It takes a lot of love and maintenance to keep moisturizing natural hair for kinky curls that stay detangled and full of life. Some of us spend hours once a week detangling our kinks, conditioning, deep conditioning, hair rinsing, and shampooing only to find our hair lacking moisture the second we let it out of a head wrap. If you live in a climate where winters bring freezing sleet and snow, you are most likely already going through the many emotions of having an afro in the winter. I made it through the holidays with moisturized curls bouncing into the New Year, but that first morning of 10 degree weather? I stepped onto my balcony and wondered, Is there a natural oil that could keep hair from losing moisture for the next four months? Or will I be living under a witch hat until April?
With a lifetime of winters in the Northeast, I feel I have a firm understanding of just how harsh these winters can be on fragile kinks and coils. The island of Manhattan in January is truly where curls go to die. The wind from the ocean rips through afros as soon as we step out of the subway, and those brisk 15 degree mornings are a recipe for curl disaster. Personally, I refuse to keep my pride and joy under a hat all winter. I spend so much time keeping my 'fro on fleek with homemade treatments that I'm determined to fight back this winter.
Natural oils are every kinky girl's partner in crime. They are essential for stopping the natural oils our scalp produces from leaving our locks due to weather and toxins. Not all oils have the full capacity to fight the arctic chills that many of us are faced with on our morning commutes, however. The most important thing to look for in any effective hair moisturizer is for it to have natural emollients. Emollients increase our ability to retain moisture by providing our hair with an extra layer of oil. Hair sealants work best on damp hair, but of course no one wants to frozen clumps of hair. Dampening your hair in the evenings with a hair sealant under a satin bonnet will allow your locks the luxury of moisture the next day.
Luckily for our kinks, we've got a world of natural products and oils at our disposal. The natural hair movement has afforded us the luxury to wear our hair out and proud during the winter, so why not take advantage of it? Here are the best hair sealants to keep your hair moisturized and strong.
1. Avocado Oil
Avocado is one of the main ingredients in my deep conditioner. It naturally detangles knots and has proven to be an effective moisturizer for black hair. Unfortunately, rolling out of the house with green chunks of avocado is not a good look, so avocado oil is the best way to get all the essential fatty acids into your locks. According to the hair gurus on Black Girl Long Hair's website, avocado oil can access the cortex of your hair, providing moisture deep into each strand.
Please. You know castor oil is going to be involved in any discussion about black hair and moisture. Forget about the greasy smell and throw that fear of clogged pores to the wind because this oil is truly worth it. Castor is high in protein, fatty acids, and vitamin E which are all important when looking for the perfect hair sealant. Not only can castor oil hydrate hair and retain moisture, it also can reverse breakage and split ends. Diluting your castor oil with lavender oil or clary sage will give you extra nutrients while helping to mask the greasy scent.
3. Shea Butter
Raw shea butter has my hair all types of spoiled, but the stuff itself won't actually ever spoil — you can buy in bulk and not worry that in a few months your butter will have turned. Shea is high in fatty acids as well as vitamins A, D, and E. The butter has a natural nutty aroma and pairs nicely with all natural oils.
4. Olive Oil
Poor olive oil. With so many different oils becoming increasingly more popular in Western beauty care, most of us have forgotten that olive oil was the original sealant for natural hair. Long before coconut oil became widely available to us, olive oil was all we had to keep our kinks from breaking. After I make my 15 minute walk to work equipped with a hood and scarf to protect my hair, I am always astounded that it has still lost moisture. Fortunately, I work at a fancy pizza restaurant when I'm not writing, so extra virgin olive oil is at my disposal. Not only is EVOO rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, it also protects against hair breakage and hair loss.
5. Coconut Oil
Sorry for throwing a little shade in my last bullet point, but coconut oil really is one of the best hair sealants out there. Not only does it have those natural emollient properties our strands need, but it also penetrates the shaft making it an excellent moisturizer AND sealant. I've used coconut oil as a sealant on both wet and dry hair, and have found that it works best on those days that I'm just not willing to wet my hair. Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, vitamin E, and helps reduce the loss of protein in hair, keeping those locks strong and healthy.
Image: cyclonebill / Maya83 /Flickr; Kristin Collins Jackson; Shareefah Mapp; lightwavemedia/Fotolia