are you drowning your natural hair with water?
Within the Natural Hair Community, the concept of “your hair is a plant” is very common. We have been taught that our Afro hair is naturally “dry” and, like a plant, requires frequent watering.
But how much water is Too Much? How do we effectively hydrate our natural hair?
To answer these questions we spoke with Dr. Onica Akeila, PhD Organic Chemist-Cancer Biologist & Natural Hair Educator, also known as @Naturally_Nica in these social media streets.
What are the benefits of hydrating our strands with water ?
“Due to the curly shape of natural Afro hair, our strands have a slightly lower water content than that of straighter Asian and Caucasian hair.” she said
Afro hair strands usually fall within the FINE to MEDIUM strand widths, so there is less internal strand space to hold water molecules before they evaporate.
This lowered water content can give the appearance of “dry” when our strands aren’t adequately hydrated.
But being prone to dryness does not mean that It HAS to be DRY , it just means that our Afro hair needs some help to maintain its internal strand water content. This is important because hydration and moisturizing of natural Afro hair helps to reduce hair breakage.
What can be soo bad about watering our hair?
Too much of a good thing, can be a bad thing . This applies to Water and Afro hair as well.
Excessive water absorption into the hair cortex causes the hair strand to weaken. This is what happens with Daily Wetting of the hair !!
While the cuticles may appear to be dry, the cortex (internal layer) becomes oversaturated with water which leads to protein loss, strand weakening and breakage.
BUT LET’S BACK IT UP AND ASK THE DOC
Hair fibre is composed of the protein (keratin), lipids and fatty acids. When hair strands are in contact with water, it creates a diffusion pathway* that allows for the leeching of protein and fatty acids OUT of the strand. Protein loss reduces the structural integrity of hair strands leading to breakage, while lipid and fatty acid loss leads to a decrease in strands ability to repel water and cuticle damage.
How much is too much ?
Our hair’s limited internal water capacity, makes it necessary to regulate how much water Afro hair has access to at any given time:
Too much water will lead to protein loss and breakage
Too little water – strand dehydration and breakage.
what to do?
Afro hair requires a constant level of internal strand hydration, where the cortex has JUST ENOUGH water to maintain strand elasticity, pliability and softness.
But How Do I Do That? Here’s some help:
- Open your cuticle before hydrating your hair to allow water into the strand cortex. This can be done by pre-pooing with heat before Shampooing your hair
- Moisturise your strands with a Leave In Conditioner when hair is still wet and finally
- Seal your cuticles with an oil to delay cortex water evaporation
An effective hydration and sealing routine can maintain internal strand hydration for up to 5 to 6 day! Reduce breakage and improve the manageability of your strands.