Principles of Hydrated Hair Care
You might be surprised to learn that in your efforts to obtain moisturized hair, you’ve actually been stripping your hair of moisture all these years. Hydrated hair isn’t far away, if you follow these basic principles.
The same as when you’re conditioning, pre-condition your hair before you shampoo it, because most people are generally getting ready to use a harsh shampoo which strips their hair of much of any moisture it might currently have in it. Pre-conditioning your strands can help moisturize your hair directly prior to you using a stripping shampoo, and can also help nourish it just prior, making the strands more flexible, thus preventing your shampoo from making your hair so brittle.
Cleansing Your Strands and Scalp
Whatever products you’ve got in your hair may be the cause of why you don’t seem to be able to get moisturized hair. Even if you’re not doing any damaging things to your hair, such as chemically processing it or using heat, the ingredients in the products you’re using may be preventing moisture from being added to your hair as frequently as it needs – and if you live in a dry environment, your hair needs moisture just about daily.
Make sure your scalp is clean and free of product buildup at all times. Ingredients such a mineral oil, waxes and silicones need to stay away from your scalp and hair because they build up and sit on your hair, and don’t rinse out of your hair easily. These ingredients need to be stripped out of your hair strands with a cleanser that contains sodium sulfates (lauryl, laureth, etc.), which are harsh and drying to your hair, especially to already dry-prone curly hair types. If your hair has any of the ingredients that buildup on it now, you will need to use a harsh shampoo to remove them from your scalp and strands. When cleansing your scalp, don’t scratch off the protective cell layers of your scalp that help prevent it from getting dry – but do make sure to keep it free of any dandruff buildup by gently rubbing shampoo on your scalp with the pads of your fingertips. Doing this will unblock any pores in your scalp that need to be clear of…well, products that weren’t meant to be there, so that your strands can be free to grow. Once you’ve done that, use products with natural ingredients on your hair, so that you won’t need to use a harsh shampoo to wash it.
Here’s what many don’t know: If you’re using the right oils and ingredients that absorb healthily into your hair or scalp or that don’t cause buildup, you don’t need to use regular shampoo to cleanse your hair. You can actually use a much gentler, more moisturizing method called co-washing, or conditioner cleansing, which is, in a nutshell, a more natural shampoo method. Use a natural conditioner to remove any dirt and flakes, and watch your hair become more hydrated than you’re used to. You won’t use conditioner on your scalp, generally, but you shouldn’t need to clean your scalp very frequently if you’re using the right ingredients.
Especially after using a shampoo containing sodium sulfate, deep conditioning your hair is a must. You need to begin replacing the moisture that the sodium sulfate has most definitely stripped your strands of. Use a conditioner with PLENTY of water in it (make sure it’s listed as the first or second ingredient in your conditioner’s ingredient label), and if you have textured hair, your conditioner should have the right amount of oils in it that you need as well. Feel free to add your own pure oils to your conditioner if it doesn’t contain as much as you might want. When deep conditioning, let conditioner sit in your hair for 30 minutes, an hour or two, or overnight if you have the time. Most of us suffer from hair that is undermoisturized and undernourished, so sitting a good conditioner on your hair for longer than 15 minutes is a beneficial thing to do for your strands.
Combing your strands once a good amount of conditioner is in your hair can be the best time to comb. Your hair is generally at its most hydrated and nourished when it has conditioner in it, thus it’s at its most flexible state, which means you won’t be combing out as many brittle strands – if you comb properly. However, others may find that the best time to comb out kinks and tangles is when the hair is dry. Factors such as whether your hair is dry/brittle, straight/curly, healthy/damaged play a part in determining the best time for you to comb out kinks from your strands. Determine the best time to comb your strands, then comb VERY gently, taking a small section at a time from the ends to the root, and not the opposite way. Combing from the roots to the ends will only tangle your hair more and make it even harder for you to comb your strands.
Rinsing Your Strands
Once you’ve let the conditioner nourish your hair a good amount of time, you’ll need to rinse it out using only either soft water from your shower, or purified water from wherever you can get it. Gallon jugs from the grocery store or from your water system may be a cheap way to have lots of the kind of water ready for your hair around the house when you need. Just as hard water can build up with mineral deposits on surfaces, it can make your hair brittle and contribute to its dryness. If you used a good conditioner containing nourishing ingredients, the best way to lock in its benefits is by including a couple tablespoons of apple cider or red wine vinegar (or any acidic fruit with a pH between 2-3) in your water rinse. Adding this element to your water rinse will close your strand cuticles, locking in all the moisture you just put into your hair with conditioning, as well as preventing frizz and causing huge, huge shine. Here’s a tip: You can also close your cuticles and see big shine when rinsing your hair with cold, instead of warm, water.
In a pitcher, pour in purified water, then add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, then rinse the conditioner from your hair with it. You don’t need to let the mixture with apple cider vinegar sit on your hair for any amount of time, but rather, as soon as you’ve rinsed your hair with it, finally rinse your hair with regular purified water only, to get rid of any vinegar smell that might linger.
Moisturizing and Nourishing Your Strands & Scalp Regularly
As often as you need it, moisturize and nourish your scalp and strands. Some need daily moisturizing, some every other day, but this is something you don’t want to be inconsistent about. Keeping water in your hair is the key to keeping your hair hydrated.
For those with dry scalp, nourish it daily with an oil that works well for you. You may find that you have sensitivities to certain oils, so try different ones until you find what’s right for your scalp. You can also pour a mix of purified water and two tablespoons of ACV (apple cider vinegar) on your scalp to help correct the pH of your scalp, which may be adding to its dryness. Don’t scratch your scalp. Doing so can cause dry scalp, as the protective cell layer of your scalp is removed, subsequently causing sensitivity to other things you may try to put onto your hair or scalp.
Protect Your Hair
Now that you’ve been putting the right ingredients into your hair and using gentle cleansing, conditioning, and moisturizing methods, you want to protect all the hard work you’ve put into caring for your hair with a few more hair care hints. During the daytime, if your hair is shoulder length or longer, you’ll want to protect the ends of your strands from rubbing up against your clothing, car seat, and anything else it may tend to rub up against on a daily basis.
This may mean putting your hair up in a protective hair style to prevent your ends, not only from from your clothing, but from the weather. If you’re trying to grow a long style, the key is protecting your ends so that they don’t become thinner and brittle over the months and years. Remember, your ends are the oldest part of each hair strand. For the same reason, at night, you’ll want to pull your hair into a silk scarf to protect it from rubbing on your pillow every night.