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The Update: Spring Tips and Changes for Natural Hair

While a lot of the country have been experiencing almost summer-like temperatures, the rest of us are still basking in the beautiful mild weather of spring. It’s a time to bloom, to get ready for summer and to change up your hair routine?

Many naturals change the way they manage their hair according to the change in seasons. This is not a bad idea. The change in weather brings changes in how the elements in the air impact our hair. We don’t realize it, but our hair acts differently in 100-degree weather and 55-degree weather.

It’s good to pay attention to what you are doing to your hair, and a little spring cleaning would do many of us some good. Yes, you can spring clean your hair regimen to ensure that your hair stays healthy and strong as you go from month to month.

So let’s updat things. Here are some tips on how to change it up a little bit for the warmer times of the year.

Go Lighter

During the warmer months, there tends to be less of a need for the heavy stuff. You know, creams, sprays, and butters. When it’s cold, it’s hard to find and keep the moisture. During spring and summer, incorporating something like glycerin, which acts as a definer and humectant, is a move in the right direction. It helps dissolves oils in the hair, which makes it a great accompaniment to getting the most out of the oils that you use. If you’re not a fan of glycerin, just know that you more than likely can go lighter with your products.

What’s Your Routine?

You may find that you need to do more of one thing and less of something else during the hotter months. Spring is a great time to update your routine. If you have never considered that or, gasp, don’t have a routine at all, let this time of the year help you get your hair life together.

Let it Flow- Air Dry

This is a good tip too. Just let your hair air-dry after washing. It’s called a wash-n-go. Don’t apply heat because it can lead to damage over time. Do apply product because you definitely need it. Summer and spring are ideal because the weather is just right to dry your hair in no time.

Anti-Frizz it

You probably don’t realize it (or maybe you do) but most women experience more frizz during spring and summer. This is the time to incorporate anti-frizz products like a mousse or a gel. The brands that work for you will likely have a product that is just right for your spring/summer hair care toolbox.

Protective Styles

Now is the time to get that favorite protective style. While it is true that women wear them during the winter, summer and spring are the times of the year where braids, extensions, and cornrows, are most in demand. I recommend this trusted staple because it allows the hair time to grow as it takes a break. If you aren’t sure about getting one for spring because maybe you want more time with your hair, then try it in summer.

It’s good to change things up every now and then. When it comes to natural hair, it can be tricky, but that’s where paying attention and taking some time out to be aware of what your hair needs come into play. They are effective keys to keeping it strong and healthy.

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Growing Your Hair: One Year in the Making

Oh, the things that can be done in a year. When it comes to your hair, sometimes it’s not given the attention and thought that it really needs. As a lot of naturals can attest, it can be hard to grow your hair the way you want. But what if you could reach your lengths goals, get your hair healthy and see amazing results all in the span of a year?

I know some folks will say, “A year, that’s a long time.” But with most things, you have to be willing to put in the work to see real results. Things will not always come easily and in the moments of frustration, you can choose to either abandon all hope or move forward and see things through. When it comes to growing hair, some people have it easier than others. That’s okay because there are steps that you can take to get your hair the length you want it to be. The question is, “Are you willing to do what needs to be done?”

If you want to see your hair flowing down your back, or just want to see more growth, and have had issues achieving this in the past, no matter if you have 4c, 4b or type 3 hair, it’s time to consider being in it for the long haul.

Let’s look at how you can grow your hair within one year.

Evaluation

This is the first step. You have to know what you are working with to know where you need to go. Take a good, long look at your hair. What is the current condition, how is it’s manageability, etc? From there, you can start the process of formulating a routine that’s catered to your hair needs.

Regimen

Which brings me to a most important aspect of natural hair care- regimen. I believe that this is a make or break. If you don’t have a plan in place for how to care for your hair, that is where you go wrong. After you evaluate your hair, it’s time to start the building process. Have the products you know will work on hand at all times. Have a set time for washing your hair (once a week, twice a week, every other week, etc.). Decided when you will do deep conditioning, hot oil treatments and more. Then stick to it! You have to be strategic and you have to pay attention.

