1. The weather
Have you ever wondered why your natural hair feels drier during certain weather conditions?
The answer lies in the science behind how the weather impacts the moisture levels in our hair.
Two significant factors come into play when it comes to the dryness of natural hair: humidity and temperature.
Humidity refers to the amount of moisture present in the air.
It plays a crucial role in determining how dry or moist our hair feels.
For afro-textured natural hair, which tends to have a more porous structure compared to other hair types, humidity can be both a blessing and a curse.
When the humidity level is high, such as during hot and humid weather, the hair cuticles absorb excess moisture from the air, leading to frizz and an unruly appearance.
On the other hand, in low-humidity conditions, like during the dry winter, the hair cuticles struggle to retain moisture, resulting in dryness, brittleness, and potential breakage.
Temperature also affects the dryness of natural type 4 hair.
Extreme heat, such as scorching summer days, can cause the hair’s natural oils to evaporate rapidly, leaving the strands dehydrated and susceptible to damage.
Excessive exposure to the sun’s rays can lead to fading of hair color and a weakened hair structure.
Conversely, cold weather can cause the hair shafts to contract, making it difficult for the natural oils produced by the scalp to spread along the hair strands effectively.
This lack of sebum distribution contributes to dryness and can lead to a flaky scalp and an itchy sensation.
Since natural coils have a propensity for being drier due to all of the angles and curves of the strands, sebum already has an uphill battle to providing protection.
Cold, dry weather makes that battle even harder.
2. Product Build up
If you’ve noticed your natural hair feeling drier and less manageable despite using various hair products, the culprit might be product build-up.
Product build-up occurs when hair care products, such as conditioners, oils, and styling products, accumulate on the hair shaft over time.
For type 4 hair, which tends to have a coarser and more porous structure, product build-up can have a more pronounced impact on moisture retention.
The science behind this lies in two main factors.
1. Clogging of Hair Cuticles: Hair cuticles are the outermost layer of the hair shaft and serve as a protective barrier.
When hair products are not properly rinsed out or contain ingredients that are not water-soluble, they can stick to the hair cuticles, creating a barrier that prevents moisture from penetrating the hair shaft effectively.
This leads to dryness, as the hair is unable to absorb the moisture it needs to stay hydrated and healthy.
2. Interference with Natural Oil Production: Type 4 natural hair has a natural tendency to be drier due to its unique curl pattern, which can hinder the distribution of natural oils produced by the scalp along the hair shaft.
When product build-up occurs, it can further disrupt the distribution of these natural oils, leaving the hair more susceptible to dryness and breakage.
The lack of adequate natural oil coating makes it challenging for afro hair to maintain its moisture balance, resulting in a parched and dull appearance.
To prevent product build-up and maintain optimal moisture levels in afro hair, it’s essential to use products that are suitable for your hair type and to cleanse your hair regularly with clarifying shampoos to remove residue.
Additionally, incorporating a deep conditioning routine can help nourish and restore moisture to the hair strands.
By understanding the science behind product build-up and its impact on afro hair, you can make informed choices about your hair care regimen, ensuring your coils remain healthy, hydrated, and vibrant.
3. Hard water
If you’ve noticed your afro hair feeling drier and more challenging to manage, the culprit might be the water you’re using to wash your hair.
Hard water, which contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, can have a significant impact on the moisture levels of afro hair.
This occurs for 2 reasons:
1. Mineral Build-Up on Hair Strands: When you wash your natural hair with hard water, the minerals present in the water can cling to the hair strands.
Over time, these mineral deposits create a layer on the hair cuticles, making it difficult for the hair to absorb moisture effectively.
The mineral build-up acts as a barrier, preventing moisture from penetrating the hair shaft, and ultimately leading to dryness and brittleness.
2. pH Imbalance and Cuticle Damage: Hard water tends to have a higher pH level, making it more alkaline.
Type 4 hair, by nature, has a slightly acidic pH, which helps keep the cuticles tightly sealed and the hair shaft smooth.
When hard water with a higher pH comes into contact with afro hair, it can cause the cuticles to open up.
This cuticle damage allows moisture to escape from the hair, leading to increased dryness, frizz, and a lack of luster.
To combat the effects of hard water on your coils, consider using a chelating or clarifying shampoo to remove mineral build-up from the hair.
Additionally, incorporating a moisturizing deep conditioner can help restore hydration to the strands.
For best results, it is advisable that you leave the deep conditioning to a professional.
Not all deep conditioners are the same and a licensed Cosmetologist, who works with natural hair regularly, will know exactly what type your hair needs.
