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The dry hair blues

This weekend, I received a comment from a reader who is suffering from dry hair. She recently did the big chop and now she is struggling to find the right products to keep her newly natural tresses moisturized.

Hi, I am going natural and finding it hard to find something natural that gives and keeps moisture in my hair.  As a result, I end up buying a deep conditioner like motions to get what my hair needs. I realized that I am one of those hand picked people that experienced intense dry hair after a chop and don’t know what to do to help keep the moisture in my hair.  Do you have any suggestions?

Moisture -- that's what your hair really wants. Photo credit: http://www.liquidsculpture.com

I gave her some tips, but I kept thinking about it. Dryness is something that, I think, all naturals deal with and it’s a pain — especially when you live in a colder climate. Really, when the hair is dry like a biscuit and snapping off and looking thirsty, it makes you wonder, “why the heck did I think natural hair was a good idea?”

But don’t despair! You can beat dry hair — you just have to do some work. Here are some tips that have worked for me:

Pre-poo: My sister, whose hair is relaxed, was dealing with dry, thirsty hair. I suggested that she try an olive oil pre-poo. Before she washed her hair, she warmed some olive oil, slathered it on her hair and put on a plastic conditioning cap for about an hour. When she took the cap off, she was surprised that her hair had “drank” the majority of oil. Now, I don’t know if your hair can absorb olive oil, but her hair came out soft and, more importantly, hydrated.

Shampoo: Put down shampoos with sulfates. Really, they aren’t worth the trouble that they cause. If your are struggling with dry hair and want to use shampoo, look for a moisturizing shampoo like Aussie Moist, Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (I’ve never used this one because of the coconut oil in it) or a shampoo bar like Berhempsu or Moroccan Clay from Henna Sooq. Many natural use a number of drugstore brands JASON and Burt’s Bees as well as higher priced all-natural brands from manufacturers like Blended Beauty, Oyin Handmade or Hairveda. Like with most hair things, you’ll have to be a bit of a product junkie to figure out which shampoos work for you if you continue to use shampoos. Which leads me to the next thing on the list…

Co-washing: I don’t co-wash regularly because I have scalp problems. If you don’t have scalp problems, this no-poo way of hair cleansing may help you deal with dryness. Use a cheapie conditioner like Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship or Totally Twisted, Suave Naturals or Tresemme Naturals to co-wash your hair. If your scalp is up to it, it will help your hair remain moisturized because the conditioner is not stripping your hair of necessary oils. Check YouTube for videos on how to co-wash.

Deep conditioning: You can’t not deep condition — especially as the weather is getting colder and drier. Your hair will shrivel up and break off. When my hair is out of my kinky twists, I deep condition every time I wash my hair. That could mean mixing some olive oil with Aussie Moist conditioner or using something that’s a more of an intensive treatment and slapping on a conditioning cap for 20 minutes with heat or longer without. Your hair will thank you for it. It really will.

Leave-in conditioner: Everyone needs a good leave-in conditioner — you just have to figure out what your hair likes. My hair likes creamy leave-ins like Giovanni Direct Leave-in. I’ve heard good things about Kinky-Curly’s Knot Today. I’m sure there are plenty of good leave-in conditioners out there that you can use. Just don’t skimp on a good leave-in — it’s so necessary.

Moisturizer: Finding a good moisturizer is, obviously, key to moisturized hair. The first thing you need to look for in the ingredients list is water. If the first ingredient is water, the product will probably keep your hair hydrated and happy. What do I use? I like Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in Conditioning Repair Cream, Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk and a rosewater and aloe vera juice spritz. Be very careful and run like the wind from petroleum or mineral oil or paraffinum liquidum (which is a fancy name for mineral oil). Products with these ingredients aren’t moisturizing — they were block the moisture out of your hair. Read your hair products ingredients list carefully. If it has those three culprits, toss it or just don’t buy it. Remember, water is one of the best moisturizers and it’s free! Just remember to seal it in… I love good segue into another section!

Sealer – There is no use doing all this good stuff for your hair if you don’t seal it in and it evaporates. After applying all the goodies to your hair: water, leave-in conditioner and moisturizer, make sure to seal it all in with an oil or butter like olive oil or shea butter.

Finally, if your hair is long enough, rock a protective style. While I am not the biggest fan of protective styles, I can’t say enough about how they protect your hair from dryness by protecting your ends and keeping your hair moisturized. Also, stay away from heat! Air drying is always better.

Those are my tips! I’m sure I’m missing many — but if you start by doing things like sealing your hair and making sure that you’re using a moisturizing product as a moisturizer and not just some random hair grease, you’ll be well on your way.  The more things you do to combat dryness, the happier your hair will be. It may take a couple of tries before you find what you’re looking for. So, readers, what tips do you have for dry hair?

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7 thoughts on “The dry hair blues”

  1. I didn’t realize how important a sealer was until yesterday. I usually wash my daughter’s hair at night and then seal with oil. Yesterday I washed during the day, styled then we went out and I didn’t seal it. Her hair is very dry today.

    1. Don’t sleep on sealing! It’s a huge part of retaining moisture during very dry times — like a good ol’ Canadian winter. I didn’t realize the importance of a sealer until I started using one. My hair started acting completely differently — it stayed moisturized AND it began retaining length… well, between sealing my hair and doing protective styles. Now that I know what I’m doing (well, for the most part), I wonder what my hair is going to look like next spring!

  2. Everytime, after I wash my hair, I take about a tablespoon of jojoba oil and add a few drops of lavender and sweet orange essential oils to it and an 1/8 cup of warm water. I put this in a very small spray bottle and spray/brush it through my slightly damp hair. It helps soooooooo much 🙂 Smells great, too!

  3. i find for me the biggest deterent to dryness is moisturizing with water often! pretty simple, i wet/shampoo/or co-wash my hair everyother day and I’ve recently started using castor oil, which I find locks in the moisture nicely with out a heavy greasy feeling.

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