Learn

If you don’t know much about hair it would behoove you to do some research. There are a plethora of tutorials, videos, articles and other information at your disposal at ALL times. Don’t go into it without knowing what you are dealing with. During this time of learning, you should find out what type hair you have, the porosity, what your hair is prone to and what others who have similar tresses to yours do to keep their hair healthy and that’s just to name a few things.

Re-evaluation

It is a good idea to look at your progress every two to three months. Remember that taking care of natural hair is a purposeful process so it is necessary to look at what you’ve been doing to make sure it’s working. If it’s not, then adjust your routine. It is so important to chart your progress and doing this “housekeeping” item will definitely help you see what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.

You don’t have to wait until a new year to start your year of hair growing. When it comes down to it, you have to make a commitment and if you start the process in April, June or October, within 12 months, you should see significant growth.

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The Benefits of Hot Oil Treatments

Let’s talk about hot oil treatments (HOT). This hair subject doesn’t get the “shine” that it deserves. Yes, we know about deep conditioners, yes we understand the importance of protective styling and yes we have it down pat that we should never go to sleep without a satin or silk scarf on our head. We know the basics. But as with most things, you can never stop learning. This time around we are diving a little bit deeper into the amazing benefits of hot oil treatments.

If you haven’t used them or don’t know what they are, keep reading. Hot oil treatments are by far one of the most underrated hair care processes because a lot of women just don’t use them on their hair. HOT is great for hair that feels very dry, is breaking off or is in need of some real tender love and care. Now, there are naturals who feel like HOT is a waste of time, but that is totally not the case. They work wonders because they open up the hair cuticle, which allows the oil’s moisturizing properties to get deep into the hair shaft, giving it the extra penetrated and concentrated attention that it needs.

With HOT, you don’t have to spend a lot of money because, surprise, you can do it yourself (DIY). Don’t you just love how DIY can apply to just about everything in life? You can easily, cheaply and effectively make your own concoction at home with nourishing ingredients you find right in your cabinet.

So let’s talk about hot oil treatments and what they can do for you.

Process

Hot oil treatments are super easy and super effective. You simply heat the oil up so that it is noticeably warm. You can use a temperature that works for you. Then you dip your fingers into the hot oil and massage it into your hair, scalp/root to tip. You can then heat a towel; use a dryer or a shower cap on your hair to lock in the heat. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and then wash your hair.

Avocado Oil

This little piece of heaven fruit is just a win all around. It tastes good and it’s good for you; ALL of you. If you are prone to dry and frizzy hair, avocado oil a great place to start. The monounsaturated fatty acids in this oil are ideal for your hair and help to improve scalp circulation, which helps stimulate growth.

Argan Oil

With a super sweet and pleasant fragrance, Argan oil works amazingly well for HOT. It hydrates your hair and leaves it feeling super soft. It also enhances elasticity. Who couldn’t use a little more flexibility in their hair?

Almond Oil

This is another sweet one. It will smoothen your cuticle as the vitamin E found in almond oil supports hair growth. Another great benefit is that it makes your hair shine because of vitamins A and B. Furthermore, the presence of omegas 9, 6 and 3 acts as protectants from UV rays.

Pre-Formulated HOT

If you prefer to buy store bought, already formulated HOT, that is perfectly fine too. The tried and true brands – Carol’s Daughter and Shea Moisture just to name a couple – have amazing products that will do the job for you. You just apply the same as you would the DIY treatments.

No matter what you decide to use on your hair, it is a matter of preference and what works for you. Hot oil treatments are so beneficial and if you don’t do them regularly, maybe it’s time to consider adding them to your routine.

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My Hair Stopped Growing… Why?

Our hair is precious to us. We put love and care into managing it. Whether you are natural or have relaxed hair, how it functions and its condition is at the top of our list of “things to care about.” With the effort and time we put into our hair, we expect a return. Yes, we expect the hair gods to give us good luck and flowing tresses when we’ve done everything in our power to be kind to our mane.

Hair care can be extremely frustrating because sometimes no matter what we do, it just doesn’t want to act right. This “misbehaving” can be in the form of breaking off, a lack of cooperation and a halt in growth. Let’s talk about the latter.