If you have access to soft water, using it to wash your curls can be beneficial as it has lower mineral content and is gentler on the hair.
By understanding how hard water impacts your hair and taking appropriate measures to counter its effects, you can maintain healthy, moisturized, and vibrant coils.
4. Your Shampoo
Choosing the right shampoo is vital for maintaining the moisture balance in your type 4 hair.
When you use the wrong shampoo, it can lead to dryness and other issues specific to afro-textured hair.
The ingredients and formulations of certain shampoos can strip the hair of its natural oils and disrupt its delicate moisture levels.
1. Harsh Surfactants and Stripping of Natural Oils: Some shampoos contain harsh surfactants like sulfates, which create the lathering effect.
While they may cleanse the hair effectively, they can also strip away the natural oils that act as a protective barrier for afro hair.
As a result, the hair becomes susceptible to moisture loss, leading to dryness, frizz, and an overall lack of manageability.
2. Lack of Moisturizing Ingredients: Type 4 hair requires extra moisture due to its unique curl pattern and tendency to be drier than other hair types.
Using shampoos that lack moisturizing ingredients can exacerbate the dryness issue.
Without sufficient hydration, the hair can become brittle, prone to breakage, and lose its natural shine.
To combat the effects of using the wrong shampoos on afro hair, opt for sulfate-free and moisturizing shampoos specifically formulated for natural hair.
Look for ingredients like glycerin, aloe vera, and natural oils, which help retain moisture and nourish the hair.
5. Hair porosity
For those with type 4 natural hair, understanding hair porosity is crucial in maintaining optimal moisture levels and preventing dryness.
Hair porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture, and it can vary among different hair types.
Type 4 natural hair, with its tight coils and compact structure, tends to have high porosity.
1. Raised Cuticles and Moisture Loss: High porosity in type 4 natural hair is due to the raised and open cuticles along the hair shaft.
These lifted cuticles make it easier for moisture to enter the hair, but it also leads to quick evaporation, resulting in moisture loss.
As a consequence, type 4 hair may struggle to retain moisture, leading to dryness, frizz, and brittleness.
2. Difficulty in Closing Cuticles: The raised cuticles in high-porosity hair can also make it challenging to close them tightly.
When the cuticles are not properly sealed, the hair becomes vulnerable to external factors like humidity and environmental pollutants, which can further contribute to dryness by causing moisture to escape from the strands.
To address the impact of hair porosity on dryness in type 4 natural hair, focus on techniques and products that promote moisture retention.
Weekly conditioning treatments, leave-in conditioners, and regular shampoos are essential in nourishing the hair and creating a protective barrier to lock in moisture.
Although the LOC (liquid, oil, cream) or LCO (liquid, cream, oil) method has gained popularity among many in the natural hair community, it’s not always the answer.
Overuse of heavy creams, butters and oils can actually cause build up on the strands, blocking vital moisture from getting into the hair shaft.
If you swear by your LOC or LCO methods, and it’s working for you, the great!
But if you find your hair remains dry while doing these, you may want to scale back on them until you find a balance that works best for your hair.
Understanding how hair porosity affects type 4 natural hair and tailoring your regimen to address its specific needs is the key to coil success.
6. Not understanding your products
Properly understanding the capabilities of hair products is essential for maintaining well-hydrated and healthy type 4 natural hair.
When we misinterpret what these products can and can’t do, it can lead to unintended consequences, such as increased dryness and damage.
The science behind this lies in the formulation and intended functions of different hair products.
1. Overusing Styling Products: Type 4 natural hair, with its unique texture, may require specific styling products for definition and hold.
However, overusing these products or layering them without proper knowledge can lead to product build-up.
Excessive product build-up can prevent the hair from absorbing much-needed moisture, resulting in dry, lackluster curls that are weighed down.
2. Relying Solely on Moisturizers for Hydration: While moisturizing products like leave-in conditioners are vital for type 4 natural hair, they alone cannot provide all the necessary elements for proper hydration.
Relying solely on moisturizers without incorporating regular HYDRATION (i.e water) can lead to leaving it vulnerable to dryness and frizz.
3. Neglecting Protein Treatments: Type 4 natural hair can benefit from occasional protein treatments to strengthen the hair shaft and improve elasticity.
Failing to use protein treatments when necessary may result in weak and brittle hair prone to breakage, which exacerbates dryness and hampers hair health.
To prevent dryness and maximize the benefits of hair products for type 4 natural hair, it’s essential to strike a balance.
