Detoxing Your Natural Hair

Detoxing Your Natural Hair

Detoxing. If you're natural, you've probably heard this word thrown around countless times. But what does it mean to detox? There are actually two types of detoxing that your natural hair can benefit from.


The first is a total detox. The primary foundation for the Clean and Simple regimen is frequent cleansing and ditching raw oils and hair greases. The reason why is simple. Those products are preventing your hair from living its best, hydrated life. Despite popular belief, tight curls aren't destined to be chronically dry. The use of grease and oil stretches back. Black women used animal fat and other lards to help soften and smooth their hair. As time progressed and relaxers became commonplace, people needed to use hot oil treatments to maintain their hair. This is because relaxers break down our natural curl and inevitably leave our hair damaged to some degree. Using oil kept the hair lubricated and helped with breakage and hair that felt dry. We call this the Relaxer Mindset (link). The relaxer mindset includes: hair doesn't need to be frequently cleansed, oil usage is key, and protein/deep conditioning treatments should be done frequently. These things aren't necessarily untrue when it comes to chemically altered hair, but this ideology has transferred over to natural hair. And, to put it frankly, natural hair doesn't adhere to those set of rules. Here's why.


When you put oil and water into the same container, what happens? They separate. Quickly. When you put oil and grease onto your hair strands and go to cleanse your hair the same thing happens. Your hair is coated in products that repel water. Why does this matter? Because the only way to truly cleanse and moisturize your hair is with water. It has to be accepted into your hair, then sealed with conditioner. The outer layer of your hair, the cuticles, aren't able to properly accept the water due to the raw oils or grease you've been using. If your hair takes a long time to get fully soaked through, then it's likely because your strands are rejecting the water. Many of us have been taught that our genetics are the basis for how quickly our hair can absorb water but that isn't the case. It isn't about porosity, it's about buildup and water-starved hair. We recommend a total detox from oil and grease, which will take a varying amount of time depending on the state of your hair. For some, it's weeks, for others it's months.


How to do a Total Detox:


  1. Cleanse your hair with a quality moisturizing shampoo at least every seven days.

  2. Seal in the moisture with a quality conditioner. Your conditioner should mix well with the water and create a luxurious feeling slip. Be sure to detangle your hair during this step.

  3. Dry your hair completely with a thermal heat source. Do NOT air dry your hair. Airdrying can lead to weakened hair caused by hydral fatigue.

  4. Resist the ever-pressing urge to return to your oils and grease.


Things to note... Your hair may not feel great to the touch during this detoxing process. Think of it this way, you've been adding so much to your hair that it hasn't needed to perform the way it was designed to. That change won't happen overnight. Consistency is key during this process. As you continue, your hair will begin to readily accept water and stay moisturized after cleansing. The texture of your hair will also improve as you continue to steadily wash away the buildup that has been accumulating for months or even years. Most of our curlfriends finish their total detox process within a few months if they stay consistent.


Benefits of a Total Detox


  1. Hair that is easily hydrated.

  2. Products will perform better on your hair.

  3. Your hairstyles will last longer.

  4. Healthier, stronger hair.




A maintenance detox may be the sort of detox you're familiar with. It's the process of using a product to remove product, sebum, minerals, and other types of buildup. You'll have to do a maintenance detox even if you adhere to the Clean & Simple regimen. Your hair will naturally accrue buildup over time even with routine cleansing. Moisturizing shampoos cleanse, but they are not strong enough to strip the hair of everything on it. Clarifying and chelating shampoos are two types of cleansers that you should reach for when it's time to do a routine detox. While they both remove buildup, they serve slightly different purposes and should be used accordingly. Keep reading to figure out when and how to use them.


When to Use Clarifying Shampoo


Clarifying shampoo removes sebum and product buildup. It CANNOT remove hard water buildup. Typically, it's good practice to use a clarifying shampoo every 4-8 weeks. It depends on your hair regimen, the types of products you use, and if you're heavy-handed when applying them. Some products will leave more residue than others, so it's important to note that you may need to clarify more often if that's the case.


If you're washing weekly and notice your products are no longer performing well, that's a sign you should clarify. Your hair may also begin to change in texture. If you notice that even after 2-3 cleanses with your daily-use shampoo your hair isn't creating suds, it also may be a time to cleanse.


When to Use Chelating Shampoo


Chelating shampoo is similar to clarifying shampoo. However, it's stronger and can remove hard water buildup from your hair, unlike clarifying shampoo. The hardness of your water matters when it comes to hair care (and for some, skin care.) The buildup will accumulate faster with harder water. You can look up your area's water levels online if you don't feel like testing it yourself.


Hard water buildup can make it more difficult to cleanse your hair, thus affecting your hair products. You should use it if clarifying doesn't seem to be doing the trick. As you continue your hair regimen, you'll start to get a feel for how often you should add chelating shampoo into your regimen.


Key Things to Understand About Clarifying and Chelating Shampoo


  1. You should NOT use clarifying and chelating shampoo together. If you use a chelating cleanser, your hair has been properly detoxed. Using a clarifying shampoo alongside it will further strip your hair.

  2. You SHOULD use a moisturizing cleanser after using clarifying or chelating shampoo. This helps get moisture back into your cleansed and stripped hair.

  3. Thoroughly condition your hair after this process. You can use your daily-use conditioner or a deep conditioner treatment. There is no need to use both.

  4. Clarifying and deep conditioning your hair is recommended before and after installing "protective styles."

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