What I have found common with my hair is that I must be diligent in keeping my hair moisturized. My hair is naturally dry and, of course, the relaxers made the dryness worse. To combat dryness, here are regimens that work for me.
I know you may have many jokes about jheri curls back in the day, but one product that was used on the jheri curl that is great for moisture retention on natural hair is curl activator. I have used S-Curl activator and had great results with retaining moisture. The drawback…you guessed it, THE DRIP! I hated the damage it did to my pillow cases. Forget thinking you can wrap your hair and save your pillow cases, it does not help. My hair had the nicest curl pattern while using it, however. Also, if you have problems with acne, make sure to wash your face AFTER you have styled your hair.
S-Curl left my hair too limp and I really didn’t care for the styles I was forced to wear because of my use of the product. What I ended up doing was creating my own modified version of S-Curl with 1-part vegetable glycerin and 6-parts water in a spray bottle. I could then Bantu knot my hair or put in 2-strand twists and once I took them down, my hair maintained the crinkle from the protective style.
Your greatest ally against dryness, and I should have probably listed this first, is sulfate free shampoo. I use Curls Unleashed shampoo, but there are a host of other brands that offer sulfate free shampoo that may work best for your hair. Which ever you use, make sure sulfate is not listed on the ingredients!
Sulfates comprise a family of ingredients that includes the commonly used foaming agents Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). These sudsy “surfactants” can contribute to moisture loss in all hair, and can cause color-treated hair to fade prematurely.
Sulfate-free shampoos gently but effectively cleanse hair without the harsh detergents that can strip away color and moisture. And now detergent-free shampoos are being targeted to the general hair care market as a gentler, more natural approach to caring for hair of all types. So whether you are natural or relaxed, sulfate free shampoos are best on your hair. You should be able to properly cleanse your hair within one lather and rinse. If you have a lot of product in your hair to clean out or your scalp is unusually dirty, try massaging ACV (apple cider vinegar) into your scalp with your fingertips to loosen the dirt and product before washing. No matter what you have heard, squeaky hair is not a sign of good, healthy hair. It is a sign you have stripped your hair of its natural oils and you will more than likely be facing the frizz monster when it dries.
Good old fashion water! Drink plenty of it and use it on your hair as well. When I wore a relaxer, water was my enemy, but since becoming natural, water and I have a love thang going on. The one thing you must remember is after you apply water, you need to apply a moisturizer to lock in the moisture the water has created. I used a moisture challenge I adopted from Black Women With Real Hair. You can view the steps and get all the details from her Tumblr page realblackhair.tumblr.com. It is a 7 day process, but it left my hair properly moisturized.
Before trying the moisture challenge, after washing and conditioning my hair, I would apply pure coconut oil to my hair sections to lock in the moisture and proceed with my leave-in conditioner and hair butter or shea butter. Coconut oil is a great sealant for your hair because it nicely coats your outer hair cuticle and is closest to your hair’s natural oils. After applying coconut oil, however, you will still need a moisturizer to properly moisturize your hair. I have used Optimum Oil Therapy by SoftSheen Carson with good results, but feel free to use whatever creme oil moisturizer you prefer. I usually apply Bantu knots and allow my hair to dry over night and wear that style for a few days.
Coconut oil is also excellent as a pre-poo when applied liberally on dry hair then allowed to sit for an hour to overnight then shampooed with a sulfate free shampoo (using only 1 lather and rinse).
Your satin bonnet or head scarf is your friend! After you’ve worked hard to remove damaged split ends and moisturize your hair, you would be remiss if you went to sleep without your hair properly covered or at least sleeping on a satin pillow. However, please do not wear the scarf or bonnet out in public… No matter how cute you think you look in it, it is not a fashion statement.
What products or regimens work best for you in combating dry hair? Share your techniques in the comments below!