Follow product instructions, use them in moderation, and be aware of the specific needs of your hair type.
Embrace a hair care routine that combines the right moisturizing products with regular hydrating practices and occasional protein treatments to nourish, strengthen, and maintain optimal moisture levels in your gorgeous type 4 natural curls.
7. Medications & Health Conditions
Certain medications and health conditions can impact the moisture levels of type 4 natural hair, leading to dryness and potential damage.
Understanding the science behind these effects is crucial for individuals with type 4 hair to maintain hair health and hydration.
a. Antihistamines: Antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergies and cold symptoms.
Unfortunately, they can have drying effects not only on the body but also on the hair.
The active ingredients in antihistamines can disrupt the scalp’s natural oil production, causing the hair to become dry and brittle.
b. Acne Medications (Isotretinoin): Isotretinoin, a potent medication for severe acne, can cause systemic side effects, including dryness of the skin and scalp.
This can lead to decreased natural oil production, leaving type 4 hair susceptible to dryness and potential breakage.
Hair loss is also a side effect but is typically temporary.
c. Diuretics: Diuretics are prescribed to manage conditions like high blood pressure and edema (swelling due to water retention).
These medications increase urine output, which can lead to dehydration in the body, including the scalp.
A dehydrated scalp means less moisture reaches the hair strands, resulting in dryness.
2. Health Conditions:
a. Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones.
This imbalance can negatively affect the health of hair follicles, leading to dry, coarse, and brittle type 4 hair.
b. Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis): Eczema is a skin condition characterized by red, itchy, and inflamed patches.
When eczema affects the scalp, it can disrupt the scalp’s natural barrier, impairing moisture retention in the hair and causing dryness.
c. Hormonal Imbalances: Hormonal changes, such as those experienced during pregnancy or menopause, can impact sebum production in the scalp.
Reduced sebum levels can leave type 4 hair dry and vulnerable to environmental stressors.
To combat the effects of medications and health conditions on type 4 natural hair, individuals should consult their healthcare providers for alternative medication options, if possible.
Additionally, adopting a consistent hair care routine that includes moisturizing and nourishing products can help counteract dryness and promote healthier, well-hydrated type 4 curls.
8. Not protecting your hair at night
Failing to protect your type 4 natural hair at night can have adverse effects on its moisture levels, leading to dryness, tangles, and breakage.
The science behind this lies in the structure of type 4 hair and how it interacts with various fabrics and friction during sleep.
1. Friction and Moisture Loss: When type 4 natural hair rubs against cotton pillowcases or bedding, friction occurs.
This friction can strip the hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and susceptible to damage.
Additionally, the rough texture of cotton can cause tangles and knots, leading to breakage.
2. Absorption of Moisture from Hair: Certain fabrics, like cotton, have a high absorbent capacity.
When type 4 hair is left unprotected against these fabrics at night, it can absorb moisture from the hair, leaving it parched and dehydrated by morning.
3. Lack of Retention of Hairstyles: Not protecting your type 4 natural hair at night can cause the undoing of carefully styled hairstyles.
The friction and movement during sleep can lead to flattened curls or stretched patterns, reducing the longevity and definition of hairstyles.
To Correct It:
a. Satin or Silk Scarf/Bonnet: Wrap your hair in a satin or silk scarf or wear a satin/silk bonnet before bed.
These materials have a smooth surface that reduces friction, protects the hair from moisture loss, and helps retain hairstyles.
b. Satin or Silk Pillowcase: If wearing a scarf or bonnet is not your preference, consider using a satin or silk pillowcase.
This way, your type 4 hair can slide smoothly against the surface, minimizing friction and reducing moisture loss.
c. Moisturize Before Bed: Before going to sleep, apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair to add an extra layer of moisture. This helps combat the effects of dryness caused by fabric friction and absorption.
9. Not using humectants
Humectants play a crucial role in maintaining the moisture balance of type 4 natural hair, and neglecting their use can result in dry, dehydrated curls.
Humectants interact with the hair and the environment to attract and retain moisture in unique ways that every type 4 natural should know.
1. Moisture Loss in Dry Environments: Humectants have hygroscopic properties, meaning they can draw moisture from the surrounding environment and bind it to the hair.
In dry environments, like arid climates or heated indoor spaces, type 4 hair may struggle to retain moisture on its own.
Not using humectants can lead to rapid moisture loss, leaving the hair dry and brittle.
2. Lack of Hydration in Low Humidity Conditions: During low-humidity conditions, such as cold winter months, the air lacks moisture, and type 4 hair is more prone to dryness.