Some women have experienced an interruption in growth for one reason or another. It is annoying, it is distressing and it is extremely discouraging. When you have done everything you know to do but still don’t see the results you once did, it can make you want to throw in the towel altogether. But no matter the reason for your faltering hair condition, you can’t fix it if you don’t know why it’s happening in the first place. So here are some possible explanations as to why your hair has stopped growing.

What Are You Eating?

We all know the saying, “You are what you eat” but when it comes to your hair, what you put into your mouth can greatly have an effect on how it does or does not grow. You want to eat foods that are rich in vitamins like B and C so that you can get important nutrients to your tresses.

How is Your Scalp?

Are you paying enough attention to your scalp? This comes down to your hair habits. If you are not giving your scalp the TLC that it needs, it will most definitely affect the condition of your hair. Maybe you were doing really great at one point and then slacked off because you achieved the results you wanted. I hate to break it to you but in the natural hair game, you can’t slack off… ever! It’s tough but your hair needs the attention and neglecting to take care of your scalp with the right products will leave you feeling sorry and upset later.

What is Your Routine?

I talk a lot about routines because they are just too important not to mention them, pretty much, all the time. What is your plan for your hair is what I want to know? You have to know what you are going to do to your hair, when and how. This gives you a guide to follow and it helps you measure your progress.

Do You Have Underlying Health Issues?

When it comes down to it, sometimes there are underlying health issues you aren’t aware of that is taking its toll on your hair. The body has its way of telling us when things are not okay and we should really be thankful for that. One of the ways that it lets us know is through our hair. Hormonal changes and deficiencies, overproduction as well as other ailments can do everything from thin your hair to cause breakage. If you can’t find the answers for what’s going on with your tresses, maybe it’s time for a trip to the doctor.

Your hair is going to act and respond according to how it is treated. In those moments when you don’t know why things are happening, consider these things and proceed accordingly. Hair that once flourished and shine can definitely do so again.

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How to Remedy Skin Discolorations

Hair and beauty are two important aspects of our lives. Whether you are a man or a woman, we all want to look good. Doing so starts with what we wear, our hairstyles and what’s on our faces. Today, let’s talk about dark spots.

Most people of color deal with this issue at some point in their lives. It is annoying, to say the least. It can cause embarrassing moments that make you feel less than beautiful because the truth is, we all care about how others view us. Dark spots can happen to anyone and the cause varies from person to person.

Speaking of causes, knowing how dark spots occur can help prevent them from happening in the first place. There are skin diseases and conditions that can be the source of the problem. There are also things like hyperpigmentation and skin discoloration that can happen as a result of acne. Finally, the production of too much melanin in one spot can cause dark areas and patches of darker skin as well. Needless to say, when they do pop up, they are not fun. Of course, you can cover them with makeup, but why only mask the problem? There are some great ways to get rid of them once and for all.

Here are some suggestions.

Ambi

This cream is an old favorite for getting rid of dark spots. For years, people have relied on Ambi to help even their skin. It works by fading the dark areas, bringing you skin back into balance with the rest of your face. It can be used on pretty much all parts of your body, including your neck, knees, and face. It is extremely affordable too, costing about $4 at most retailers.

Lemon Juice

DIY and natural remedies are a great way because unlike buying products in the store, you know exactly what you are putting onto your skin. It is simple. Take a lemon and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. You then apply it to the areas with a cotton ball and allow it to dry. Afterward just rinse with water. Do this two times a day for at least two weeks to see results.

Turmeric

Another DIY home remedy, Turmeric is the super ingredient of the spice world. It is an anti-inflammatory so it is great for a variety of things. You can take advantage of its ability to even out your complexion by making a paste. Along with two tablespoons of turmeric, add some buttermilk and lemon juice. Apply to the dark spots and leave on for about 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and repeat daily for best results.

Retinoid

This is a very powerful vitamin A. It speeds cell turnover, which is what helps the spots fade faster. Furthermore, the collagen found in retinoid helps smoothen your complexion and diminishes the appearance of what so many women fear- crows feet and fine lines. This option is more expensive as the most potent and effective form is retinoic acid, which can only be obtained through a prescription. Still, if you have severe scarring which has led to a lot of dark spots, then it may be something to consider.

