Reader Q&A: The Do's and Don'ts of Sealing Your Ends
Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.
READER QUESTION: How often do I seal my ends with oil? I have been doing it daily, but my hair feels sticky and oily
CURLYNIKKI's RESPONSE: First, let’s catch folks up... Sealing is defined as the process in which you lock or "seal" moisture in the strands with an oil or butter. This extra layer of protection slows the inevitable evaporation of moisture from your hair. The moisture can refer to the water from your washday shower and/or the goodness of your water based (water listed as the first ingredient) moisturizer or conditioner. Some folks only moisturize and seal on washday, while others find that they dry out quickly and must re-moisturize and seal their dry ends throughout the week. Still, others find that all they need is to add more oil to their ends to keep them supple, skipping the re-moisturizing step altogether.
Now to answer your question, how often one should moisturize and seal, varies from person to person. Also, the type of moisturizer and sealer varies. There is no right or wrong answer, only the regimen that works for you and your curls. If sealing your hair daily leaves you limp and greasy, then scale back a bit and try every other day, re-assess and scale back again if need be. You may also need to opt for lighter oils (choosing coconut oil over shea butter for example) or simply use a lighter hand and apply less oil.
Remember the purpose of sealing is to lock in the moisture from wash day. If you find that your hair stays moisturized throughout the week until it’s time to re-wash, then all you need to worry about is protecting your hair at night. Folks that find they need to re-moisturize and seal daily to prevent a fire hazard haystack may have high-porosity strands which is discussed at length in this article.
So to sum things up, you must experiment, observe and take good notes! Only use and apply the techniques and products that best suit your hair. Wanda Sykes said it best, "figuring out what works for your hair is a damn science lab."
Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural hair care, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.