How I Keep My Heat Styled Natural Hair from Reverting (for Exercise & Swim, Too!)

danielle gray the style and beauty doctor hair weave

Last night on Instagram (follow me!) a lovely reader asked me how I keep my hair from reverting. My answer would have had me thumb hustling my iPhone replying back on IG so I decided to do a post…lol.

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Quick background

I’ve been natural since 2010. Once I couldn’t handle the two textures after transitioning for only like 2 1/2 months, I started wearing sew-in weaves. I was in between hair appointments and dying to take my weave out so I did it myself and then was all “Might as well big chop!” so I did…lol. I rocked with that for a while before getting bored with my hair (looking back I wish I would have experimented with haircuts at that stage more) and tried some other styles. Then I shaved one side of my hair after some really bad breakage. Then I grew it back (so much easier than you think—see how I did it here). You can see a mini hair timeline here and all posts pertaining to my hair here.

danielle gray the style and beauty doctor hair natural hair

The salon

I know this day and age everything beauty seems to be DIY especially with natural hair, but I will always be a salon girl…lol. Even when I had my medium sized fro my best twist out ever came from going to my stylist Gabrielle Corney. So I count on her to get my hair the way I love it (be it weaves or my own hair) and then I try to maintain it myself at home.

At the gym/swimming

I workout 3-5 times a week and I’m back at swimming lessons once a week for the next 6 weeks so my hair is constantly needing something…lol. For the gym I wrap a satin scarf on and then put a hat over it. My heat styled natural hair doesn’t remain perfect but doing this at least allows me to have some sort of style retention.

swim cap for black hair

Now swimming. SIGH. Swimming is such a rewarding experience and great exercise but lawd it can be inconvenient when it comes to hair…lol. Before I get in the pool I get my hair wet with non-chlorine water and add a little conditioner before putting on my swim cap. This helps my hair from absorbing too much of the damaging chlorine water (hair has a certain saturation point so wetting it with “good” water helps keep it from absorbing some of the “bad” water). Once I’m home (the shower at the Y kinda scares me so I just go straight home after…lol) I wash my hair with Malibu C Superior Swimmers Kit which contains a treatment to help remove chlorine plus a shampoo and conditioner. It makes zero sense to get my hair done while I’m taking swimming lessons so I found that having weave that matches my natural hair texture (when blown out) is best for low maintenance for me. You can see what I wore during my last set of swimming lessons here.

Tools and products

OK so this is where I credit most of my anti-reversion. I start by using shampoos and conditioners made for smoothing naturally curly and kinky hair. Some of my fave sets include:

Motions Straight Finish Heat Styled System
Kérastase Discipline Shampoo, Masque, and Leave-In
Ken Paves Smoothing Shampoo + Conditioner

kerastase discipline mask leave in conditioner
Moroccanoil Smooth Collection

You can see more of the curly to straight kits on the market here.

I also love using Carol’s Daughter Monoi Shampoo, Mask, and Leave-in.

carols daughter monoi oil serum

After the gym or whenever my hair needs to be revived before washing it again, my heat styled natural hair loves a good hair oil. Rub a little into the hair and it does wonders for shine, vibrance, and style. My faves include plain ole vitamin E oil (mine is even a generic from CVS…lol), Caudalie Divine Oil, Carol’s Daughter Monoi Oil Serum, and Ouidad Mongongo Oil.

dry shampoo black hair

I also like a good dry shampoo to help revive an old blowout or if my hair gets too greasy. You can see why they work and some of my faves here.

tancho-tique-stick-lavender

To keep my edges “laid” I LOVE Tancho Tique Stick. My hairstylist introduced me to it years ago when she used it on my hair to keep my hair looking sleek especially the part left out when I wear weave. She taught me a little trick that I now do at home when I flat iron my own hair: dab a little Tancho Tique Stick on your hair before AND after passing the flat iron through. But just a little because if you use too much it can get really greasy. But I swear by my Tancho Tique for keeping my hair looking fresh.

hot tools

As far as heat tools, I get a lot of things sent to me by virtue of doing this blog so I pretty much just use what I’m sent…lol. For my flat iron I LOVE my Hot Tools Cool Tools 1 ¼” Conditioning Vapor Flat Iron as well as one I own by Jose Eber. When it comes to creating the big waves I love, my Remington Curling Wand is my go-to. It’s so easy—all you need to do is wrap small sections of hair around the iron (twirl it, girl) and let it sit for a few seconds then release. I used to wear gloves in the beginning because I’m clumsy and um, ouch but now I’m much better at not burning my fingers. Once in a while I use a curling iron but I need to get a smaller one and will probably get one from Hot Tools next.

