What happens when a world renowned beauty expert partners with a legendary haircare brand? Magical things, my friend. Magical things. Blogger and hair guru Nikki Walton, best known as CurlyNikki, has teamed up with Dark and Lovely to present her new book, “When Good Hair Goes Bad: Tips and Tricks for Restoring Your Gorgeous, Healthy, Natural Hair.”
Following up her best-selling and NAACP Image Award nominated book, “Better Than Good Hair,” Walton’s new book is the ultimate natural hair handbook — even better, it’s free! As gratitude to readers and hair enthusiasts who’ve followed CurlyNikki’s nearly decade long reign as the top source for all things natural hair, the author wanted to give fans a treat they’ll be able to cherish forever. “We worked with CurlyNikki for the launch of our Dark and Lovely Au Naturale #CurlPower campaign in 2013 and it was a huge success; so it was a no-brainer for us to collaborate again,” says Michelle Ryan SVP Marketing, L’Oreal Multi-Cultural Beauty Division. The hair brand, which in recent years has extended its products to meet the needs of curly and kinky textured hair, believes this collaboration is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness and educate their consumers on not only how to style their natural hair but also how to care for it.
“When Good Hair Goes Bad” is filled with can’t-miss-tips and hair savior solutions to some of the worst curly dilemmas. Everything from at-home dusting (or trims) to repairing color damaged hair to even an in-depth guide on how to properly protective style is covered. If you ever get the pleasure of meeting her, you’ll be instantly charmed by Walton’s grace and positive vibes! Her glowing spirit is felt on every page as she endearingly refers to her readers as “curlfriends” and offers inspiration that goes beyond just surface beauty. Read on as we catch up with author to discuss her latest book and learn how self-care can lead to good hair.
Tell us the origin story. How did you and Dark and Lovely come about to publish this book?
“So my first book ‘Better Than Good Hair’ was a great success. My publisher wanted to do another book, but I had this crazy idea to give a book away for free — because it’s 2016, and content is free. But mainly because my audience supported me so much with the first book, I wanted to give the second one as a gift! So I reached out to Dark and Lovely, because we’ve worked together in the past. I helped them launch Au Naturale a few years ago, which was also successful. So I pitched the idea and they published it for me. They wanted to invest in an educated, empowered consumer. The book is completely objective, it’s not some big ad. There’s no endorsements in it. It’s just my real book, published by Dark and Lovely. It’s tips and tricks for restoring your natural hair to its original glory. When we go natural, we enjoy the freedom, and of course we want to play around with our hair, but that comes with consequences. So the book has short-term and long-term solutions for common hair issues.”
When you say “good hair goes bad,” how bad is bad enough to actually do something about it? Some of us (raises hand) are guilty of neglecting naughty hair until it’s a complete disaster!
“It’s really a case by case basis. Some people can go a month without re-styling. For me, as long as I’m doing my hair every two weeks, I’m okay. There are people who have to do their hair several times a week. So it really depends on you — how often you exercise, how strenuous your exercises are, the products you’re using and if they build up. It’s all those little factors playing into how frequently you need to restyle your hair.”
One of the essential good hair habits you mention is “dusting” aka trimming our ends. How often should we do this?
“Depending, again, on factors. If you are a woman who loves to blow her hair out and use excessive heat and excessive manipulation, like having to re-twist your hair every night, check out your ends. If you notice that you’re getting split ends more frequently, you’re going to need to readjust your routine so that you can prevent them, and you’re going to want to pull out the hair shears — the scissors you use should be for hair only. A micro-trim, a dust, it’s not a lot of hair. As a result, you’re going to get fewer tangles, less shed hair, and less breakage. It’s so critical for a healthy head of hair to keep those ends nice and neat.”
In your book, you say when it comes to portioning our product use, less is more. How much is too much?
“The amount of product you use depends on you hair and the step of the routine you’re in. When I detangle I used all the conditioner, like the whole bottle! The tangles fall out with no problem. But when I’m styling my hair, I don’t use a lot of product. I used to use a lot, because I thought a lot of styling product would hold my curls better. But what actually happened is my hair took longer to dry and ended up looking cakey and flakey. So it’s all about getting the right styling products and using it light-handedly.”
Hair growth can be quite the struggle for some naturalistas. What’s your advice for those at a standstill?
