You may be thinking, “If I am no longer relaxing my hair, then why does it feel drier than when I used chemicals?
The one thing you need to know about natural hair is that the kinkier (tightly coiled) it is, the drier it will be in many cases.
When your hair has more kinks, it’s harder for your scalp’s natural oils to travel down your strands. You also may have less shine/sheen.
That is why some people who have looser/straighter curl patterns don’t have as much of a problem with dryness.
Your pattern can also explain why your hair has a very low sheen and no shine. Shine comes from light reflection. That’s why relaxed hair appears shinier. Straight hair reflects the light better.
Natural hair has more of a sheen when healthy and properly moisturized.
So if your hair is very kinky (4B/4C curl patterns), it will be harder for it to reflect light and your hair may appear dull.
But there’s good news…
No, you cannot change your hair’s texture. However, with proper TLC you can still bring out your strand’s natural sheen and revitalize your tresses.
Below you will find some tips for moisturizing your dry hair…
Buy Water-Based Moisturizers
Unless the first or second ingredient is water, it’s not a true moisturizer. Don’t be fooled by products that claim to moisturize your hair, but don’t even have water (or it’s listed as one of the last ingredients.)
1) Jane Carter Nourish and Shine (Even though this is mostly oils and butters, it moisturizes well when applied to damp hair)
2) Shea Moisture Products (Buy at Walgreens, Target or Amazon)
3) Shea Moisture Leave In Conditioner
4) Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Cream
5) Oyin Hair Dew
When searching for moisturizers for kinky, dry hair, look for thicker, creamier products.
Why I Love The Shea Moisture Conditioner
When your hair is properly moisturized, your natural curl pattern will come out when you use conditioning leave-ins.
The Shea Moisture Leave-In Conditioner has this effect on my hair. So when I wear my hair in a puff, I like to use this product to replenish moisture. I also find that the more I use it, the better my hair feels.
Here’s a picture of my puff after using the Shea Moisture Leave-In regularly. Notice how my curls popped.
The Baggy Method
This is a great way to replenish moisture at night. Spritz your hair with water so it’s slightly damp. You may also want to add a moisturizer of your choice. (Remember, real moisturizers have water listed as one of the first ingredients.)
Cover your hair with a plastic cap while you sleep. Secure the cap with a headband. The water, moisturizer and body heat will help to condition and moisturize your hair overnight.
Will this cause frizz? Yes, it may if you are wearing your hair out. However, the baggy method is a great option for women wearing afros and/or those that don’t mind the frizz.
Go Sulfate Free
Use sulfate-free shampoo products to keep from stripping your hair. Sulfates are harsh detergents that rob your hair of its natural moisture. My favorite line is Giovanni.
Use Hot Oil Treatments
This is one of my favorite pampering routines because it softens my hair so much and brings out its natural sheen.
It’s really good to make a habit of doing this in the winter months because your hair will probably dry out faster.
You can even experiment and develop your own concoctions based on your favorite oils.
Spritz With Water
Since water is the best source of moisture for natural hair, a daily dose of it on your strands will help keep your hair supple and soft.
If you’re trying to keep frizz at bay, use a creamy, water-based moisturizer instead. Even though it has more water than any other ingredient, your hair won’t frizz as much because of the creamy consistency.
Seal In Moisture
After you moisturize your hair, seal it in with a natural oil (olive, jojoba, sweet almond, castor, etc.) or butter (shea, mango, etc.) to help lock in the moisture.
And if you can find a product that has both water and butter, then you may find that it acts as both a moisturizer and a sealant.
Sometimes when I’m doing a twist out, I’ll add Jane Carter Nourish and Shine to my damp hair. This combination of water and butter keeps my hair moisturized for several days.
Even though the Nourish and Shine product does not contain water, the damp hair is where the moisture comes from.
Just remember to always add oil or butter after you moisturize. Adding these products to dry hair will do nothing but give you a greasy mane with no moisture.
I remember constantly adding jojoba oil to my twists and couldn’t understand why my hair continued to break off. The problem was I wasn’t moisturizing my hair at all.
Oil is not a moisturizer by itself. That’s why people recommend adding a plastic cap with a hot oil treatment. The warmth generated from the oil and plastic cap generates moisture.
The water moisturizes your hair, while the oil seals and conditions with the oil’s natural nutrients. A perfect combo! Who says oil and water don’t mix?
Sleep With Satin
Sleep in a satin cap or use a satin pillow case to keep your hair from drying out at night. Cotton will soak all the oils out of your hair and can dry it out very quickly.
Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. Not only will water help keep your hair moisturized, but it can help your hair grow at its optimal rate.
Constantly touching your hair will strip the moisture and oils right out of your hair. You can even see the oils on your fingertips.
If you must touch and play in your hair, that’s fine. Just know that you’ll have to moisturize it more often.
Rinse With Apple Cider Vinegar
If you want to add some sheen to your hair, mix one part apple cider vinegar with 3 parts water. (Feel free to adjust the recipe as needed.) Use this as your final rinse when shampooing your hair.
Just be careful because if it gets in your eyes, it will sting. Use an applicator bottle, and tilt your head back while applying it to your hair.
And don’t worry about the vinegar smell. It goes away after a few minutes. I promise you won’t be walking around smelling like salad dressing.
Not only will this add some sheen, but it can also help with detangling.
It’s best to buy the organic apple cider vinegar that reads “With the Mother” on the label. I buy the Braggs brand from Whole Foods.
Also keep in mind that ACV is very acidic so don’t apply more than once a week.
Cold Water Rinse
I actually combine this tip with the last one. I use cold water and apple cider vinegar as my final rinse to bring out my hair’s natural sheen.
However, if you don’t like to use vinegar, you can just do a cold water rinse by itself. Cold water seals the cuticle and promotes shine.
Let’s Sum it Up
I know this was a lot to absorb, so let me sum up the key points regarding moisturizing natural hair…
1) Water equals moisture. Yes, it can cause frizz, but it’s what your hair needs to maintain a good moisture level. If you don’t want to use water by itself, buy a creamier moisturizer that has water listed as the first or second ingredient.
2) Use oils and butters after you apply your moisturizer to seal.
3) Using products that contain water and butter can moisturize and seal at the same time.
4) Experiment with products. No one can tell you what specific products will work best on your hair.
5) Kinkier hair often responds better to creamier/thicker moisturizers.
6) Your hair will be drier during the winter months. You may have to re-apply moisture more often.
7) Moisturize your hair as often as you feel is needed. Everyone’s regimen will be different.