One of the most common misconceptions I deal with as a curly haired person is that all curly hair is thick, coarse, and tough. Many of the most famous natural curly hair bloggers have coarser, thicker hair textures, and they can layer on oil after oil, cream after cream, and their thirsty hair will drink it right up and look amazing. I am a total product junkie, and I have had to learn from several trials and errors that my hair is simply not. While my hair does get a lot of volume once it is fluffed out and dry, it is actually quite thin and fine, breaking easily and plastering flat against my head when wet.
Unfortunately, since my hair is so fine and my scalp is so oily, I have to wash my hair more often than many other naturals, usually 2-3 times a week. I also live in Texas, where 100 degree days have been scorching the life out of my hair, leaving it dry and fuzzy and breaking worse than dropped iPhone screens. Despite the dryness, I hesitate to use the deep repair creams that many other curlies advertise as "holy grails," because the heavy oils in them always make my hair look greasy, weighed down, and dirty. Not all textures are created equal, and neither are all moisturizing routines. I've created a variation of the LOC method that I call OCLC that seems to work best for my hair.
1. Oil BEFORE cleansing.
Even though I hesitate to use it, oil is still essential to the health of my hair. It keeps the hair on my crown from breaking as much, which helps reduce the "halo" of frizz that all of us curlies love so very much. Instead of using oils after my wash routine, I put oils in my hair before cleansing to avoid stripping my hair and reducing the amount of oil product that is left in my hair during diffusing. I rub a quarter sized amount of coconut oil on my hands and apply to the driest parts of my hair, generally the top layer and the ends, using a combination of "prayer hands" and finger curling to distribute the oil. If I'm really on top of my game, I will do this the night before I shower so the oil has lot of time to penetrate the hair shaft; otherwise, I'll leave it on for about 10 minutes before showering.
2. Cleanse without shampoo.
The desire to use shampoo is real. I have had horrible luck with no-poo cleansers, because most of them do NOT get rid of the excess oil on my scalp, and my roots ends up looking greasy after a couple weeks. That being said, I have discovered my absolute favorite two ways of cleansing without shampoo: RenPure Cleansing Conditioners and apple cider vinegar. The RenPure Cleansing Conditioners are the only drugstore no-poo product I have found that actually work and that I can use regularly without breaking the bank. I don't get the same root greasiness with this line as I have with Shea Moisture and Deva Curl no-poo products, and it's only $7! It's also moisturizing enough that I don't need to use an additional conditioner afterwards, as long as my hair is in good shape to begin with. Also, good ol' diluted apple cider vinegar is an excellent natural alternative. Just mix up a 1 to 1 mixture of vinegar and water and pour over hair, making sure to massage into the scalp. Rinse and condition!
3. Leave in some of my conditioner.
When I rinse out my hair, I only give the roots a quick blast. Then, I turn off the water, flip my head over, and scrunch scrunch scrunch my hair until the remaining conditioner is evenly distributed throughout my curls and excess water has been squeezed out. I will admit that this technique took a bit of practice over the years: it can be tricky to determine the perfect amount of leftover conditioner for your hair if it is very fine.
4. Cream followed by a non-alcoholic gel.
As soon as my hair stops dripping (usually about 5-10 minutes after I get out of the shower) I apply a creamy, milky leave in to my whole head, concentrating on the ends. Currently I am using the Shea Moisture Hair Milk, although I have had great experience using the Carol's Daughter hair milk, as well. Once that gets worked through, I follow up with a non drying gel to add slip and stick. My favorites have been the Carol's Daughter non-alcoholic gel, and the Curls botanical gel, because both add TONS of definition to my curls without making them hard or drying them out.
I could probably further protect my hair by letting it air dry, but because it is so thin, air drying ensures that my hair will be flat and boring that day. I diffuse on the lowest heat, lowest intensity setting, and usually let my hair "rest" for ten minutes once it is halfway dry.
Frizz is inevitable, especially in the dry heat of summer, but this routine helps keep my hair protected and less broken than my normal, low-maintenance routine!