How I Retain Length – Part Two


Last week, I did this post on the three mainstay components of my regimen that I believe have allowed me to retain a lot of length: Moisture, Protection and Strength. I’ve shared how I do these three things over the course of the last year through a variety of posts. Well, I thought it might be a good idea to put the links to these articles all together in one place. As new readers come to discover the site and “old” readers want to find a post that they know they read, but just can’t find, thought it would be helpful to have a “Library” for quick reference. I hope that you agree!

So, here is Part Two of How I Retain Length with links to core posts related to my regimen!


The first step in moisturizing for me is pre-pooing:
My Staples – Virgin Coconut Oil & Vatika Oil
How I Pre Poo (w/Video Tutorial)

Next is deep conditioning, which I’ve recently discovered a new way of doing:
Deep Conditioning Tricks – Cool & Seal (now for post henna or post-wash protein only)
Pre-Wash Deep Conditioning

Let’s not forget the all important leave-in conditioner:
The Power of pH

(I use the Kimmaytube recipe, but modify it to use less oil for my fine hair: 2 tbsp Kinky Curly Knot Today, 2 tbsp aloe vera juice [food grade-whole leaf], 1 tsp jojoba oil or Jamaican black castor oil; the “regular” recipe includes 2 tsp jojoba oil & 2 tsp castor oil.)

And finally, I have to seal all that lovely moisture into my hair:
My Staples: Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO)


Protection starts with gentle handling in my book:
Finger Detangling
Tools of the Trade (gentle tools & accessories)

Next is protective and/or low manipulation styling that hides away those ends from environmental and mechanical damage:
Protective Styling … Boring?
Style Library: Updos

Then I protect the ‘do at night:
A Bonnet for Every Occasion


I have truly realized the importance of treatments that reinforce and strengthen the hair strand.
Henna – My Two Step Henna/Indigo Process
Moisture & Protein, Finding the Balance
ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor
ApHogee 2 Step Treatment (my first time review and process)
I β™₯ Aubrey Organics (new product)


And that’s it! Enough isn’t it?! I’m nothing if not thorough ;).

(p.s. I’ll add new articles to this post as I discover and incorporate new techniques/products into my regimen.)


How do you moisturize, protect and strengthen your hair?


21 responses »

  1. Shelli, I absolutely love finger detangling. I lose far less hair. No more combs for me, unless I’m trying to do a really straight part.


  2. Shelli,

    Heartfelt gratitude for taking the time to provide this comprehensive detail of your regimen. I certainly appreciate having all that rich information in one place!

    Since following your blog, I’ve come to realize that I have been missing two critical elements to my regimen: pre-poo and strengthening. I am now using Vatika to pre-poo. As for strengthening, this step has been a major omission on my part. I tried Aphogee years ago and suffered a major setback. I now realize that I failed to properly moisturize following the application. Why the heck don’t they print the importance of moisturizing on the label? #should be public outcry..but I digress.

    I didn’t realize that the lack of protein in my regimen, along with manipulation of my fine strands, resulted in breakage. So, now I have added two strengthening products that I absolutely love: Aubry Organics GPB w/Rosemary and Aveda’s Damage Remedy.

    Right now I still struggle with curl definition and mid-week moisture retention. If I bun, I leave it that way all week. If I try to twist n curl, I must twist every night but can’t seem to retain any definition. Open to suggestions here.

    Again, thanks for all the information you provide. It is appreciated and you are inspiration!

    ~Rhonda C


    • Awwwww, thank you Rhonda! You are definitely in my top 5 cheerleaders and you know that I truly appreciate the support!! Have you tried mixing the AO GPB w/Vatika oil on dry hair as a pre-poo? I’d like to know how that works for you. As I told you via e-mail, I think you may need to get your hair a little “hard” with protein to help with retention and you may be over-conditioned (moisturized). I’m putting this here for anyone else who might come across your comments and is struggling with similar issues. Maybe this thread will be of help.


      • I definitely concur with your assessment, Shelli. I dont know why it has taken me four years to come to the realization that I need a better moisture/protein balance. I was both shaken and stirred by my past Aphogee experience. I am ready to crawl back in the saddle but first I will try the GPB mix that you suggested and the lighter leave-in.


