Moisturizing & Sealing 3B/3C Hair

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By Fran of HeyFranHey.com

I like to keep my beauty regimens clean and simple. The less product I apply in one styling session the better. This doesn’t mean I’m not a product junkie! I’ve tried and own every natural hair brand out! But I’m a minimalist when it comes to mixing them to achieve a desired look. In my mind, being “natural” means low maintenance. I always picture myself stranded on an island, having to figure out how to make my hair and skin work. Scary thought considering the mini Walgreens that is my bathroom, but a goal nonetheless! I’ve found, through trial and error, that my scalp and strand health thrive best with the less I use. Now I simply wet, apply leave-in and seal. Here’s how I came to understand that applying moisture could be done in 3 simple steps:

Before I started taking good care of my hair, my everyday style was the quick wash & go. I would wash it daily because I was unaware of how to preserve the curl pattern. My hair was suffering due to the constant washing and styling: drying out, breaking and stuck at what seemed a forever shoulder length. To make matters worse, I was using mousse and gels that were loaded with alcohols and synthetics. I soon realized I should switch to products with a lighter hold (for the sake of my crispy, dried out curls) and more nutrient-based ingredients, to restore some moisture. I immediately had softer more voluminous hair (goodbye gels and alcohols!) with more shine and definition. Dryness solved!

The next step I was having a hard time figuring out was how to retain the moisture I applied without constantly washing it. I felt like I had to re-apply the products daily or it wouldn’t look right. I jumped on youtube to see what other naturals were doing for maintenance, but all I saw was lots of re-wetting and daily washing too! Meanwhile, every other natural texture was retaining moisture and preserving styles for weeks at a time. Granted, different textures have different regimens and expectations, but I began to wonder if finer haired naturals were missing out on a crucial step during the product application process. As I kept watching videos and reading posts, I realized I was missing out on the “sealing” method. Instead of constantly re-wetting, it made more sense to seal the water and leave-in with oil on wash day. It’s a method that is scientifically based, not just texture based, yet I feel finer naturals avoid it like the plague, assuming it’s not for their “hair type”, in fear of being weighed down or product buildup, or, in some cases, because they don’t really know much about it.

No one with type “3” hair was doing it online but I still wanted to test the method for myself. The first time I tried it, I washed my hair as usual, applied my leave-in to soaking wet hair and then sealed with olive oil. It was way too heavy. I tried coconut oil but was left with brittle, frizzy hair. Jojoba oil gave my hair a flat, “wet look” for days. Nothing was really working so I thought, ok, I guess this is why…lol. But knowing it was an important step for retaining moisture, I didn’t want to give up so easily. I figured trying something that wasn’t an oil would get the job done. But what was considered a good sealant yet not an oil?

I had a bottle of Aloe Vera in my fridge for a cut I was healing so I decided to give it a try. It was all natural, so why not? It turned out to be the perfect, watery, light yet effective consistency for my hair type. I’ve been using it as a sealant ever since. Here is a picture of an experiment I posted a few months ago showing the difference between my sealed and non-sealed hair. On the right side I finger-combed Pure Aloe Vera by Aubrey Organics over my Curl Souffle leave-in by Curls. On the left side I just left the leave-in without sealing. See the difference? Major!

I’ve seen comments with naturals saying they don’t see the need for sealing. I personally don’t think it’s a step that HAS to be done, but I’ve found it to be extremely helpful. It helps me retain more moisture and shine, which in turn preserves my styles a little longer. Being able to keep them in longer means less manipulation of the strands, which results in improved hair health and growth. In other words, why not seal? In this video I show my 3 quick and basic steps for retaining moisture:

Do you swear by or skip out on the sealing method? If not, what turned you off? If so, what have you found to be the most effective leave-in/sealant combination?

Fran is the author of HeyFranHey.com. Follow her on Twitter @heyfranhey.

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Fran

I'm a natural hair, nutrition and fitness blogger from New York City. Battling a kidney related illness that doctors couldn't seem to fix, I became obsessed with alternative medicine. After months of researching and finally curing myself, it became quite evident that healthy resources in our urban communities were lacking. I began my health & wellness tumblr in Dec of 2010 as somewhat of a journal, hoping to shed some light on my journey to health as well as our disconnection with healthy living. It's been my goal to create a safe haven where our wellness concerns could be shared and hopefully cured, as naturally as possible.

