When I was younger, I loved getting a haircut and unconsciously even made it a necessity every year. Not because I looked good on low-cut (which I did by the way *wink*) but because I had no idea how to care for my thick, dry, 4C hair. Imagine full kinky hair with no idea how to care for it and keep it healthy. The ignorance of the solution to my hair dryness served as a motivation to visit the barber’s shop.
The Afro-textured hair also known as the Africans’ hair texture is grouped under type 4 hair by Walker and also further divided into A, B and C depending on the sparseness and the coil. Now the term ‘coils’ is used instead of curls since the hair texture in question is more in the form of a helix or spiral rather than curves and ringlets.
Robbins (2012) explained how through research, it was discovered that the Afro-textured hair came into being as a result of Africans evolving to the climate of their environment. According to Robbins’ research, it can be said that the atmospheric condition in tropical Africa is largely responsible for the afro hair texture.
Moisturization is simply the process of adding moisture. It can be done using different methods and products while taking into consideration the porosity and other attributes of the hair. The tight coils, kinks, shrinkage, and low porosity are the basic characteristics of Afro-textured hair therefore making MOISTURIZING the most necessary haircare step. Hydrating and locking in moisture to avoid dryness and brittleness is the key to avoiding the hair-breakage in Afro-textured hair and keeping it healthy!
Hair washing for afro-textured hair is a delicate hair care process usually involving a few steps that require careful attention. So naturally the process should be planned and added to the schedule (or should I say google calendar). We all simply refer to the process as ‘wash day’ since it can be as exacting as performing a heavy-duty job😂. For Afro-textured hair, washing with sulfate-free shampoo and a deep conditioner is encouraged, this is done to open up the hair cuticle so that the overlapped strands can absorb enough moisture. Though deep conditioning is usually carried out every two weeks, it is recommended that Afro-textured hair should be deep conditioned weekly. The fact that we are dealing with low porous hair requires the need for lukewarm water for washing. The temperature is superb for washing off dirt in the hair and also lifting up the cuticles for topmost moisture penetration.
LOC (leave-in, oil, and cream) is one of the most popular methods of moisturizing because of its simplicity and the ease of access to the products and oils needed, in African communities Also, for its general effect on the hair coils. In this method, after hydrating your hair with water or a water based moisturizer, a leave-in conditioner is applied followed with any oil of choice to lock in the moisture. In the days that follow your afro-hair can simply be maintained with your favorite hair cream. Light oils like shea, coconut, jojoba, avocado, olive, almond, argan, and grapeseed oil are recommended for the nourishment they provide that can enhance hair growth. These oils generally are referred to as sealants due to their ability to seal off the cuticle for the maintenance of the absorbed moisture. This is the reason why lightweight oils are applied after the hydration of hair.
Using off-the-shelf hair moisturizers is another method for moisturizing. It is important to note that there are two main types of moisturizers; water-based and oil-based moisturizers. For effective moisturization, we advise that you choose water-based products as your primary moisturizing agent. Then follow up with oil-based products to lock in the moisture. When choosing a hair moisturizer, the primary and foremost consideration is your hair; the texture, porosity, thickness, sensitivity, and even age. Some helpful ingredients to look out for include aloe vera, honey, glycerin, shea butter, light oils, and vitamin E etc. Avoiding products with harsh and unnecessary chemicals while using products with natural ingredients is one of the guides to maintaining healthy hair while using off the shelf moisturizers.
For Afro-textured women who live in higher temperate climates, it is advisable to moisturize and carry out deep conditioning regularly because the higher temperatures can dry out the hair faster and increase the porosity of the hair. Applying heat on the hair frequently or making regular heat styles can cause the cuticle to stay open thereby resulting in loss of moisture. The keywords here are “frequently” and “regularly”.
Also, dyed Afro-textured hair has been discovered to be more porous and dry as a result of harsh chemicals in the dye. If your Afro-textured hair already has dye applied to it, it is safe to say keeping your hair moisturized at all times should be your main hair priority (more than that of someone who has not applied dye). The dye tends to add to the hair’s dryness and brittleness. Therefore, moisturizing should be of higher precedence when it comes to dyed afro-textured hair.
Lastly, using silk pillowcases and bonnets has proved to help reduce friction and moisture loss while sleeping and also protect the hair from split ends and frizzing. Recently, I started the devotional use of silk bonnet and I can loudly attest to the effectiveness. Waking up with dry hair seems to be a thing of the past for me because all that happens now is I wake up to my 4C hair still having moisture and looking healthy with decreased grating with my pillow. So go ahead and save all the moisture your Afro-textured hair has worked hard to absorb from the environment and all that has been applied to it.
Keep hydrating, don’t stop moisturizing when needed, and continue loving those tight coils!