Water, The Great Frenemy?
…by Susan Walker of Earthtones Naturals
Before discussing what may be the most important step in your hair
care regimen, I want to touch on an important practice that could make a
huge difference in how your hair looks and feels after it’s washed and
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.