Why is moisturizing such a buzz word when it comes to natural hair? Regularly adding moisture to your hair will help it feel softer, become easier to manage and also become less prone to breakage which will allow the hair to grow longer. However, like most things in life, there are always exceptions to the rule. Every head of hair is different and what may work for some still may not work for all.
What is high shrinkage?
High shrinkage hair shrinks to a third or less of its actual length when it is wet. Hair with high shrinkage tends to not form clumped curls and, instead, has a tendency to tangle and intertwine with other strands.
If your hair clumps up naturally, daily moisture is not an issue. In fact, it is a good idea to moisturize your hair every day. This will encourage clumping and reduce tangling by using water-based products frequently. Avoiding water based products can cause your hair to frizz and tangle, so water and water based products are your hair's best friend. However, if your hair feels dry and brittle because water causes it to shrink up tightly, you are in the class who may benefit from not using daily moisture. Avoiding this complete, tight shrinkage is the key to preventing unnecessary tangling and breakage.
Here are some common issues you may face when you have hair with high shrinkage - and how to best get your moisture.
If your hair tangles when you wear it down
If hair is in a free and open style, this will encourage complex tangling that causes several strands to interlock when moisture (water or a product containing water) is applied and the hair is subsequently manipulated with fingers, a comb or brush into a style. These are entirely preventable but when they do form, can be difficult to undo and need to be cut off which affects hair length goals.
If you have matting when you take your braids out
With braids, for example, several strands within the style will intertwine with one another. This is why some people can detangle hair then braid or twist it up. After leaving the style for a few weeks, the hair requires a lot of detangling during the takedown. If the style is left in place for long, matting is also a possibility.
If you wear stretched styles (and want them to stay stretched)
If you can moisturize your hair once a week or once every 3 to 4 days, you will be able to keep your hair in a stretched-out style with minimal shrinkage which can be beneficial for curlies who want to grow their hair longer. You do not need to avoid moisture and water completely on high shrinkage hair, but you may benefit greatly from spreading out the sessions.
If you wear protective styles
If your hair is usually in a protective style, you are not manipulating the individual strands on a daily basis. Your hair needs to be moisturized when you are taking down or putting in the style. The purpose of moisture is to help hair be more flexible and this is most important during manipulation.
What should you moisturize with?
Finding a good leave-in conditioner and regimen based on your needs is also key. Some curlies find success using heavy cream moisturizers in conjunction with light oils and light water and glycerine-based mixes, heavy castor oil or a variation of these combinations. It is about experimenting to see what your hair likes the best.
Consider the Maximum Hydration Method
The Maximum Hydration Method is a regimen that was created by Pinke Cube, an active member of Black Hair Media, and blogger MsDeeKay. This regimen contains multiple steps that aims at opening up the cuticle to allow moisture in, and must be done every day for one week (followed by every three days after that). It's particularly helpful if you have low porosity hair. You can learn how to follow the steps properly here.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MS. DEE KAY
The LOC Method
Another popular moisturizing technique is the LOC Method, which stands for liquid, oil, cream. This simply refers to the order in which you apply your moisturizer (liquid), followed by a sealing oil and then a cream. Some curlies swear by this order, while others find more success applying the cream before oil (which is referred to as LCO). No matter which you prefer, the key is to start with your moisturizer and then seal that moisture in.This article has been updated with new information and resources.