Thursday, May 23, 2013

Retaining Moisture in your Natural Hair: Moisture Tips!

Q: Help! My hair is so dry! How do I retain moisture in my natural hair?

Let me start by saying that moisture is a BIG problem that MOST naturals find difficult to deal with. Our highly textured hair tends to lean toward dryness because of all the curls and bends, it's hard for our natural oils to get down the strand. Most curly hair is highly porous, meaning it has an open cuticle that allows moisture to easily escape and leaves your hair open to breakage. For this reason, retaining moisture can be a serious challenge for those with high hair porosity.

When determining how to keep your hair moisturized it's important to focus on your hair's POROSITY, SEALING and STYLING.

  • POROSITY:  To better understand hair porosity, think of your hair strand as the roof of a house and the outer layer or the cuticle as the shingles on the roof. When the shingles lay completely flat, it’s difficult for water to enter or exit the hair shaft – this is low porosity hair. If the shingles are completely raised then moisture will easily enter and escape – this is high porosity hair. In normal porosity hair, the shingles or cuticles are neither completely flat nor raised, but at an optimum angle to allow moisture to enter and remain there.
Knowing your hair porosity is far more important than knowing your curl pattern since it will greatly affect your ability to have moisturized healthy looking hair.
For those with low hair porosity, it is imperative that you use lighter more liquid based products that will not just sit on top of your hair making it oily or greasy. Also, you will be able to get away with fewer moisturizing sessions to avoid build up.
However, with high hair porosity that easily loses moisture, layering on products to retain moisture is a necessity. Many high porosity naturals, after washing their hair, apply a leave-in conditioner, then a thick water based moisturizer followed by a heavy butter. By layering your products, you are providing your hair with the moisture it needs from the leave-in and moisturizer, and ensuring that the moisture remains near the hair shaft by using a heavy butter or oil to act as a protective layer to prevent the moisture from being lost to the atmosphere. High porosity naturals may also find it necessary to moisturize often and some high porosity naturals moisturize once or twice daily.
If you have normal porosity hair then count your blessings, listen to your hair’s needs and moisturize accordingly.
Testing your hair's porosity:
  • SEALING: Sealing is locking moisture in the hair, specifically the ends. At night, spritz your hair with water and find a leave in conditioner that has water listed as its first ingredient. Some of my personal favorites are Cantu Leave In Conditioning Repair Cream, Paul Mitchell The Conditioner, and Giovanni Direct Leave In. Apply your leave in  conditioner in a downward motion then seal your hair with shea butter or an oil (coconut oil, castor oil, extra virgin olive oil, argan oil, tea tree oil etc.) then proceed to style your hair. The molecules in most butters/oils are too large to pass into the hair, so they stick to the outside of the shaft, trapping in the moisturizer!                                                                
It is SUPER important to sleep with a satin bonnet/scarf or satin pillow case. The cotton from our pillows and sheets tend to absorb the oils out of our hair, leaving us with icky dry bed hair in the mornings. I know it’s not the sexiest look, but the payoff is worth it! lol 

In the mornings, you can also pour a some of your oil choice into a water bottle with water and lightly spritz your hair. You don't have to do this every morning because with some naturals this may make your hair even drier. You can put oil on your finger tips as you are taking down a style to add more moisture and prevent frizz.

  • STYLING: Try to do a protective style frequently. I strive for once a week but sometimes I just like to let my hair hang "loose" and as is.  A “protective” style is one in which your hair isn’t loose. Whether your hair is twisted, braided, bunned or cornrowed beneath a weave, your strands are woven together and more resistant to breakage – plus, they hold on to moisture very well.

As with everything, less is more! So make sure your protective style of choice isn’t stressing your edges, and that you don’t leave it in too long, and that you continue to moisturize your hair even while it’s protected.
My favorite protective styles include two strand twists, bantu knots, perm rod sets, curlformers, and sooo much more! Don't be afraid to experiment with new styles! :)

  • MORE TIPSTry using a Sulfate-Free shampoo. Many shampoos contain Sulfates that strip your hair of its natural oils. I always thought that I HAD to use shampoo in order for my hair to be clean which isn't necessarily true. My regimen has drastically changed to only using a sulfate free shampoo every 2 weeks or so and co washing every week. 
I'm aware that co-washing is not for everyone and I ran across this video recently that offers an alternative solution. This lady still uses her regular shampoo but dilutes it with 1/3 coconut oil :)

I hope this helps and as always let me know if you have ANY questions!


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