Last updated on February 6th, 2023 at 10:54 pm
Caring for your hair with low manipulation to retain length is one of the easiest ways to grow your hair.
What is Low Manipulation?
When looking at low manipulation from the subject of hair care, there’s quite a few areas to examine in each step of your hair care process.
Low manipulation in its simplest form of explanation is handling your hair as little as possible. What it is not is neglecting your hair.
Just because you are following low manipulation hair care, that doesn’t mean you are leaving your hair alone altogether. On the contrary, it means that you still care for your hair with as many steps as necessary to keep it healthy. Yet, you don’t handle your hair when it’s not necessary.
Let’s take a look a the common steps in a hair routine and ways that you can complete those steps with low manipulation to retain length.
Low Manipulation to Retain Length in Every Part of Your Hair Routine
Aside from styling your hair (which we will go into later, you can employ low manipulation techniques at every part of your hair care routine. That includes:
- The Pre-Poo
- Deep Conditioning
The Low Manipulation Pre-Poo
The first step in your hair routine on wash day is the pre-poo.
Some people don’t pre-poo their hair and while it’s a personal choice to do so, it’s a wise choice. There are so many benefits to pre-pooing (or pre-shampooing/pre-cleansing your hair) before you actually cleanse it of dirt and debris.
In order to manipulate your hair as little as possible during this step, keep these tips in mind:
- Do not detangle before pre-pooing. Simply, apply your pre-poo products throughout your hair, resisting the urge to detangle. You’ll get to that later in the process.
- If your hair is extremely detangled from long term protective styling, you can lightly finger detangle but make sure to do so in very small sections. This way, you won’t be re-tangling your hair as your move throughout your head.
- Do not use hair tools (combs/brushes) to distribute through your hair. Scrunch or smooth with your hands.
Using Low Manipulation When Cleansing Your Hair
This is one step in the process that may seem difficult when trying to use low manipulation. Yet, it’s possible to a degree.
In the early part of my natural hair journey, I would wash my scalp and comb (fingers or an actual comb) down my strands. Yet, I quickly realized I was causing my hair more breakage than necessary.
The goal of shampooing your hair is to cleanse your scalp and remove product build up from your entire head. You do not need to comb through your hair to do that.
In order to maintain low manipulation with washing your hair, keep these tips in mind:
- Wash in sections (4-6 depending on hair length) so that your do not tangle your hair. This reduces the need for additional detangling.
- Focus the shampoo or cleansing product of choice on your scalp and allow the suds to wash down your strands when rinsing.
Deep Conditioning With Low Manipulation to Retain Length
Once you are ready to apply your deep conditioner, this is when you will likely do a bit more manipulation than the previous steps. But, not during the application process. Keep these tips in mind:
- Smooth the deep conditioner on to your hair.
- For deeper penetration, scrunch your deep conditioner into your hair section by section.
- Only detangle when it’s time to wash the conditioner out.
- Work in sections and finger detangle first.
- Follow each section with a large tooth comb or detangling brush with your hair under the shower stream. The water helps you to detangle in a more gentle way and works with the conditioner.
- Optional: Use a rinse out softening conditioner on top of the deep conditioner. Using the two in conjunction will soften your hair to aid in detangling.
Low Manipulation Hair Styling
Day to day hairstyling can wreak havoc on your strands. Choosing to comb and/or brush, twist and/or braid your hair every day is way too much manipulation. Especially when you are trying to grow your hair. Instead, keep these tips in mind:
- Low manipulation hair styles require manipulation to create them but that manipulation pales in comparison to daily styling.
- Set your hair in a style on wash day that you can maintain for a few days at a time, without needing to re-do it. Here are some examples of low manipulation hairstyles:
- Two strand twists (set them on wash day and depending on how small, they can last for a couple of weeks)
- Braids (once they are done, they can last even longer than twists)
- Roller or rod sets where the curls can be secured at night and then just shaken out in the morning (See Waveformers)
- Buns (secured and tied down when you are sleeping)
- The Wash and Go
- Twist outs that are not maintained by constant re-twisting
Blow Dry/Stretch with Low Manipulation
For some, part of the hairstyling process is using a blow dryer to stretch or blow out the hair.
Even this can be done in a way that lessens the amount of manipulation you put your delicate strands through. There’s two methods that I recommend.
The Tension Method
The tension blow dry method is a very popular method. You use just a little bit of heat to stretch out natural hair. What’s great about this method is you are not using a comb or brush attachment. All you do is hold the ends of your hair, applying a little tension while running the hair dryer up and down your hair.
The dryer can even be used cold to do this. It’s the slight bit of tension that you use to hold your hair in a stretched state while it’s drying that yields the blown out look.
Reverse Air Drying
Another way to blow dry or blow stretch your hair with low manipulation is to use a tool like the RevAir (Reverse Air) hair dryer.
The RevAir is a revolutionary device for those looking to dry or stretch their hair in record time without heat damage. I love the RevAir because you only need to section your hair in 6-8 sections (depending on the amount of hair you have) and it’s blown out pretty awesomely in less than a half hour.
You can then quickly style your hair with even less manipulation because you don’t have to work with your hair in it’s curly state. I can braid my hair up in 2 braids very easily (and quickly) after using my RevAir. Then, it lasts for 3 days before it requires a little moisture. This is one of the best ways of doing low manipulation to retain length.
Hair Tools That Help With Low Manipulation
Some of the hair tools that can help you style your hair with low manipulation that I recommend include:
The spin hair pins are great for creating buns or for just pulling your hair up and securing it. They are better than bobby pins and cause no breakage or tangling when removing.
The Puff Cuff hair clamps are super versatile. You can use them to create ponytails that are secure but not too tight as to pull at your roots. Removing them are a cinch as well. No more pulling your hair through an elastic band.
If you want to do a super sleek bun that lasts for days and looks very neat, the satin hair bun maker is for you.
Lastly, one of the hair tools that I like to use in conjunction with my fingers when it’s time to detangle is the Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush. It’s gentle and doesn’t rip through your hair like a lot of so called detangling brushes.
Watch how I use Felicia Leatherwood’s brush to create the low manipulation and protective hairstyle below:
As you can see, there are many opportunities for reducing manipulation when caring for your hair. For those of us with fine natural hair, it’s critical to practice low manipulation to retain length.