So your hair looks amazing and luscious…and then you look at your ends. Or maybe just less than 24 hours after spending all the time and effort into moisturizing your hair…it feels rough and sounds crunchy. If this sounds familiar, it’s most likely you have dry and damaged hair. Thankfully this is not the end of the world and you can bring your hair back to its luscious glory.
1. Look at your ingredients! -- It is a moot point if you are putting moisture in your hair and you are simultaneously using products that are designed to have a drying-out effect. You will frustratingly find that no matter how much moisturizer you add or oil treatments you use to seal in the moisture, your hair will remain crunchy and brittle. Read the ingredients. Remove products that contain alcohols, sulfates, mineral oil, and sodium. Other ingredients that are more debatable include glycerin and silicones.
2. Cut your losses – Snip those split ends. Once a hair strand has begun to split, it will continue climbing up the shaft. Products marketed as split end sealers only supply a band-aid solution and not a resolution. It is better to purchase a pair of good hair shears and cut the split ends. Damaged hair does not necessarily mean your hair has split ends. So actually look at your hair and identify the appearance of the strands. If your hair is truly split, it will have a barbed wire appearance. I know it’ll be hard to take scissors to your hair. I’m not recommending that you go scissor happy. Just remove the amount that’s damaged. It will grow back.
3. Deep condition – This phase of the hair regimen is crucial for treatment of dry and damaged hair. However, you have to find a good conditioner that is good for your type of hair. Try going for a product that is marketed as a mask (they tend to be thicker) and is designed for dry and damaged hair. Use a shower cap and sit under a hooded dryer for at least 20 minutes. Sometimes, afterwards I even leave the conditioner applied overnight. After you wash the conditioner out (in COLD water) make sure you apply a good leave-in conditioner. **Tip: if you want to be economical, take 1-2 tablespoons of the same conditioner and add lots of water to dilute it in a spray bottle. I recommend that you repeat this process once a week for four weeks. You’ll feel the difference in your hair each time.
4. Find a moisturizer that fits YOUR hair – Once again, not every product works for everybody. My hair is much thicker than my sister’s, and the products she rants and raves about last two seconds on my curls. This might take some trial and error (and money) on your part, but it’ll be worthwhile. Once you discover the characteristics of the perfect moisturizer for you, it will help you further customize and tailor your hair regimen.
5. Decrease your shampoo time – I am a huge proponent of co-washing. The only time I believe it is necessary to shampoo your hair is after swimming in a chlorine pool, significant product build-up, your scalp is dirty, or you’ve used silicone products (they can only be removed from hair by ingredients commonly found in shampoo). Other than that, using just water and a good co-wash is enough to clean your hair. You already have dry and damaged hair, and you are trying to bring it back to life. So let your hair have as much moisture as it can. Don’t make it harder on your curls.
6. Satin – This material will be your best friend in your quest to resuscitate your curls. 100% real satin retains moisture and doesn’t break off your hair. Most satin products that are sold in stores are not real satin. If you can hold the material toward a light and see thru…it’s not satin. The transparency of the pseudo fabric means there are many tiny holes that are allowing the light to pass thru. All those holes provide perfect areas for not only your ends to catch and break off, but also moisture to either escape or absorb into a drying fabric. The material should also feel silky smooth and have a slight sheen. Do not cut corners when it comes to your hair bonnets, ladies. If you don’t want to go the bonnet route, invest in a satin sheet and pillowcase bedroom set. **Tip: I’m wary of the satin bonnet that feature an almost cotton blend elastic band since I really care about my edges, but it’s to your discretion.
What recommendations do you have?
-- Dr. G