How to Hydrate your Curls
When your curls are hydrated, they are shiny, defined, beautiful! But how do you get your dry, frizzy curls hydrated?
How often should I wash my hair?
What causes build up and can I avoid it?
Are there techniques that will increase hydration?
What is the BEST product for increasing hydration?
First it's important to understand that washing your hair is the most important step. If your scalp and hair aren't clean, you can develop scalp issues that can lead to infection and even hair loss. How often you wash is up to you, keep in mind you should wash as often as you need to maintain a healthy scalp. This can be as often as once a day or only once a week. Please do not go longer than a week or 10 days. In the past curly people were discouraged from frequent washings because shampoos were made with harsh ingredients that lead to frizzy, dehydrated curls. Today's cleansers have changed and there are now many different types available from gentle, hydrating cleansers to cowashes and balanced cleansers that do not strip the hair.
Next, good cleansing starts with thorough rinsing. It isn't about getting your head wet and then rubbing shampoo into your hair. Effective cleansing starts with rinsing your scalp and hair. Hair is like a sponge, it will absorb just about anything in comes in contact with. (The last time you were at a family cookout or enjoying a campfire, did you notice how your hair picked up the smell from the smoke?) So the best way to rinse your hair is just like you would a sponge, gently squeeze your hair under the running water and gently massage your scalp. This will help to remove debris and products.
Build up from products, environment and the things in your water are stopping you from getting hydrated. Here's some yucky things you might not know...
1. Tap water may have chemicals and fluoride and other minerals in it that will cause more buildup.
2. Let tap water sit for long enough and there are some things that may start to grow - bacteria and fungi, mold or mildew
3. It can also contain microorganisms that can cause disease.
6. Currently, the EPA estimated that over 60,000 chemicals are being used within the USA water supply.
If you have well water you are more likely to have "hard water". That is water that contains minerals from the ground. These include copper, magnesium, fluoride, iron, zinc, calcium and others. These minerals can build up on the strand along with the styling products you use and create a barrier that water has difficulty penetrating. If water is unable to penetrate into the hair shaft, it can become brittle and break.
As for styling products, certain ingredients can cause excessive buildup, generally products that have butters, creams and oils will cause barriers to form over the hair strand. Remember, oil and water don't mix and you cannot hydrate with OIL. Oil is a lubricate and a barrier to prevent water from getting onto or into something. That is not to say all oils are bad, but you should know that when applied to the hair, they will prevent your hair from getting hydrated. The more you use, the more dry your hair will become.
Here is a simple way to remove buildup and these steps will help to increase your hair's hydration. You can follow these steps whenever you cleanse, not just when removing buildup, to increase hydration.
1. Take an applicator bottle into the shower. Any type of squeezy bottle will work.
2. Start with a Chelating cleanser, this will remove buildup from environmental pollutants, hard water minerals, and chemicals found in your water and products. I use Malibu C Hard Water Remedy, if you don't have this you can do a regular cleanse or an apple cider vinegar rinse. Go ahead and work this into your hair from scalp to ends. Then rinse thoroughly!
3. Fill your applicator bottle with really warm/hot water.
4. Next it's time for your conditioner, be sure to begin by emulsifying it by rubbing your hands together, this will warm it up and help it to work more effectively. Then GLAZE it into your hair and squish it in.
5. Use the applicator bottle to drizzle water over your hair, that way you are adding water without rinsing out your conditioner. You can also target specific areas adding just the right amount of water! Then give your hair a gentle squish, you want to hear the wet-tennis shoe around but don't squat so hard that you are pushing out the product.
6. Begin working through your hair, gentle detangling from the ends up. You can use your fingers, a wide comb or whatever tool allows you to separate the tangles. After you detangle a section, drizzle more water and squish-squish-squish. Then smooth thru the section to be sure it feels silky, smooth, like seaweed.
7. Repeat through your hair. Refill your applicator bottle as needed to keep the water very warm.
8. Rinse. Rinsing at this point, is pretty quick because you've added so much water as you worked through your curls.
Here is the best tip for getting your curls really healthy and hydrated -Squish to Condish is a gently scrunching while adding water into your conditioner. I use the applicator bottle to add a little water at a time, so I don't rinse out my conditioner. Then pulse-scrunch so you hear the wet-tennis shoe-squish, but gentle enough so that you aren't squeezing out all the water.
And finally, the absolute best product to hydrate your curls.... WATER. The more water you work into your hair while you are conditioning your hair, the better your results. Conditioner is designed to facilitate hydration and to give your strands the slip you need to detangle.... water is what is going to hydrate!
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