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I am the definition of lazy when it comes to taking care of my hair. If there’s a step I can skip somewhere in the process, I will. But I’m also the first person to complain that my ends are split or my hair isn’t growing or my curls aren’t popping. I want all the results without any of the work and, as Dove Celebrity Stylist Ursula Stephen recently explained to me, that’s just not going to work.

I chatted with Ursula about Dove’s newly launched Amplified Textures line which was particularly timely as I haven’t been doing much to take care of my hair during quarantine, much less “amplify” it. As it turns out, the collection actually takes some of the work out of product searching by hitting on all of those key needs natural girls have when it comes to their hair, Ursula said.

“I’m so in love with Dove Amplified Textures because every step of the way, it’s hydrating, conditioning, and strengthening.”

However, she quickly let me know if you’re taking care of your hair at home, you’re going to need to put in some effort to reap the full benefits of the products in the line. So I talked to her about three key moments in the washing and styling process where naturals tend to mess up and she explained how to step your healthy hair game up.

Dove Amplified Textures

Source: Dove Amplified Textures / Dove

Shampooing vs Co-washing

“Natural girls are looking for a shampoo that can hydrate and I feel like a lot of them haven’t been able to find it. That’s why they’ve been doing a lot of co-washing because they’re so afraid of shampoo, but this one is hydrating and cleansing,” Ursula said of the Dove Amplified Textures Shampoo. Her recommendation is to follow up with the Super Slip Detangling Conditioner after washing and then apply the Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner.

“I use all three because I feel like the foundation to healthy hair and great styling starts at the bowl and this is it.”

Dove Amplified Textures

Source: Dove Amplified Textures / Dove

Since Ursula brought up co-washing, I had to ask her where she stands on the practice that I learned earlier this year is quite controversial among stylists.

“I’m not mad at co-washing if you are educated on it and you’re not doing it solely. It can’t be your day to day,” Ursula explained. “It doesn’t clean your hair. You’re just constantly adding conditioner, and if your hair’s not strong enough, it’s going to cause build-up, it’s going to weigh it down.”

Rotating between co-washing and shampooing on either a weekly or two-week basis is key, she added. “It’s kind of like washing your face. Sometimes my dermatologist is like, ‘Don’t wash your face because it’s irritated,’ so it’s that whole dynamic of knowing when to do it.”

Likening co-washing to the use of dry shampoo, Ursula pointed out, “you’re not just going to use dry shampoo forever.” And the same should go for using conditioner in place of shampoo. “Co-washing can never replace shampooing your hair and cleaning it.”

Dove Amplified Textures

Source: Dove Amplified Textures / Dove

Winter Wash ‘N Gos 

I shouldn’t have been surprised when I learned wash ‘n gos are a no-no during the winter. It’s kind of a no-brainer that stepping into cold air with wet hair isn’t a good look, but since we’re indoors more now there’s potential for a little more leeway.

“If you’re at home more now, you can do it if you’re not going out,” Ursula said, pointing out that wash ‘n gos can be “very hard and damaging to the hair” in the cold months.

If wash ‘n gos are your thing, however, you’ll need to put in a little more effort when it comes to that “go” part during the next several months. Ursula recommended incorporating a diffuser into your routine, saying if you’re going to keep your hair healthy, you’re going to have to “Wake up earlier and make sure [your hair is] dry. It’s never a good idea to wake up, do a wash ‘n go, and go out into the winter cold.”

Dove Amplified Textures

Source: Dove Amplified Textures / Dove

Deep Conditioning

Deep conditioning is one of those things that feels like an extra chore on wash day, yet is one of the few steps in a beauty routine that actually yields immediate results.

“Right away you should be able to feel a difference [from a mask.] Now that doesn’t mean that because you feel a difference today, you’re not going to go back and use your mask again,” Ursula cautioned. “It’s a treatment, treatments go on for a period of time. You should be able to see results right away and it should last for at least seven days.”

But, it’s not enough to just slap a product like the Amplified Textures Recovery Mask on your strands for the recommended time and go on with your life, you should be using either a dryer or steamer to help the product penetrate the hair shaft more. “It’s a waste if you don’t,” Ursula said, pointing out that otherwise, “You can just follow with your Super Slip Detangling Conditioner and be fine.”

She added, “Black women, we love our hair, but we’re not choosing the right products. And what we’re not doing, we’re not putting the time in. … If you’re already going to wash your hair, just do the 20 minutes. Hello! It’s amplified textures — amplify your texture, amplify your mask! You can amplify any mask by going under a dryer, going under a steamer, and turn it up. If it says leave it on for five minutes, leave it on for 20 minutes.”