Step Away From the Oil
The end of this month will mark 18 months in my natural hair journey. It seems like I have to change up something in my routine every 6 months due to seasonal changes and the challenges that new length brings. The one thing that has been constant throughout my journey is moisture retention. It is a struggle to keep my hair moisturized and not end up with dry crunchy hair. It will look nice and shiny and healthy, but it will feel dry and crunchy. I have done consistent deep conditioning, I have tried oil pre-poos and I have always sealed my hair with an oil. I have used heavier oils like castor oil and olive oil all the way to lighter oils like grapeseed, coconut and jojoba oil. The heavy oils were too heavy and although I have very thick hair (density and strand size) over the majority of my head, they would weigh my hair down and leave it looking “blah.” Lighter oils worked a lot better, but I kept feeling like the moisture was evaporating out of my hair leaving me with dry, crunchy AND oily hair.
I honestly felt that any moisturizing I was trying to do midweek or in between washes was in vain. In my mind, if the oil is supposed to help seal the moisture in by acting as a barrier, wouldn’t it act as a barrier to prevent the moisture from getting in as well? If I used a water-based product to try to add moisture, in theory, I still had to seal it in with oil. That would leave me with oil + product + oil, which left me with heavy coated strands of hair that would feel dry again later in the day or by the next day. If I used water only, as a moisturizer, I would have oil + oil after the water seemed to evaporate and my strands were dry and crunchy again. I was starting to get really frustrated with the whole dry, crunchy and oily hair and was starting to contemplate cutting out oil all together.
The final straw was when I went on vacation to Miami, FL and spent a lot of time in the sun and on the beach. I assumed that the moisture in the air would help my dry situation. It did at first, when I was under an umbrella sitting on the beach, but when I was touring South Beach in the rays of the sun, the moisture was sucked dry from my hair and I felt like my strands were frying with the oil. Every morning I would shower without a shower cap to try to soak up the moisture from the steam before heading out.
When I got back home, I decided that was it. No more oil! When I thought about it, I remembered that when I was relaxed, I could never use grease on my hair because it made it look stringy and I looked like a grease monkey. Any time I visited a salon (which was rarely), I always had to ask them not to add any oil or oil sheen. Because my hair is so thick, people have always assumed that it needed oil or could handle it. I noticed that when it came to products and oils, my hair acted more like fine hair would; get limp and look “blah.” I hopped online to see if there was another way to “seal” in moisture without oil and came across a Youtube video of a finer haired, looser curly that was having similar problems with sealing. She was using aloe vera juice to seal. “Ah, ha,” that made a lot of sense. Because of the pH (it is acidic), you can close the cuticle. I almost always have some aloe vera juice on hand in my refrigerator, so I decided to fill a small spray bottle and test the idea out.
I washed my hair like I normally would and when I was ready to style, I added my leave-in and sprayed some aloe vera juice on each section and braided my hair up for a braid-out. Because I was anxious to see the results, I took my hair down the next day. Normally I leave it braided or twisted for a few days and wear cute hats and scarves (it’s the only time I can wear a hat!).
The results…perfect! My hair was NOT dry or crunchy. Best of all, it was not oily and that made me very happy. It even stayed moisturized for about four or five days. Just to be sure this wasn’t a fluke, I washed my hair again this past weekend using the same method to seal and I got the same results. Nice fluffy, moisturized hair. I feel better about trying to moisturize later in the week if I need to, because there is not a protective barrier of oil to keep the moisture out.
I don’t know if anyone else has been having problems with dry and oily hair after moisturizing, but I encourage you to try using something acidic to close your cuticle to seal instead of oil. I would even think that a cold rinse might do the trick as well to seal in water moisture.
Does anyone else have a dry, oily situation?