I have a tiny secret. It feels like a much bigger secret when you take into consideration that I coordinated a pretty comprehensive and life-affirming roundtable about braids and Senegalese twists. Not to brag, but some would call me an expert on the subject—I mean, I used to get my hair re-braided every two months...for over a decade! During that time, I’ve learned a thing or two (or 200), about getting extensions braided into my hair. But back to the secret.
I...have never trimmed my hair. Not once. I never did it as a child, and when I got to be an adult, the thought of finding someone I could trust enough to cut my hair was completely overwhelming. This left me in a bad state in between my braiding appointments. The ends of my hair: parched and choppy—and it shedded too much whenever I tried to detangle it. So a few months ago I decided to get another pair of eyes on my hair situation—my personal hair pundit and textured hair queen, Priscilla. She hit me with some answers.
Priscilla told me to go to Devachan for my very first trim. I was...not happy. I knew Devachan was a salon that catered to curls, but truthfully, I didn’t know if they could do anything for my own 4b-mixed-with-4c hair (if you're into hair charts, here's a handy guide about what all of that means). I felt my hair didn’t mirror the look of the typical Devacurl girl. Sure, their stylists cut curl by curl, but my hair doesn't usually hold a “curl.” When dry, my hair turns into an amorphous mass, molded to the shape of my braid-out or low bun of the day. Was there a professional hairstylist who could handle that?
Well, I guess there's at least one who can, because I loved (loved!) my visit to their salon. And I learned! With two whole inches trimmed off, I gained a new set of knowledge about textured hair and maintaining hair health:
1. Finger detangle
For those who live and die by the wide-tooth comb (me) please know that finger detangling is so much gentler. My stylist @latoya_devacurl schooled me on the technique: Split your hair down the middle, and then separate the halves into even smaller sections on each side—four to six sections is my sweet spot. At this point you need to get your hair wet, and then saturate it with a conditioner with lots of slip, like DevaCurl’s Decadence Conditioner. Latoya taught me to use my fingers to separate the ends of my hair first, and then continue upwards until I get to the roots. Don’t like how it turns out? You can use a wide-tooth comb instead, but I’ve noticed less breakage and shedding with finger-detangling overall.
2. Make sure your styling products also moisturize
I've learned that layering moisturizing products is key to hydrated hair. Devacurl’s water-soluble B’Leave-In is great at defining every little coil and keeping my hair bouncy. I follow up with products that add extra moisture and then seal—so the moisture stays in my hair. For me, that’s Shea Moisture’s Curl Defining Smoothie and any old shea butter on top. Then, the styling is up to you. I’m a braid-out fiend, but you can let your curls air-dry and shrink, if that’s more your speed. This actually brings me to my next point:
3. Don’t be afraid of a Wash and Go
Guys. This Devachan experience was the first time I saw my curls shrink allllll the way. It was amazing because I got to skip my usual styling step (a braid-out). Less styling means less tension which ultimately means less breakage. While it’s soaking wet, add some B’Leave-In and Ultra Defining Gel and let it do its thing. The result: super defined coils, replete with moisture.
4. Get a freakin' trim
My trim made detangling, conditioning, styling—everything—so much easier. Oh, and it makes your hair grow faster. That's nice if you like that stuff too.
After mastering these steps, feel free to throw in some other elements to protect your strands—pre-poo, deep conditioner, or a protective style. But the goal is always this: learn how to do your hair when it’s on its own! I find that when the labor is done, and my strands are in their prime, my hair always looks really freakin' good.
Photos via Utibe Mbagwu.