[I want to start off this blogpost by saying that my mother’s side of the family is from the Dominican Republic and this article is in no way meant to slander that amazing country/culture of mine. I am no expert. This is sharing my personal experiences.]
Along my self-love journey wanting a healthier mind, body, and soul, I also wanted healthier hair. Growing up all I knew were Dominican hair salons, and I mean they should know how to take care of hair like mine right? Not necessarily.
I recently went to Hair Rules Salon in NYC, which specializes in ALL hair textures, to get a haircut. I also went to ask all my curly hair questions and learn more about how to best wash and take care of my curly hair. They cleared up a lot of misconceptions. I’m here to enlighten and demystify!
1. When they say…“Tu tiene pelo malo.” (You have bad hair.)
In reality, there is no such thing as having “bad” hair.
So why are Dominicans so obsessed with straight hair? Since the era (1930-1961) of the dictator Rafael Trujillo, a dictator that was obsessed with purifying the Dominican race by killing Haitians and darker-skinned Dominicans, beauty in the Dominican Republic for a long time was pale skin and straight hair.
Dominican people come in many shades, ethnic backgrounds, and to get to the point hair textures. Some salons treat all these textures the same. Rollers, blow dry, straight hair, done. BIG MISTAKE.
The first thing you should know is not all textures are the same BUT they should be given the same kind of love and treatment to be healthy.
No hay pelo malo!
2. Cutting curly hair while it’s wet.
Most of my life I’ve gotten my haircut with freshly washed, wet hair. Imagine my surprise when I learned that a dry cut is the way to go for curly hair. Hair Rules salon in NYC blow dries your hair straight (with a comb attachment) before cutting your hair to be able to see all your damaged ends. If you get a haircut with wet curly hair, some of your hair will start to dry and curl during the cut! Cutting your hair while it’s dry and straight avoids unevenness and further breakage.
3. Washing your hair once a week.
Wash it everyday if you want to! Well “co-wash” it everyday.
Let that fear of wetting your hair go! I wanted healthy hair and I wanted to be able to wash my hair everyday so I can work out everyday. Dominican mothers would yell don’t wash your hair everyday! But you can co-wash your hair everyday.
Curly hair gals, conditioner is your best friend. The two to three washes that salons give you with sulfate shampoo is horrible for curly hair texture types. Hair Rules gave me some tips to washing curly hair.
-Was once a week with a sulfate-free shampoo.
-Co-wash during the week as much as you want to refresh your scalp and curls.
-Clarify once a month for build up.
It’s all up to you and what you feel your hair requires. If you’re co-washing and clarifying, there is never a need for sulfate shampoo.
Co-Washing is short for “Conditioner Washing” or Cleansing with a Cleansing Cream. Most Conditioners have cleansing agents in the ingredients that clean hair just enough without over drying. Co-Washing is a step done in replacement of Shampoo. It can be done on occasions or by alternating your wash days using Shampoo one day and using a cream cleanser or Conditioner to cleanse the next time and so on. Every head of hair is different, so do what works best for your own hair. If you like to Co-Wash frequently make sure you are also keeping a healthy ph balance by clarifying as well.
Clarifying is deep cleaning your hair to remove product residue and build-up from products being used over time. Clarifying is meant to be done occasionally because it’s Deep Cleaning so it’s not meant for frequent use or your hair may suffer dryness. You can eve do this naturally with baking soda or Apple Cider Vinegar or Dr. Bronner’s 18 in one cleanser. Or simple use a shampoo that suds up, but still look for one that is sulfate free.
4. When they tell you DON’T leave your hair curly all the time!
They tell you it’s healthy to go to the salon weekly, and it’s only healthy for their pocket$$ really. You can’t walk into a Dominican hair salon and ask for them to style your hair curly because most Dominican salons will recommend your hair straight. Stop the curly kinky hate. Dominican hair stylists will do whatever it takes to get it straight: relaxer, texturized, more heat.
Heat damage is a bitch, trust me I know. I’m currently recovering from altered curl pattern and straight ends.
Most of the heat damage come from the typical roller set then blow dry combo. SURPRISE.
5. Under the dryer for 45 minutes, then blow dry, then maybe styling with a straightener or curling rod. YIKES!
That’s too much heat for your hair to take in one day.
Not all hair needs that. Not all hair should be treated the same. I do rollers mostly now but that’s it. If you have really really really kinky curly hair don’t do rollers because it causes breakage. Most Dominican salons, care more about the end result. You have to love your natural hair and know what is the best way to straighten it for your particular texture. Get to know your hair. I wanted answers and that led me to book an appointment with a salon that specializes in all kinds of hair.
I left Hair Rules salon with my natural curly hair styled.
I recommend to free yourself from these salons and learn to do your own hair or go to a curly hair salon. If you must go to a Dominican salon: RESEARCH and bring your own healthier products for them to use.
6. Styling Curly Hair
Avoid styling products with alcohol like cheap mousse and gels. That dries out your hair. There are a lot of gels and custards now that are alcohol-free with good hold that you can use. Styling curly hair for wash and go’s really depends on your hair. Learn what type of hair you have (1a-4c) AND what kind of porosity your hair has. This determines the best styling products for your hair. I have 3b hair styling milks and creams work best for me and light gels. Some heavy products weigh down my hair too much. Depends what kind of look I’m going for. The best part is playing with different products as you get to know your true hair potential!
I’ll post more as I embark on my healthy hair journey. Also some of my favorite products!!!!!
In the meantime here are some more HEALTHY HAIR tips for my curly hair gals:.
-Always apply a leave-in-conditioner for extra moisture.
-Always section your hair when applying products for better distribution.
– Vitamins are okay but remember to eat healthy foods for healthy skin and healthy hair.
-For define curls rake the product in your hair with your fingers, raking means detangling with your fingers as you’re applying the product.
-Follow natural hair girls on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, the motivation and advice helps!
-To avoid curl clumping after putting in your styling product.put your towel in your face and shake your head from side to side to release curls. Part your hair how you want it then don’t touch it until it’s dry.
-When your hair is 90 percent dry, use a blowdryer with it’s regular nozzle to elongate curls if you wish to do so.
-Learn about the benefits of oils like jojoba oil, rosemary oil, peppermint oil, coconut oil.
-Learn the best way to straighten your hair. There are different ways that are healthy and no you don’t have to throw away your straightener. I saw women with 4c hair come out with amazing full straight hair looking like Beyonce but not damaging or chemically-altering their hair. Yes it can be done.