How to Retain Moisture in Transitioning and Natural Hair

Finally, the last installment for week 2! I'm so behind contents wise. I promise, I'm going to get back on track this week. In this installment, it's all about moisture retention. No fancy beginnings, let's get right into retaining moisture in order to retain length.

Moisture Retention by Pre-Pooing
The pre-poo is really your first line of defense in terms of moisture retention. When you pre-poo your hair, you essentially allow a nourishing oil or conditioner to penetrate your hair before you even wash it. When oil and moisture (water) penetrate the cortex, less is stripped in the cleansing process. For some pre-poo pointers, click here.

Moisture Retention by Cleansing
I'm sure by now, you've heard to stay away from sulfated shampoos and co-wash your hair exclusively. I don't particularly agree with that. Shampoos with sulfates (whether harsh or mild) do have a role in the healthy hair journey. Now, if you're cleansing your hair every 2-3 days with a generic shampoo, that may be stripping your hair and causing moisture retention issues. However, conditioner washing your hair frequently and following that up with a clarifying wash every month or so is optimal. Using a cowashing product (or just regular ol' conditioner) is a great way to gently wash hair if you find yourself needing a clean slate one or a few times a week. However, at some point (depending on you), you have to step in with something a little stronger. Even though conditioner does a good job of cleansing hair, it does leave some buildup behind on the hair and scalp. Over the course of the month, this buildup has the potential to accumulate and clog your follicles. Just be mindful that you don't need to use harsh cleansers frequently, as it defeats the purpose of trying to retain moisture. For a breakdown of popular cleansing products from harshest to most gentle, click here.

Moisture Retention by Deep Conditioning
If you're following along the tips for the Spring Forward Hair Growth Challenge, then you already know what's up. Just in case you missed it, click here.

Moisture Retention by Moisturizing & Sealing
After you've pre-pooed, cleansed gently, and deep conditioned, it's time to moisturize and seal for some folks. Depending on your hair texture, this is easily the most customizable step in a hair care regimen. After working to maintain moisture throughout, how much or how little you do in this step is totally up to what works best for your hair. Some naturals with dense, thick, and highly textured hair tend to gravitate toward the LOC method:

Liquid: After your hair is cleansed, apply a water-based leave in (often a spritz or lotion)
Oil: After your liquid leave-in, apply an oil or oil-based moisturizer
Cream: After the other two, apply a cream or butter-based product to seal everything in

I don't know about ya'll but for me, that sounds like a flight to Doingthemostville with a layover in Buildup City. Now, for those that swear by the LOC method, I can't knock you. Always do what's best for your hair. For my transitioning tresses, I just apply Shea Moisture's Coconut Curl Milk and seal it with my DIY fluffy styling cream and call it a day. Since we are now swinging toward summer in LA, I will likely switch out my DIY cream for Aloe Vera...or just put together a lighter mix subbing some Shea Butter with AV.

Moisture Retention by Protectively Styling
When I first began my transition, protective styling was the thorn in my side. I hated any and every style that kept me away from my precious tresses and exposed my big forehead (haha). Eventually, I came to the realization that some element of protecting styling was beneficial. Although I am not fully consumed with length retention (the reality is, as a transitioner the point is to cut my hair off gradually), I do still wish to see some semblances of growth. The only way to balance out the constant clipping of my ends (and prolong the next trim) was to style protectively. Any updo that kept my hair off my shoulders and back was good and preventing breakage -- and even better at retaining moisture. The closer the hair is to itself, the less opportunity it has for moisture to escape. Even if you chose to protectively style in mini twists, havana twists, or box braids, your hair still more readily retains moisture because it is not completely exposed to the elements. This does not mean you don't have to moisturize hair that is protectively styled. It still needs moisture -- more likely just less often.

What other ways do you build moisture retention into your regimen?


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