One of the main reasons why most people who decide to keep natural hair, few months later become frustrated with it and return to relaxers is; they do not understand protein/moisture balance natural hair demands.
The most important part of taking care of your hair is proper-moisturization. Well-moisturized hair can be spotted from a distance. It is usually very shiny, smooth, soft and silky to touch.
The most common routine practiced by most people in their healthy hair journey is shampooing and conditioning of their hair. Turns out a lot of people are not familiar with moisturizing and sealing hair for maximum length retention and hair growth.
What is moisture:
Moisture is water and or water-based products(leave-in conditioners or moisturizers).
In order for something to moisturize your hair, it must have water-based components, but because of the evaporation that takes place, water alone is insufficient. Our hair can quickly go from soft, silky to dry and crunchy.
Moreover, the key to healthy hair is keeping moisture that’s where our moisture supporters come into play.
How do we keep moisture in our hair / Moisture support
For the longest time, ignorant me kept using oil on dry hair thinking it was the ultimate moisturizer.(what a myth, am so ashamed).
There are other groups of products in a regimen that can help to support moisturization, these in themselves are not moisturizers because moisture can solely be gotten from water.
Firstly, we have humectants, then occlusives.
There is moisture support in the form of humectants that pull moisture from the outside air to our hair strands. These include ingredients like Aloe vera juice /aloe vera gel, Glycerin, Honey, Panthenol, Sorbitol, etc. They are very common in most water-based moisturizing formulas. Humectants are ingredients that love moisture and like to draw it to itself, they bring moisture from the environment to the hair. A typically good hair moisturizer should have water as the first listed ingredient on its ingredient list, then any of the following humectant listed afterward. (pro tip: always verify the ingredient list of the products you buy)
Sealants (Occlusive Agents):
They support moisture but do not in themselves provide moisture. This group comprises of our oils and butter. A lot of times we experience dryness because we tend to use an occlusive agent as a moisturizer which will only lead to more dryness because sealants cannot provide the hair with the hydration it needs in order to thrive.
Oils and butter provide a semi-permeable barrier to moisture loss, they seal the hair to maintain the moisture in it. Oils are usually used after moisturizing to seal in the moisture and prevent it from evaporating easily. The type of oil you use depends on the type of layering you are going in for.
Oils vs Butter
Some oils are more permeable than others. Heavy oils like castor oil provide thick seal while lighter oils like coconut oil migrate into the fiber. Therefore lighter oils will provide less sealing properties than heavier oils. These seals are easily washed away and allow a lot more moisture to enter the fiber over time. Butters, on the other hand, are more sealing and prevent moisture loss better. But some butter can be heavier than others too and the heavier ones provide a stronger barrier.
Whichever you use or however you decide to use them will depend on your hair preferences, the look you’re going in for and how long you want the moisture to last.
Example of lighter penetrating oils include coconut oil, argan oil, babassu oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, etc. (they provide both moisturizing and sealing properties since their molecules are small enough to penetrate the hair shaft.
Examples of heavier oils include jojoba oil, castor oil, grapeseed oil, lin seed oil, sesame oil etc. the control frizz and help the hair retain moisture.
Examples of butter: shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter, muru muru butter etc.
Keep in mind that there are no permanent seals, depending on how heavy an oil is, it will eventually wear off the hair over time.
The secret formula to proper moisturization:
Water + Humectant + oils = Maximum moisturization
There are 2 scientifically proven methods which lead to lasting moisturization. You can try any and see which works best for you;
Liquid Cream Oil (LCO) Method follows the sequence of application which is typically in layers. Firstly you apply a liquid, then a cream, finally an oil to your hair. The liquid could be any water-based leave-in conditioner while the cream can be a styling cream. This method works particularly well for high porosity hair and relaxed hair. If done on low porosity hair, it can weigh it down and leave it feeling a bit greasy.
Liquid Oil Cream(LOC) Method follows the sequence of application which is a liquid, oil, and cream to your hair. Unlike the LCO method, the LOC method corporates better with low porosity hair and could work for high porosity hair too.
How does moisture help our hair strands:
- It increases flexibility and elasticity
- It keeps it from getting dry and fights breakage
- Sustains hair growth
- Volumizes our hair
How often should you moisturise
The number of times required for moisturizing is not specific, it depends on your hair type and texture. Some people moisturize once daily, while some do once or twice a week. Hair that has gone through the process of moisturizing and sealing for a long time might not need the daily routine of moisturizing but you can do it every other day or twice in a week especially if your hair isn’t in a protective style. In addition, always drink lots of water if you want to experience massive hair growth, moisture from within is always as important too. ps: You can envision your hair as a plant, the more you water it, the better it grows.
I use the LOC method for my hair. It provides long lasting moisture with the products I use. The LOC method is a great place to start if you are newly natural.
I recommend trying both LOC and LCO methods on your hair to see which of them provides moisture for the longest amount of time. You may find that both methods leave your hair too heavy or greasy.No one likes greasy air. Alternatively, you can try using a lighter oil (like almond oil/olive oil) or removing oil altogether for a better outcome.
Share with me, which method is your favorite? 😃