By Chinwe of Hair and Health
Moisturizing natural hair can feel like a “complex art” at times, and moisture-related myths certainly do not help the situation. Here are a few of those myths that I want to debunk today:
1. Protein conditioners are a no-no
Protein conditioners can actually help damaged hair – or even just older ends of the hair – retain moisture. Here is how: Your cuticle layer acts as a protective layer for the inner cortex of your hair strand. When the cuticle layer is damaged – e.g., broken cuticle scales, missing cuticle scales, lifted cuticle scales, etc. – moisture retention becomes difficult. Protein conditioners can help by temporarily patching up this layer, thus helping to “seal” in moisture in a way.
2. Moisturizing daily is a must
Moisturizing daily is not an automatic requirement that comes with being natural. Believe it or not, there are some of us out here who can go anywhere from a few days to a week without re-moisturizing our hair. How long you can go between moisturizing sessions depends on several factors, especially the characteristics of your hair, the style you are wearing (protective vs. loose), AND the effectiveness of your products and method. Moisturizing daily is not a must for every natural.
3. Hair without shine = dry hair
Even though I want to say that this myth has already been debunked, there are still naturals who believe that hair that lacks shine equals dry hair. Truth be told, shine is a function of a few factors, including what products you use and how stretched or straight your hair is. When light reflects off of this “flat” surface, (i.e. the stretched/straight hair) it can cause the shine we see. Oils and other products can enhance this shine even more. Now naturals who have very tight coils and kinks may have sheen – a soft luster – when their hair is moisturized, but not necessarily a shine… and that is not a bad thing. So how can you tell if your hair is dry? Well one attribute of moisturized hair is pliability.
4. Products that contain alcohol will dry out the hair
Eh … it depends on what the alcohol is. I have heard some people adamantly say, “I refuse to buy a conditioner with alcohol in it,” believing that cetyl alcohol is a drying alcohol. The truth is cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, just to name a few, are “fatty alcohols.” Fatty alcohols are not at all drying like the rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) you would put on a wound. (Actually, many fatty alcohols are waxy.) The inclusion of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol on an ingredients label is usually due to use as one of the following:
a) a thickener or thickening agent
b) an emulsifier
c) an emollient. And guess what? Emollients can help to soften the hair!
Ladies, have you heard any of these myths?