So here on the East Coast it’s slowly getting colder. I have been thinking about how to take care of my hair during the winter months. The biggest thing I, and many other people with kinky/coily/curly hair, have to deal with, is getting enough moisture especially as the humidity drops and indoor temperatures rise. My hair tends to get very dry quickly and this leads to frizziness and eventually split ends. This is a great time to review your hair regime and find what works for you to gain and maintain healthy hair. Remember, you don’t have to follow all of the hair ‘rules’ but just do you! Here are a few tips to remember when deciding what to choose.
Growing up, I always remembered having super dry hair, especially when washing it. Even as an adult, I used to feel my scalp contracting when I went to the salon to get a wash and blow out. The one thing that has drastically changed the condition and health of my hair and scalp is cleansing without the use of sulphates. Just about every commercial shampoo contains sulphate – sodium lauryl sulphates, ammonium laureth sulphates and there are many more. I ALWAYS stick to sulphate-free shampoos. Look for products that state they are sulphate free, castile soaps, cleansers containing betaine. You could also use diluted apple cider vinegar or baking soap. Again, lots of people have great success with sulphate shampoos, but I don’t. My hair no longer feels dried out and brittle. Remember to main reason we shampoo is to cleanse the scalp to remove products, dead skin cells, excess oils, pollutants that build up on a daily basis. You can’t have totally healthy hair without a healthy scalp. So massage your scalp well when cleansing!
This is another area that I spend a lot of time researching, is what deep conditioner to use. This is where you get an opportunity to replace lost moisture, add nutrients that can penetrate the hair shaft, smooth the cuticle, add shine and reduce frizz. Well-moisturized hair feels soft, smooth and the chances for split ends are reduced. Many conditioners contain cones, which lay on the hair shaft and gives you that super smooth feeling and glossy shine. Now, there are many categories of cones and they have fallen victim to some bad press, but not all are bad. Yes, the majority of cones found in mass-market and prestige brands coat the hair shaft but are insoluble and prevent moisture from getting into hair. So hair feels good when the conditioner on the hair, but once it its washed away, hair instantly feels brittle and dry again. I found a great article here and here of the list of the different cones to look out for. Generally if you find that your hair still feels dry after conditioning, look for water-soluble cones. One more thing about cones, if you use a water insoluble cone in your hair, you would probably need to use sulphate shampoo as they can be difficult to remove.
This involves trapping the moisture that you gained during conditioning in the hair shaft for an extended period of time, like days. I usually use a water-based sealer then an oil-based sealer. Water-based sealers are typically any hairdress that contains water as one of the main ingredients. I am particularly fond of the ones from Oyin Handmade and Qhemet Biologics. I use coconut oil as my oil-based sealer. There are many other oils out there that one could use like jojoba, olive, grapeseed, castor, just find what works for you. I like coconut oil as it does not leave that heavy, greasy, oily residue, it actually can penetrate the hair shaft carrying more nutrients and it has a great scent! Look out for products with mineral oil or paraffinum, they also coat the hair shaft, provides no moisture and contributes to dryness and greasiness of hair.
I have been braiding my hair in 6 simple flat twists every other week for about a year and a half. This allows me to manipulate my hair very little and maintain a certain moisture level. Other people like, braids, buns, twists. There are lots of options! Pay particular attention to ends of your hair, as this is the oldest section of the hair and can dry out easily. Dry hair is susceptible to splitting and once the hair splits, it has to be removed…sooooo. Keeping your ends tucked or braided also prevents them from curling onto each other causing the most annoying things ever, knots!!! Knots could lead to splitting, tangling and general annoyance!!! Protection also includes tying hair at night with a silk or satin scarf or sleeping satin pillowcases.
I hope these tips gave some food for thought. Please add your recommended products or techniques below.