  3. Agreed. Bookmarking this one!!

    I used to be really hung up on length back when I used to relax, and now my hair is about bra strap length – it was about waist length but I cut a couple inches since I hadn’t had a trim in a long time. It was shoulder length 3 years ago. Having two kids in two years probably had something to do with the growth lol, but I honestly believe that it was the low manipulation and infrequent heat styling that helped retain the growth. I was just too tired to do anything with it, and when I did heat style it was only a handful of times and I’d go back to wearing a bun. I’m not much of a PJ; I have used Miss Jessie’s and Carol’s Daughter, products that I LOVE, but they are just way too expensive for me right now. I’m getting away from the idea that it’s the products that will create the results you want; it’s your technique, and how you treat your hair. If you don’t detangle gently, wear a scarf or bonnet at night, etc, that $40 tub of whatever isn’t going to do much good.

    I also need to begin pre-pooing and strengthening. I’m not sure what to do for strengthening. I just don’t have the time for henna; even wash day is a pain in the ass because it takes me ALL DAY because of the interruptions. Any low cost, fairly quick suggestions? I’m into homemade stuff (my DC, for example, is a mix of coconut milk, avocado, and olive oil). I have heard good things about the Joico reconstructor….

    Anyhoo. Over here writing a book πŸ˜› Right now I just moisturize with a little bit of conditioner (using Dove at the moment), and I use the Blue Magic coconut oil hair dressing. My hair seems to like it so far.


    • LOL! Welcome to the club (of writing books ;))

      And hey, whatever works!!! And, you know, keeping your hair moisturized and protected with a low maintenance regimen can work wonders!!

      As to strengthening treatments, you definitely don’t need to henna. A simple and quick protein treatment will suffice. I’d suggest the ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin reconstructor (readily available at Sally’s, fast at 2-4 minutes in the hair, and reasonably priced). Or, as you may have seen the other day, I LOVED the Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner! I only used it once mixed with Vatika oil, but it was AMAZING!! Oh, and the coconut milk in your DC is a protein or your can try Naptural85’s Greek yogurt DC for a dose of protein.

      Hope that helps!!


  4. Great idea Shelli. instead of a post though, you should make it a “page” in WordPress. It’s better for the search engines too πŸ™‚ That’s what I did with my “Medium Length Black Hair: Growth, Tips & Styles” page. As a matter of fact I have to update it so thanks for the reminder!


    • You are very welcome Toya! I hope it works for you! Just don’t forget that moisturizing DC after using it … you don’t have to do the extra step of using another DC after using their part 2 Moisture Balancing Conditioner. But, if you hair feels dry or brittle after doing that, I’d suggest doing another DC.


  5. Great post Shelli. Protein treatments have made a great difference in the health of my fine textured hair. Using your recommendations I started using the Aphogee 2 minute treatment once a month last Fall. I’m having surgery next week (fibroids) and decided to give my hair some extra protection with a hard protein treatment this past Sunday. I did the aphogee 2 step on Sunday, used the moisturizer, did my own DC and sealing, you name it. 2 days later, my hair feels great. Thanks for your advise and detailed suggestions. They mean a lot.


  6. FYI: I just came back from Target here in Savannah and wanted to let you ladies know of some good deals. Buy 1 Get 1 Free Deals and also the packages are together so you get 2 for one.
    Moisture Maniacs Shampoo
    Moisture Maniacs Conditioner
    Macadamia Rep Masque
    Bedhead Products
    Biosilks prodoucts
    Biosilks Therapy Treatment
    BB Styling Creme
    Chi Infusion
    BB Creme of Coco Shampoo
    BB Creme of Coco Conditioner

    Also saw Jane Carter Travel Size Kit for 19.99 which had 6 popular products in it.

    I saw some pictures and video, but I’m not at home right now to upload it to the computer, will do later.


  7. Thank you so much Shelli! I love your blog..I’m planning on flat ironing my natural hair next week. Can I use the Kimmaytube leave in after I DC or is it too heavy? If so, what can I use as a moisturizing leave in before I flat iron???


    • Awwww, thanks Crystal!! I think the Kimmaytube leave-in is too heavy because of the both the KCKT and the oils in the mix. When you are flat-ironing your hair, you really don’t want anything that coats the hair too much … you want it to be almost product-less, with the exception of your heat protectant. That being said, I’m not really a flat iron expert!! LOL!! I did this post on my blow-out where I used three products on my hair for the blow-out based upon MopTopMaven’s process as she flat-ironed during the winter.

