Embrace the magic of hydrated hair with Afro Unicorn's expert guidance!
Balanced moisture is the key to radiant, resilient, and healthy hair. Afro Unicorn is here with 5 expert tips to ensure your little one's tresses remain hydrated and happy from sunrise to sunset.
The Science of Hair Hydration
Balanced hydration is crucial for maintaining hair elasticity, reducing breakage, and giving hair a healthy shine. Understanding the makeup of the hair strand, its texture, curl pattern, and porosity plays a major role in how moisture is received and retained and how it affects the health and overall appearance of the hair.
Let's start with…
The Structure of the Hair Strand
- Cortex: The middle layer, the thickest part of the hair strand where melanin (color), keratin (strength and elasticity), natural chemical composition, and bonds (texture and moisture) are housed.
- Medulla: The innermost layer of the hair strand. Sometimes not present, especially in finer hair and lighter natural hair colors. However, it is not the most essential part of the strand and does not determine the health of the hair or moisture level.
- Cuticle: The outermost layer of the hair strand. It is a hard-shingled layer of overlapping scales that shields the cortex from outside damage. While the cortex is the most important part of the hair strand because it is where the bulk of what our hair is made up of is housed, the cuticle is the most important part to concern ourselves with. Its health directly affects the porosity and overall structure of the hair strand.
Texture and Curl Pattern
Many think that the texture of the hair means its curl pattern, but it is actually the diameter (size) of the individual strands while the texture is the shape of the hair strand. The three categories of texture are fine, medium, and coarse. The types of curl patterns exist in 4 main categories and 3 subcategories each. Types 1-4 and subtypes a, b, and c. Texture generally plays a more essential role than the curl pattern or hair type because it concerns how many cuticle layers each strand has. The more cuticle layers you have, the more protection your cortex has.
Porosity: The Key to Hydration
Lastly, and the most essential to keeping the hair hydrated is Porosity, which is the cuticle layer’s ability to receive and retain moisture. Porosity exists in 3 stages: low, medium (normal), and high. Low porosity hair generally has a very tightly closed cuticle which can sometimes prevent the hair from receiving moisture. You generally see this type of hair in young, unchemically treated, coarse hair strands. Low porosity hair is the exact opposite where the hair’s cuticle is so open that although the hair can receive moisture it is unable to hold it in. This porosity type is seen in fine, naturally light or blonde hair, heat-damaged, and chemically over-processed hair. Then there is our middle ground of medium porosity. This is where the cuticle has enough opened and closed layers to let moisture in and keep it in. While most of our hair has had some level of manipulation, whether heat, environment, chemical, or poor hair care routines, the best way to ensure balanced porosity is by using products that nourish the hair with moisture and strength.
Deep Conditioning: The Ultimate Hair Spa
Deep conditioning is not just a luxury; it's a necessity. Offering intense hydration, repair, and nourishment is the go-to solution for parched tresses. While our regular conditioning routines are designed to keep a good moisture balance, we sometimes do things to our hair that can dry it out, such as going too long between wash days, being out in the summer sun, and heat styling. Deep conditioners are designed to penetrate deeper into the strand and provide recovery for overstressed hair. You can also add heat to your Afro Unicorn Magical Tresses 1-2-3 Wishes Silky Conditioner in the form of steam or capped dry heat to open the cuticle layers to allow the conditioner to penetrate deeper into the hair strand. Remember to rinse with cool or tepid water to close the cuticle layers back down. Incorporating a deep conditioning once or twice a month will help keep your hair in optimum condition.
The L.O.C Method Explained (Customized for Your Hair)
Short for Liquid (Leave-In), Oil, Cream, the L.O.C method is a popular technique to layer products and ensure maximum moisture retention. However, this method is not always the right choice for every head of hair. The theory behind the LOC method is that your hair first and always needs water (moisture), which is what the main ingredient in most leave-in conditioners is. While I agree with this portion of the theory, I do not agree with always needing or using all three. Sometimes only one or two are necessary for your hair type, texture, and porosity. What I mean by this is, if your hair is super fine and porous, using a heavy oil and cream will weigh down and smother the hair, making it even harder to keep the hair hydrated. Instead, using a leave-in that contains a balanced amount of moisture and emollients is more than enough to keep fine and porous hair properly hydrated and protected. On the contrary, low porosity hair may need a heavier option like cream and/or oil to lubricate the strands because it tends to feel drier than other textures. Remember that each head of hair is unique and sometimes requires different methods. Try our Afro Unicorn Magical Tresses Freezie Free and Shine Curl Refresher, Swirls and Twirls Curl Cream, and Bye Bye Dry Scalp Serum and see which combination works best for your little ones curls.
Why pH-Balanced Products Matter
Your hair's pH level plays a vital role in its health and moisture retention. Hair normally sits at a 4.5-5.5, which makes it naturally acidic. We generally want the hair to stay within this range because if the hair is too acidic, the cuticle becomes so closed that the hair cannot receive moisture. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if the hair is too alkaline, the cuticle becomes so open that the hair cannot retain moisture. Normal activities within ours and our children’s environment that can disrupt the hair’s natural pH causing it to raise and become more alkaline are chlorine, salt water, cleansing and clarifying shampoos, and color. Things that can make the hair too acidic are overusing products and treatments that are lower than the hair’s natural pH such as ACV, Lemon Juice (typically used in natural home hair treatments), and overusing products formulated with a pH 3 and below. Making sure you use products such as Afro Unicorn’s Magical Tresses Collection consistently that are formulated for the hair’s natural pH will ensure that the hair stays balanced in order to receive AND retain moisturization.
Protect Your Hair: Nighttime Routines to Seal in Moisture
Did you know that your nighttime routine can significantly impact your hair's moisture levels? Everyone at this point knows how to do the minimum things like sleep on a satin pillowcase or cover our hair with a satin/silk scarf or bonnet to prevent moisture from being stripped away on cotton covers and being snagged and tousled all night. But did you know that during our sleep time is when the body regenerates and repairs the most? This creates a perfect opportunity for nourishing and massaging the scalp and hair with essential oils that stimulate circulation, soothe scalp skin, and seal in moisture. Check out our Afro Unicorn Magical Tresses Bye Bye Dry Scalp Serum. Infused with our Rainbow Super Fruit, it is the perfect combo to deliver much needed nutrients to the scalp. It instantly soothes tight, irritated, dry scalps and is great for helping to relieve any tension of braids and twists for "tendered heads" while assisting in retaining moisture and eliminating frizz. This nighttime routine will also help create a relaxing and comfortable sleep environment essential for providing proper rest and rejuvenation for you and your little one. So by protecting your hair, you not only retain its moisture but you also create the best environment for it to grow.
With these tips, maintaining moisturized tresses has never been easier. Embrace the magic of hydrated hair with Afro Unicorn's expert guidance and achieve hair that feels as good as it looks!