Right before I had my Sisterlocs installed, I colored my hair. To keep my baby locs from slipping and coming undone, my loctician suggested that I do this because it would be several months before I’d be able to fully submerge my hair to wash it, let alone have it colored. I loved the results and as my locs matured, I kept coloring my hair, sticking with colors close to my natural hair color - reddish browns and chocolate browns. I maintained my regular routine of washing once a week, deep conditioning once a month, and using a leave-in conditioner and oil for daily maintenance.
About two years ago, I added highlights to my chocolate brown color and this past year, I upped the ante, taking the colors from my highlights, making that the base and incorporating lighter blonde highlights. While I love the look, my hair (and my colorist warned me of this) became drier. Natural hair overall, requires lots of moisture and conditioning to maintain. When you add in the chemical process of color, naturalistas have to take extra care.
In order to keep my locs healthy, strong and more importantly, not falling out in my hand, I increased my deep conditioning from once a month to once a week by doing the following:
· I use a moisturizing shampoo. Which, is a given with natural hair. However, I use Total Body Black Earth Shampoo from Taliah Waajid, which is amazing for dry, damaged and over-processed hair.
· I keep my water warm, not hot. I usually wash my hair in the shower and while I love a good steamy shower, when I switch from my body to my hair, I turn the water to warm and not steamy. For me, I find that the hot water dries my hair and I can’t afford to lose any moisture.
· I deep condition once a week. I use Enhancing Herbal Conditioner and I slather it on my hair from the roots to the tips of my locs (I use a lot), working it in thoroughly. I plait my hair in two or four huge braids, put a plastic cap on and sit under the dryer for 20 minutes.
· I wash the conditioner out with cool water. I follow my colorist’s method when rinsing out product. She always uses cool water. Cool water, especially for color-treated hair, helps to preserve the color’s vibrancy. Cool water closes the hair cuticle that helps the color to last longer.
· I generously apply leave-in conditioner and oil. While my hair is still damp, I use a liberal amount of Protective Mist Bodifier leave-in conditioner, followed by African Healing Oyl applied from root to tip, paying special attention to my ends. I style accordingly, usually plaits or braids while my hair air dries.
It can’t be emphasized enough that while natural hair is strong and beautiful, it is not “set and forget” kind of hair. Our hair must be cared for and babied, especially if you plan to rock the latest and greatest hair colors.
Sheronda Gipson is a freelance writer, content strategist and natural hair enthusiast with an MFA in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Brunch, documentaries and lazy Saturday mornings are her thing. Follow her on Instagram @sherondak.