One of the biggest problems we face as Africans is hair retention. Everyone wants fuller, thicker, longer hair; but all we seem to manage is short, mangy, tangled hair. But of course there are exceptions to this. The beauty and fashion blogs are full of models with lush full hair that give us envy and motivate us to try again and again. We dug and found that there is one thing that they are doing and we’re not. Moisturising.
African hair is naturally dry. This is so for many reasons; our hair is full and curly to allow heat pass through, unlike Caucasian hair which is thin and straight to trap heat. Our climate isn’t one where having hair fall to your shoulders is feasible or sensible. So ideally, the shorter and curlier your hair, the better. But thanks to innovations like air conditioner and ceiling fans, we no longer necessarily need all that airiness and thanks to beauty standards, we all want long hair that falls down our backs. So what can we do then?
Give your hair a drink.
Yup, give your hair a drink. And an oil change while you’re at it.
Let me explain. Our hair is naturally dry, because dry materials do not retain heat, moist materials do. Also dry materials are more liable to break than wet ones. So it only stands to reason that if we have naturally dry hair, we will also have fragile hair that is prone to breakage under stress.
‘But I wash my hair everyday?’ I hear you say. ‘Isn’t that enough?’
Washing our hair can temporarily wet it, but our hair cannot retain moisture. The primary reason is that the natural oils our hair has which is supposed to lock in moisture and prevent tangling and breakage does not extend from the root of your hair to your tips. No one knows exactly why but most hair experts suggest that because of the natural curl pattern of our hair, natural oils from our scalp aren’t able to drip down the length of our hair to coat it properly. Oils are natural humectants, retaining moisture that would otherwise be lost to heat.
A simple way to ensure your hair stays soft and malleable is to hydrate. A common way to go about this is the spray and seal method favoured by many hair enthusiasts. A small spray bottle is filled with water and natural moisturisers as well as a small tub of natural oils like olive oil or shea butter to help seal in the moisture from spraying your hair regularly.
So what do you think guys, tried and tested; or just another old wives tale?