Editor Leah Faye Cooper Shares Her 11-Step Sunday Hair Care Routine

Because this ‘fro isn’t going to condition itself.

By: Leah Faye Cooper
Photography: Alec Kugler

I don’t know where I was when my sisters, friends, and colleagues all turned into beauty buffs with multi-step skincare routines (at a sample sale, maybe?), but I’m still washing my face with Dove soap and calling it a night. When it comes to my hair, however, I don’t skimp on products and I don’t play games. Come Sunday night, my apartment is essentially a downtown Manhattan natural hair salon. There’s cleansing, conditioning, masking, and more, with either a Drake playlist or my latest Netflix obsession streaming on Apple TV.

I big-chopped my once chemically-processed hair eight years ago, but flat-ironed it almost daily, which, of course, fried my curl pattern to smithereens and resulted in extreme breakage. Three years ago my incredibly chic—and generous!—older sister got me a gift certificate to Hair Rules, where I did another big chop. Today, I’m committed to keeping my hair as healthy as possible, and do the absolute most in terms of moisturizing and styling on Sundays. Here’s how it all goes down.

Nuance Salma Hayek Blue Agave Curls Hair Mask, $6.17

I’m obsessed with hair masks; nothing leaves my hair more soft and moisturized. While most labels say that you should apply a mask after shampooing, this is actually the first step of my routine. (A beauty editor friend of mine once schooled me on this, mentioning that hair follicles soak up water and leave little room for products to penetrate.) My two favorites are the Nuance Salma Hayek Curls and Waves Mask and Kérastase Discipline Masque Curl Idéal. I slather a generous amount onto my hair, put on a plastic shower cap, and let the mask work its magic for about 30 minutes. I usually spend this time drinking wine and browsing my favorite online shopping sites.

Briogeo Avocado + Quinoa Co-wash, $32

Once I hop in the shower I rinse out the mask and reach for a cleansing conditioner, which I prefer over traditional shampoos that tend to dry my hair out. Recently I’ve been using Pantene Deep Hydrating Co-Wash, but there are so many good ones on the market. I also love Oiudad Curl Immersion No-Lather Cleansing Conditioner and Briogeo Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash.

Kevin Murphy Repaire-Me.Rinse , $39

My hair is super thick and gets very tangled, so a good conditioner is clutch. I’m constantly trying out new ones, but these days I’m either reaching for Garnier Whole Blends Illuminating Conditioner or Kevin Murphy Repair-Me.Rinse.

Oribe Glaze for Beautiful Color, $58

If I’m getting ready for a special event or my color looks dull (my dark hair is currently dyed brown with blonde highlights), I condition with Oribe Glaze for Beautiful Color. It’s the most luxurious hair product I’ve ever used—rich, velvety, and adds a glossy shine to my hair that makes the color pop.

Duke Cannon Big Ass Brick of Soap, $9

While my hair soaks up the conditioner, I shower with a Duke Cannon Big Ass Brick of Soap. I discovered it a few years ago while writing a story about men’s grooming products, and my life has been exponentially better ever since. I don’t care how great fancy body washes claim to be, this is the best soap ever in my opinion. The lather is superb and a single bar lasts for over a month.

Shea Moisture African Water Mint & Ginger Leave-In Detangler, $11.99

After rinsing out my conditioner, I work in a bit of Shea Moisture African Water Mint & Ginger Leave-In Detangler. It banishes any last-minute tangles and feels super refreshing on my scalp.

Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Turban, $30

I need to write a thank-you note to the team at Aquis, because their Lisse Luxe Hair Turban is the truth! I put it on after I get out of the shower and it keeps dripping at bay while staying secure, which is never the case with a regular towel.

Hair Rules Curly Whip, $23.99

I try not to use too much heat on my hair and often rock a curly wash-and-go. Hair Rules Curly Whip is the best for defining and stretching my kinky texture. I rake a  handful of it through my soaking-wet hair while I’m still in the shower, then shake my head to get rid of excess water and let my hair air-dry.

Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture Brassica Seed & Shea Oils Silkening Blow Out Crème, $26

On days when I blow-dry my hair, I divide it into six sections and rub a nickel-size amount of heat protectant into each one. My current go-to is Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture Brassica Seed & Shea Oils Silkening Blow Out Crème.

Amika Immortal Power-Life Dryer, $300

My blow-drying technique is a bit unconventional, but it works for me. Using the medium heat and medium speed setting on my Amika dryer, I blow out each section from root to tip while using my fingers as a comb. This stretches my curls enough to lengthen my hair (the bigger the better!) but also leaves it with some noticeable texture.

DevaCurl Mirrorcurls Ultimate Shine Serum, $25

Since middle school I’ve been sleeping in a silk scarf to keep my hair in check while I sleep, and I still swear by this. In the morning I tousle my hair with a shine-booster like DevaCurl Mirrorcurl Serum and voila!—my 'fro and I are ready for the week.  

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