I get questions about dry hair 24/7....exaggerated, but I get asked for advice on dry hair a lot. First, dry hair is normal for Afro textures so know you're not alone. It isn't good, but it is normal. There are ways to keep the hair moist for longer periods of time, but, it takes effort and daily assesment of your hairs needs. If you are not following some type of moisture routine, daily or as needed, the hair will automatically revert back to being dry once the moisture evaporates. Here are a few tips you can try to keep your hair moist...all the time. This can be followed daily or on an as needed basis.
1. Add oil to your conditioner/ leave-in. Works wonders on keeping the hair moist especially when followed by a steam treatment after the mix is applied. Try this once or twice a week, leaving it in overnight when at all possible and rinse in the morning.
"Love is in the Hair" Conditioning Treatment
2. Shampooing with harsh shampoos or shampooing too often (even with sulfate free cleansers) can contribute to dry hair. Depending on the amount of products and the type of products in your hair, washing with conditioner can help alleviate dry hair issues. Cleansing with bentonite clay or ayurvedic soap nuts called Reetha (can be purchased at Indian markets or online) are both excellent natural alternatives for shampoo.
3. Rinse with vinegar. One part vinegar 2 parts water rinse the hair after 5 to 10. It took me awhile before I became comfortable with this rinse. I don't enjoy the smell of apple cider vinegar which kept me from wanting to use it on my hair...until I did, and came to find the scent doesn't linger at all. By the time I add product and style I can't smell it anymore. My kynxx had more natural shine afterwards and it helps diminish frizz.
4. Apply butter/oil on hair while wet, or seal the hair. Doesn't have to be dripping but at least damp, (the type of oil you use should cater to the needs of your hair. I use olive oil, rosemary & lavender essential oil because my hair is subject to shed if I don't keep it in check, all 3 of those help stop excessive hair shedding). Look for products or make your own with a base of oil/ butter or mix a combination of a few that will address the specific needs of your hair.
When purchasing sealants (butters and oils) settle on the one that retains the most moisture over time. If you apply it at night on wet hair and twist, assess how long your hair stays moist once it's applied...if you can go an entire 24 hrs or longer with your hair exposed to air without needing to re-apply at the end of the day, you've found a winner! I've tried a few that provided that type of sealing but what works for me may not work for you. Results are strongly dependent upon the condition of your hair.
5. Use or make you own moisturizers include water and/or Aloe Vera juice as the 1st to 3rd ingredient on the label (this way you know there is a high content of water which is the best moisturizer). Aloe Vera juice can restore the proper balance to your hair and scalp no matter how oily or how dry.
6. Try hot oil treatments. They work wonders. Use olive, jojoba, or any light oil that will penetrate the hair shaft and allow moisture to enter. Warm the oil by placing it in a small plastic hair dye applicator bottle in a bowl of very warm water for a minute and check the temperature on your wrist prior to applying, like the one shown below that I use:
7. Style the hair while its wet and allow to hair dry. Avoid brushing the hair when possible while hair is wet and if you do vent or bore brushes are less likely to snap, tear, or break hair. If you prefer to style your hair when it's not net, then plait it and alow it to air dry so it will be stretched once it is un-braided and easier to manage. Once it dries, add a water based moisturizer to it before combing and styling. Wearing protective styles with the ends of the hair tucked increases the longevity of moisture in the hair without needing to add product so often, (this is not the only way to retain moisture but if you're having difficulty with excessive dryness it is one of the best ways to style your hair until the moisture level increases the ability for moisture to be retained.)
8. Assess the porosity of your hair. Porosity describes your hair's ability to absorb water in to the cortex. The more porous the hair is the more water it will absorb...and lose because the hairs cuticle layer is damaged and releases moisture almost as quickly as it is absorbed. This is not good because what's happening is your hair is absorbing too much water stretching the hair beyond the normal range it should be absorbing, then drying out which over time weakens your hair, causing it to break. This is also why you may find yourself needing to moisturize several times throughout the day in effort to keep the hair from drying. Highly porous hair tends to dry faster as well and is a good sign for you to use in your assessment. Most Afro textured hair is usually porous due to chemicals we use and heat. Again, vinegar rinses are beneficial in normalizing the hairs porosity level because it closes the cuticle layer of the hair allowing the hair to trap in moisture for longer periods of time.
To assess the porosity level take one strand of hair and place it in water. Come back after about 5 minutes to see if the hair is floating or sinking (it may not take 5 minutes for the hair to sink in some cases). If it sinks to the bottom your hair's porosity level is high and you can try to correct it by treating it with ACV rinses and/or adding protein treatments to your regimen every 6 weeks until the hair no longer sinks during the porosity check. Protein repairs the damaged and weak parts of the cuticle layer allowing the hair to hold in moisture yet stops the hair from being over stretched and absorbing out of it's normal range which is 30% of it's weight. You want to look for products that have keratin, or reconstruct, amino acids, or protein on the name or ingredient label. Here is a demo of the Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment and how to apply it: [CLICK HERE] After completing a protein ALWAYS follow up with a moisturizer to keep the hair in its proper protein/moisture balance. Porosity Control by Roux is also a great product for addressing porosity issues.
9. You should assess dryness at least once daily. Try not to wait until the hair is parched and you can hear the dryness when you touch it, (yes you can hear dryness, sounds like sand paper rubbing together). Keeping the hair moist dramatically increases the health of hair and ability to retain length.
10. Last but not least, hydrate internally by drinking lot's of water everyday. It's recommended we drink at least 64oz each day. For some strange reason for me this is the easiest of all the above mentioned yet the most difficult for me to stick to. Anywho, drink up!!
** These tips may not work for everyone. I say that because I meet women who say they want longer healthier hair but the styles they choose are counter productive to achieving those goals. *Daily flat ironing, use of blow dryers, hot rollers and chemical relaxers and hair dyes will dramatically decrease the hairs ability to retain moisture if constant care isn't being put into your hair. Care in the way it is handled, care in the product choices you make, care in the way you choose to sleep with your hair at night will help reduce dryness as well.
We all want to feel pretty and some women just don't like wearing their hair in its natural state or wearing natural hair styles. I totally understand. I just want those of you who have not come to embrace shrinkage or your natural texture to know there is work that has to be done to correct excessive dryness if you chose to use styling and hair care methods that are damaging as listed above*, natural or relaxed, the above suggestions can be used. Keep in mind if you wear your hair straight and like it to have body, using oils/butter will weigh the hair down and decrease it's ability to move freely. So heat protectants should be used in place of oils for straightening hair although I've heard grapeseed oil is a wonderful heat protectant.
Like I always say, learning your hair is the key. Trying different treatments for your hair is the only way you will ever know what your hair responds best to. If you don't feel confident making the choice on your own seek advice from a healthy natural hair stylist to help you, like me. Once you find what methods your hair responds best to, don't be ashamed when you visit your stylist to tell him or her what you prefer using. Bring your own products if your stylist doesn't carry them. Be a part of the process.
If I left out anything please feel free to leave a suggestion below you find beneficial. Thanks for reading.