6 Game-Changing Habits for Healthy Natural Hair

6 Natural Hair Tips I’m coming up on my 6th month of being completely natural and want to share some quick tips that I’ve learned during this journey that have improved my hair’s health.

I remember the early days of my transition and how dry and coarse my hair felt as it began to grow out.

I thought there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to go through the transition successfully.

However, after about two months into it, I started changing my routine.

I still do all these things today because I believe they make a tremendous difference in how much my hair maintains moisture, length retention and overall scalp health.

1. Pre-Pooing

Pre-pooing is the process of moisturizing your hair prior to shampooing so the shampoo does not strip your hair’s natural moisture.

Of course, using a sulfate-free shampoo will help retain moisture, but stripping can still occur.

For my pre-poo routine I use olive oil and a rinse-out conditioner like Suave Naturals or any conditioner that says “moisturizing” on the label.

Also, save your money.  You don’t need to use an expensive product for this process.

I don’t measure the amounts.  I just use a couple of handfuls of both the olive oil and conditioner for each section of my hair.  I keep my hair in 6 sections throughout my shampoo/conditioning process.

I leave the mixture in for at least 30 minutes and sometimes spray my hair with water prior to applying to help the mixture absorb better.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

I have naturally dry scalp. It improved once I became natural, but I still battle occasional dryness — especially during cooler months.  However, I’ve discovered one technique that has helped tremendously.

Before I shampoo my hair, I massage one part water and one part organic apple cider vinegar into my scalp.

Make sure the label reads “With the Mother.”  That’s how you ensure it’s organic.  This is not to be confused with the kind you buy in grocery stores.

I let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes before I shampoo.

ACV kills the bacteria that causes dandruff, which often results in dry, itchy scalp.

I also use the same mix as a final rinse on my hair.  Not only does it promote long-term shine and lock in moisture, but it starts the detangling process.

I wouldn’t do this treatment any more than once per week.  ACV is very acidic and can damage your hair if used too often.

In fact, start with a smaller amount of vinegar and work your way up just to make sure your hair can handle it and always make sure you dilute it.  (Start with 3 parts water and one part vinegar.)

Also, be careful because it will sting if it gets into your eyes.  Apply with an applicator bottle.  Tilt your head back to apply so the solution runs to the back of your hair and not into your face.

3.  Deep Condition

I know this is not an earth-shattering tip, but too many people skip this step because it takes too much time.

Now that my hair is healthy, I do sometimes skip the deep conditioning process, but when I was transitioning, this was a must.  And if I skipped a week, I could tell the difference in how my hair felt.

In general, when I deep condition my hair, I retain moisture better and my hairstyles seem to last longer too.

My deep conditioner of choice is Organics Olive Oil Replenisher (beauty supply).

4.  Clarify At Least Every 4-6 Weeks

If you don’t use a lot of creams and butters on your hair then this may not be necessary.  For example, a new transitioner may not need to this.

However, natural hair products are often thick and contain a lot of rich, buttery ingredients that cling to the hair shaft.

Over time, these products build up and can make your hair appear dull or even break off.   You may think you are thoroughly cleaning your hair with a regular shampoo, but there may be more product on your hair than you think.

You can buy a clarifying shampoo at almost any health store these days, but be careful. Some of them are very harsh on our hair.

I like Giovanni’s 50:50 Balanced-Hydrating Clarifying Shampoo (Walmart).  Notice the word hydrating.  This is important because it is also adding back moisture into your hair.

Kinky Curly’s Come Clean shampooo (Target) is another goody for naturals/transitioners because it doesn’t dry or strip the hair AS LONG as you use a small amount.  I made the mistake of using way too much at first.  A little goes a long way.

In fact, I use this product every week and don’t really need to clarify my hair often.  It’s strong enough to cleanse my hair well, but not so strong that it strips the moisture.

Twist out on natural hair

Twist out puff

5. Cold Water Rinse

This tip is less about health and more about appearance. Nevertheless, it’s no fun — especially if you wash your hair in the shower.  However, it’s an important step if you want to promote shine.

Warm water opens the cuticles and lifts them up on your hair strands.  Imagine shingles on a roof.

When you rinse with cold water, this closes the cuticle so it gives the hair a smoother finish, which makes it look shinier.

If I’m doing a final vinegar rinse that I will leave in, I’ll just mix my vinegar with cold water to receive the benefits of both.

6. No Sulfates

I realized an immediate difference in moisture retention when I dropped sulfate shampoos.  Natural hair is dry enough and harsh sulfates will just make things worse.

