Moisturizing hair is as important as deep conditioning to any black person who wishes to have long hair. As washing and deep conditioning the hair every day is quite impractical, a hair moisturizer is required to avoid dryness until the next wash.
Relaxed and natural black hair tends to be quite porous so loses moisture quickly. The key to long beautiful locks is to keep replacing the moisture lost. The easiest way to do this between washes is to use a good moisturizer.
First things first, let's deal with a common misconception about oil. Oil is not a moisturizer! Oil lubricates the hair and 'seals in' any moisture you already have in the hair. If your hair is dry and brittle and you apply oil to it then you are doing your hair more harm than good. The oil will coat the hair and prevent any further moisture from entering the hair which will lead to breakage.
The best moisturizers should always be water based i.e. the first ingredient should be water; water is in fact the best moisturizer! Good moisturizers should also contain humectants. These are ingredients which attract water from the atmosphere, glycerine being the most popular of these. Honey is also an excellent humectant but more commonly used in conditioners and not moisturizers.
Always avoid moisturizers that contain mineral oil or any other petroleum based product in the first few ingredients. Mineral oil does nothing but coat the hair leaving it shiny but dry.
You may find that the best conditioners are the ones that are marketed to 'wet type' styles (jheri curl or wave nouveau) as they contain mainly water and glycerine. S curl is particularly good.
How to use hair moisturizers is just as important as getting the right product. If you plan to blow dry or roller set your hair, after towel drying apply a dime sized amount of a water and glycerine based moisturizer before you apply the same amount of heat protectant and comb through hair to evenly distribute. After the blow dry or roller set your hair will be left soft and silky to the touch and will remain like this throughout the day. If you plan to flat iron it then only apply leave in conditioner and a silicone based heat protectant to the hair.
Moisturizers should then be applied daily or as needed. Only a dime sized amount is required for shoulder length hair. A touch more for longer hair. Always comb the moisturiser through the length of the hair with a wide tooth comb to make sure that every strand gets its share. You can apply a bit more to the ends if desired. There is no benefit in loading your hair with moisturizer as hair is only about 10-14% water and all you are trying to do is regain the moisture balance in your hair. You are more likely to ruin your style by leaving relaxed hair looking greasy or reverting natural hair altogether by applying too much moisturizer! When you use a moisturizer well, it should keep your hair from drying out without weighing the hair down or being sticky.
Oil free moisturizers are also good option. They contain silicones that help 'seal' the moisture into the hair but their first ingredient must also be water and hair should be washed every 3rd day to prevent build-up. Some good examples of natural oil that can be used to seal in moisture after a wash are coconut oil, avocado butter, mango butter or Shea butter. Remember that these are oils and will just lock in whatever moisture you already have in your hair. It is advisable to dampen the hair slightly before applying any hair oil to it.
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