So how does Yaya DaCosta maintain it all? For this edition of Wash Day Diaries, she walks us through her favorite products to keep her curls healthy and moisturized.
I wash my hair on average once a week. If I decide that I’m going to wash it, when I have time, I use a scalp treatment beforehand. I’ll take some oil and put it all on my scalp. It’s usually some mixture of ingredients that are stimulating to the scalp, since it could be like a castor oil base with some tea tree or even cayenne—just not too much. Those ingredients tingle and activate the scalp and promote hair growth.
I tend to use a simpler brand, like what you would buy at Whole Foods or a health food store. When I was living in New York, where I’m from, I would use Carol’s Daughter products back in the day before they blew up into a huge brand. I used to go to the original little small shop in Brooklyn and get different shampoos and hair moisturizers.
After shampooing, I immediately go in with the conditioner. My favorite thing is actually to soak it on. I use the same brand as the shampoo from Whole Foods. I have to buy bottles and bottles, because I have a lot of thick hair and I like it to be fully saturated in conditioner. If I have time, then I’ll just tie it up in a top knot and cover it with a shower cap or a plastic bag and then put a head wrap over that and go about my errands for the day for maybe a few hours. I’ll keep it on anywhere from an hour to five hours. I don’t tend to do that in the winter as much because I don’t like a wet head outside in the cold; but if the weather’s warm enough, I like to do that.
Then when I go in to detangle, it’s so slippery and so easy. Sometimes I use a brush, like a Denman brush, and I’ll even go in with smaller sections with a Tangle Teezer, especially if I’m going to do a twist out or do braids. Then I just rinse it over and over and over again to make sure that all the product is out.
I go in with some oil. Usually, I like Camellia seed oil. I like Argan oil. Castor oil is very thick, so I only put that on my scalp—not the actual hair. I also like shea seed oil. I just make sure that it’s super moisturized and the oil is locking in the moisture.
I make my own flaxseed oil. I’ve been doing that for many years. There are so many things that have that slip effect. The main ingredient is flaxseed, and there are a bunch of other proprietary ingredients. Sometimes I’ll add a marshmallow root or slippery elm, all those kinds of things that have slip to them, and use that as a gel. It’s much easier on the hair if you do it right. If you add a little oil, it doesn’t flake if you’re changing styles and don’t want to rinse the product out. It can just be reactivated with water and then reset again.
If I’m doing a twist, one of my favorite products is the Jane Carter Solution curl defining cream. I like to use that. My main thing with products is that I can’t deal with strong smells. The first thing I do when I’m in a store shopping is to see if the container opens enough to be able to smell the product. If it’s sweet or fruity or flowery, I can’t do it. I try to use unscented. I find the Jane Carter products to be very versatile and mild in terms of scent.
Paulina Jayne Isaac is an editor and freelance writer based in Philadelphia. You can follow her on Instagram @paulinajayne15.