Understand how your hair is structured. Afro natural hair strands are more flat than round, appearing like curling ribbon. The flatter and finer the hair strand, the more delicate the hair and the tighter the pattern. This flatness is what gives your hair coils, bends, texture and spring (and shrinkage). The flatness and fineness also makes afro natural hair prone to breakage, especially if the strand loops back onto itself, creating a weak spot along the strand. This is why it is important to pay attention to your hair’s elasticity, which can be an indicator of your hair’s hydration level.
Now, work out WHY your hair is dry and fix it. Common reasons for dry hair are:-
- Your diet and water intake. Your body is not hydrated enough. Hydrating your body hydrates your hair. Are you drinking enough water? At least 5 glasses a day? If not, start today. Be sure to incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits into your diet, which are rich in water and soluble minerals and vitamins. All the goodness goes to your hair and skin. Oh and reduce your salt intake.
- Your water quality. If you are on municipal water and shampoo your hair using water right out of the faucet / tap without filtration, chances are it is having a negative impact on your hair. It may be treated with chlorine, fluoride, softeners, be coming through old pipes – there are many things in water that can build up and dry out your hair such as calcium, iron and copper just to name a few. The solution is to use a water filter that filters out most of these chemicals and minerals, or use rainwater (not a solution for everyone). If you suspect you have this kind of buildup, use a clarifying shampoo once to remove the buildup. Then treat yourself to a deep condition.
- Your hair products are building up. Waxes, pomades, glycerin, mineral oils etc will build up on the hair and lock moisture out. If you do not wash thoroughly after using these products, residue will remain on your hair and build up over time. Buildup does not allow moisture in and will not allow your conditioner to penetrate. Again, use a shampoo meant for clarifying to remove it and change your leave-in routine. Use leave-ins that rinse off in water and throw out the petrolatum based ones. Go easy on the glycerin too. Keep your hair moist/damp when using glycerin or use a water-based spritz often.
- You are using shampoo that is too harsh. Sulfates should always be avoided in hair shampoos unless you need to strip some kind of buildup, oil, heavy sweat or dirt from your hair. There are many gently, hypo-allergenic shampoos out there, or try shampoo bars – they clean natural hair really well without drying and come in many flavors.
- Direct heat. Don’t get me started. Direct heat appliances have no place on natural hair, especially fine, tending to dry natural hair. No amount of “heat protectant” can protect your hair from 400F. You may find that your hair straightens and looks great perfectly straight, then when you wash and try to go back to natural, it stays straight. That’s burned (burnlaxed) hair and it will not go back to its original texture. It may even break off.
- Medications. Check with your doctor if you are on regular medications, including anti-depressants, steroids. Many of these can have the effect of drying out your skin and hair over time. Even over-the-counter medicines can have these side effects. You may have to increase your water intake to counteract the effect – or use stronger hydrating products.
- Stress and illness. Life can be hard. And this is often a hidden culprit. High emotion for extended periods can have negative effects on your body and hair. Give yourself a break, get some outside exercise, change your environment and appreciate your beautiful self. Work on reducing the stress in your life, for the benefit of your mind and body.
And this one too: 10 Chemicals To Avoid in Hair Care Products
As a final suggestion, if you are suffering from extensive dryness, even after following the suggestions above, consider investing in a hair steamer. You will notice an immediate improvement in your hair’s soft feel and moisture level if used regularly. Make sure your hair is buildup-free before using a steamer.
If you have any more suggestions, please let us know in the comments.