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Reader Q&A: CurlyNikki Shares How to Create a Healthy Hair Regimen

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Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.

READER QUESTION: Nikki, I’m so confused. I need help building a solid hair routine so I can finally see some progress, but I don’t know where to start. Do you have any sample regimens that aren’t too time-consuming yet effective?

CURLYNIKKI'S RESPONSE: 
I've initiated and maintained many natural hair routines over the years. It's important to note that while no two heads are the same, and identical regimens may not produce similar results for everybody, being consistent with whatever you do will always yield the best results. Yep, all you have to do is develop a routine and product combo that works for you and stick to it. Be consistent!


Creating a reliable regimen comes with a bit of experimentation with products, techniques and timing. Danielle Faust of Ok Dani shares a few questions you should ask yourself to determine which regimen is best for you:
•How often will I wash/condition/moisturize?
•How often will I do treatments? (moisture/protein)
•What will I use to moisturize? (how does my hair react?)
•How often will I detangle?
•How much time do I have to devote to my healthy hair practices?
•How much effort do I want to put into my regimen?


Regardless of your regimen, I always advise to start off with a fresh trim. It'll make detangling and styling easier and also help you maintain hard-earned length. Below, I've compiled hair regiments from past CurlyNikki Hair Idols that you can build on and tweak as you see fit.

Dry Bunnin'
1. Wash your hair weekly or bi-weekly with a low-sulfate or moisturizing shampoo
2. Rinse and apply an instant conditioner as you gently detangle (fingers first, then with a wide tooth comb).
3. Follow up with a moisturizing deep treatment and heat (such as a hot towel, steamer, or dryer cap).
4. Rinse thoroughly and generously apply your leave-in conditioner.
5. Place your hair in chunky twists or braids to stretch it out.
6. Seal your ends with an oil (castor, shea butter, olive oil, etc.).
7. Allow to dry overnight.
8. Remove twists, and using a Goody Ouchless Scrunchy, place hair into a loose, secure bun (high, low, to the side, messy… do you!), being mindful of your edges.
9. At night, you can either (1) remove the bun, moisturize, and twist the hair, (2) loosen the bun, apply pomade to edges, and tie with a scarf, or (3) remove the bun, moisturize length, re-bun, apply pomade to your edges and tie down with a scarf.

Wet Bunnin'
1. Wash your hair weekly with a low-sulfate, moisturizing shampoo, or co-wash.
2. Rinse and apply instant conditioner as you gently detangle (fingers first, then with a wide tooth comb).
3. Follow up with a moisturizing deep treatment and heat.
4. Rinse, and generously apply a leave-in conditioner in a raking motion to encourage curl definition.
5. Seal your ends with an oil (castor, shea butter, olive oil, etc.).
6. Pull hair into a high, loose yet secure bun using a Goody Ouchless Scrunchy, being careful not to stress your edges.
7. Smooth your edges with product of choice and your fingers (a light hold gel is perfect).
8. Tie on a silk scarf for 10-30 minutes to help set your edges. To smooth your edges sans brush and gel, click here.
9. At night, you can either (1) remove the bun, moisturize, and twist the hair, (2) loosen the bun, apply pomade to edges, and tie with a scarf, or (3) remove the bun, moisturize length, re-bun, apply pomade to your edges, and tie down with a scarf.

Loose Twists or Braids Routine
1. Wash your hair weekly or bi-weekly with a low-sulfate, moisturizing shampoo, or co-wash. Some folks even rinse/co-wash in the twists or braids.
2. Rinse and apply instant conditioner as you gently detangle (fingers first, then with a wide tooth comb).
3. Follow up with a moisturizing deep treatment and heat.
4. Rinse, and generously apply a leave-in conditioner as you twist your hair. You may choose to use a styler to help hold the twists (a non-drying gel, or curl creme).
5. Twirl the end of the twist around your finger to encourage the curl and to keep it from unraveling.
6. Seal your ends with an oil (castor, shea butter, olive oil, etc.).
7. Allow to dry.
8. Allow the twists/braids to hang free or style in a protective updo.
9. At night, apply moisturizer as needed and seal. Re-twist/braid any frizzy ones. Sleep with your twists/braids secured under a satin bonnet.


Wash & Go
1. As often as necessary, wash your hair with a low-sulfate, moisturizing shampoo or co-wash.
2. Rinse and apply instant conditioner as you gently detangle (fingers first, then with a wide tooth comb).
3. Follow up with a moisturizing deep treatment with heat.
4. Rinse, and generously apply a moisturizing leave-in conditioner and styler of choice in sections, using a raking motion to encourage definition (you may choose to leave in your rinse-out conditioner).
5. Seal your ends with an oil (castor, shea butter, olive oil, etc.).
6. Allow your hair to air-dry, or gently diffuse if you're in a hurry.
7. At night, apply moisturizer as needed and either (1) pineapple, (2) gently twist or (3) don a bonnet.

Twist-out/Braid-out
1. Wash your hair weekly with a low-sulfate, moisturizing shampoo, or co-wash.
2. Rinse and apply instant conditioner as you gently detangle.
3. Follow up with a moisturizing deep treatment with heat.
4. Rinse, allow to dry for 15 minutes (or until just damp) and generously apply a leave-in conditioner as you twist or braid your hair. You may choose to use a styler to help hold the twists (a non-drying gel, or curl cream).
5. Twirl the end of the twist around your finger to encourage the curl and to keep it from unraveling (you can also secure each end with a roller).
6. Seal your ends with an oil (castor, shea butter, olive oil, etc.).
7. Allow to air dry overnight.
8. Carefully release the twists from the bottom up, fluff and style.
9. At night, apply moisturizer as needed and either (1)pineapple, (2) gently twist or (3) don a bonnet.

Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural haircare, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.

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