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Telling the Difference Between Natural Hair that FEELS Dry and IS Dry

Avatar • Jan 4, 2013

NATURAL HAIR PS1 TAGGED (6)
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By Geniece of Beautifully Made

Okay, show of hands. How many of you have ever held a section of your hair and squeezed the ends listening to the crunching sound your hair makes? Well, I have. On the one hand it’s kind of cool to have hair that’s so highly textured that we can actually hear it. On the other hand, that crunching sound can indicate that our hair is dry and that is anything but cool. If you struggle with what feels like perpetually crunchy, dry hair then I hope to give you some insight what might be happening with your hair.

Five years after I went natural I decided that I should actually start caring for my hair instead of complaining that it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. I began to be gentler with my hair, manipulating it only when necessary and using water based products. After my six months of better practices I was thrilled to see what I had not for quite some time–length retention. Still, there was something that puzzled me. One of the things that frustrated me early in my healthy hair journey is that no matter what I did my hair would often feel dry. I would add moisturizing creams, keep my hair pinned up and spritz with water but once the water dried my hair felt dry. At one point I suspected that my hair’s dryness was the reason my hair didn’t retain length but once I realized I was retaining length I had the realization that my hair could feel dry without being brittle and prone to breakage. So, what was going on? One of the greatest epiphanies I’ve had as a natural is this: My hair can feel dry, even look dry, even when adequately moisturized.

Those of you who constantly buy moisturizing products and still find yourself frustrated can breathe a sigh of relief. If you are adding water to your hair more than likely it is moisturized. However, because of the twists and bends of highly textured hair it may feel rough to the touch but this does not mean that it is brittle or dry. For me, this is an area of my regimen when I have learned to operate in faith. If I’m doing what I’m supposed to, I believe that my hair is moisturized even if it doesn’t always feel that way. This is especially true when my hair is exposed to extreme weather during the heat of summer and frigid cold of winter.

Now I know some of you may still be a bit bummed. After all, who doesn’t enjoy hair that feels soft and supple to the touch? I agree. I definitely prefer my hair to feel moisturized than not. However, being honest about my hair texture allows me to be realistic in terms of the expectations I have for my hair. I have actually become accustomed to “dry” feeling hair and to me it feels normal. In fact I can even tell the difference between my hair when it’s moisturized and feels dry and when it is genuinely in need extra moisture. For me, making this distinction has made my hair journey much smoother.

Ladies, how do you determine when your hair is in need of moisture? 

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Dani
Dani
7 years ago

This is one of the best articles that I’ve seen on here.

Julie
Julie
7 years ago
Reply to  Dani

Ever !!! This is exactly what I battle with!

honeybrown1976
honeybrown1976
7 years ago

I also had to learn the difference between dry hair and texturized hair that feels dry. In addition, I have had to school some people when they want to say that my hair feels dry.

Jennifer Kennedy
7 years ago

I learned this the hard way — I thought since my ends were crunchy feeling that my hair was damaged.

I ended up cutting my hair — which was totally unnecessary!! After cutting it, my hair was still crunchy!!

The thing that helped me was to stay on a regular moisture schedule and to learn the difference between the feel & straight up dry hair!! That’s going to be different for everyone!

Cheers,
Jennifer — The Video Mojo

A.J.
A.J.
7 years ago

I just had the same experience a month ago!! I did my flat iron & trim I do every six-12 weeks and didn’t have split ends but afterwards my hair was kinda bushy. (I’m transitioning so still learning). I went back to the saloon a few days later and had the girl trim some more. Still bushy. It took a whole inch of hair for me to realize that I guess that’s just the way my hair is, even when straighten.

Jas
Jas
7 years ago

But you didn’t tell us how to tell the difference! I guess that’s just something we need to figure out on our own. I like this article though, it is long overdue and every new natural needs to read and meditate on it.