      I used Roux Fermodyl 619, GVP Sebastian Potion #9 and Aveda Brilliant Damage Control. More details are explained in the post (and by MopTopMaven in her linked article).

      Hope that helps!!


  8. Pingback: How I Retain Length « hairscapades

  9. Hello, Shelli. I came across one of your posts on Curly Nikki and came on over.

    I, too, appreciate all of this great information. I’ll try not to write a book on your page, but I have some huge hair problems, breakage being one of them!

    I try to finger detangle and be very gentle when I handle my hair. I very rarely use shampoo, as I prefer to co-wash. I have done a pre-poo every now and then, but not regularly. (I’m on my way to do that as soon as I finish this!) I deep condition…again, not regularly. I don’t think I’ve ever really given much thought to strenthening my hair. I’ve tried henna a couple of times, but I must be doing something wrong because I have all kinds of problems with it! The first few times I tried it, it irritated my scalp (probably the lemon juice I was told to use to mix it) and the last time I tried it, I was told to try mixing it with honey which was a total clumpy, crumbly disaster. I’d love to experience the “wonders of henna” but my track record is not so good. Do you have any suggestions for mixing/using henna that might help me?

    Thanks for your time and your help!



    • Hi Polly, I see that you went to my Two Step Henna/Indigo post after you wrote this comment. Did you find that helpful to understand my process? Also, I am a big proponent of deep conditioning. When I did that at least once a month (long before I ever incorporated pre-pooing into my regimen), I saw great results in length retention and the condition of my hair. So, I would definitely suggest doing that at least once a month and you might want to try alternating every now and again with a protein treatment or conditioner like Aubrey GPB or ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin for strength. If you use the 2 minute, follow-up with a moisturizing deep conditioner afterwards. If you use Aubrey GPB, follow the directions to use it on dry hair BEFORE shampooing. When I tried to use it like a traditional deep conditioner, I was not impressed. When I used it before shampooing, following the instructions (oh, and I mixed with Vatika oil), it was AHHHMAHHHZING!! LOL!! Also, if henna doesn’t work for you, it’s not the end of the world. It’s not for everyone. I’ve come to find that protein works better for me in regard to strengthening my hair against breakage. The key for me was learning how to use protein properly (i.e. using a moisturizing deep conditioner after it) and recognizing when I need it (i.e. increase in shedding and breakage … overly soft, snag prone hair).


      • Thanks for the reply, Shelli. Yes, I did do some more reading and found the henna post. I think I will try mixing it with the tea next time. I will also try to be a little more consistent with the pre-pooing and the deep conditioning.

        I’ll let you know how the next henna experiment goes!



  10. Hi i have a question about the finger detangling and the protective styles. When i moisturize and seal my hair at night is it okay to use a comb and boar bristle brush to comb it through? Also i wear buns 5 days out of the whole week. Then every night, i take it down is it still retaining my hair length? ( i wear a silk cap at night). And lastley when i moisturize and seal (with fingers) comb or style my hair big long pieces of hair comes out im not sure if it’s shedding or breakage? if it’s shedding is that normal with protective styling. Thank you and by the way i am 14 πŸ™‚


    • Awwww, hi Brittany!! This is the thing, I rarely say anything is right or wrong, I just try to share what works for me and why I think it works. But, what I can say is that if you’ve been doing these things and seeing length retention, then keep doing them. If it seems like your hair is stuck, despite you bunning 5 days a week, then maybe it’s time to change things. If you are using a comb that is not wide tooth, you could start there and, finger detangle first to get rid of big knots, then follow with a wide-tooth comb (I’d skip the brush). You are using these tools AFTER you moisturize, right (you want some oil or cream that will give some slip so that you aren’t combing through dry hair). As to the long pieces of hair, probably shedding, but you can check by looking at the ends of the hair. If it’s a shed hair, you should find a tiny white bulb on one of the ends of the strands. I have very fine hair in certain areas, so sometimes it’s hard for me to see the bulb. So, feel the ends too, and if you feel a little bump, that’s probably the bulb. If it’s breakage, there won’t be any bulb. HTH!!


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