before Viola Davis stripped off her wig and cleaned off her makeup in front of millions of TV viewers on “How to Get Away With Murder,” there have been thousands, if not millions, of naturalistas that defer to wigs to minimize hair preparation, provide unique hair styles and protect their hair against breakage.While I haven’t committed to wearing a different crown of hair on top of my head, a friend and fellow natural, T. Nicole Merritt, loves getting wiggy with it. To put it simple, she says, it takes five minutes! “Buy a wig, grab some bobby pins, stick them in,” she said. “And off you go feeling like a million bucks and winning!”Honestly, I’m continuing to learn about my natural hair, and every day, and every length and every texture needs something different. Experiment, experiment, experiment. Find out what your hair likes — and rinse and repeat!