Dani
Dani
7 years ago

Ita with this article! It took me a year to figure out what my moisturized hair feels like and the difference between dry feeling hair and hair that is actually DRY. For me once i started consistently deep conditioning my hair every week and style my hair using the LCO(liquid, cream, oil) method my hair has been retaining moisture much better. I know when its time to remoisturize my hair when my scalp starts flaking from dryness or if my hair is in a out style such as a twist out i notice more tangling and single strand knots when… Read more »

luminous
luminous
7 years ago

This is the reason I do not wear my hair in stretched styles; my hair feels dry and crunchy when stretched.

Jj
Jj
7 years ago

Great article!!

JENNID
JENNID
7 years ago

Excellent read! A whole lot of naturals need to read this. On this blog alone I have seen people lamenting over a never ending quest to find “holy grail” moisturizing conditioners and such only to become frustrated cause their hair is still dry. Like shrinkage its what our hair does. One either learns to adapt or fight a never ending battle. Everybody has to develop a good feel when it comes to how it should feel. I think the scalp is a good indicator too. Usually if my scalp is dry so is the hair. A good gauge is this:… Read more »

Emmanuela
Emmanuela
7 years ago

I feel relieved that I don’t have to drown my hair in water, oil, & moisturizing creams trying to get softer ends. I do hot oil & deep conditioning treatments weekly, as well as do the LOC method & I just don’t feel my ends getting a soft as it should but my hair is growing like a weed. So I guess I do t have to get as frustrated as I do because its not as soft as a want.

Emmanuela
Emmanuela
7 years ago
Reply to  Emmanuela

*don’t

For the Love of Curls
7 years ago
Reply to  Emmanuela

I’ve found shea butter on my ends helpful in keeping my ends moisturized.

Jade
Jade
7 years ago

I came to this conclusion a while ago. It helped me stopped being so heavy handed when using products. I used to think my hair had to feel wet and full of product for it to be “moisturized.” I came to the realization that my hair doesn’t need to feel that way for it to be moisturized. That perhaps my hair just naturally feels drier than others. It’s funny because I always hear naturals with my hair texture say their hair feels soft and cottony naturally. Mine doesn’t.

Dani
Dani
7 years ago
Reply to  Jade

I have the exact same problem.

Liz
Liz
7 years ago

I love this article. Just this morning I was retwisting my hair and for the millionth time wondering why it felt the way it did. I do suffer from breakage (which I’m trying to find ways to combat) so when I feel my “crunchy” ends I think, “they’re going to fall off anyway, might as well cut them.” I always have a scissors in my hand…it’s bad but I hate the breakage and I hated that dry feeling. But this article was very informative and now I know the crunch doesnt necessarily mean damaged hair. Now I can put down… Read more »

Shanon
Shanon
7 years ago

This was so helpful! I am struggling with this very same issue. My hair doesn’t feel soft, even though I moisturize using the LOC/LCO method daily. I also massage my scalp with oil every night. After reading this article, I know that I am on the right track. Thanks so much!

Sophie
Sophie
7 years ago

Great piece! I was actually thinking about this today because its been really dry here, weather-wise, and my hair feels rougher than optimal by the end of the day. I also notice that my hair feels “softer” when stretched but I realize that it’s just smoother. Understanding the texture is important!

goyta
goyta
7 years ago

one of the best articles yet. it is the same for me. people would tell me my hair seemed dry and would rush to recommend products, and yet at the same time would be in awe of the fact that my hair retained length so well. it would easily grow to BSL without any encouragement on my part, even though i wasn’t going out of my way to add moisture. dry is simply how my hair feels. i’m cool with that. so long as it’s not breaking, i can live with it. and even like it. thumbs up geniece!

Derick Jr.
Derick Jr.
7 years ago

I’m a guy with dreads going on 3 years on now and I only started to experience the dry hair feel and look this winter. I figured it was jus the dry and cold air. Thanks for the info.

