It is easy to place blame on curly and textured hair care products for myriad reasons, such as:
- Disgusting chemicals are in them.
- The formulas have changed since the 2002 launch of the line.
- Too light, too thin consistency fails textured curls.
- The label says it is for fine hair, but it builds up.
The list can go on and on... so what is a curly to do?
The answer is clear: understand how hair works, starting with the cuticle!
Here is the lowdown on hair cuticle behavior:
In order to understand your hair cuticle behavior, you must first understand the hair strand, or hair fiber, structure.
The hair fiber consists of 3 layers that ultimately impact your overall curl health and appearance:
The cuticle is the focus of this article. Sheathed in overlapping flat, thin cellular layers, the hair cuticle is as delicate as it is strong. It does not open. It does not close. However, its outer layer can be raised (with water and some shampoos) and be smoothed back down (with conditioners and oils).
The cortex is the superstar of the hair fiber because it contains cell structures that house coveted keratin. It is enveloped by the cuticle. It is the largest part of the hair fiber which makes it a pretty big deal. It is important to take care of its barrier, the cuticle, which is why selecting the right product for your curls is imperative.
The medulla is a chaotic kaleidoscope of matter and open space at the center of the hair fiber. Although it is there, doing its own thing, you do not need to concern yourself with the medulla. Let it have its pretty name and move on.
So, does hair cuticle behavior impact product efficacy?
Well, yeah - it does!
Sure, this is a hard pill to swallow because maybe it is not the product causing the problem of dry, undefined curls.
Maybe, just maybe, it is you.
More specifically, it may be the products you are choosing are adversely impacting your hair cuticle behavior and health.
Acknowledging that a closer look at your hair can help you make better textured and curly hair care product purchasing decisions is the first step in building a healthy curl regimen!
So, what products should be used to maintain hair cuticle health?
Depending on your temperament, you may be excited by this answer or a touch agitated: The choice is yours!
Yes. It is your purchase. Therefore, with your newfound knowledge, you get to call the shots!
I would not be so bold as to give you, dearest curlfriends, a catch-all product regimen because what works for my low porosity, dense 4C coily hair may not work for you. Alas, I would like to share a few notes about the products I have been using since embracing the importance of hair cuticle maintenance.
Rise and Smooth: Gerilyn’s Hair Cuticle Health Regimen
Cleanse with a gentle shampoo: Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo is a favorite among curlies of all textures. As SHOP NaturallyCurly customer Kisze can attest, “I have 4b low porosity hair & it cleansed but didn't leave my hair too stripped.” This recommendation aided my selection process when deciding which cleanser would work best for my coils. I am glad I took heed.
Smooth hair cuticles with conditioner: Coily hair is fragile and suffers from inevitable moisture evaporation. That is why I use a leave-in conditioner on a regular basis. In order to keep my coils hydrated throughout the day, I chose to continue using Noughty Hair Intensive Care Leave-In Conditioner. I discovered its magical properties a few weeks ago and have been very pleased with its ability to keep my ends hydrated.
Seal moisture with a hydrating gel: This gel is my new obsession: Miss Jessie's Jelly Soft Curls! The hydrolyzed wheat protein in this gel draws moisture from the air and into hair strands, making an ideal environment for the hair cuticle to stay smooth. The overall look of my hair, even after drying, is that of distinctively defined coils. If I want a “wet look” after my curls have dried, I simply mist them with good, ol’ fashioned H2O.
Your curls are versatile and this is thanks to the structure and behavior of your hair. How cool is that?
If you have not picked up on it, I am serious about my hair cuticle health and product efficacy. As mentioned, it is imperative that you understand how your hair cuticle behaves in order to make the absolute best purchasing decisions for your textured coils, curls, and waves!