By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom
One of my friends recently decided to become serious about her hair health. Her goals are to increase the fullness of her hair by minimising breakage and increase her length retention. She diligently did her reading up on the internet and came to me with questions about moisture. I realized on speaking to her that moisture can be a complete red herring for some naturals. There is the perception on natural sites that eliminating dry hair is the path to full and long healthy hair. I think that this is only a partial truth, there are certain aspects of handling natural hair where moisture has no role. This is my breakdown of what moisture can and cannot do.
1. Moisture will not help your hair to grow
This is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about moisture. The level of water in your hair has no influence on hair growth. The growth rate of your hair is determined genetically and can be influenced by diet. In general even a poor diet will still allow your hair to grow at a normal rate, it is usually in starvation or deprivation of protein when your hair will slow down, stop growing or fall out. Having moisturised hair will not help your hair to grow faster.
2. Moisture can play a role in helping retain growth
The real role of moisture is in mitigating damage to hair during handling. This has a valuable role in ensuring that hair growth can be retained as less damage to the strand means that the hair can continue to be present for more years.
Handling hair is not restricted to just washing and combing, it is also crucial when styling both free hair and hair in a protective style (e.g braids and twists). A little bit of water helps to make hair more flexible allowing it to be manipulated without breaking. Dry hair will tend to snap easily even with gentle force, therefore moisture is important even in a protective style.
3. Moisture can help your hair look and feel better
I do not really need to explain this point too much. The look and feel of moisturised hair is much nicer than very dry hair which has a tendency to look dull and brittle.
4. You cannot eliminate dry hair
If your hair is naturally dry, it will always be dry because added moisture is temporary. For some naturals, hair can be dry as a result of using certain products e.g a drying shampoo and eliminating that product is able to restore moisture. However, the vast majority of people with natural hair, will tend to have naturally dry hair. The reason why the term moisture routine exists is because adding water to hair and keeping it around and in the shaft with oils and moisturisers is a task that has to be repeated several times as hair switches from its moisturised state to its default dry state. The only way to influence the level of water trapped inside your hair or on its surface without physically adding water to it is to change the external environment — i.e high humidity = moisture heaven.
5. Moisture and shrinkage go hand in hand
If your goal is to showcase as much length as possible or if you are aiming to stretch your hair, you have to bear in mind that added moisture brings in shrinkage. Some styles require that you use less moisture for example if you are maintaining a heat straightened style or some naturals who wear twists as a protective style, may find it easier to maintain the style for longer and reduce meshing/ matting by reducing shrinkage due to frequent water addition.
6. Moisture routines vary
There is no set formula for maintaining moisturised hair. There is no rule book that you have to apply water, oil or a moisturiser every day or every other day. For some naturals, it is sufficient to shampoo, condition and apply a leave in once a week. For other naturals, it is a routine involving misting hair once or twice a day and using an oil or butter to help maintain the moisture for longer. For others it is a rotation between shampooing and conditioner washing. In other words, a moisture routine has to be individual and you have to experiment to find the products, washing and moisturising routines as well as frequency that work best for your hair.
Ladies, do these 6 facts ring true for you? How does moisture play a role in your regimen?