Monday, March 10, 2014
Moisturizing natural hair can feel like a “complex art” at times, and moisture-related myths certainly do not help the situation. Here are a few of those myths that I want to debunk today:
1. Protein conditioners are a no-no Protein conditioners can actually help damaged hair – or even just older ends of the hair – retain moisture. Here is how: Your cuticle layer acts as a protective layer for the inner cortex of your hair strand. When the cuticle layer is damaged – e.g., broken cuticle scales, missing cuticle scales, lifted cuticle scales, etc. – moisture retention becomes difficult. Protein conditioners can help by temporarily patching up this layer, thus helping to “seal” in moisture in a way.
2. Moisturizing daily is a must Moisturizing daily is not an automatic requirement that comes with being natural. Believe it or not, there are some of us out here who can go anywhere from a few days to a week without re-moisturizing our hair. How long you can go between moisturizing sessions depends on several factors, especially the characteristics of your hair, the style you are wearing (protective vs. loose), AND the effectiveness of your products and method. Moisturizing daily is not a must for every natural.
3. Hair without shine = dry hair Even though I want to say that this myth has already been debunked, there are still naturals who believe that hair that lacks shine equals dry hair. Truth be told, shine is a function of a few factors, including what products you use and how stretched or straight your hair is. When light reflects off of this “flat” surface, (i.e. the stretched/straight hair) it can cause the shine we see. Oils and other products can enhance this shine even more. Now naturals who have very tight coils and kinks may have sheen – a soft luster – when their hair is moisturized, but not necessarily a shine… and that is not a bad thing. So how can you tell if your hair is dry? Well one attribute of moisturized hair is pliability.
4. Products that contain alcohol will dry out the hair … it depends on what the alcohol is. I have heard some people adamantly say, “I refuse to buy a conditioner with alcohol in it,” believing that cetyl alcohol is a drying alcohol. The truth is cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, just to name a few, are “fatty alcohols.” Fatty alcohols are not at all drying like the rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) you would put on a wound. (Actually, many fatty alcohols are waxy.) The inclusion of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol on an ingredients label is usually due to use as one of the following:
a) a thickener or thickening agent
b) an emulsifier
c) an emollient. And guess what? Emollients can help to soften the hair!
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Some of these tips are no-brainers and techniques that we already
practice. So, I think it’s probably best to pick and choose the techniques that are likely to work for you and modify as needed:
Don’t over-manipulate the hair at the nape with brushing and/or combing.
Be very gentle when detangling the nape area (finger detangling is recommended).
Wear styles that prevent your nape hair from rubbing your clothing as excessive friction can cause damage and breakage.
Avoid placing a lot of tension on the nape hair with overly tight weaves, braids, bun and ponytail styles.
Protect the nape at night with a silk/satin scarf and/or bonnet ensuring that this area is fully covered.
A satin pillowcase adds yet another level of protection in the event that your headgear is prone to “slippage” like mine.
If you use commercial permanent colors, apply dyes to the nape last so that it is processed for less time or don’t treat this area at all.
If/when you use heat, reduce the temperature and ensure the hair is adequately treated with a heat protector.
Moisturize and seal this hair more if hair it is prone to dryness. This applies to using additional conditioner through the wash session (regular conditioner, deep conditioner) and moisture during styling (leave-in, styler, sealing).
Massage the scalp to promote circulation and growth. (I use an essential oil mix that has been proven to stimulate growth.
Braid the nape hair into a horizontal cornrow and thread the length through the cornrow to protect it.