I've learned a few things about my hair since I've been natural.
1. Protein Treatments- They don't work for me. My hair is almost crunchy after adding extra protein to it. After reading 'Porosity and Curly Hair' I learned that my hair is low porosity, which is more prone to protein accumulation when deep conditioning is performed. If you want to learn more about your porosity and how to maintain it check out this link: http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/curl-products/curlchemist-porosity-and-curly-hair
2.Water- I hear naturals on Youtube and blogs reiterate spritzing hair with water before adding a moisturizer and sealing. I don't know why I didn't listen. Water is the best moisturizer for your hair, but the only time I used it was when washing or conditioning. After adding that step, my hair retains more moisture throughout the day.
3. Moisturizer- I have to use a water based moisturizer before I but any oils on my hair. Whether it is a leave in conditioner or butter, my hair does not retain moisture without it. I tried using a creamy mix of shea butter and oils without a water based moisturizer and my hair wasn't up to par. I am currently using Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I also enjoy their Restorative Conditioner.
4. Sealing- Make sure to seal your ends! This is also an important step to retaining moisture. It keeps the moisture locked in. My staple sealants are: castor oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, olive oil, and coconut oil.
5. Protective Styling- Even when I wore protective styles, my hair wasn't growing when I didn't moisturize properly. My ends weren't healthy and I had to trim over an inch off. After I took care of that problem, I started wearing my hair out too often and not keeping my ends protected. My hair suffered. During my first 6 months after my big chop, I wore my hair in protective styles 80% of the time. I doubled my length. I transitioned for 11 months, which most of the time I straightened. You can see what taking care of your hair can do. Protective styles are important if you want to gain and retain length.
I realize everyone's hair and goals are different. Since my goal is growth and retention of length, my important factors may not be as relevant to you, but many of them are key to having healthy hair. Listen to your hair. You will know if something doesn't work for you.
I wish you all a happy hair journey!