My two favorite no sulfate shampoos are Kinky Curly Come Clean (Target) and Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat (Walmart sells this $3 cheaper than most retail and beauty supply stores.)

Some people prefer to no-poo which means you wash your hair with a conditioner.  I personally prefer shampoo.

I use twisting creams often so I want to make sure the product gets completely washed out.

7. Keep Your Hair Moisturized

One of the top reasons for natural hair breakage is lack of moisture.

If you read no other article on this site, make sure you check out these tips on how to keep your hair moisturized.

——————————-

Start doing these things regularly, and I bet your natural/transitioning hair’s health and appearance will improve.

natural hair tips

Comments

  1. Michelle says

    What are views and options for color on natural hair? also I excercise a lot and sweat, do you recommend shampooing after each work out? or just rinsing my hair? any tips for those that work out and dealing with natural hair? I currently wear my hair in a short natural however my hair does tend to have a slight natural curl to it so with proper products it does have a somewhat curly nappy look which i like.

    • lisa says

      Hi Michelle

      I have no experience with color but I am getting the ITCH to try it. I want highlights bad! I know that people who have short hair often wash their hair after working out. For me, that’s not an option. But since you have short hair, that’s a huge benefit when it comes to working out. A lot of people with short hair co-wash their hair after working out with just water and conditioner. That way they aren’t stripping their hair too much with too much shampoo and the conditioner replenishes moisture while making the curls pop.

  2. Denise says

    Hey Lisa! I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you again for this site and for all the help you offer to the transitioning sisters out here! You helped me so much in the beginning of my journey and, because of you and others, I have a healthy head full of kinky and coily curls! I haven’t seen any split ends, I’ve had a knot here and there, and a tiny bit of breakage and shedding (but nothing to be concerned about). Oh, and it’s GROWING! I can’t wait for my BAA! I honestly could not have done this successfully without your guidance. Much love and success to you!

    • lisa says

      I am so happy for you Denise! Thank you for your kind words and I appreciate you stopping by. Keep me posted on your journey! Isn’t it fun???? lol

      • Denise says

        Lisa, it really is fun! Every now and again I miss being able to wrap my hair and tie it up at night in less than 10 seconds, LOL, and I get mixed emotions when I see someone with the same relaxed style I had (and it looks FIERCE on her), but I have no desire to go back to relaxing my hair. I honestly like my curly fro! Once I get my pictures together, I’ll look you up on FB so that you can see my before and after photos!

  3. renea says

    Hi! Thank u so much for this website. My story is somewhat like urs. I was going to texturize but saw too much straight and unevenness to continue. Sooooo my last full relaxer was last year in maybe around May. From there i had a sew in..and then went to micro braids without getting relaxed. In February this year I was like texturized….and that was the last time. I did get highlights tho in March. That said, ur website has been helpful so far. But i do have a few questions. Im really trying to get my hair health on track bc i suffered some breakage and thinning from micros. I used to pre-poo faithfully using both vitamin e oil and evoo. I definitely want to continue, but is that too much to do in combination with deep conditioning??? Im scared to do too much manipulation and product. Also, my hair did well w the Olive oil replenishing so im going to continue that. However, i am having a problem keeping my hair moisturized and keeping a hairstyle longer than about three or four days. I did a braid out Tuesday, gone by Thursday or Friday, even with a molding foam…Nairobi. do u have any tips for holding styles? and again, is ok to pre-

    • lisa says

      Hi Renea

      One thing I can tell you is you just have to experiment. I could tell you what is too much/not enough for my hair, but you will experience may be completely different. That’s why I’m cautious about giving specific advice. When I was transitioning, my hairstyles normally lasted 5-7 days and that was just my norm from managing two textures. While I would have loved to get 2 weeks like I can get now as a natural, it just didn’t happen.

      I always pre-pooed and DC’d but again that’s what worked for me. You may find you don’t need to. My hair just seems to love moisture so I give it all I can. :-)

  4. renea says

    Oh yes and do hv a recommendation for a daily mositurizer? i hv started using argan/rose oil and that does well the first day or two…..and then i look like a Brillo pad….dry dry dry lol! i bought the olive oil replenishing cream moisturizer bc it worked well when my hair was relaxed but was a bit too heavy. So i thought maybe it would work…….havent tried it yet tho. Help please?? lol

    • lisa says

      I don’t moisturize daily, never have. I’ve found that every 3-4 days works for me. My daily moisturizers usually consist of a light oil like jojoba oil and in the winter, maybe something heavier like Castor.