LBell
LBell
7 years ago

Thanks for this…been trying to explain this to folks for YEARS. Two things I’ve noticed when this conversation comes up: 1) New naturals in particular have this idea that their natural hair is supposed to feel like their relaxed hair. Particularly when you’re talking about highly textured hair (3c/4a/4b/4c), even at its optimum state it’s not going to feel like relaxed hair! IMO this is part of the mental deprogramming/reprogramming process. 2) I have heard of people carrying spritz bottles around so that they can “moisturize” their hair during the day. I call that Jheri Curl thinking. 🙂 Moisturized hair and… Read more »

LaNeshe
7 years ago

I can tell if my hair is REALLY dry by how curled it is. When my hair is moisturized it curls more than when it needs some quenching. Great post.

stephanie
7 years ago

You have to take care of your hair everyday. That means oiling, moisturizing, and keeping it pinned up, and covered. The elements play a significant role on our hair. When it’s cold we turn on the heat. This dries our hair out.Heat has a very adverse effect on our hair also.It takes time and patience to grow our hair. You have to make a serious commitment.

Ericka
Ericka
7 years ago

It took me a number of years to figure out as well, not to mention having different textures added to more confusion. The turning point came when I learned about hair porosity and started pre poo with oil.

JT
JT
7 years ago

I’ve been natural for a few years, and in that time, I have bought hundreds of dollars worth of products to try, and attempted numerous styles and regimens. And one thing I have found is that when my hair feels dry, it is dry. Period. Hair, no matter if it’s straight or tightly-coiled, makes crunchy noises when parched, raised cutucle layers rub up against each other — like straw. For me, the only thing that alleviated the dryness and crunch was using a little protein to help close the cuticles and using and oil-free, moisturizing conditioner. Also, I do not put… Read more »

Coily Africana
Coily Africana
7 years ago
Reply to  JT

Can you please name the oil-free conditioner you use, I find that my hair loves balm like conditioners as a leave-in/moisturizer(the old Nexxus Humectress) and it is hard to find such conditoners.

Also the protein you use to seal

JT
JT
7 years ago
Reply to  Coily Africana

Usually, I make my own conditioner, and don’t use store bought. But I haven’t had the chance lately. So recently I started using Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Conditioner. It’s not the best but it seems to work fine so far. It has a silicone, but it is less harmful to my hair than oil. As far as protein, my hair seems to like anything with hydrolyzed keratin in it. Suave Damage Care shampoo is what I use. Of course, it’s not an everyday thing. I don’t know what to suggest for people who don’t use shampoo. Maybe alternating conditioners will work,… Read more »

JT
JT
7 years ago
Reply to  JT

Oh, I wanted to point out that neither of these worked for me when I was still using oil on my hair. If you plan on using oils to ‘seal’, you might want to try a heavier conditioner.

Coily Africana
Coily Africana
7 years ago
Reply to  JT

Thank you!

JT
JT
7 years ago

By the way, what is the ‘LOC method’?

abhiola
abhiola
7 years ago
Reply to  JT

L (Liquid) – First apply a liquid of your choice, the most effective and my first choice is water. Using water allows you to start this process immediately after washing your hair. However in some cases braid sprays and water based leave in conditioner sprays can be used depending on your preference and style choice. O (Oil) – Then apply your favorite oil or butter to seal in the liquid. My personal favorite would have to be coconut oil, the smell is amazing. But there are quite a few others to choose from: extra virgin olive oil, argon oil, and… Read more »

JT
JT
7 years ago
Reply to  abhiola

Thanks for explaining.

tammara
tammara
7 years ago
Reply to  abhiola

Hello, question are you suppose to do the LOC Method everyday or only when you feel as if you hair is dry?

Dananana
Dananana
7 years ago
Reply to  tammara

I don’t use the LOC method everyday–buildup on my hair would be crazy! Normally, I LOC (if I’m behaving and taking care of my tresses) when I’m styling my hair, every 4–5 days. In between styles, I spritz my hair with a glycerin/water mixture to keep it moisturized.

