How To Do The 3 Step Method for Natural Hair

Aug 21, 2021

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Just like any other community, trends come and go.

The latest natural hair trend: the 3 step method for natural hair.

The difference between this trend and other natural hair trends is that its not a real “trend” – its supported by natural hair professionals (licenced stylists and cosmetologists).

These stylists have long stated that the best way to take care of natural hair (yes, even Type 4 hair) is by keeping the hair clean and applying a generous amount of water on a weekly basis.

They state that by following this simplified hair care system, we will all see hydrated, happy hair.

Here’s what you need to know about the 3 step method for natural hair.

What Is The 3 Step Method

The 3 step method states that the only steps you need to focus on for hydrated hair is:

  • Cleansing – keep your hair clean
  • Conditioning – condition using your hair (and deep condition as needed)
  • Styling – using quality stylers on damp hair to moisturize and define your hair

They further state that this method will not only boost moisture retention, reduce dryness and breakage, but it will cut down your wash day routine to 90 minutes, tops.

This is exactly what we want as naturals!

Here’s how to implement the 3 step method on natural hair.

How To Do The 3 Step Method

Cleansing

Shampoo is essential for all natural hair routines, as the detergents and surfactants in the formulas remove product build-up; mineral build-up (if you live in an area with hard water); and excess oil and dirt from your scalp.

Dirty hair means that your products and moisture are blocked from being absorbed into your hair.

Shampoo is not your enemy – using a high-quality shampoo will not dry out your hair!

To properly shampoo, lather the shampoo in your hands to activate the product and apply your shampoo to soaking wet hair.

Shampoo in sections to reduce breakage and as you shampoo. The best technique to shampoo is to stretch and pull each section downwards while you shampoo your scalp. Smooth the shampoo down your hair to reduce tangles.

an image of the best products for fine type 4 natural hair_mielle organics pomegranate and honey shampoo

Mielle Pomegranate & Honey Shampoo

Best for TYPE 4

This shampoo is one of the most moisturizing shampoos on the market. Key ingredients such as honey and panthenol reduce friction between hair strands, providing additional slip for detangling and does not overly strip the hair once rinsed. A must try for Type 4 naturals!

an image of camille rose sweet ginger rinse

Camille Rose Naturals Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse

Best for TYPE 3 – 4

This shampoo is incredibly gentle and non-stripping, but contains enough surfactants to thoroughly cleanse your hair and remove buildup. Ginger root oil – the second ingredient in the formula – is antiseptic, boosting overall scalp health. A must have shampoo in any high porosity natural hair routine!

Conditioning

Conditioner is used to soften the hair and smooth down the cuticle after using a shampoo. It should be applied to the hair itself and not to your scalp.

You can also deep condition at this time. If you have damaged or dry hair, use a moisturizing, protein-free deep conditioner to promote moisture retention (after your shampoo and conditioner).

If you are experiencing heat or sun damage, incorporate a monthly protein treatment into your routine to boost your protein stores and strengthen your coils.

Deep conditioning has long been pedalled as the holy grail of growing natural hair, but remember: take the time to know your hair’s specific needs before spending money on deep conditioners.

aussie moist conditioner

Aussie Miracle Moist Conditioner

Best for TYPE 3-4

A pocket-friendly, slippery conditioner that is perfect for tangle-prone coily hair. To save on conditioner, apply on wet hair in sections to fully mobilize the product. For Type 4 naturals, gently finger detangle, working from roots to tips. Rinse off with lukewarm water before deep conditioning.

an image of olaplex no 3 hair repair

Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector

Best for naturals

Olaplex’s Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment has a patented agent that is chemically similar to the disulfide protein bonds in our hair. Using it monthly prior to your wash day as a pre-poo will replace broken bonds in your cuticles caused by sun damage, dyes/bleach, heat tools and manipulation.

an image of tgin Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Hair Masque

TGIN Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Hair Masque

Best for TYPE 3-4

This mask is loaded with a healthy balance of strengthening and conditioning ingredients that will soften your coils and keep dryness at bay. A great protein-free deep conditioner for boosting moisture in low porosity/protein-sensitive hair.

