It's true that most of us will likely experience some form of hair loss as we get older, but there are things we can do to retain length — if long hair is your thing. And surprisingly, a lot of these techniques come from our childhood haircare routines.
While back in the day we didn't have a plethora of products to choose from, the ones we did have mostly acted as sealants. And since most of us spent our childhood with braids and twists in, our ends were always tucked away and protected, preventing damage.
But as adults, many of us overdo it with color treatments, hot tools, and God knows what else, which leaves our curls susceptible to breakage. This also means you never really get to enjoy your new growth, since your ends are always in need of a serious trim.
That's why we turned to Yene Damtew, educator and hairstylist to former First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as Monaé Everette, fellow celebrity hairstylist and creator of the Texture Style Awards — the first hair competition of it's kind celebrating all four hair textures — to tell us which length retention methods we should be taking from childhood and adding to our current routines.
1. Keep Your Curls Moisturized
Well, this one is a no brainer.
Textured hair tends to be more fragile than other hair types and often needs a little extra TLC. That's why moisture is the name of the game.
Damtew says that old school products like Luster's Pink Lotion and Africa's Best are good for length retention, while Everett is a fan of Dr. Miracle's Restorative Treatment. However there are plenty of options available on the market now. Just make sure you start off with a water-based product, then use a sealant, like an oil, on top.
2. Keep Styling (Mostly) Heat-Free
Most of us use a little heat every once in a while, and as long as you're using a protectant, you should be able to keep your hair free of any damage.
However, if you prefer keeping your hair in the blown out look you weren't allowed to have as a kid, there is a way to do it without destroying your hair. You just have to have a little bit of patience.
"My mother and family members used to love creating curls with an indirect heat-free set," shares Everette. "They loved roller sets and wet wraps. Most of the time they would roller set or wrap the hair and let it dry on its own. Sometimes we would sit under the dryer, but they would avoid blow dryers and curling irons. This helped to preserve the hair's health which helped to retain length."
Damtew adds that you also always need to be gentle while detangling or combing out the hair, regardless of the styling products you go with. "Today, formulations are advanced but the techniques remain the same," she explains.
That said, make sure to start from the ends, then work your way up to the roots to avoid pulling and snagging, which can lead to breakage.
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3. Braids and Protective Styles Are Everything
When you really sit back and think about how most of us wore our hair as children, it's no wonder why our 'fros were so plentiful: our ends were rarely ever exposed.
"Any styles that allow you to tuck away the ends of the hair will help you to protect your hair and retain length," says Everette. "These styles are not only intricate styles, such as sewn-in hair extensions and faux locs, but by definition, a halo braid. A halo braid wrapped around the head would still protect the ends of the hair."
4. Avoid Certain Fabrics
These styles also stop your ends from rubbing against your shirt or pillows, which aren't always made from the best materials for your hair.
"Cotton is not your hair's friend," Everette exclaims.
That said, make sure you're using a silk or satin pillowcase at night or wrapping your hair with a similar fabric before you go to bed.
This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.
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