These are just a few of the ways that you can take your beauty routine up a notch. When you deal with unwanted dark spots from acne and other causes, it’s good to know that there are things that you can do to help bring balance back to your beautiful face.

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A Little TLC: Catering to 4C Hair

There are a lot of different hair types and it’s so important to know which one you are working with. Knowing this piece of information will save you a lot of trouble, time, and money in the long run because when you know better, naturally, you do better. Let’s talk about 4C hair.

This hair type sometimes gets a bad rep and I am not here for it. There is no hair type better than another hair type. All hair is “worthy” and it just comes down to learning how to manage yours. I like to call it “catering.” Yes, you have to make every effort to cater to your hair and that first comes with understanding it. 4C hair is thick, coarse, kinky and beautiful. It may take a little more work, but it is worth every single drip of sweat and tears.

So here are some secrets, tips and ideas to make your 4C hair shiny and strong.

Section it Off

One of the biggest things you want to avoid doing when managing 4C hair is causing breakage. It can happen for many reasons but there are a lot of things you can do to ensure its health. When it comes to washing and blowing drying 4C hair, for best results, do it in sections. This allows you to make sure you are getting all parts of your hair during washing and it allows you to thoroughly dry without ripping out your hair. It will take longer and you will wonder if it even makes a difference. I am telling you now that it does.

Finger Detangle

The best thing you can do for your hair is detangle it with your fingers. When you use a comb, it can put a lot of stress on your hair that can lead to breakage. Detangling is a nonnegotiable part of the process and if you have 4C hair, you HAVE to do it. If not, you will wish you had when it’s too late. Again, section it off, turn on some music or your favorite show and put in the time.

Deep Condition

One of the things that a lot of women with 4C hair experience is dryness. The best way to fight that is through deep conditioning. If this step is not a part of your regimen, then you NEED to change that immediately. It’s so important because deep conditioning, when done correctly, serves to not only keep your hair healthy but also repairs your hair if need be. Using a conditioner that you know works on your hair and adding some form of mild heat in order to really penetrate your hair shaft is going to work wonders for you in no time.

Protective Styles

You hear me talk about protective styling a lot. I think that it is one of the most effective things a natural can do for their hair. When you take the time to do a style that will take the pressure off of having to do it everyday, it benefits you and your hair. The fact that you don’t have to manipulate it or style it daily removes the kind of stress that can prohibit growth. A protective style for 4C hair can be braids, extensions, a twist out, cornrows and more. The goal here, ultimately, is to give your hair the break it needs from time to time.

If you have 4C hair, be proud of it. You can do so much. And while it may seem that you’re doing a lot with some of these suggestions, trust and know that you are doing what’s best.

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Perfecting the Twist Out

One of the tried and true staple hairstyles for just about every natural is the twist out. Yes, it is one that can be done in so many ways. The twist out is easy, convenient and nearly effortless. Please note the key word here- nearly.

While it is true that the hairstyle is relevantly simple, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you need to pay attention to in order to ensure it’s done right. The protective style is one that every natural should try but keep in mind that just like most other things, when it comes to your hair, you have to know what you are doing. If not, you will waste your time, effort and end up pretty disappointed in the results.

So let’s talk about some things to consider when doing a twist out. From products to technique to timing, all of it is important if you want to perfect this hairstyle.

Detangle

It is not a good idea to just dive right into twisting your hair if you have not detangled. This is an important step in the hair maintenance process that you CANNOT skip. Whether you use a comb and do it while in the shower, or if you choose to use your fingers, detangling before you do a twist out is a sure fire way to make sure you get the best results.

Product

This is a tricky one. First of all let me say that you MUST use product. It does you no good to just twist your hair without using any kind of moisturizer, setting lotion, conditioner or anything that will help with definition and combat dryness. Secondly, you have to find the right product and that’s the tricky part. This is trial and error because all products are not made equally for this purpose. However, a foam or lotion is a good place to start.

The Root

When it comes to technique, you have to make sure that you start strong, at the root.  You want to grip your roots as tightly as you can because your goal with this is definition, which leads to longevity. The firmer the twist the better the end result will be. You might have to do smaller twists in order to get the root the way you need to and if so that’s fine. Just don’t neglect that part of the twist out because you will pay for it later.

