Let's face it—no one has ever raved about having parched, brittle hair. I'm not talking about gel casts from styling products that you can easily scrunch out with a dab of oil or serum. I'm talking about inherently dry, dehydrated hair. With summer in full swing, soft hair is a must. Check out these six tips for keeping curls super soft, even in the heat:
1. Hydrate Your Hair
If you have chronically dry hair, your products may not always be to blame. One of the keys to soft, strong curls is drinking water. Since hair shafts are comprised of about 25% water, if you're dehydrated you increase your chances of hair breakage by, let's see, a quarter? Some sources say to drink 64 ounces a day, while others advise drinking double your body weight. My advice? Whatever you currently drink, double it every week or so until you reach an amount that is comfortable for you. Your hair and skin will thank you.
2. Harness the Pre-Poo Power
When naturally curly girls start cutting regimen corners, one of the first things to go is the pre-shampoo treatment, which primes your hair for cleansing by softening, strengthening, and detangling. (It also prevents cleansing products from robbing your hair of critical moisture.) Even if you're short on time, a pre-poo treatment is essential—try coconut oil, argan oil blends, conditioners, or even your own DIY blend. Here's my new favorite combo.
3. Don't Swear by Co-Washing
Another step natural curly girls love to skip and shouldn't? Shampoo. At least not all the time. Shampooing actually makes your conditioner work better (and makes your strands softer) by enhancing your hair's naturally negative charge. Conditioner, which sticks to the hair and smooths the cuticle, has a positive charge. And we all know that opposites attract.
4. Be a Steam Queen
Steaming is a great way to get super soft hair, regardless of texture or type. By lifting the cuticle, it allows warm water to penetrate the hair, hydrating it thoroughly. Steam treatments are easy to do—they can be done on wash days, mid-week, before, during, or after deep conditioning. Depending on your budget, you can spring for a tabletop steamer like the ever popular Huetiful, or grab my personal favorite, the handheld Q-Redew. You can also get your steam on for free by letting your hair hang loose during your next shower, or spritzing it with water and covering with a plastic cap and using a blow dryer attachment to apply indirect, steam-inducing heat to your head.
5. Kick Deep Conditioning into Overdrive
Do you deep condition every time you wash your hair? If you don't, you should. It's the single piece of advice that unites all naturals, regardless of regimen and hair type. Deep conditioning does a mane good, in terms of getting super soft, hydrated, strong hair. For more reasons to deep condition and instructions for how to do it, check out the Do's and Don'ts of Deep Conditioning!
6. Layer Products Properly (Always Use a Leave-In)
The acronyms used to guide us through layering products—like LOC, LCO, and LOB—can often be more confusing than helpful. But the way you layer your products can mean the difference between soft, hydrated hair and a crispy mess. Generally, the first step in maintaining moisture and hydration is using a leave-in. Whether it be extra conditioner (like Aussie Moist), or a product formulated specifically to be a leave-in, having a product that is a water-based mixture of fatty alcohols, emollients, and humectants is the first line of defense in maintaining soft hair during styling. Next comes a moisturizing product, like a hair lotion or moisture butter blend. These water-based products will help lock in the hydration from your leave-in, and prime your hair for styling. (If your hair responds well to pure oils and butters, those make a great alternative.) After that, your hair is primed for whatever styling products you choose.