Many naturals spend a lot of time, research and money seeking out the perfect Holy Grail conditioner. This is the product that will give super soft hair and moisture for days. This is the product that will replicate the salon results. However, the truth is that salon products are often sold to consumers and many of these are really not dramatically different from store bought products. The real secret of super soft hair is more about technique and less about product. Yes, it is true that your hair may prefer a particular ingredient but it is possible with the right process to get your hair super soft regardless of the product. Here are the tips.
1. Do not skip shampoo
How does this create soft hair: No build up on the hair surface means you get a very smooth strand to the touch.
Hair conditioner is the first thing many think about when it comes to soft hair but applying hair conditioner to hair with a layer of oil and styling products really reduces its ability to work as intended. Find a mild shampoo that you like and always use it during your main wash. If you choose to co-wash between main washes, this is fine, but using a shampoo during your main wash will help fight build up and create a nice clean layer for your conditioner to work on.
2. Do not be heavy handed with conditioner – Unravel those twists or braids
How does this create soft hair: Hair conditioner coats hair with softening ingredients and the more hair you have in contact with the conditioner, the softer it will feel.
If you are washing your hair in large twists or braids, take the time to unravel each twist or braid and apply hair conditioner properly to coat each strand of hair. You do not have to be heavy handed with your conditioner, you just have to make sure you get every strand covered. Plopping a large amount of conditioner on hair and trying to squeeze it through each large twist or braid is not the way to go. However, do rebraid or retwist after the conditioner application, if you intend to control shrinkage.
3. Heat up your conditioner and keep it on for 20 – 30 minutes
How does this create soft hair: Increased heat and additional time (20-30 minutes maximum), increases the amount of conditioner that can deposit on the surface of hair. More conditioner on the surface equals more softness.
Often in a salon, you will either have your hair wrapped in a towel after conditioning and asked to wait or covered with a plastic cap and placed under a hooded dryer. At home, you can achieve the same effect by simply heating up your conditioner in a water bath and then keeping the heat in once the conditioner is applied by covering your hair with a towel. Heat increases the amount of deposits on the hair surface from conditioner (adsorption if you are in the know). Increasing your conditioning time to 20-30 minutes also increases adsorption but after this time period, there are no further increases.
4. Go easy with the leave in products and stretch your hair out to dry
How does this create soft hair: Using a minimal amount of leave in products allows hair strands to be able to move past each other and not be sticky. The lighter hair feels, the softer it feels. Also hair that is very kinky with small curls will feel softer when stretched compared to when allowed to fully shrink.
Leave in products are useful for maintaining moisture but using a large amount can reduce the softness of hair. Naturally if you prefer your hair to be coated with a product as it feels better, then that is ok for you.
If you have hair that clumps please ignore this next tip, you should encourage clumping and allow your hair to dry unrestricted. If your hair has tight curls and multiple kinks, allowing it to shrink fully can create a very rough feeling texture (‘brillo pad’), regardless of whether you have followed the processes listed above. This is the reason why many stylists will finish hair with a light blow dry or twist out/braid out depending on time and client’s desire. Stretching out the hair increases the feeling of softness.
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