July 09, 2012

How to Moisturize Kinky Curly Hair

Those of us in the "natural hair" community have heard this repeatedly:  the key to healthy, beautiful hair is "moisture." Blah blah blah.  But so many of us don't really know what that means for our individual hair.  Because every single head of curly hair is absolutely different from every other head of curly hair, many products that work for some don't work for others.




Calling all type 4a/4b/3c/3b with thick and/or course strands!  I think the following will work for you:


1.  First, co-wash your hair more often than not.  My new favorite conditioner is Tresemme Naturals (silicone free).  Occasionally, it's necessary to wash the scalp with a sulfate free shampoo, but weekly washes should be done with conditioner.





















2.  Next, use a leave-in conditioner or moisturizer.  My hair craves Care Free Curl Gold.  Yes, I know what you're thinking.  Those of us who were children of the 80s associate this product with the much stigmatized Jheri Curl!  However, as the product label claims, it 
"Activates and moisturizes in one easy step! Restores curls, smooths hair and adds sheen, while the silk moisturizers soften and help prevent breakage. Leaves hair feeling silkier, looking livelier... never greasy or stiff." 
This product "activates" your natural curls and hydrates them like nothing I've ever seen.  The ingredients list is quite revealing.


INGREDIENTS: AQUA/WATER, PROPYLENE GLYCOL, GLYCERIN, STEARYL ALCOHOL, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, PHENOXYETHANOL, DIMETHICONE, OLETH-20, DICETYLDIMONIUM, CHLORDIE, POLYQUATERNIUM-11, METHYLPARABEN, PARFUM/FRAGRANCE, DIMETHICONAL, LINALOOL, HEXYL CINNAMAL, BENZYL SALICYLATE, BENZYL BENZOATE, BUTYLPHENYL, METHYLPROPIONAL, BENZYL ALCOHOL, LIMONENE. BEHENTRIMONIUM METHOSUYLFATE.


Note that the first ingredient is "water."  Yes, black people, water is the best and most effective moisturizer.  The problem is that curly hair absorbs water quickly, and depending on the porosity of the hair, water may evaporate quickly.  Therefore, we need other ingredients to lock the water in. Hence, the next few ingredients.  Propylene Glycol is a humectant, which promotes moisture by absorbing water from the atmosphere.  Glycerin is also a humectant (that also comes in an organic form) that kinky curly hair loves.  Stearyl and Cetearyl Alcohol are "fatty" alcohols. "Fatty alcohols provide an emollient effect, and bind water and oil" .  Of course, the next few ingredients are the somewhat controversial silicones.  For me, daily use of silicone-containing products might prove problematic, as they coat the hair, don't wash out easily, and could lead to damage.  I have not experienced this, however, because I use silicone-containing products once per week at best.

3.  Finally, for styling twists, braids, cornrows, and later twist-outs and braid-outs, a buttery oil is imperative.  My butter of choice is Shea Moisture's Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I looooove this stuff!  Again, let's examine the ingredients.


Ingredients
Deionized Water , Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) , Cocos Nucifera Oil (Coconut) , Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil , Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado) , Vegetable Glycerin , Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract , Silk Protein , Ammonium Salt , Melia Azadirachta Seed Oil (Neem) , Daucus Carota Sativa Seed Oil (Carrot) , Sorbitol Esters , Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B-5) , Caprylyl Glycol , Essential Oil Blend , Lonicera Caprifolium Flower and Lonicera Japonica Flower Extract (Honeysuckle and Japanese Honeysuckle), Tocopherol (Vitamin E)


There's that water again.  Next is Shea Butter.  This butter is the key to the magic of this product.  Shea butter stretches and smooths kinky curly hair.  Alone, however, it tends to be stiff and not malleable.  But with these other wonderful natural oils in the ingredients list, shea butter is perfect!


So the moisture mystery is solved.  A combination of these products, in the order I mentioned above, not only moisturizes my coarse hair, but keeps my hair soft and billowy for 7 days.  If you're one of those coarse haired naturals who has always believed your hair was just permanently "hard," try these products.  You'll be pleasantly surprised.