How long is a piece of string? There are many methods, theories and techniques for moisturising and it’s really a case of finding one, which suits your needs.
JC of Natural Haven blog suggests that water, as a moisturiser is not enough. It needs the added power of a humectant and oil to get the maximum benefit. Without the oil and humectant, hair will simply lose the ‘moisture’ applied very quickly. Audrey Sivasothy, author of ‘The Science of Black Hair’ also supports this theory and suggests a ‘combination’ approach, of water plus humectant followed by an oil to seal. One method of moisturising, which sits well with this theory, is the Liquid-Oil-Cream (L.O.C) method.
The L.O.C Method is a moisturising technique, using three different layers of product in order to seal moisture in the hair for extended periods. L.O.C stands for liquid, oil and cream and each layer is used to seal in the preceding product for maximum moisture retention. The liquid is usually water but any water based mix can be used, followed by an oil or butter, then finished with a creamy product such as a leave-in, moisturizer or styler.
Another moisturizing technique is Baggying. In short baggying is like an intensive steam treatment for hair. It involves applying a moisturiser followed by oil to seal the hair, then covering with a plastic cap/wrap. Finally, an additional layer of coverage, which can be a scarf or hat, is added to lock in heat. This is usually done over an extended period i.e. overnight or during the day under a wig. It can be a great way to hydrate very dry hair quickly but if done too frequently or incorrectly, can cause breakage.
A very important point to note is that not oils are made equal. Any natural oil can be used but some are more superior as they also penetrate the hair shaft and help strengthen the hair. Coconut, olive, castor and avocado oil are good examples. Coconut oil is especially beneficial as it reduces swelling of the hair shaft and loss of proteins when the hair is immersed into water. Butters are another great option, particularly for very dry hair or in dry conditions as they provide a stronger barrier. Mineral oil and silicone oil are also viable choices depending on your personal preferences. On a purely scientific level, mineral oil is VERY effective at reducing moisture loss from hair and skin.
This may sound obvious but if your body is dehydrated then there is no way your hair and scalp will stay hydrated either. Under normal conditions an adult woman needs 2 litres of water a day to function optimally. Trust me, when your body is deprived, one of the first places to suffer is usually hair, skin and nails…so drink up!
As a final note, moisturisers should be applied as needed, there is no set frequency or amount, and your hair’s needs should be the deciding factor. Those who experience high shrinkage may find that moisturising frequently, especially with water can cause excessive knots and tangles, which can lead to breakage. Those with hair that clumps into curls upon contact with water may find that daily moisturising helps reduce tangling.
Natural Haven (http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com)
The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Sivasothy