Keeping black hair moisturised is our biggest challenge. Following most of the tips below will help to keep your hair soft and hydrated. Hydrated hair breaks less and is much easier to manage.
Wash your natural hair at least weekly; water is the supreme moisturiser. When you wet your hair, the water molecules actually penetrate the hair shaft and make the hair softer and more elastic.
Moisture = hydration, hydration = water, hydrated hair = less breakage.
Use a shampoo and conditioner within the same product line or test the pH of your chosen shampoo and conditioner to ensure they complement each other.
Conditioner is meant to be more acidic than shampoo. The lower pH of the final product used in the cleaning process (typically the conditioner) helps to seal off the hair; sealing the hair means hair cuticles are smoothed down and moisture is held in better. A shampoo and conditioner within the same product line will be developed with this requirement in mind.
For example, the shampoo of one brand may have a pH of 4.5 and the conditioner 3.5, meaning that your hair is properly sealed off. But if you then go and use a conditioner of another brand whose pH is 5.0, this sealing off process won't happen properly.
Deep condition every week:
Deep conditioners contain moisture-boosting elements and proteins that
a) strengthen the hair cuticle and
b) enhance the hair strand's moisture.
I didn't know this until recently but not all conditioners are made equal. There are five main types:
• Instant conditioners
• Cream-rinse conditioners
• Deep conditioners - you want this one
• Moisturising conditioners
• Protein conditioner
The weaker types (e.g. instant conditioners) are designed for daily use, some are designed for weekly use, e.g. deep conditioners and some shouldn't be used more than once a month (e.g. those very high in protein).
Finish every wash off with a cold rinse:
Washing your hair with warm water helps to dislodge dirt and oil. It also increases the hair's porosity i.e. the cuticles open up so that all the good stuff from your shampoo and conditioner is easily absorbed.
Rinsing your hair in cold water at the end of the washing process will help to flatten the cuticle and lock in moisture. I also do this when I wash my face. It helped to clear up my acne.
Apply a moisturiser to your hair before you apply any oil. Oil is not a moisturiser. Oil and water do not mix; hence oil, if at all used, needs to be applied last so that it stops moisture from escaping. Oil is fantastic at locking in moisture.
In terms of applying hair products (leave-in moisturisers, creams, oils), you need to figure out which order keeps your hair most moisturised: LOC Method or LCO Method.
Buy a good moisturiser:
Moisturisers can be water-based or oil-based. In oil-based moisturisers water and oil are blended using "emulsifiers"; emulsifiers stop the water and oil from separating. A shea butter based moisturiser is the best option in my opinion.
A buttery one works best on wet hair and a creamy one is fantastic for dry hair.
That’s it for today. I will have seven more tips for you next week.
The writer is the founder of the UK's largest blog on natural hair, NenoNatural.com. She is a former Goldman Sachs & HSBC investment banker. She graduated from the University of Cambridge with First Class Honours in Economics in 2005.
If you want your natural hair questions answered through this column, please email them to: [email protected]
Source: Heather Katsonga-Woodward
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