Why doesn't my hair stay moisturized? Am I using the wrong products?
When I started my hair journey, I felt like my hair was constantly dry and always dried out quickly after moisturizing it. This was probably because I was using products incorrectly, oils incorrectly, and didn’t know much about my hair. Now that I have learned much more and tried out different methods, I feel like I have finally figured out what works for me. These are the game changers that helped me to moisturize my hair more effectively.
1.Know the porosity of your hair
Youtubers talk about hair porosity all the time, but I have found that most naturals aren’t too sure about their hair porosity. Porosity in simple words is the ability of your hair to take moisture in and hold the moisture in. Your hair can be low, medium, or high porosity. Knowing your hair porosity will not only help you to buy the best products, but also help you to use them effectively. There is a popular float test going around everywhere that consists of placing your hair strand in water to figure out which porosity you are. I wouldn’t recommend this test because it can be inaccurate. Your hair will probably float in the water, which signals low porosity hair, but your hair may have oil on it which makes it float. If you still want to use the float test I would suggest making sure the strand you drop in the water is clean. The way I figured out my hair porosity was by paying attention to how my hair reacts to water, moisture, and how long it takes to dry. This will give you a more accurate answer to which porosity your hair is.
Does your hair take a long time to air dry?
Do you get product buildup quickly?
Does your hair struggle with taking in moisture, but once the moisture is in, it lasts for a long time?
Does it feel like products just sit on top of your hair rather than actually getting into your hair?
Does it seem like your hair takes a long time to actually become saturated with water when washing? (Maybe you see beads on top of your strands.)
If you answered yes to most of these questions, your hair is probably low porosity.
Does your hair air dry quickly?
Does your hair absorb water and products quickly?
Does your hair easily take in moisture, but also lose moisture quickly?
Does your hair become frizzy easily?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, your hair is probably high porosity.
Medium porosity is somewhere in between those two descriptions. Once you know your porosity, there are different tips to keeping your hair moisturized.⬇️
Low Porosity Tips
Make sure you are clarifying and shampooing your hair regularly to get rid of product build up.
Don’t use thick butters and heavy oils consistently. This will add to the product build up that your hair is already prone to.
Use heat when applying deep conditioner, products, oils, etc. (steamer, plastic bag, heat cap, hooded dryer) Heat helps your hair to absorb the moisture rather than SIT on top of your hair. Even heating up your other products before using them or using warm water in your spray bottle is great for helping your hair absorb the moisture. (Don’t use the microwave to heat up the products because it will ruin the product, just use warm water in a bowl.) I usually am too lazy to heat my products up before using them, but if you are low porosity and really struggle with dry hair this could have a huge difference. I do rub my products between my hands to warm the product up slightly before just slapping it on my hair. I think something as small as that can still help with absorption of the products.
High Porosity Tips
Use protein treatments to strengthen your hair and help with breakage. (The reason high porosity hair takes in moisture very easily and loses moisture very easily is because there are gaps in the hair strand. Protein can help to fill these gaps.)
Use heavier oils and butters consistently. This also helps with filling up those gaps in high porosity hair, which ultimately leads to moisture retention.
Deep condition consistently. Deep conditioning treatments can help to balance moisture and protein. Protein overload can lead to dry and brittle hair just as much as unmoisturized hair. You don't want to continuously do protein treatments, but forget about deep conditioning.
2. Look at the ingredients in your products
It can be intimidating to look at the back of your products because it usually is a bunch of big science words that mean nothing to me or most people. When you look at ingredients, focus on the first 5 products. The ingredients USED THE MOST are listed first, so there's no need to read the entire list. Those things at the end might be in such a small amount that it won't make a difference. Also, if you are thinking about buying a product, look it up online before you go to the store. No one really wants to stand in the store reading the back of labels before deciding on a product. Most people are trying to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. When researching, pay attention to these ingredients. (Remember these ingredients apply to kinky, coily textures like mine, if you have a looser curl pattern, it may be different for you.)
✔️ Water - You can always start with using water more consistently. When we style our hair, we typically don’t want to use water because our hair will revert or shrink and ruin the style, but if you can spritz your hair with water consistently, your hair will love you. Water HYDRATES your hair, NOT moisturizes, so it still needs to be combined with other products to make sure your hair doesn’t dry back up once the water dries up. Sometimes I think we highlight products more than we highlight water, but water is really important too. Water should be the first or second ingredient in your moisturizing products.
✔️ Humectants - Humectants attract water to the hair to keep it moisturized, so this is another thing you may want to look for in the first few ingredients of your product. Popular humectants to look for in products include: Glycerin, Honey, Aloe Vera, Panthenol, Sorbitol
If you live in a location with a lot of humidity, humectants may be attracting too much water to your hair which could lead to frizz and less definition. You may have to look for products with anti-humectants if you live in an extremely humid area. Personally, I haven’t struggled with frizz while living in GA or FL, but I do embrace my big hair and don’t do many styles with my hair laid… so my experience might be biased.