The Ends

Just as important as applying enough tension to the root, you want to take care of the ends as well. Some women have straight ends and that’s okay. You can prevent that from ruining your hairstyle by coiling them. This can be done a few ways. You can use small rollers, hair clips or even pipe cleaners to set the perfect curl in place once you are ready to take the twists out. Find what works best for you and gives your desired result.

Dry vs. Wet

Believe it or not, styling your hair while dry or wet is more than just a preference. Some hair types function better when styled after air-drying while others do well styled right after washing. Find out which method works better for your hair. This can determine the kind of products you use also.

The twist out is a great style that can last past the initial first day styling. You just have to adjust your routine a little bit so that you can maximize your efforts.

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Makeup Trends: Spring 2017

One of the great things about the changing seasons is the fact that you can do so much when it comes to hair and makeup. The change in weather means more than just a change in fashion trends. Seeing designs, details, and items off the runway is a highlight for some people. Along with getting excited about new fashions, makeup is another part of the change in seasons that so many love.

With that, spring is right around the corner and when it comes to makeup, there are some trends that experts project are sure to be all the rave spring 2017. While they make be dramatic and over the top on the runway, you can easily adapt them to everyday life. So if you like to update your eyeshades, lipsticks, and blushes according to the seasons, keep reading. There are new colors, techniques and more to incorporate into your beautification routine.

Here are some of the hottest makeup trends for spring and summer.

Colorful Eyes

Who doesn’t like to play with color? If you love bright pinks and vivid blues, then color wash eyes are one of the trends you should most definitely try. On the runways, the eye makeup was fun and vibrant. You can so do this everyday. No color is really off limits and beauty experts suggest the bolder the better. So if you’ve wanted to try something different for your makeup, this spring is the time. Go for it.

Glazed Lids

This is a riskay trend and I love it! Sometimes, you have to do what you’ve never done before; or what others wouldn’t dare to do. Glazed lids can be achieved in a number of ways. It comes down to the colors you use as well as a little something called Milk Makeup Face Gloss (you can find it for $20 at Sephora). The best pencil to use is a reflective silver one on the inner part of your eyes to create a nice highlight. From there, add the gloss to the eyelid and a little sparkle and you have a cool trend.

Golden Cheeks

Are you living your life like it’s golden? Golden cheeks are super sexy, chic and attractive. It was all over the runway and the great thing about it is you can use an eye shadow to make it happen. Lighter skinned women should opt for a champagne gold highlighter with a touch of pink and darker skinned women should go for bronze or a rose gold. No matter your complexion, this is a trend you can pull off flawlessly.

Blended Eyes and Cheeks

This one is for those who like to make a statement. It is inspired by the 70s (think Studio 54) and involves seamlessly blending colors from the outer eye to the cheeks. Using a pink, berry or light red colors (find what looks best on your skin) blend away for a look that is daring, dramatic and trendy.

Makeup is one of the cornerstones of a lot of women’s beauty routines. For those who take it seriously, staying abreast to what’s in is important. These are just a few trends that you can try now. You will more than likely be seeing them all year long so why not see how they look on you?

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Nutritional Deficiencies and Hair: What’s the Connection?

What are you putting into your body? This is an important question and applies to more than just how you look on the outside. Everything that goes into your mouth affects every part of who you are. From how your skin looks to how your nails look, you have to care more about the long-term affects of food on your body. That’s why paying attention to your hair and how it functions is paramount. It can be a telling sign about what’s taking place inside of you.

For a lot of women, thinking about the kinds of nutrients needed for optimal hair growth isn’t always on their radar. There are many reasons for this, but regardless of what the case is, in those moments when you have deficiencies, you have to know what they are so that you can rectify them.

The lack of certain nutritional elements in your diet can greatly take a toll on your hair. The way it works is that as your hair grows, about a centimeter a month, in the pockets of hair follicles, the dermal papilla, located under the bulb at the base of the follicle, is responsible for taking nutrients from the body’s blood to ensure growing, healthy hair. When you have a deficiency of certain nutrients, therein lies the root of any issues you might be facing.

