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Moisturizing natural hair can be a challenge (to say the least). When I first Big Chopped, moisturizing my hair was easy, breezy, beautiful CoverGirl! But, as my hair grew, I noticed that I had to moisturize my hair more frequently. Once my hair reached my shoulders (when straightened), it became obvious to me that I needed to rethink my hair moisture routine. However, ever since I went back to school to pursue an advanced degree, I have had trouble keeping up with even my low-fuss hair regimen. Sometimes the busyness of life just bogs you down! So, whether you recently made the decision “to go natural” or just need a reminder (like we all do from time to time) to return to the basics, here’s some essentials to get you started (or back on track)!
This is the basic tenet of natural hair: moisturize and seal. But, what does that mean? It means that you should apply water (or a leave-in conditioner of your choice) to your hair. Then, you should “seal” in that moisture by applying an oil over the moisturizer. If you just apply water or a water-based moisturizer to your hair (without sealing), your hair will be left frizzy, fuzzy, and dehydrated. This is because sebum (a natural oil produced by the sebaceous glands) has more difficulty traveling down the entire hair shaft when coils and curls are present. This is due to all the twists and turns of each strand. In light of this, those of us with highly textured hair have to moisturize our tresses much more often than those with straight or wavy hair. So, moisturizing your hair without locking in that moisture is a no-no, unless you want dry, parched hair!
If moisturizing and sealing your hair just isn’t enough, try using the L-O-C method. L-O-C stands for Leave-in-Oil-Cream. This means that you start with a leave-in conditioner (or water-based moisturizer), seal in the moisture with an oil of your choice, and then apply a thicker, cream-based product for added moisture. The premise of the L-O-C method is that you layer products in a certain order to maximize moisture retention. If you still feel like this isn’t enough, try a variation of the method, such as L-O-C-O or playing around with the order of the cream and oil (L-C-O). By layering in multiple products, it makes it easier to keep your hair moisturized longer and keeps future moisture loss to a minimum.
Another useful moisturizing technique is the Greenhouse Effect. This is great for rebalancing the moisture levels of dehydrated hair or reversing short-term dry hair spells. The purpose is to trap in moisture by lightly dampening hair with water, adding a natural oil, and then covering with a processing cap and satin scarf/hair bonnet. The baggy method is similar, only it allows the use of water-based moisturizers (instead of pure water) and sealants other than natural hair oils.
Whatever method you choose, don’t forget to listen to your hair. If your hair is constantly dry, you may not be moisturizing it enough. Or, you may need to analyze your product choices or the order in which you apply them. Be curious. Try one method, two, or all three!