Understanding and Caring for Textured Hair Pt I
Key Points (taken from The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy
We’re going to refer to the LOIS (™) system (see image bn1.1 for reference) for our purposes. Understanding your textured hair type is essential to 1) selecting the proper products to care for this most fragile hair and 2) to meet your specific hair needs and condition.
The Basic Structural Elements of Textured Hair
*curl; pattern and tightness
Hydration is ESSENTIAL for textured hair! This can’t be emphasized enough. You can pile on thick oils, butters and waxes, but if the hair isn’t adequately hydrated, all of those oils and emollients will only prevent precious moisture from reaching the cortex of the hair. Yes, hair will look temporarily better, but it’s only surface shine.
The factors/agents below are the backbones of good care for textured hair. Determining the
right combination and order will require you to experiment until you find what works best for your particular and unique head of hair.
Is your hair porous? (See image bn1.2) You probably need more emollients than moisturizers
If your hair is not porous, (doesn’t absorb water easily), then you probably need more moisturizers than emollients.
pH- lower pH closes the hair cuticle and smoothes the hair. Look for pH 4-6
Proteins- nourish and strengthen the hair (don’t overdo it, or brittleness can occur)
Hydrators- in moderation if the hair is porous
Emollients- necessary for all textured hair. Lighter products are more appropriate for finer, less curly hair so it doesn’t get weighed down.
There are no silver bullet products that work as a one size fits all approach to the care and nourishment of textured hair. Creating a customized hair care routine that meets the needs of your specific type of textured hair and its needs is essential.
In addition to choosing the right hair products to care for textured hair, there are also some things to avoid that raise the cuticle on the hair shaft and cause dryness, brittleness, breakage, and dullness:
Baking Soda Wash: This common DIY hair wash is too abrasive and way too alkaline for the hair’s natural pH.
Vinegar Wash: Another popular DIY hair wash. While it has a lower pH it’s still too extreme at the opposite end of the pH scale.
Excessive styling and manipulation of hair
Rubber bands and sharp hair clips
Abrasion from hats, pillowcases, etc.
Frequent chemical straightening processes
Permanent hair color
Avoid using products that contain excess petroleum products such as mineral oils, petrolatum, and heavy silicone ingredients. They do not nourish the hair and are hard to remove without using a deeply cleansing (drying) shampoo such as a clarifying or chelating shampoo. However, if you’re embarking on a healthy hair journey, these shampoos will remove all products from the hair leaving a ‘clean slate’, but deep conditioning. Emollients are essential immediately after using these deep cleansers. How often you use these is dependent on how many heavy products you apply and how frequently.
If your hair stops responding favorable to a formerly good routine, a deep cleanse may be in order.
Best ingredients to look for in textured hair care products.
Water, honey, glycerin, propanediol, sodium lactate, aloe vera, glycols, urea, NaPCA, sorbitol, etc.
Coconut oil, avocado oil, castor oil, cetyl alcohol, ceramides, argan oil, and many others
Occlusive Emollients: these are the heavy butters, waxes, and agents that feel heavy and sometimes greasy. They seal in moisture but keep in mind that they’re hard to remove from the hair with normal shampoo and they prevent moisture from getting into the cortex.
Want more in-depth information? Here is a great source: Natural Hair Rules