Water, The Great Frenemy?
…by Susan Walker of Earthtones Naturals
The reality is that if you want to have beautiful natural hair, you need to invest the time upfront to do what is necessary to take care of it. Your hair cleansing and conditioning process is not to be done hurriedly and without attention. You do need to make time for this because if it’s not done properly, dry brittle hair with resulting breakage could ensue.
Every time we shampoo and condition our hair or even add significant amounts of water to our hair the hair shaft needs to expand in order to accommodate the extra water. When our hair dries the opposite occurs – the hair contracts. Repeating this process over and over again can create damage to the hair cuticle initially because it can be chipped off. Subsequent damage can be caused to the hair fiber leading to split ends and breakage. Textured hair tends to absorb more water during this process than other hair types and is therefore more susceptible to damage. This contraction and expansion of the hair fiber is known as hygral fatigue.
Textured hair needs moisture; it thrives on it to ensure proper hydration. Additionally, when cleansing your hair water is pretty much a requirement if it’s to be done properly. So how can we minimize or prevent this damage that occurs from wetting our hair? Research has shown that using specific oils can protect the hair fiber against hygral fatigue. Not every oil has this ability but a well-researched oil is good old coconut oil.
How does this work? When coconut oil is applied to the hair as a pre-shampoo or pre-wetting treatment a small amount of the oil can be absorbed into the hair and can penetrate under the cuticle when the hair fiber swells. Coconut oil has a strong affinity for hair proteins and can protect the hair by binding to these proteins. This reduces the protein’s ability to bind to water molecules resulting in less swelling, less contracting and less trauma.
Try using coconut oil as a pre-shampoo treatment the next time you cleanse your hair. Coconut oil is typically solid at room temperature so you’ll need to heat it to liquefy it.
How to Pre-poo:
1. Apply coconut oil to the hair in sections.
2. Place a plastic cap over the hair and allow the oil to penetrate into the hair
shaft for at least 30 minutes.
3. Shampoo and condition as usual!
Pre-shampooing my hair with this treatment has improved my hair’s ability to maintain moisture and the shine softness to my styled hair. It’s made a huge difference.