“So a lot of women say ‘Oh, my hair hasn’t grown in three years!’ And to that I say, ‘Your hair is always growing, you’re just not retaining length.’ Which means, your hair is breaking off as fast as it’s growing out of your scalp. It’s most likely something in your routine [that’s causing the breakage]. It could be over manipulation of re-twisting your hair overnight or product build-up; it varies so much. Whatever it is, you’re doing something that is preventing that retention. So you have to assess, even if you have to write down your regimen and tweak a few things. Take notes and see what works. You will see growth as long as your protect the ends.”
So we now know over-manipulation gets in the way of growth, but what can ladies with tangle-prone curls do to keep their hair styled and moisturized, yet still growth-friendly?
“I’m not going to say every woman who re-twists every night will run into breakage, but if there’s a way to prolong your style without restyling, do it. You can preserve your braid-out or twist-out by doing a pineapple style or sleeping with your hair in a satin scarf. If you can make it last without having to reset every day, you’d be doing your hair a huge favor.”
Hair washing counts as manipulation. How often should we wash our curls?
“Every time you wash your hair you’re damaging it, because your strands swell in the water and then contracts when it dries. Washing every day will cause your hair to break down, just like a sweater would if you washed it every day. You wouldn’t wash your favorite cashmere sweater every day.”
In the book you cover hair thinning, coloring, heat damage and so much more. There are endless hair woes out there, how did you narrow down to the specific topics mentioned in the book?
“I used to get thousands of emails like ‘Nikki, I need to learn how to love my hair. Give me inspiration for going natural!’ Now people send me stuff like ‘I fried my hair! What am I supposed to do now?’ or ‘My hair won’t curl’ or ‘I left a dye in for too long.’ So instead of responding to each individual email, I answered the most common questions in the book.”
What do you think are the most common misconceptions about maintaining healthy hair?
“One that I touch on in the book is protective styles being the way to grow your hair out. Sometimes, it can do more harm than good. People with fine hair like mine, can’t rock those big luxurious extensions. My edges would come out and it would put strain on my scalp. It would definitely do more harm than good, and I wouldn’t see the length I wanted. You have to know what protective styles work for you.”
How do we properly go about protective styling?
“A lot of women go from one protective style to the next, without having any time off in between. And that is a no-no. It’s not only about giving your hair and scalp a break, but also boosting your self-esteem. You can get so used to wearing long, flowing hair that when you take it out, you feel naked. Learn to love your hair, and give yourself 3-5 weeks of just your natural hair before going back to a protective style.”
Speaking of loving our hair, so many women try to live up to different standards of “good hair.” What’s your advice for women who may not naturally have the so-called conventional “good hair?”
“My advice is always: your hair is good. Healthy hair is good. Whatever is growing out of your scalp is perfect. A lot of women turn to YouTube or blogs for inspiration to get their new styling idea. But often times, they don’t adjust their expectations. They expect their twist-out to come out just like so and so’s. And then when it doesn’t, they feel like a failure. But that’s not true. It’s your twist-out and it’s beautiful! Your twist-out may not look like her twist-out. Again, it’s all about learning to love your hair first.”
In the book, you have a section for your “Better Than Good Life” regimen. Surprisingly, it has little to do with hair and more to do with inner peace and self-love. You’ve noted that it’s your most important formula in the book. What did it mean for you to include this in a hair guide?
“It’s just such my thing! That little section, I want to write a whole book on that. That’s more where I am right now. Even more than just hair. I’m really excited about sharing my outer abundance in life — the blessings I’ve seen in my outer world that came from my inner peace. It comes from living in the present, meditating and just treating yourself right — which also helps improve your hair health!”
Top three tips for keeping our mane on its best behavior. Go!
- “Hydration, inside and out.
- Work with your texture instead of against it.
- Find a style that you can depend on.”
What natural hair trends have you noticed this summer?
“Lighter products. For me, in the summer, when I do wash and gos or twist-outs, I don’t use heavy creams. I basically use just leave-in conditioner. My hair is fluffier, softer, and it doesn’t get weighed down. I like to feel the wind in my hair.”
Any predictions for fall?
“I can see protective styles. I see more braids come fall time.”
Lastly, what’s your favorite hair hack of the moment?
“I’m a beach girl, I go to the beach like several times a year all over the world. Before I go into the water, I wet my hair and apply leave-in conditioner. That way if my hair is already wet and drenched with delicious conditioner, it won’t soak up the salt water. Or even in the pool, it won’t soak up the chlorine water. It’s just a great way to protect my hair on vacation.”