Good haircare = breakage insurance
A lot of the time, we take the delayed, damage-control approach when it comes to caring for our hair. It's not until we notice a tree of split ends sprouting from our strands that we rush to grab that bottle of conditioner. By then of course, our hair is already damaged – the conditioner can repair it, but only temporarily. Eventually, the cuticle layer will continue to flake away until it is completely worn off, or our hair will make a sudden, unceremonious snap.
But what a lot of people fail to realise, is that the same products they grab in their panic over breakage are actually much more effective used in advance, as protection, rather than damage-control.
Hair requires investment: little and often. It's not a simple case of splashing out the cash on a bunch of products.
If it were so, then dousing your hair in the finest conditioners every once in a while, whenever you notice the extent of the damage, would be enough to rehabilitate your hair to a state of complete and utter health.
But while the best products do go a long way towards keeping your hair in good condition – especially when it comes to vital aspects like lubrication, maintaining water levels, and the integrity of the hair's structure – they don't work on their own.
Even the most advanced conditioners don't have the capability to automate the entire process of haircare; they need human intervention. Your active involvement in your haircare is the motor of the quality of your hair's condition, the products are the oil that keep it running smoothly.
Stay on track
The first element of good haircare is a schedule. Put together one that you know you can adhere to; that does not take more time or effort than you are capable of giving it. Then, make the time and the necessary effort to accommodate it. Sometimes, it'll mean being creative to save time and energy.
For example, your busy timetable means you have no place for hours of deep conditioning after you wash your hair. So instead, you deep treat with a pretreatment overnight and wash it out in the morning. Then, apply your DT as you normally would, but just leave it in for 5-10 minutes, ideally in the shower.
This way, your hair gets to benefit from the multiple layers of conditioner that keep it insulated against moisture loss and damage, but without taking lots of time and effort.
Taking a little bit of time to get things right beforehand can save you hours afterward. For one, detangling is one of the most uncomfortable and time-consuming aspects of haircare. Especially when you leave your hair vulnerable to matting by allowing it to become dehydrated between washes and sleeping on it uncontained at night. Making sure you layer your moisturizers before, during and after detangling, and also keeping your hair secured, whether by braiding, bunning, coiling, or setting it (including into your natural curl) can save a lot of time. Not only will your detangling sessions be seriously downsized, but you can actually skip some of them, knowing that keeping your hair in an ordered, secure fashion will have actually reduced tangle formation. Less manipulation, in the form of less combing = great news for your hair.
The place for products
Most of the conditioners, treatments and moisturizers aimed at damaged hair work even better (and with a longer lasting, cumulative effect) on hair that is actually undamaged, or not severely so. Especially if your hair is naturally dry, don't miss the trick of applying products designed for seriously messed up hair before your hair actually becomes messed up!
Moisturizers for damaged hair are usually more emollient, as are conditioners and treatments described as “hydrating” and which are aimed at hair in this condition. On naturally dry hair, especially dry, curly hair, more moisture (within reason) means more strength – up to 3x as much. Not to mention the protection the added emolliency gives against your hair's own damaging action – tangling. When it comes to reconstructors, the items most looked upon as saviours when we hit a breakage crisis, these are so much more potent when used preemptively.
Hair that is already broken will benefit from the gluing effect these products have on strands that are ready to fall apart – hopefully, they can allow for a less drastic (though largely inevitable) trim, and restrict the spreading of the splits further up the strand. However, hair that is still intact will benefit even more, by staying intact in the first place! These products form a protective film over the surface of your strand, making it more resistant to elements that would cause it damage.
Keep in mind that, while the right moisture level can triple your hair's strength, even the best protein deep treatment can manage only a fraction of that. Therefore, using proteins (and alternative strengthening treatments) to increase and maintain your hair's strength while it is still very robust will mean a MUCH bigger boost than building up strength by a low factor when it is already considerably weakened.
Easy does it. . .
Finally, take your time. As well as being good to your hair in terms of products, and in terms of consistency, you also need to treat it gently. Curls in particular, and tighter curls most especially, tend to get treated roughly when what they need is the exact opposite. People tend to take their natural spring factor, especially when it is accompanied by a strong-feeling texture, as indestructibility.
We often don't realise that every bend in a curl is a vulnerable spot and so our hair is better served by patience and tenderness, rather than heavy-handedness, made worse by harsh tools and accessories. In many ways, the hair that seems the most resistant is often the most delicate and needs to be treated as such. In other words; work with your texture, not against it.
Keeping all these values clear in your mind, and letting them flow through whenever you put your hands in your hair, is a surefire way to yield growth, good condition, manageability, shine – all that good stuff. Remember, what you put into your hair is well-reflected in what you get out of it, so take good care of your investment!
Alejandro Linares Garcia
DHA Hair Care Experts