Dry Hair Wars: Winning the Moisture Battle in Transitioning Hair and Beyond

So… you’re transitioning from chemically straightened hair to natural or past the transition, working with your curls, kinks and coils; but your hair still feels or looks “dry” to you. What do you do?

Well, the first thing that you need to know about curly hair is that it doesn’t reflect light well.  Unlike your previously straightened locks, curly hair is 3-Dimensional (like a helix or spiral). Due to this, curly hair is often misinterpreted as “dry” when that’s not the case. Curly hair simply needs a little more help (serums, pomades, etc) to bring its luster through.

Alright, but what if it’s not a trick of the light and your strands are in fact, dry?  If that is the case, here are some things you should consider trying to remedy the issue:

Use a thicker leave-in conditioner (LI): We often don’t realize how thirsty our natural hair is for moisture especially early on in the transitioning period because we’ve been depriving it with all the chemical processes, sulfates and silicones. For any curl to thrive, moisture has to be present. Establishing this as a base to your styling routine is essential. Now, gauging how much or how heavy a LI you need can be tricky. Only you can predict that based on your hair’s properties, but overall I would consider investing in a LI with more natural/moisture laden ingredients (Shea butter, coconut oil, Aloe vera, Avocado butter/oil, etc).  Hair milks are also a great investment. They’re not just for styling, but can be used as rinse-out conditioners or for leave-in conditioning when additional moisture is needed.

Increase the frequency of your deep conditioning treatments (DC): Are you possibly skimping on your treatments? This would be a no-no, so this is something to correct right away. No matter what phase of your natural hair journey. You need these treatments to prevent breakage and help preserve curl structure. As a rule of thumb, I believe that because of the repeated stress on the hair from prolonged use of chemical processes, that anyone transitioning from those practices to natural hair should use a DC weekly. Your new tresses will thank you for it.  After the transition is over, this can be tailored according to your individual hairs’ needs. Personally, when I was transitioning I used a DC weekly and after the transition, biweekly. As the years passed, and my moisture to protein balance improved, I didn’t need to lean on these treatments as much. I do them about once a month now.

Don’t overuse protein: Is every step in your hair regimen protein dominant? While protein helps strengthen and maintain curl structure, the use of too many protein-laden products (Examples: oat, wheat, keratin, and hydrolyzed proteins, silk amino acids) in succession can lead to dry and brittle hair over time. Check the labels on your products to be sure. This problem is easily remedied by scaling back on the protein and using products with more hydrating ingredients toward the top of the ingredient list. As most products contain some element of protein, try to use products where its lower on the ingredient list.

Use a product that seals: Adding moisture means nothing unless you’re willing to take that extra step to lock in the moisture. This step can be done with wash n go styles as well as protective styles. Consider sealing with non-occlusive oils such as: jojoba, olive or coconut, or even styling with butters. Depending on the formulation, butters are a great way to retain lots of moisture while lending a natural hold to your style. Examples of great butters include shea butter, mango butter, aloe butter, kokum butter, avocado butter, murmuru butter and jojoba butter. If you’re using gel, make sure that hold is sufficient enough to keep in the moisture.

Depending on the combination of products you use, the moisture in your hair may last anywhere from a day to several days. Even when doing everything right, the weather and other factors may require repeating the moisture and sealing processes. Every few days, I revive my curls with a refresher spray and follow with a moisturizer or oil.

You can make your own spray at home to keep your hair in good condition. An easy thing I do is in a spray bottle, mix in one part water and two parts conditioner with oils and use that as an all-in-one. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll add aloe vera gel into the mix for even more moisture benefits.

Above all, hang in there! It really does get easier, and the benefits and freedoms you’ll experience with a solid hair regimen will be worth it.


Till then, live curly, and live free.

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    2 Comments and 2 Replies

    1. 2
      LaToya says:

      Thanks for this post. I’m transitioning so this is very helpful.

    2. 1

      Wow, I don’t think I did any DCing during my transistion. I transitioned using braids. I did keep them clean but I don’t remember deep conditiong being a priority.

      • 1.1
        Nefertiti says:

        Thanks for your comment. With braids, doing a formal deep conditioner is a bit harder to do, but I’m sure you used something to maintain moisture in your braids and scalp? It’s all about finding way to deliver and keep moisture IMO.

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