At night

No matter if I’m wearing my own hair or a weave, I always make sure to wrap my hair with a satin scarf before bed. It helps keep my hair in place and also helps prevent my hair from drying out (hair likes fabrics like satin and silk—cotton and wool: not so much).

The elements

Rain and humidity always try my hair…lol. I find that using a good smoothing system helps (I mentioned my faves earlier in this post) and a good hairspray helps, too (some of my faves are Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray and L’Oreal Elnett—see more here).

But if I need to be somewhere and my hair needs to look decent, I’ll usually wear a hat or if it’s the winter, cover myself with an oversized scarf (with my satin scarf as a protective layer between the wool and cotton) to help preserve my style.

When all else fails

I have many beanies, hats, and printed scarves to get me by…lol.

jemima jackman head scarf

This one by Jemima Jackman got me through my entire trip to Grenada.

Another reason why my hair might look like it’s always laid: I try not to post pictures when it’s not…lol. This isn’t to say I don’t have tons of bad hair day pics of me floating around (because people play too much)—I just personally didn’t post them myself…lol.

So that’s it, I think…lol. Hopefully I didn’t miss a step…lol. If you have questions or want to add how you keep your heat styled natural hair from reverting, leave them in the comments!

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6 Comments

  1. Chi
    March 5, 2015 / 5:20 pm

    Thanks for this post. I went natural a year ago and my hair is driving me crazy. I was considering relaxing it again because I just can’t DIY. I can’t braid or twist and my hair is thick and unmanageable for me personally. Now I know I have options. There’s only one local natural hair stylist but I’m a 2 hour train ride from Manhattan and there must be tons of natural stylists there. Thank you!

    • Danielle
      Author
      March 5, 2015 / 5:32 pm

      Hey Chi!

      I say go to a salon and get yourself a really cool haircut—don’t relax yet. Pay attention to how the stylist twists your hair and try to recreate it at home. Give yourself another chance with the new cut (because a good cut makes ALL the difference) and if after all that you still can’t manage then consider relaxing again. You might be a twisting and braiding queen undercover…lol. Have you tried protective styles?

  2. Chi
    March 5, 2015 / 5:39 pm

    I have it in Celie twists right now. It’s OK but it’s a struggle for me. It’s at that awkward mid length stage. Too long to be a TWA but too short for ponytails or buns and it shrinks quite a bit. I haven’t had a good cut though and I just had a bad experience at a salon. She didn’t cut too much off but she didn’t style it either. Just snipped around my afro and it was clear she had no clue what she was doing. She even asked me to pick it out because she was afraid. LOL!

    • Danielle
      Author
      March 5, 2015 / 5:43 pm

      omg don’t go to her anymore…lol. Yeah, I definitely understand the mid length struggle. You would definitely benefit from getting a cool haircut though—get on that bus and come into the city…lol. My stylist Gabrielle Corney is really dope at haircuts. Right now she’s at Hairstyling by Joseph.

  3. Bonita
    March 5, 2015 / 8:17 pm

    Yes salon girls, we need more people like you lol, people want to come twice a year :(

  4. 05girl
    June 4, 2016 / 1:50 pm

    What is your system for maintaining leave out? Do u ever just wash the leave out?

    Having a hard time with my leave out, and trying to understand your process, seems like the secret sauce is the tique stick?

    I dunno wth is going on with my hair but my leave out is a frizzy mess, I just washed and flat ironed it two days ago and it’s reverted. I am wearing ghoh blowout(kinky straight) weave. The leave out is not very long so it’s mad noticeable.

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