 
  • http://www.iriediva.com IrieDiva

    I swear by aloe vera for my hair. it is a miracle plant! i use castor mixed with argan oil to seal and use aloe as my leave-in. im more of a 3c/4a i think…but who knows/cares! i just big chopped so its still short but this mix works fine for now.

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  • Nicole

    I am thinking about trying aloe juice as a sealer, but I have one question about how to layer the moisturizers. So is it water, leave-in, aloe? What about a styler? Water, leave-in, aloe, styler?

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    • http://heyfranhey.com Fran

      Yeah, if you use a styler that would be the order. The vid above shows the process!

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  • Dawn

    yeah, aloe vera works for me but not for long. i might try it again, though.

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  • Rashida

    My hair is a mixture of 4’s but I think my hair just doesn’t take to oils very well – I never use much but my hair feels so greasy throughout the week. It could also be a low porosity issue. I definitely want to try aloe vera as a sealer and see how it works!

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  • http://ln Gia

    I don’t seal since butters and oils dry my hair out. I’ll add grapeseed/jojoba oils to my dollar store rinse out conditioners and I use water based DC’s and leave ins with butters and oils included in the ingredients list. After my leave in I’ll use flaxseed gel mixed with aloe vera juice and my hair stays moisturized for days.

    My hair is also low porosity so finding products that penetrate my strands and moisturize my hair is tricky. For some reason whenever I use butters and oils by themselves to seal or do hot oil treatments my hair turns out dry, no matter how little I use and how light the oil is.

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  • Alexandra

    Thanks for vid Fran. It’s funny how this video comes out at a time I was thinking about stopping to use my oils. I’m currently doing the Conditioner method and noticed that my hair is softer, lighter, bouncier and culier since I started this. I too use only Aloe Vera juice for sealing but I spray it on my hair before i add my leave-in conditioner (and no, my hair is not soaking wet, lol).

    When I use my Coconut Oil (my usual go to) I noticed that my hair has been feeling heavier or coated so I thought about using it on my scalp and hair at bedtime. As I started doing some reevaluating I realized that my hair is already moisturized and has enough oils from my conditioners as well as my sebum.

    Thanks again for the advice and video. I always look forward to what you have to speak about!

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  • nelle

    thank you! I have 3b hair everywhere and 4b hair around the perimeter. It’s tough to find a regimen that helps my 4b hair but wont flatten my 3b hair into a lifeless limp. I find more help for 4b than 3b, so thank you!

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    • Jo Somebody

      That sounds really weird! I’d love to see how your hair looks!
      (hope you don’t find that offensive!)

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    • Chica

      Sounds like my daughter’s hair, only opposite! The front and back is about 3b-c and the rest is a mix of 4s! She wants to wear it down, but its a hot mess trying to get it all uniform.

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  • http://www.mykinksandcurls.com Nia

    I swear by sealing I also have curly “3” hair. If I don’t seal in with an oil or butter my hair dries out very quickly, within a day usually and then I have to resort to co-washing. You do have to be careful to add just enough oil and not go overboard – to avoid that greasy look also. I’m very selective about what oil I use – I dislike coconut oil because it tends to sit on top of my hair instead of seeping in, if you know what I mean. But I definitely agree sealing is one of the best ways to keep hair moisturised.

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  • OnceUponaTime

    Using coconut oil as a sealant also makes my hair brittle and dry, but when I oil rinse with it, I have soft, protected hair. I find that I have moisture for up to a week using this method.

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    • Caramel

      You maybe protein sensitive.My hair is and I stay away from coconut and wheat protein found in any hair products, unless they are going into my mouth!

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  • Pingback: AO Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner, AVJ to Seal & Plopping « hairscapades()

  • Camille Cadenhead

    Does aloe vera gel work as well, or is pure aloe vera best?

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  • http://radiant-brown-beauty.com Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty

    Totally a swear by-er here :-)

    I seal with Jojoba oil though. It’s light and doesn’t weigh the hair down. I only use AV to make my leave in conditioner recipe. Then, after applying that I seal with the Jojoba Oil. I can go up to 5 days without moisturizing and I have 3c hair as well. My hair also manages to maintain a nice amount of shine.
    [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/IMG_0771.jpg[/img]

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  • norma

    My hair is thick and frizzy. I need something that will keep it moisturizing and tame it down to a curly wet look. how do I do this?