Humectants can help replenish and maintain the hair’s moisture levels by attracting water vapor from the air.
Without humectants, the hair may remain parched and prone to breakage.
3. Reduced Moisture Absorption: Type 4 natural hair is often porous, making it challenging to retain moisture.
Humectants can penetrate the hair shaft, improving its ability to absorb and hold moisture.
Without the use of humectants, the hair may struggle to retain hydration, leading to dryness and frizz.
To Correct It:
a. Use Humectant-Rich Products: Look for hair care products that contain humectants like glycerin, aloe vera, or honey.
These ingredients will help attract and retain moisture in type 4 natural hair, keeping it well-hydrated.
b. Maintain a Moisture Routine: Develop a consistent moisture routine that includes using humectants in your hair care regimen.
This can involve regular shampoo and conditioning treatments, while incorporating leave-in sprays with humectants to ensure your type 4 curls stay nourished and moisturized.
10. Not shampooing weekly
Regular shampooing is vital for maintaining healthy, well-hydrated type 4 natural hair, and neglecting this practice can lead to dryness and other issues.
The accumulation of product residue, environmental pollutants, and sebum on the scalp and hair strands can wreak havoc over time.
Shampoos are formulated with specific chemicals and ingredients to maximize moisture penetration into the hair strands.
1. Product Build-Up and Reduced Moisture Absorption: When type 4 natural hair is not shampooed weekly, hair care products like conditioners, oils, and styling products can accumulate on the hair shaft.
This build-up forms a barrier that prevents moisture from penetrating the hair effectively.
As a result, the hair becomes dry, dull, and more susceptible to breakage.
2. Clogged Hair Follicles and Scalp Issues: Without regular cleansing, hair follicles can become clogged with product residue, sweat, and dead skin cells.
Clogged follicles can impede healthy hair growth and may lead to scalp issues like dandruff or itchiness, contributing to an overall lack of moisture in the hair.
3. Surfactants for Cleansing: Shampoos contain surfactants, which are cleansing agents responsible for removing dirt, oil, and product build-up from the hair.
These surfactants work by reducing the surface tension between the hair and water, allowing the shampoo to break down and lift away impurities.
By cleansing the hair effectively, surfactants prepare the hair strands for optimal moisture penetration.
2. pH Balance and Cuticle Opening: The pH balance of shampoos plays a crucial role in enhancing moisture absorption.
During the shampooing process, the hair cuticles naturally open up.
This temporary opening, caused by the slightly higher pH of the shampoo, allows moisture and nourishing ingredients from conditioners or treatments to penetrate the hair shaft effectively.
3. Moisturizing Ingredients for Hydration: Many shampoos are enriched with moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, panthenol, and natural oils.
These ingredients work in synergy with the cleansing agents to infuse the hair with moisture during the washing process.
As the shampoo cleanses, the moisturizing ingredients bind to the hair strands, helping to retain moisture even after the shampooing is complete.
How To Get It Right:
a. Establish a Shampooing Schedule: Create a weekly shampooing schedule to cleanse your type 4 natural hair.
Adjust the frequency based on your hair’s needs and lifestyle factors, such as exposure to pollutants or sweat.
b. Use a Gentle Shampoo: Opt for sulfate-free and moisturizing shampoos that cater to the specific needs of type 4 hair.
These gentle formulas effectively cleanse the hair and scalp without stripping away essential oils.
c. Condition Regularly: Follow up each shampoo session with a nourishing conditioning treatment to replenish moisture to your type 4 curls.
Conditioning helps restore hydration and combats dryness caused by infrequent shampooing.
Understanding why your natural hair is dry is the first step towards achieving luscious, well-hydrated locks.
Various factors, including environmental conditions, hair porosity, product choices, and lifestyle habits, can contribute to dryness in natural hair, particularly for type 4 curls.
However, with the right knowledge and targeted solutions, it’s entirely possible to address these issues and restore moisture to your hair.
By incorporating regular conditioning treatments, protecting your hair at night, using humectant-rich products, and adopting a suitable shampooing routine, you can combat dryness and promote optimal hair health.
Additionally, embracing a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and maintaining your health and wellness will further enhance your efforts in achieving beautifully moisturized natural hair.
Remember, every curl is unique, so be patient and experiment to find the best care regimen that suits your hair’s specific needs.
With consistent care and a little extra TLC, you can unleash the full potential of your natural hair and revel in its natural beauty, softness, and vibrancy.
So, say goodbye to dryness and hello to a journey of healthy, hydrated, and fabulous natural coils!