Melanie asks: Hi Jen, you’re almost at your 1 year mark since you last relaxed your hair and I DON’T UNDERSTAND how you make it look so darn easy! I’m only 9 weeks post and I feel like I can’t handle the little new growth I have now. Please tell me what has helped the most because I swear it’s like all that new growth you have does not faze you. It is because your new growth doesn’t tangle naturally? Share the secret girly!!!!!!
Hi Melanie! Oh no, left unstretched and without moisture my new growth loves to mat together and tangle. My biggest focus over the last 11 months has been to to (a) keep my hair moisturized and (b) keep my natural texture (and texlaxed hair) stretched enough to prevent matting and tangles. A moisture-focused regimen and stretched hair have kept me sane because I. hate. dealing. with. tangles! And I’m sure if I constantly had to deal with long detangling days I would have either caved in and relaxed my hair or grabbed my shears and chopped my relaxed hair off.
Here’s what has helped keep me from cussing out my hair on wash days:
 PRE-POOING SETS THE STAGE
On wash days I will either pre-poo (pre-poo means pre-shampoo treatment) by either:
- Do a hot oil treatment,
- Apply conditioner that softens and detangles, or
- Detangle with my DIY marshmallow root + slippery elm detangler and then apply oil on top.
After applying oil, conditioner, or detangler to my hair I use my fingers to gently detangle my hair and remove shed hairs. Adding water to already tangled hair is a bad idea so working out tangles and removing shed hair at this stage sets the detangling stage for the rest of my wash day.
 I WELCOME CLEANSING CONDITIONERS THAT PROVIDE SLIP AND DETANGLING SHAMPOOS
. . . for obvious reasons lol. I’ve been shampooing less and less (which is funny because I used to hate co-washing in the past) but I’ve been lucky enough to find cleansing conditioners & shampoos that provide slip and detangle my hair. My current go-to’s are:
- As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner
- Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner (provides more slip than As I Am).
- Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo — this a clarifying/chelating shampoo so I use it infrequently but it’s still gentle enough that it does not strip my hair and it does help detangle).
- Creme of Nature Moisture & Shine Shampoo
 WATER FLOW HELPS DETANGLE TOO
This one might seem very simple but trust me, it works. When rinsing out my hair for anything, I angle my head and use the flow of water to help detangle my hair as well.
 HOW I SHAMPOO MATTERS
When co-washing or shampoo in my hair, I work in 4-6 sections and work product down the length of my hair (not side to side/rubbing). When working on my scalp, hold the length of my hair with one hand while massaging my scalp with the other hand. Holding the length of my hair prevents my hair from shifting around too much which minimizes tangling. For shampoos only, I use a color applicator bottle, dilute the shampoo with water, and use the applicator tip to apply the shampoo directly to my scalp and then work the lather down my hair.
Here’s my full video on how to shampoo your hair to reduce tangling.
 LEAVE-INS THAT PROVIDE SLIP? YES PLEASE!
Kurlee Belle Thirsty Kurls Leave-In and Komaza Care Matani Leave-In Conditioner have become my two fave leave-ins for softening and providing slip. My favorite serum, which should come as no surprise, is Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum. Either combo (Kurlee Belle + PMSSS or Komaza Matani + PMSSS) help make detangling my now 5+ inches worth of new growth an easier experience.
 KEEP MY NEW GROWTH STRETCHED!
If you’ve been tuning on Wednesdays for my wash day post you already have a sense of how important keeping my new growth stretched is. I would not have made it this far without a horror story or two to share if it weren’t for consistently keeping my new growth stretched. Left to it’s own devices my natural texture(s) loves to mat and tangle so keeping it stretched is very important. By keeping my new growth stretched I’ve also experienced fewer single strand knots (I hate those!).
 MOISTURE IS MY BEST FRIEND
Dry new growth is more susceptible to tangling and breakage. Even though I no longer co-wash/deep condition mid-week (I gave that up months ago because I don’t have it me to work to stretch my new growth twice a week), deep conditioning on wash days and moisturizing nightly during the week (my natural hair loves HairVeda Red Tea Satin Moisturizer) has been enough to keep my hair adequately moisturized.
The moral of the story is that my transition has been pain free when it comes to tangling because I tackle tangles at every step and keep my hair as moisturized as possible.*
*Even though my regimen is moisture-focusd, I still incorporate protein treatments from time to time to strengthen my hair against breakage and prevent moisture overload.