So let’s talk about the nutrients that can stop hair growth and health when you don’t have enough of them in your body.

Iron

Believe it or not, an iron deficiency is very common. The lack of iron can lead to hair loss and breakage. This deficiency can happen for many reasons including menstruation and after the birth of a baby. If you feel tired often, or become out of breath after completing simple tasks, you may be in need of some iron. When it comes to your hair, if it is dry, brittle, or breaks easily, getting more iron in your life could be the answer.

Magnesium

This is a big one and is extremely common in women as well. Magnesium helps with boosting your energy and aids in the regular operation of your nerves. Ever have a twitching eye or experience a “jumping” nerve in other areas of your body? You could have a magnesium deficiency. It can lead to unwanted facial hair, polycystic ovarian syndrome and consistent hair loss. Get some magnesium-rich foods in your life like nuts, seeds, fish and beans; or you can take pills.

B12 Vitamins

If you ever feel extremely tired, you might need some B12 in your life. As far as your hair is concerned, it can greatly affect the look and manageability of your tresses when you don’t have enough B12. It is necessary for good red blood cell production and will encourage hair growth. B12 is also great for nail growth. Overall, you can get B12 in your life a few ways. There are shots that can get at the doctor. You can take pills as well and of course, you can eat foods like Salmon, beef liver, sardines and milk.

We don’t always think about the way foods affect other parts of our bodies; mostly because we aren’t really taught that we should. We are told that it obviously takes a toll, good and bad, on the size of our pants, but we aren’t really told about the way it impacts our hair. Take the bits of information here and make some adjustments if you find that your hair is not acting the way you want it too. You may be deficient in one of these nutrients.

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How to Protect Protective Styles

Okay so lets talk about protective styling. If you are a natural, then you know that this is one of the go-tos that saves a lot of time, money and effort. There are those within the movement who wear their hair in protective styles all year round and more power to them. But even in the midst of doing what you believe to be a good thing for your hair, you can run the risk of still causing major damage. Let me explain.

Sometimes, when wearing a protective style, you can forget that you still have to perform maintenance, meaning you have to watch your hair to see how it reacts. You also have to make sure you are giving it the proper love and care because growth and the need for moisture, etc. doesn’t stop just because you have some Marley twists in your hair. There are a lot of mistakes you can make with protective styling that can end up doing more harm than good. But just like other things, it doesn’t have to be that way.

So here are some ways to maximize your protective styling efforts and prevent hair loss during and after protect styling.

During: Pay Attention

This is so important because ignoring what’s going on with your hair will cost you. Just because you have braids or weave doesn’t mean you can forget about your hair underneath. Pay attention to how the style is treating your hair. Are your edges protected, is it braided too tightly in the back, is the thread from your installment cutting into your hair? I know that it’s tempting to just let things be, but don’t forget to stay on top of what’s going on.

During: Moisturize

What is the point of giving your hair a break if you’re still not taking care of it? You are giving it a break not you. Please remain aware of the fact that you have to continue moisturizing and oiling your hair. The idea of protective styling is to give your hair the chance to be still without much tussle but it still needs the TLC to keep it happy and healthy.

After: Detangle

If you don’t usually detangle your hair, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Regardless of the type of protective style you had (some may cause more knots/kinks than others) you really need to carefully detangle your hair. After taking down your style, you don’t want to just wash and go. You need to take the time to use either your fingers or a large toothed comb to detangle. Make sure to also use a creamy/thick conditioner. That way, you will have good lubrication, which is essential in the detangling process.

After: Deep Condition

Remember that taking care of your hair is a process that calls for different steps at different times. One of the most important things you can do, period, is apply a deep conditioning treatment. This can be a product formulated for deep conditioning or a DIY mixture that you concoct yourself with the right ingredients at home. Regardless, you should set time aside after your protective style to give your hair the treatment it needs, which can include sitting under a dryer to really penetrate your hair shaft. This is especially true if you plan to style soon after. Give your hair a fighting chance at remaining strong before you start stressing it again.

Protective styling is a staple in the natural hair community. If you are going to have them, create a protective styling regimen that’s going to enhance your efforts and continue to strengthen your hair.

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