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    • rt

      Add products to soaking wet hair as she said. I add my leave in conditioner, and seal with hair serum. It’s a really good sealer. I haven’t tried aloe though. I may. I add both serum and leave in to soaking wet hair, then wring the excess water out, and blot any excess with a tshirt. It tames it a lot, because it soaks up everything while drying. The product dries into each strand. I try to tell people add their products to soaking wet hair all the time instead of the water bottle spritz method. Your curls will look so perfect. Tyra Bank’s hairstylist Oscar, did a special on her show about this method. It works

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  • Mari

    Oh wow! So funny to see someone with the same CG issue. I’m a finer 3b in the front and c in the back kinda girl., but my edges????? I can do my co wash slick and curl doo, but I have always had to tie my edges down. They’re not bad, they just don’t seem to match the rest of my hair. As far as my sealant, I have to say I use the EVOO. My Ethiopian dad swears by it.

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  • judi ahwan

    HELP!! Ive been relaxing my hair for over 20 years and am ashamed to say that my regimen only consists of wash and blow dry (at a salon because i cant blow dry my own hair!!)and oiling my scalp (when i remember) and sometimes putting in moisturiser. Now im growing out my relaxer (10 months so far)and ive become obsessed with all things natural. I had no idea (and again im ashamed to admit this)that ive been NEGLECTING my hair for practically all of my adult life!!! However im now really confused as i have two types of hair ad im not quite ready to go for the big chop just yet. So do I start leaving in and sealing, even though I only have about 5 inches of natural??? And co washing and deep treating?? Please can someone advise me I think my natural is 3b….Dont know if ill get an answer to this but fingers crossed…Peace:)

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    • jeri

      You should start by finding a regular shampoo and conditioner that works for your hair. You need shampoo to get rid of product buildup. Its good to shampoo in between cowashing. A lot of people swear by organic products but if your bank does not allow that then just buy what you can. If you section your hair, it will help with washing and conditioning. For a curly it is recommended to leave a tiny bit of conditioner on your hair after washing. Use a styler like hair milk, to help style your hair and yes you can seal at this point either with aloe vera gel or an oil but don’t go overboard. Some people find that they need to deep condition ever week when they wash their hair, but its optional. I do it like once a month.

      If you do twists or braids, the hair will keep more moisture. Twist outs or braid outs and bantu knot outs will help even out your curl pattern. With practice, it will look really good. Another great hairstyle I do is a high bun and a headband and I don’t use gel. Also a crown braid or milk maid braids. It is a great cute protective hairstyle. One of my favorite YouTube vloggers is naptural85 she’s pretty awesome and gives great tips. Like this article says you don’t need much for styling hair, the less product, the better.

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  • jjac401

    I find that grapeseed oil works very well in my hair. I also have fine strands.

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  • Angela

    I love coconut hair for my body but it’s terrible for my hair. EVOO works best….ingesting protein is great..for deep conditioning! Awful! 3b/c hair, super fine, very dense! Any moisturizing conditioners/shampoos that would work?

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    • Elysia

      I use jojoba oil for my 3b hair. My hair loves it! Coconut oil made me break out. My hair loves redken allsoft even though it isn’t 100% natural.

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  • http://www.ErikasElegantEdibles.com Erika

    I am having the same issue you were, so I’m definitely going to try the aloe. I also use the Curls Souffle and love it. Seems like our curl type is the same.

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  • Ashlea

    I have 3b/3c curly hair and I use almond oil or carrot oil to seal my hair. I currently am using the LOC (leave-in,oil,cream) methord on my hair which seems to hold my curls for more than a day so I can just refresh the next day! Although I also use fantasias moisturizing gel on the first go around, my hair is always left soft and defined.

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  • jeri

    Interesting. I watched the video and I could not believe what I saw. I also have 3b hair but when I tried using aloe vera gel on my hair I had adverse effects. When my hair gets in contact with the aloe vera gel, any moisture in my hair just drips out! Its so bizarre. I have tried it several times using different products and I get the same results.

    I wash and condition, apply leave in. At this point my hair is wet but not dripping wet. When I apply the aloe vera gel all the water comes out and drips out as if my hair was soaking wet. Also, my curls really loosen up, and become stringy.

    How do you explain that?

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