Evaluate Your Regimen
A basic hair care regimen consists of cleansing, conditioning, and moisturizing. Are you doing those basic things? You need to clarify at least once a month so if you are avoiding shampoo then consider using a sulfate-free shampoo, baking soda, or a co-wash conditioner. Most licensed cosmetologist will advise you to cleanse once a week. Are you following up your cleanser with a conditioner and giving it time to penetrate? Using a daily conditioner, deep conditioner, or masque after cleansing and giving it time to sit for at least 15 min. allows your hair to adjust back to its proper pH level. After rinsing your conditioner, make sure you apply a moisturizer, leave-in conditioner, or milk to help maintain the moisture from the conditioning process. This is not a requirement but most naturals will also seal their hair with an oil or butter as an extra barrier for protection.
Evaluate Your Products
If your regimen consists of a cleanser, conditioner, and moisturizer, then the next thing to evaluate are the ingredients. Pay attention to the ingredients in products that your hair responds well to and the ingredients in products that your hair responds adversely to.
For starters, the main ingredients that most (not all) naturals will veer away from are sulfates, silicones, and petroleum. Sulfates are used in standard shampoos to help remove buildup and tend to be too harsh for textured hair. Silicones are typically formulated in conditioners (and some shampoos) to help make your hair easier to comb and seal in moisture. The issue with non-water soluble silicones is that if you do not clarify regularly or cleanse with a sulfate shampoo, then they can build up on the hair and cause dryness. Petroleum and petrolatum is usually formulated in moisturizers (and some conditioner) to seal moisture in your hair but they leave the hair greasy and dry because moisture from the air cannot penetrate.
Evaluate Your Styling
How you style your hair can also play a role in how well your hair retains moisture. Wearing loose styles like a picked out afro, twist out, braid out, and Bantu-knot out can leave your hair more vulnerable to being dry because your ends are not protected. Try wearing styles that protect your ends like a bun, French braid, or the roll, tuck, and pin. Regularly using heat tools on high heat can deplete the moisture from your hair. When heat styling, it is important to use a heat protectant to maintain your hair’s moisture and reduce the risk of thermal damage. For a flat iron you want to try to stay under 375 degrees. When using a blow-dryer, it is best to use it while the hair is damp (not wet) and use low heat with a diffuser attachment. The diffuser attachment will help to evenly disperse the air so that the air is not concentrated on one section.
These are great starting points if you are newly natural and cannot seem to combat dryness. Clean hair, quality products, and mindful styling are the keys maintaining luscious locks.
What are your keys to combatting dryness?