Understand why your hair is straight but stiff and attain soft flowing hair
All hair is made up of the same material. Keratin. The way it looks and behaves (curly, wavy or straight) is something that is predetermined by genetics. Achieving hair with lots of movement in black kinky* and especially shorter hair, is very sought after. As black hair tends to be dry, it needs to be moisturized often. However, depending on the products used, the addition of moisturizers and oils* to the hair tends to weigh it down leaving it greasy with little or no movement.
Among black hair types the way the hair behaves varies widely. The range is generally from 3b (medium curls) to 4b (dense and tightly curled) with a great variation of textures in between. The main difference in the hair in terms of natural movement is the moisture content. 3b hair will be less porous hence holds on to its moisture so has plenty of movement. 4b however tends to be quite porous naturally and has trouble retaining moisture hence little to no movement when dry.
Adding relaxer works very well at straightening the hair but is a disaster on the moisture side. The relaxer dries out the hair even more hence very straight but stiff hair that is prone to breakage. It’s not all doom and gloom though. You can get movement in relaxed hair quite easily by understanding the challenges and how to overcome them.
You need to provide the hair with the moisture it craves and keep as much of the moisture in as possible. There are 3 main steps to doing this:
1. Infuse moisture into hair by deep conditioning* – This is something that most black ladies do often anyway. For relaxed hair types, twice per week is ideal but once per week is also ok too. The best way to infuse moisture into the hair is to deep condition it with a moisturizing conditioner*. After shampooing hair, apply the conditioner from root to tip and cover with a plastic cap. Sit under a hooded dryer* for 20-30 minutes on a low-medium heat setting. This makes the hair follicles swell up and accept the conditioner wonderfully hence ‘deep conditioning*’.
2. Use heat-activated silicones to seal moisture in – Silicones have had a bad rep for a while because when they are applied to hair they stop it from being able to absorb moisture from the atmosphere. What you mustn’t forget is that they work the other way round as well. They stop the moisture already in the hair from leaving which is a brilliant thing for relaxed hair! Another thing to remember is since the silicones stop hair from absorbing any extra moisture, your hair remains frizz free and keeps natural roots from reverting too quickly. It is important however clarify your hair to remove build-up of the silicones. Invest in a good clarifying shampoo*. Clarifying needs to be done at least once every couple of weeks or at least once a month.
3. Use heat on the hair to seal the cuticle – This is the fun bit. You are officially allowed to use a heat tool of your choice to straighten your hair and make it all gorgeous and flowing! Please read the follow-on article for the full tutorial on how to get relaxed hair with movement as well as and examples of products to use!