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.

Check out the newest installment in CurlyNikki’s reader Q&A series:

READER QUESTION: What are your suggestions for dry ends?

CURLYNIKKI’s RESPONSE:  If your ends are damaged — not just dry and crispy, but split or broken — you should get a trim, ASAP. This will improve the overall health and appearance of your hair, and make detangling and styling easier, plus, you’ll feel motivated to care for your freshly trimmed ends. To prevent dryness and the resulting damage, try the following:

1. Moisturize: On an as-needed basis (usually every two to four days), apply water and/or a water-based, leave-in conditioner. You don’t need much, just be sure to evenly distribute. You know it’s water-based because ‘aqua’ will be the first ingredient!

2. Seal: Next, apply a thin layer of oil, butter, or a silicone-based serum to seal in the moisture from the water and conditioner.  

3. Hide: Still experiencing dry crunchy ends? Prevent them from drying out by rocking protective styles like buns and pin-ups. If you’re not into the protective styling thing, try drying your hair in a stretched state (twists, braids, etc.) — your hair will hold on to more moisture for longer.

4. Deep Treatments: If you really want to see some length retention, engage in a hardcore deep-conditioning routine. My personal favorites right now are Curl Junkie Rehab, Jessicurl Weekly Deep Treatment, MyHoneyChild’s Olive You and Davines MoMo. They’re all incredibly moisturizing and extra slippery! Also, always follow up a trim with a deep treatment, or the first two steps above.

Remember that even without heat and color damage, our ends are very delicate — they’re the oldest part of the hair and have been exposed to the wear and tear of styling and the elements. Always be mindful of how you handle your hair today, because you’ll still be feeling the effects of it years from now!

Nikki “CurlyNikki” Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural hair care, 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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