Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Hair Care Basics: Moisturizing and Sealing

What is moisturizing
Moisturizing is the process of introducing water to the hair; note that the emphasis is on water. No matter what cream, lotion or spritz used on the hair, water is essential. Our hair thrives when it is well moisturized and it craves moisture to stay hydrated at all times.

Keeping hair well moisturized is important for length retention as it  prevents hair from getting brittle and breaking.

How to moisturize
The path to well moisturized hair starts on your wash day sessions when you drench the hair in water before, during and after cleansing and also deep condition the hair to introduce moisture. While deep conditioning is done at least once a week, in between these sessions the hair will still require hydration. This can be done through the use of moisturizers which may be referred to as;
  • Milks
  • Spritz
  • Creams
  • Lotions
  • Smoothies
 When in a protective style such as braids, weaves etc a liquid spritz (either bought or DIY) is more suitable for moisturizing.
To qualify as a moisturizer the first ingredient of a product should be WATER, sometimes it may be in the form of some herb-infused solution, but the presence of water is paramount. Plain water is the ultimate moisturizer and this can be used on its own or in a Do-it-yourself mix.

At the start of your hair journey it is advisable to moisturize twice a day to build up moisture levels however as your hair gets healthier once a day should be sufficient. You may however find that your hair may stay hydrated and allow you to go more than a day between moisturizing sessions. Again, this depends on your own hair; another reason why it is important to understand your hair.

Seal in the Moisture
After the application of the hair moisturizer or water, it is important that the moisture is sealed in to prevent the hair from drying out in the shortest period of time. Look at it this way; the hair has been moisturized but as you know the atmosphere and weather conditions can draw out the moisture just like it would from any other material that was drenched in water. To keep the moisture in it is recommended to SEAL after moisturizing, kind of placing a lid on a bowl of water to prevent evaporation.

Sealing involves the application of an oil or mix of oils over the hair strands after moisturizing. Butters such as shea butter, mango butter etc can also be used as sealant for hair. The oil or butter serves as an occlusive agent preventing the loss of moisture to the environment. Natural oils are preferred as sealants because of the unique properties which they pose that serve to promote healthy hair.

Moisturizing methods
In hair forums and blogs you will come across several methods of moisturizing hair including;
  1. Moisturize and Seal (M&S): The is involves the application of moisturizer and then sealing with an oil or butter.
  2. LOC Method: L.O.C stands for Liquid, Oil, Cream; in this method the products are applied in this order, a liquid product, followed by an oil based product before the application of a cream based product. For example L: Water O: an Oil and C: a styling cream or butter.
  3. LCO Method: This is a modification of the LOC method as it was argued that oils should be the final step as they serve to prevent anything from entering the hair cuticle. For the method the liquid based product will be applied first, followed by a cream based product and then finally it is all sealed with oil.
It is advisable to experiment with all methods and find what works for you considering your own hair and the products you are using.

Points to note

  1. Water is the number one moisturizer; it must be present as the first ingredient in any moisturizers.
  2. Moisturizing is incomplete without sealing in the moisture with an oil or butter.
  3. Oils are NOT moisturizers.
  4. Water moisturizing method being used; the process of keeping hair hydrated is incomplete without the sealing in the moisture.

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