You may have gone through a hair-transitioning period and you thought that once you went natural your hair wouldn’t be as dry. Yes it’s true that chemical relaxers do their fair share of damage but it’s all you when it comes to the way you care for your hair in the transit phase.
Keep in mind that the more curls or coils you have, your hair will lean towards a drier texture. While our straight haired Caucasian (and Asian) neighbors are crying about their hair being “greasy”, our roots are thirsting for moisture. The way our hair waves and bends makes it difficult for the sebum, that your hair produces, to get all the way to the rest of the strands. You may also notice that it is easier to achieve natural hair shine when your hair is straighter! This is because the texture makes it easier to reflect light. Meanwhile, when you do a wash and go, it takes effort to get the sheen going because the kinks make it hard for the light to penetrate and reflect.
You natural hair texture is thirsting for moisture so it’s time we understood which products make your hair absorb moisture and which ones block it out. Dry hair needs all the help it can get and it all starts with knowing what’s going into your scalp.
There are 4 main factors that will either help or damage dry and dull hair.
Occlusives are basically compounds that will physically act as gatekeepers. They prevents transepidermal water loss. Trans being through and epidermal being skin-this means the water that comes through your skin (e.g. sweating).
Examples of occlusive are: petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil and silicones (e.g. dimethicone). If you look at one of your products in the house, you could see some or all of these compounds.
Flash back to Science class. Remember those ions that bonded to water and the teacher called the whole process hydrogen bonding? Humectants are part of this hydroxyl group. They are known to attract water to the outer layer of skin. This outer layer is the thinner part of your skin since it contains dead/peeling skin.
You would apply a humectant directly to the skin to hydrate that outer layer. What great news if your hair is dry and dull. They make great moisturizers. However, I found that most ladies don’t understand the nature of the water that is being attracted. This water doesn’t come from the atmosphere; it’s actually water that is coming through your skin (trans-epidermal). So when a humectant is used properly, it can really work to moisturize your hair. If you overuse it, it works against you and draws moisture away from your hair.
Examples of humectant: glycerin, propylene glycol, sorbitol, and lactic acid
Emollients are great in the way they act as gap fillers. They fill the space between skin with drops of oil.
Natural hair responds well to the moisturizer components in plant oils. Try these oils next time you feel the dry hair spell: palm oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil. These oils also help you with the length. Click here for 10 Things that will Help your Natural Hair Grow
Examples of emollients: plant oils, lanolin oil, cholesterol, fatty acids (e.g. stearic & lauric acid) and mineral oil.
These are great for elasticity! When you get a wrinkle cream, it must have some kind of protein. It works to replenish the protein structure on your skin and helps to gate that water loss.
Examples of protein: Keratin, collagen, elastin and even wheat protein.
What moisturizing does to your skin barrier?
- It restores the barrier between your skin and the outer environment.
- The water that your epidermis can access increases.
- It regulates, and reduces, the water that your skin barrier looses to the environment.
- It acts as a normal reset to the way the water barrier of your skin acts.
*This article is not a product recommendation, it is merely an explanation to help you see what is what. We will go into detail at a later post.