Moisturizing and Styling

Moisturizing natural hair is as simple as dampening your hair. Why? Because water is nature’s only true hydrater. To truly moisturize your hair, you must start with water!

Simply section your hair, apply a generous amount of water, and apply your stylers. Natural hair professionals recommend using a botanical gel for wash and go’s, or a cream styler/mousse for your twist/braid outs.

If you suffer from tangles and need some extra slip, apply a leave-in conditioner first to your wet strands (always working in sections) and slowly finger detangle.

When doing a wash and go, use a dime sized amount of gel per section (the smaller the section, the more defined your hair will turn out).

Once gel is applied, sit under a hair dryer or allow the hair to air dry. Do not touch the hair while its still wet to avoid frizz.

When doing a twist out, apply your mousse or cream styler and twist immediately. Sit under a hair dryer or allow the hair to dry overnight.

TGIN Miracle RepaiRx Protective Leave In Conditioner

TGIN Miracle Repairx Protective Leave in Conditioner

Best for TYPE 3-4

This light-weight formula is perfect for low porosity naturals looking for moisture without the product buildup. It adds definition while replenishing moisture to curls and coils, resulting in soft, supple and defined hair.  

Earthtones Naturals Curl Enhancing Jelly

Best for TYPE 3-4

A Canadian-based brand, Earthtones Naturals focuses on holistic, natural ingredients – and this gel is no exception. Its formulated with some ingredients such as aloe leaf juice, panthenol and sea kelp!

camille rose spiked honey mousse

Camille Rose Spiked Honey Mousse 4-in-1 Styler

Best for TYPE 3-4

A lightweight setting mousse infused with conditioning ingredients such as honey, nettle and various emollients. Great for smoothing down curly and coily hair and setting twist outs and braid outs. 

Some Important Considerations

This is a great starting point for naturals looking to create a routine that is replicable and simple.

By focusing on water first and keeping your hair clean, you’ll ensure that your hair is properly prepped to take up moisture.

No Oils No Butters

Stylists recommend “no oils no butters” – meaning not using any raw, standalone oils or butters on natural hair, only applying well formulated, conditioning products. This means not applying raw coconut oil, shea butter or other oils and butters directly onto the hair.

The rationale for this is that oils contain no water, thus cannot moisturize your hair.

Oils are also excellent sealants and as a result, contributes to buildup and can dehydrate your hair if not properly clarified.

This is a huge mindset shift for many naturals as oils and butters have been used generationally.

However, the fact remains that water is the most important “product” for our natural hair. If we focus our attention on adequately hydrating our hair and keeping it clean, we’ll save time on our routines and have moisturized hair.

It’s up to you whether you want to continue to use oils and butters in your routine. Studies have long depicted the reparative properties of oils, but remember: water is the only true moisturizer.

Final Thoughts on the 3 Step Method for Natural Hair

The 3 step method on natural hair is a simple natural hair routine that you can do to keep your hair happy and hydrated.

Remember: the best routine for natural hair is one that is consistent, replicable and simple. Stick with implementing the 3 step method for at least a month before deciding if its right for you.

The Curl Market is a natural hair blog catered to helping black naturals grow their curls into a long, luscious manes.

We use the latest evidence-based scientific research to provide you with the top tips on growing your curls, regardless of hair type.

We also provide lifestyle tips, both self care and mental care, to ensure you are optimizing your body’s natural hair growth cycle – because you can’t grow natural hair if you’re stressed out!

Come as you are.

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WRITTEN BY

Ayana Aden

Ayana is The Curl Market’s brand founder. When she’s not deep in natural hair research or creating content, she’s hanging on the couch with her husband and her cat, reading a book or scrolling through TikTok. Follow her on Instagram at @tothecurlmarket.

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What's Your Curl Type?

Take The Quiz!

Learning your curl type is an important step in learning how to take care of your natural hair. It can help you understand what products will work best for you, how often to shampoo, how to style your natural hair, and other key information.

This quiz will give you the lowdown on exactly what your curl type is, so you'll never have to wonder again ♥

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