Moisturising your afro or curly hair can be a challenge for some naturals. Whether it’s keeping the moisture in or getting it there in the first place, we have a few ideas on how to help with that:
1. Improving Your Wash Day
Your wash day will vastly improve your hair care week, so it’s important to know how you need to start. But before you jump into the shower, it’s important that you look into what your hair type and porosity is. If you’re unsure of what those things are, we have a few articles detailing how to find your hair type and porosity.
Make sure that you’re using the right type of shampoo at the right time. There are two types of shampoos in the world: clarifying and moisturising. Though the purpose of shampoo is to clean your hair, cleansers do a more thorough job of removing natural oils, dirt, and product. Cleansers have been a welcomed addition to my hair care routine. But there was a time when I used it twice a week instead of replacing it with a gentler moisturising shampoo. Using a cleanser too often is harsh on your hair, and sadly I learned that the hard way. Using cleansers too often removes natural sebum from your scalp which can cause damage.
I recommend finding a more balanced routine for you. Try using a gentle shampoo and conditioner once a week and a cleanser once a month. Continue to experiment until you find out what’s right for you.
2. Know How & When to Condition
After you’ve used the proper shampoo, it’s important to now use the correct conditioner. Knowing when to use a deep conditioner, leave-in, or traditional conditioner will make or break your moisture retention.
Deep conditioners are best used when you need to repair or revitalise your hair. Deep conditioners are best used either once a week or once a month based on your wash day routine, hair density, and hair needs. I suggest not using a clarifying shampoo on the same day as your deep conditioner as it can overload on your hair. A deep conditioner should be paired with a moisturising shampoo. Finally, as you deep condition your hair, make sure that you’re adding gentle heat to your conditioner. Heat opens the cuticles and allows for deeper penetration into your hair strands.
A normal conditioner is great for everyday use. It was designed to add in extra moisture, add shine, and make manipulation easier. Conditioners are great for getting your hair to a more malleable and protected state. Feel free to choose conditioners that suit your hair care needs but make sure that the first ingredient is water and, if you have sensitive skin, the fragrance is lower on the list.
Leave-in conditioners are great for those of you who have a hard time retaining moisture. You don’t have to immediately wash them out and you can use them up to three times a week. Some leave-in’s can be used on dry hair, but most require that your hair is at least damp.
3. Choose the Right Tools
Certain tools can cause more harm than good. So it's best to know what kind of tools to use and how to properly use them. I’ll be covering a few common tools that afro and curly hair naturals need to improve on.
Your fingers are the greatest tool that you’ll ever use. They braid, detangle, moisturise, and massage. But if used incorrectly, they can also cause breakage, dehydration, and can ruin your hair if you’re not careful. So how do you keep moisture in? Finger detangle your hair in the shower. Shower time is a great time to lock in moisture and keep it in. Next, when you put in your product, make sure that you’re applying it from the root to the end. When you apply styles, make sure that you’re evenly coating your hair. I always recommend sectioning your hair out. Finally, if you’re taking out braids or untwisting your twist out, make sure that you apply a light oil and untwist it. The natural oils can, at times, cause unnecessary frizzing. The oil is going to make a barrier between your hair and the natural oils on your fingers.
Make sure that you’re not blow drying your hair on high heat. Though there’s nothing wrong with naturals using blow dryers, it’s imperative that we not using it on high heat. Make sure you are blow-drying on cold or lukewarm heat. Cold air will cause your cuticles to close and lock in moisture. However, I would encourage you to air-dry your hair rather than blow-drying it.
Try investing in a steamer or facial steamer. Steamers have come into vogue lately and for good reason. Hair steamers are relatively affordable and have been a great tool for people with low porosity hair. You only need to sit under it for thirty minutes and you can get substantial moisture into your hair.
4. Protect Your Moisture
Now that you have the moisture in your hair, let’s keep it there as long as possible. “Protect your moisture” can seem like a pretty daunting task, but there are some common methods that can help you keep the moisture in longer.
Make sure that you’re wrapping your head at night and while at home. Many of us are working from home still, and that means that we have more opportunities to cause friction than before. Laying on our pillows, couch, wearing hats, and other activities can cause us to lose moisture over time. If you think of it, make sure that you wear a bonnet around the house.
5. Find the Right Products
Finally, the right products can definitely give your hair care regimen the boost that it needs. I used to use so many oils, butters, curlers, serums, and other products to do my hair, but you really need to invest in the basics. Add other products slowly into your routine to see if they’re working, and don’t be afraid to throw out what isn’t.