✔️ Fatty Alcohols - These alcohols come from plants and oils and have moisturizing properties. Look for these in the first few ingredients of your products: Cetyl, Lauryl, Stearyl, and Cetearyl Alcohol
❌ Sulfates - These strip the hair of its natural oils that usually help to moisturize your hair. If you use this, it shouldn’t be too often. (I talked a little bit about this product in my Wash Day blog.)
❌ Drying Alcohols - These are often used in hair products because they help the product to dry quicker, but it also dries out your hair. Stay away from these as much as possible. Some products, like hair spray or gel, have to have drying alcohols. Common drying alcohols include: Ethanol, SD Alcohol, Propyl Alcohol, Isopropyl alcohol
***I know these ingredients are hard to remember so be on the lookout for my next blog about my favorite products! I will highlight some of the ingredients in each product. If you ever have a question about an ingredient in your product I would recommend Tightly Curly Ingredients Dictionary because it explains, in simple terms, what the product is used for and if it is beneficial for your hair. You can always just use google too, but google won't always answer how the product affects coily textures.***
3. Know the difference between oils
Just like different oils are best used for certain types of cooking. Different oils have different roles for your hair. Before you decide to use an oil, make sure that oil will do what you expect it to. Penetrating oils are different from sealing oils. You shouldn’t use a sealing oil if you haven’t moisturized your hair. You also shouldn’t expect a sealing oil to moisturize your hair. It will still be dry. Moisturizing oils absorb into your hair; sealing oils lock moisture in AFTER applying a moisturizer or water.
Great for hot oil treatments and pre-poo
Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil
Apply with a moisturizing product or water
It creates a seal which then prevents moisture from getting out, BUT also from getting in. You shouldn’t seal your hair and then try to apply a moisturizer.
Castor Oil, Jojoba Oil, Almond Oil
Oiling your scalp - I do this very rarely, but this is something that I encourage you to do if you know it works for you. People who have itchy scalp and dry scalp often say oiling their scalp is beneficial to them. My advice is, if possible, use some water before just oiling your scalp and make sure you’re using light and natural oils. You don’t want anything on your scalp that will clog it and prevent growth. Also, massaging your scalp after applying the oil will increase blood circulation and help with growth. I would recommend these oils for the scalp: Tea Tree Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Jojoba Oil, Argan Oil
Hot Oil Treatments - This is another great option if your hair is dry and needs some moisture. I would recommend doing it overnight with a mixture of different oils. Just remember to rinse your hair well after doing this treatment.
4. Figure out your moisturizing method
LCO Method - Liquid/Leave In → Cream → Oil - This is the order I prefer to apply my products because I like to seal everything in as my last step with oil. I also almost always use water as my liquid for the first step.
LOC Method - Liquid/Leave In → Oil → Cream - This is the most common method I see on Youtube. I guess this method works if you are using a moisturizing oil, but I don’t see how the moisture will be sealed in. If you are using a sealing oil for the second step, I'm not sure how the cream can be effective since moisture cannot enter your hair once it is sealed (as I mentioned above). If you use the LOC method comment below how it has worked for you!
(You don't have to choose between these 2 methods. These are the most popular ones, but you can have your own way of moisturizing your hair. Do what works for you.)
5. Put your hair away
This is the hardest for me, but try not to touch your hair. Do styles that don’t encourage you to keep touching your hair. Even doing styles that always involve your hair touching your shoulders and clothes aren’t good for your ends. It’s fine every once in a while, but not consistently. It's nice to have your hair out, but when it's exposed all the time it dries out quickly.
When I braid or twist my hair, the moisture ALWAYS lasts much longer than when my hair is just out and exposed to the air. You don't have to untwist/unbraid to re-moisturize. I often do the LCO method even with my hair in twists/braids.
Wrap it up at night with silk / satin.
6. Be consistent
The only way to really figure out what works for your hair is consistency. If you are always trying different products, different techniques, and different application methods… when your hair feels great how will you know what actually helped it get there? Experimenting with different products and techniques is great, but there has to be some consistency amongst the experimentation.
Unless you are getting negative results with your hair, try products and techniques MULTIPLE times to see if you notice a difference before just jumping into something new. I would recommend the same when it comes to styling! If you only try a style on your hair once, you haven’t really given it a chance. Sometimes you have to try things multiple times before making a final decision on whether you like it or not.
Okayyy sooooo.... now that I have all this information on moisturizing my hair… How will I know that I am moisturizing my hair correctly?
Your curl pattern should be flourishing. (No, I didn’t say you will get a new curl pattern lol. YOUR curl pattern, whatever it is, will flourish!)
Your hair will be springy, strong and flexible hair rather than stiff or weak.
You’ll have less breakage.
It should feel hydrated.
Trial and error is key. Don’t get frustrated, be patient, #BeYOUtiful. Love yourself, love your hair!
Share this blog with your fellow naturals! #TwistOutFleeky