Having beautiful hair isn’t easy. In a world where women are expected to turn up to work and school with their hair perfectly pressed every day, you’re bound to wind up with chemical damage, breakage, and a lack of growth that means you’ll never get that mid-back length that you’ve been dreaming about since age six.
In recent years, natural hairstyles have gotten quite a bit of buzzy media attention. Instead of chemicals and heat, you’ll be opting to moisturize and baby your strands until they’re back at full strength.
Still, natural hair isn’t always an easy transition. You’re tasked with adapting to a whole new routine, one that requires a few more products and time than simply sitting down in hair stylist’s chair. Daryce Brown-Willis, Mizani artist and educator, has a few lessons to teach you about the best ways to care for your mane.
Don’t be intimidated by your strands—embrace their curliness! This is a whole new hair journey, and Brown-Willis is willing to help you get started.
What to Expect When You’re Going Natural
It might seem like choosing your authentic texture is a big middle finger to the hair salon you’ve spent years frequenting. In reality, though, natural ladies still need plenty of professional advice.
According to Brown-Willis, a professional is the only person who can really help you through the growing-out stage of going natural. You’re dealing with two types of fragile hair—chemically relaxed and newly curly—so it’s important to treat your strands as gently as possible.
If you don’t have a trusted hair stylist’s contact information already saved in your phone, do a little research to find a pro who knows natural hair. Check his or her social media pages, looking for evidence of clients with manes that are like yours.
The Golden Rules of Natural Hair Styling
Growing out chemically altered hair takes time, so it’s important to steel yourself against the temptation for a quick fix.
“To keep damage at a minimum, I would restrict straightening your transitioning tresses to a professional,” Brown-Willis explains. “One bad blow dry and you are back where you started.”
As Brown-Willis points out, it only takes one botched heat styling attempt to push your strands all the way back to square one. (Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.)
For your first few hairstyles, it’s also important to understand that natural hair takes longer to style than chemically altered hair might.
“The amount of time spent on doing your hair at home or in salon will increase,” Brown-Willis says. “There is a lot more involved in keeping textured hair hydrated and looking polished.”
To make the most of your time, Brown-Willis recommends deciding on your style before working backward to see how much time it may take. Factor in a salon wash, detangling time, the process of setting curls, and the final reveal.
The Twist Out
Twist outs are a style you can accomplish at home with a little confidence and a lot of styling product, thanks to no less than a hundred online hair tutorials. Still, seeing a professional to get the technique down is a good idea. Twist outs create defined, voluminous curls that last.
Brown-Willis likes to start with a moisturizing shampoo and condition, to begin with hair in the best possible condition. She swears by Mizani’s True Textures Moisture Replenish system, which is formulated with ingredients like olive and marula oil for to retain moisture and help maintain the natural curl pattern for touchable texture.
A little note about product, here: You’ll notice that natural hair requires more of it while growing out. That’s totally normal, according to Brown-Willis.
“The hair care products you use will change,” she says. ‘You may notice you will need stylers with a little extra hold or your styling techniques may need to change to blend the two differing textures.”
Once strands are clean, she’ll detangle the strands and apply 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Treatment before dividing the hair into 6 to 8 sections.
“Apply styler from ends to scalp and, within those sections, flat twist in the direction you want the hair to fall,” Brown-Willis instructs.
Once your hair is fully dry, your stylist will release your twists and fluff them into beautiful curls. For a mane that looks extra-shiny and defined, finish the style with Mizani’s Supreme Oil Hair Treatment.
The Lacer Set
Like twist outs, lacers are another way of achieving defined, beautiful curls. Instead of spiraling your strands without a template, your stylist will use one of several techniques to weave your hair through a circle-shaped, flexible tool.
Your styling appointment will start by washing, conditioning, and detangling your strands much in the same way he or she would for a twist out. Using a spiral or figure-eight pattern, each of your strands will be wrapped and set around a lacer. Once the style is dry, you’ll see luxurious, natural-looking curls.
Finish your look off with the Supreme Oil Hair Treatment, then run your hands through your soft, beautiful strands.
The Silk Press
If you’re having a hard time weaning yourself off chemical straightening, you’ll be pleased to know there’s an equivalent for natural girls: the silk press.
For this style, Brown-Willis starts off with Mizani’s Thermasmooth shampoo and conditioner to help cleanse, detangle, and condition dry and brittle hair. After detangling and sectioning the hair, she adds a secondary heat protectant (Thermasmooth Sleek Guard) and begins blow-drying with a round brush.
Once the hair is totally dry, Brown-Willis goes over her clients’ manes with a flatiron and Thermasmooth Shine Extend—a spray designed to polish and lock in shine while resisting humidity.
This look will last you until your next shampoo (or rain shower), so be sure to take in your stylist’s tips on maintaining the look before heading home. Brown-Willis recommends washing your hair every week to avoid excess product building up on your scalp and strands.