Krystal
Krystal
7 years ago
Reply to  abhiola

What purpose does creaming serve in this “LOC” method?? It seems like its a double whammy to “seal the sealant”.

I’m making my own sealant from cupuacu butter when I receive it but I want to be sure I’m doing everything properly. Is this last step for freedom of styling products??

Thanks!

TerrieHarley
TerrieHarley
7 years ago
Reply to  Krystal

It’s for conditioning .……Creams .…..the Oil is to seal the moisture from the your Liquid

Michelle
Michelle
7 years ago

I usually just touch the scalp between the plaits or twists then squeeze the ends, if either feels dry (that is, they don’t feel as if oil has passed near them) I mist the area with oil and water then put some castor oil in the ends to seal them or on the partitions.

Beya
Beya
7 years ago

Great post!!! I battle with this all the time!!!! I’m starting the switch to the LOC method to see if it changes, but it really does help to assure naturalistas that even though the hair doesn’t LOOK moist, that we are not ALONE! Cutting and being heavy on the product is not always the answer! 🙂

Natalie
Natalie
7 years ago

I can tell how dry my hair is by feeling it. I like to give it a good scrunch and if it has a spongy feel to it I know it is in moisture heaven.
I stick to the loc method which I do every other night when I plait my hair.
I’ve also given up my length obsession and since then I have seen an increase in my hair especially at the nape.
The colour of my hair is also a sign of dryness.

F. Parker
7 years ago

I tried the Loc method but I am focused as to how much cream to use cause I get white residue. What kind of cream should I use and what to use for shine?

Kimberly
Kimberly
7 years ago

Wow, this helps. I’ve been doing it backwards, ugh! Liquid, cream and oil last.
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/image‑4.jpg[/img]

Thalia
Thalia
7 years ago
Reply to  Kimberly

Me too Kimberly! I’ll have to change my LCO to LOC immediately lol!

Tali
Tali
6 years ago
Reply to  Thalia

No you don’t, if it is working for you.

Tali
Tali
6 years ago
Reply to  Kimberly

No you don’t, if it is working for you.

mimirose
mimirose
7 years ago

I love this because my hair gets dry but too much product makes my scalp itch especially in the winter. The key is feeling the hair from root to end and adding castor oil every night or every other.

Mercedes
Mercedes
7 years ago

I use both, 100% pure African Shea Butter and Virgin Cold-pressed 100% coconut oil!!! These two additions, now considered staples in my 3c/4a hair (and on my skin!!!) have truly changed my life! Ive completely simplified my routine with mostly natural products that I can get virtually anywhere and most of my products serve more than one purpose,i.e. skin & hair, hair & cooking, etc. Now using shea butter as a moisturizer and coconut oil as a sealant, or combining both as a soufle’- type of moisturizer for my styles… my hair NEVER feels dry, even if my satin scarf… Read more »

Tali
Tali
6 years ago
Reply to  Mercedes

Butters are sealants though not moisturizers… You must be adding some type of liquid before.

Joyce
Joyce
6 years ago
Reply to  Tali

Coconut oil can serve as a moisturiser and sealant

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

I’M DESPERATE AND NEED HELP. My story: I’ve been natural for 5 years and opted to do it after experiencing a very bad perm. In attempt to allow perm to grow out as it began growing out i started wearing my hair pulled in ponytail and wrapped daily. After a year I decided to do microbraids for a year but didnt take care of my hair (huge mistake). But, my hair grew immensely because i wasnt manipulating it. Finally perm and braids free I moved to wearing wigs. After a year I decided to embrace my natural locs. But with… Read more »