  5. Wenzile says

    Hey Lisa! Just want to thank you for these fab articles on natural hair. I transitioned for five months and did the big chop last month. I’m enjoying the journey coz I got girls like you helping along the way….I’m still trying to get used to how dry it is now so I’m moisturising and learning the co-wash methods…stay blessed <3

  6. Rachel Reddon says

    I am going in to my 8 month of transitioning from relaxed to natural.. I’m just really at a loss at what to do style wise. I am always with my headband and my hair in a curly fro. I’m also needing some tips on keeping it moisturized since I’ve been washing every 1-2 days.. Do I need to wash it that often? And what exactly is pre-pooing?

  7. renea says

    I workout three to four times a week and sweat. I still dont wash my hair but once a week and it does ok. I keep my hair in roller or rod sets weekly so when i sweat it doesnt fall very much. When it does i either roll places where it feel at night or pin it up with bobby pens or head bands. It works well for the most part for me. It probably would be more difficult if u r not using a set style and need to manipulate your hair daily. I do have to moisturize daily tho bc the sweat dries it out if i don’t. Also sleeping n a bonnet helps too after moisturizing. I notice for me….when i dont cover my hair at night it is extremely dry in the am and the next day. So just like Lisa said…its kind of trial and error. If ur hair doesn’t like holding up for workouts u may have to wash more. But u may wanna try set styles bc that might help w not having to bother it so much. Just depends on ur hair. Hope this helps some :) so glad to have all of this help and understanding!

  8. Tiffiney says

    Hi renea,

    Good to know. My hair is in a short bob right now past my ears. , I’m not even sure what style to try when it starts to grow out. I’m only 4 weeks past my last relaxed. But today I did find some sulfate free shampoos and conditioners. I have to use oil as well from the sweat of def. gets dry from it.

  9. renea says

    Sulfate free is definitely a must do. Pre-pooing like Lisa said is great and deep conditioning will help too. I personally can’t use just oil bc my hair doesn’t absorb it well. So normally i use oil before i dry it. I have a mixture of oliveu oil, castor oil and argan oil. And i just spray that sparingly over my scalp.Then for night i use Olive oil cream moisturizer and mix it with Argan oil. My hair was like urs when i first started transitioning too..in a bob. So the back is growing out a lot quicker than the front. Most of that is natural. So im just finding that sticking to rod sets is really simple and i dont have to do much, especially with exercising. Plus as it grows out more it kinda started getting a lil difficult to manage because of the different textures. But don’t be discouraged. Wigs, braids, corn rows, flat twists, and braids are all alternatives if u get tired of dealing with it. It just depends on what u like and how much u like to do ur own hair. Lol :)

  10. Tiffiney says

    Lol I’m going to try and work w what I got. I don’t want weave or braids. a-don’t want to spend the money b- baaaad experience with them before my poor edges were traumatized. How in the world do I do a rod set? Somebody also told me braid outs were good, help.

  11. renea says

    I actually had the same experience w braids. I tried micros and it really tore my edges up!! so yeah im like u trying to keep it natural for real for real. Lol. Honestly i don’t have a method for rod or roller sets. When my hair was longer i just parted my hair in sections and rolled it w rollers. But bc its short i dont like the way it looks. So i switched to using perm rods now. It gives a tighter curl which lasts longer and it also looks more natural. I just part my hair in sections and roll from there. I have to warn u it might take awhile. But i have gotten a lot of compliments so I must be doing something right!!!! Lol.I use the same method Lisa mentioned when i dry. About thirty to fourty minutes under the dryer and then sleep in them. Make sure u get the roller sheets to roll with the perm rods to protect your ends.

  12. renea says

    I also use a holding foam. Nairobi is really good. Its a light foam and doesn’t dry ur hair or weigh it down. It probably will be good to because usually by the time i get to the front part of my hair…its already half dry LOL so rewetting w the setting lotion helps. I tried braid outs, but for me they didn’t last past day three, especially w exercise. I ended up having to rebraid which i hate bc i see alot of breakage……or at least alot of shedding. I don’t know..Lisa might have to answer that one. But anyway that might not be the case for u. Urs may last longer but i just ended up frustrated. Definitely try and see tho.

  13. renea says

    Be patient. Take it day by day. As ur hair evolves, u just adjust. What works this month might have to change with more growth. Just learn ur hair :) best advice Lisa gave me. Learn what ur hair likes and doesn’t. You can do it!!!

