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Ask CurlyNikk: How Do I Keep My Natural Hair Moisturized?

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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 emailing them to BeautyEditors@essence.com.

READER QUESTION: I have very coarse, dry, thick natural hair and I can't find anything to maintain moisture. I've tried numerous products, but nothing works! What do you recommend?

CURLYNIKKI'S RESPONSE:
Yes, highly textured hair tends toward dryness (with all the curls and bends, it's hard for natural oil to get down the strand). But focusing on the Three P's: porosity, proper sealing and styling -- it will help you stay moisturized, for good.

Porosity Check

Most curly hair is highly porous, which means it has an open cuticle that allows moisture to easily escape and leaves you open to breakage (for more info, click HERE). Here’s how to tell if your hair is porous: Place a couple of hairs in a cup of water. If it sinks in less than a couple minutes, it’s porous.

Now what? Here’s how to care for porous hair: Step away from the flat iron and blow dryer, avoid color, trim your ends regularly, and apply weekly deep conditioning treatments with a gentle heat source (like a thermo heat cap).

Proper Sealing

Sealing is locking moisture in the hair, specifically the ends. To do, apply a leave-in conditioner with water as its first ingredient (try Qhemet Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee), and then seal with shea butter or oil. The molecules in most butters/oils are too large to pass into the hair, so they stick to the outside of the shaft, trapping in the moisturizer!

When sealing after your regular washing routine, apply your conditioner to damp hair in a downward motion. Then apply your butter or oil, concentrating on your ends, and style as usual.

Protective Styling

A “protective” style is one in which your hair isn’t loose. Whether your hair is twisted, braided, bunned or cornrowed beneath a weave, your strands are woven together and more resistant to breakage – plus, they hold on to moisture very well.

As with everything, less is more! So make sure your protective style of choice isn’t stressing your edges, and that you don’t leave it in too long, and that you continue to moisturize your hair even while it’s protected.

Finally, always protect your hair at night with a satin cap. Over time, sleeping with your hair out will result in loss of moisture. It’s not the sexiest look, but the payoff is worth it!

Nikki Walton, founder of CurlyNikki.com, is a successful psychotherapist and creator of the most credible online source about natural hair care, maintenance and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. She's the author of the book, Better Than Good Hair.

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