RukiyatG
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Hi Elizabeth! Based on what I have seen and read over my 2 year healthy hair journey, aloe vera gel and castor oil are great for thinning hair and moisture retention. Here are the steps I follow: 1. Apply castor oil to scalp and hair for an overnight treatment. Massage CO into scalp for 10 minutes or so, this will stimulate the hair folicles and allow the castor oil to penetrate well. Cover your head with a shower cap and scarf to protect your hair and pillow case and keep heat in. 2. In the morning massage aloe vera gel into… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  RukiyatG

Thank you for response. I will give this a try. I have started using castor oil and aloe Vera gel on my hair but had not used as a regime such as you noted, along with massaging. But the massaging sounds like a critical component. I have 4c hair and it is so dry and I get major shrinkage. So dryness coupled with the graying gives my hair a texture that simply does not hold moisture. Though i have length I’m not wearing my own hair because of how rough the texture is however, I see that the wigs are… Read more »

Lazy gyal
Lazy gyal
6 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

For me, it’s all about simplicity. I’m very lazy and I would prefer that it didn’t take me more that an hour to get my hair together. Plus, when we were kids our parents didn’t do all these crazy things to our hair and it still grew. I usually cowash with Wen sweet almond mint cleansing conditioner every three to four days. That is unless it’s time for me to shampoo. Every two weeks I shampoo with Organix Biotin & Collagen shampoo, which I love because it’s made my hair fuller and thicker (as it promises) plus I’ve seen a… Read more »

Karjiana
Karjiana
7 years ago

Question: If my scalp isn’t flaky or has buildup and it’s itching because it’s dry do I use a cream than an oil to seal in moisture or would that create build up?

Sirrena
Sirrena
7 years ago

Okay soI have been doing this all wrong. For so many years! I am so upset with myself. Now I can try the LOC method, while taking my vitamins, and using my new mixture of my own mtg without mineral oil and pray for the best. My ingredients should be on its way so I probably will be starting my challenge by mid February. So my challenge will be for an entire year! I also think i will be using treseme conditioner because it has keratin in it, then followed by a cleansing shampoo and finally followed up with a… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

Hi, has anyone used Terressentials mud wash on 4c hair? If so, what were your results, which formulation did you use and do you recommend it? Also, what about bentonite clay, is it a reasonable substitute?

MO
MO
7 years ago

I have crunchy hair. Im always moisturizing. You have given me some insight. My cruchy hair is who I am. I will continue to moisturize and take care of the whole me. Cruchy hair and all. thanks!

Veronica
Veronica
7 years ago

Hi Elizabeth, I have 4b or 4c hair too and your problem with gray and dry hair sounds identical to my problem. I discovered that dye made my hair drier and more brittle. Make sure that you’re not using any shampoos that have sodium lauryl sulfate; sodium laureth sulfate; or any other drying ingredients. I have tried Beautiful Curls by Alaffia and Carol’s Daughter Co-Wash. It has been one year since I’ve dyed my hair and I noticed two different grades of texture. The dyed hair was extremely dry and brittle. The virgin hair was moist and had beautiful definition… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Veronica

Hi Veronica, thanks for the insight. I haven’t dyed my hair in 14 months and unfortunately the gray is taking over LOL…though I’m natural I’m not wearing my hair, I keep it in twists under a wig. Im still growing out the dye from 14 mos ago so I’m trimming it as my hair grows out. I’m trying various items that RuklyatG turned me on to and like you the dyed hair is dry still but virgin hair is softer so I’m getting there. I’m doing the Bentonite clay for cleansing–so far I’ve used it once. It did okay… Anyway…I’ll… Read more »

Helen
Helen
5 years ago
Reply to  Veronica

Hi Veronica, can you tell me more about the flaxseed gel? I’m veggie so i always have some flaxseeds around and i’m REALLY struggling with my daughter’s hair. She has soooo much of it (lucky for her I know). Thanks for any advice.

xyzebra
xyzebra
7 years ago

brilliant article, much needed distinction between dryness and wooly texture

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atlcharm
atlcharm
3 years ago

This is gold and oh so true

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