  14. renea says

    U r so very welcome. I also meant to tell u that when u do ur braid out a good thing to do is roll the ends of the braids with perm rods….i use the grey ones. A big problem alot of people have is that the ends of their stay straight while the rest is really curly. So the two different textures show and it doesnt looke good lol. So one way to blend ur ends is by rolling the very ends of ur braids all the way up to ur scalp as u let the braids dry. This way all of ur hair is curly! I tried regular rollers but they dont blend as well as the small perm rods. Hope this helps!!

  15. Claysie W says

    Hi Ms. Lisa,

    Happy to say that I now started transitioning last year in November the 11th and now 100% natural for the past 8 months. Yahoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Cannot wait for a year, thanks for all the great advice, help and suggestions.

    Have been learning about natural via the internet for the past 1 year and yours is still my favorite thanks to your prompt response, fab pictures and helpful tips.

    I do have a question, have been doing my best to keep my hair in twists, bantu knots, braids, coils, hehehe, but now I just want to let it out for a bit, maybe only a week.

    Now reading around, it’s like the worst thing to do to your hair, but I want to ask your opinion, would it be ok to just let my hair out, of course sleeping with a satin bonnet, daily moisturizing with H20, Moisturizer & Oil, is this enough or do I have to do more.

    Please let me know.

    Thanks Ms. Lisa!!!!! Love your picture with the pink earrings on the front page, fabulous!!!!!!

    • lisa says

      Absolutely Claysie. As long as you protect your hair at night with a satin bonnet or pillow case you should feel free tow ear your hair out. Good to hear from you! Sounds like your regimen is great but your hair will tell you more than me. LOL If it feels moisturized and is not breaking, you are on the right track. Sorry so late responding. Been super busy and it’s so hard to get to all these comments now.

  16. CHRISSY says

    WENT TO THE BARBER SATURDAY12/15 AND HAD MY 2ND BC DONE, THE GUY WAS VERY IMPRESS WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT STAPLE PRODUCTS I NEED TO KEEP MY HAIR HEALTHY. I AM AT AN POINT WHERE IS THAT MY HAIR 4B ISNT GETTN ENOUGH MOISTURE OR MAINTAINING MOISTURE, PLEASE HELP ME. ALL NATURAL AND LOVING IT.

    • lisa says

      Hi CHrissy

      What are you using? Shea Moisture is great! Apply it when your hair is damp/wet and then add a natural oil to seal in the moisture. Also at night, sleep in a plastic shower cap. The heat generated from the plastic and body heat will re-moisturize your hair.

  17. says

    Hi Lisa,
    I have grown natural for over 2 yrs now, but my hair is not growing well. ihave try many products
    like organic root stimulator hair moisturizer ,jeba hair food, herbal essence, vital olive oil. yet still my hair is not growing well what can i do to make my hair grow fast thick an long.
    secondly i have anti danfuff on my hair sclap what type of shampoo should i use to sop this flake son me sclap.

  18. Amber Darby says

    Hi Lisa,
    I finally did the big chop. I’ve been natural for about 2 months. My hair is already growing like a weed, but I fear that I’m not all I can as far as the health of my hair. So with that being said, so do you prepoo every time you wash? Also I don’t have a sit down dryer..yet. In the mean time how do I deep condition without it?

    • lisa says

      Hi Amber

      I do pre-poo every time but here’s the trick with conditioning without a dryer. Get a plastic cap and put a warm wash cloth on top of your head. Cover your head with the cap and the heat from the wash clot will create a steamy environment under the cap that will help condition your hair. I do this all the time now and rarely sit under the dryer.

  19. says

    Wow! Great article! Love everything! 12 Tip for Natural Hair Bliss is so cute! Positivity all the way! Thank you for sharing this post!

  20. says

    Wow! I love the article. So much information, very detailed and helpful. Thank you for sharing this article! By the way, nice inforgraphic too! Keep it up!

  21. Chantel says

    Hello,

    I just have a quick question. I have been fully natural for almost a week and I have 4c textured hair. I’ve been trying to figure out how to wear my hair when I got to bed; I’ve read alot of articles and watched ALOT of videos regarding how to wear your hair at night, and I’ve seen people talk about twisting your hair when you go to bed. Do you have to? What are the benefits? Will my hair break off it I don’t twist it at night?
    Thank you!(:

  22. Angelia says

    Hi,
    I am about six months and I need so encouragement. I am in the public eye quit a bit and I need help with styles and how to define my curl pattern. HELP….. My relaxed hair seems to fall really fast when I cold rod my hair.

    Thanks
    Angelia

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