Oh boy, here I go again about moisture and how to moisturise your natural hair. You would have thought that everything there is to say about this topic has already been said, but guess what? It never is. However, today, I’m not talking about what you need to do, I’ll be talking about the essential hair products you need to have to moisturise your natural hair while transitioning or otherwise.
WHY YOU NEED THESE PRODUCTS
Moisture basically means water and like a plant, our hair needs to be watered. Yet, it is not like most plants, it is more delicate, it needs constant vigilance. While straighter hair types can moisturise and keep their hair hydrated for long periods of time, curly hair is unable to do so.
Therefore, you may need to enlist the help of several hair products to infuse and maintain your hair’s moisture from the moment you wash your hair to the moment you moisturise and style it. Normally, if you have the right products and introduce them into your hair routine at the right moment you will have a multi-level hair moisturising system, like an assembly line. (Don’t worry if this sounds scary. It’s just me playing with words 😉 ).
WHAT WILL THEY DO
Some products will be encharged with giving your hair a quick, temporary moisture boost making it feel more conditioned and manageable, ready to receive deeper and long-lasting moisture. Other products, will work to give your hair the moisture it needs from inside its structure, and will also try to keep it in while working from the outside.
Think of them like the water you pour over your plants. When you use plain water you’re quickly quenching your plant’s thirst. It will grow, but not as strong or vibrant as when you use compost or additives in the water. This will help your plant with better nutrient absorption and with stronger and bigger growth.
Your product will also have these extra boosting additives/ingredients. So what products are these?
Let’s face it, although you now have low or sulphate-free shampoos to clean your hair which are more inducing to moisture retention, the truth is they are still stripping your hair. So, after them, conditioners will replace black what your hair is now missing.
Conditioners have in their composition ingredients such as aloe vera, fatty alcohols and vegetable oils that will work to moisturise and condition your hair, making it more manageable for detangling and less liable to break.
However, most of its benefits are quickly lost when you rinse off your hair since they mainly work on the surface or don’t have enough time to penetrate the cuticle layers. That’s why you need a product that will work from the inside.
Conditioners will follow your cleansing hair product, however, in Brazil, many naturalistas will use the deep conditioner first and then conditioner (I have a few theories of why that is so, but I’ll share that in another post).
These days, conditioners can also work as leave-in conditioners (such as Shea Moisture’s Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner) or perform the work of hair cleansers (a.k.a. co-wash) because they are more gentle than shampoos and leave your hair moisturised.
However, I would advise you not to make this your single hair cleansing method. You can read why here and here, but I’ll quickly tell you this seemingly perfect solution to drying sulphates can quickly turn against you.
#2| DEEP CONDITIONER
Deep conditioners are heavy-duty products meant to deeply moisturise and strengthen your curly hair. This is achieved through the ingredients in its formulation, which are meant to penetrate the outside layers of the hair and once inside the cortex they will attract and/or retain moisture.
This is a treatment that is done after you have conditioned and detangled your hair. It generally has a thicker consistency than a conditioner and the fact that it needs to be left on the hair for approximately 30 minutes indicates its benefits are not short term (like conditioners). Many of its ingredients will stay in your hair strand long after it’s rinsed off.
This is why conditioners and deep conditioners work well together. The former works mainly on the surface while the latter follows, doing most of its work on the inside. Deep conditioning treatments will always work to moisturise your hair, still, some will have a more intense action on the structure of the hair woking on its bonds to make your hair stronger and more elastic and to fix any damage to the hair structure.
For healthy, strong, resilient and well moisturised hair a deep conditioner must be a weekly practice, but if this is too much try to do it at least twice a month. To increase its effects on your hair and speed up its actions apply some heat to your deep conditioning treatment, but don’t let it stay overnight.
#3| LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER
Leave-in conditioners, contrary to conditioners, are not rinse-off products. In a way, we can say that they are close relatives, you know? Like cousins or maybe even siblings. They quickly hydrate withering hair in need of moisture and prepare the “ground” for what’s to come – deeper and longer lasting moisture.
While conditioners work closely with deep conditioners, leave-in conditioners will work closely with your moisturiser, vegetable oil, butter or gel.
For some people, a leave-in conditioner and gel or vegetable oil to seal in the moisture is all they need after a good deep conditioning session. For others, a moisturiser or a conditioning sealing butter cream will have to come next as their hair needs more intense moisture (normally the case for thicker hair textures or high porosity hair, but not a rule).
Leave-in conditioners can come with the consistency of a cream some, however, will be a bit runny like Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-in Conditioner (check my review). But, they can also come in a spray form and others will have the added advantage of also working as detanglers, which will prep your hair free of tangles and knots for styling with a moisturiser.
They are usually applied after the deep conditioner or, if you skip this treatment, after the conditioner, but leave-in conditioners can be used whenever your hair is in need of some quick moisture.
By definition, a moisturiser is a substance that is applied to the skin or hair to prevent it from becoming dry. In a way, leave-in conditioners can be included under this umbrella term since they also moisturise your hair. However, in this post, I want you to recognise how the layering of these essential hair products can improve your natural hair moisture.
For this effect, a hair moisturiser will have in its composition a combination of ingredients to guarantee that your hair remains hydrated for as long as possible. Such ingredients can be fatty alcohols, honey, glycerin, protein and vegetable oils and butter.
For this reason, moisturisers can also be called emollients as they can act as humectants, lubricants and occlusives on your hair. What does this mean exactly? It means that a moisturiser will attract and retain water in your hair (humectant), will make your hair smooth by minimising friction (lubrication) and will create a barrier to prevent and delay water loss (occlusive).
There are many different moisturisers in the market, but one thing you gotta remember is that the first ingredient should be plain old H2O or a plant, herb or flower infused water. You’ll find that moisturisers can have many different consistencies and come under many different names such as creme, butter or whipped butter, which can be confusing, but you can read this post where I have natural hair products explained.
After your hair is all prepped with a leave-in conditioner you can apply a richer moisturiser that hopefully will hydrate and leave your hair feeling soft, shiny and healthy. Most moisturisers can be applied on wet or dry hair, however, some will work best on wet rather than dry hair. Brand’s will normally indicate best usage practices or, you can always experiment.
Now go off and make sure you have these essential natural hair products in your stash of hair products.