We can all agree that natural hair feels great after a good wash. However, when it begins to dry and the curls disappear, it can be a little frustrating to handle it. A big toothed comb can barely pass through dry 4c hair and styling becomes very problematic.
This is why you need a hydration routine that works for your hair. Hydration simply means using hair products that penetrate the hair shaft and improve your hair’s ability to hold and retain moisture. The overall goal is to get rid of extra dry coils, keep the hair moist and improve curl definition.
After months of endless protective styling, it feels very dry and thirsty. When it comes to hydration treatment for natural hair, there is something for everyone, but first, how do you pick the perfect method?
Factors to consider when choosing a hydration method
You may find yourself spending a lot of time trying out a method that is simply not suited for your hair. Several factors come into play when it comes to the effectiveness of hydration treatments and they include;
It can be disappointing if hair products end up sitting lazily on top of your hair, instead of penetrating your hair shafts, after performing a highly recommended hydration treatment.
This has everything to do with your hair’s ability to absorb moisture. Some methods work perfectly for high porosity hair while others are structured to cater for low porosity hair.
Availability of products
If you can’t find bentonite clay or honey in your local cosmetic or regular stores, then trying out certain methods would not yield the desired fruits.
Each hydration method was developed by an individual or people from specific regions, according to the availability of products. Therefore, some methods may not be doable, if the products cannot be found in your region.
Availability of time
Some methods take longer to complete than others. If you have a busy schedule, go for quick fix methods and only reserve the long-routine methods for holidays or weekends.
Hydration Treatments for Natural Hair
You probably apply this method more often than you know. It’s a very popular and common method and many people have tried it without knowing that there’s a name for it.
LOC is a 3-step method which involves three types of hair products; Liquid, Oil and Cream. The three products are applied on natural hair in that order. You start by applying a liquid-based product or water to moisturize your hair.
This is the most significant component, given that it has the power to solely hydrate your hair. However, 4c hair does not have the capacity to retain moisture for long and this is why you need the other two elements.
Oil is applied after the liquid to lock in moisture. You may use any type of locally available hair care oil. Common options include olive, avocado and coconut oils. Oil and water do not mix and this is why you need cream to polish your look.
You do not want two antagonizing products just sitting on your head. Creams act as sealants. They also add a lovely sheen to your hair, especially if you intend to style your hair after this treatment. You may do twist outs or band your hair to tie everything together and define your curls.
People have been steaming their hair for a long time, just as they’ve been steaming their faces. This is one of those methods that don’t require much effort or time. Steaming is simple and less messy as there are no oils or gels used in the process.
The method can be applied using two types of hair steamers; a handheld or a hooded steamer. The goal is to allow water particles to soak through your hair and scalp. This improves your hair’s health, look and feel. It also opens up your scalp pores to allow uninterrupted hair growth.
If you choose to steam your hair, be careful not to overdo it. 15 to 20 minutes in a steamer is enough time to achieve great results.
The Maximum Hydration Method
This is one of the most advanced hydration methods for 4c hair. It is quite elaborate and it requires more time and more hair products. The routine is supposed to be repeated for 7 consecutive days and the end goal is to reduce coiling and increase curling.
Maximum hydration also leaves your hair with so much moisture that it barely experiences a dry or dull moment even when you’re not using products on it.
Many people who have tried this method ended up with better curls which mimic the 4b hair look, rather than the kinky, woolly 4c coils. It is recommended for people who lack defined or visible curls.
For this treatment, you need water, baking soda/apple cider vinegar, deep conditioner, bentonite clay, and gel. The treatment begins with deep conditioning for about 20 minutes. You then proceed to apply water and baking soda.
This mixture is supposed to loosen your coils since baking soda has the capacity to straighten hair. If your hair is already curly or less dense, substitute baking soda with vinegar. You should also leave these two on your hair for 15-20 minutes.
Your hair is now ready for the bentonite clay or any other type of hair clay. Leave the clay to sit for 15 minutes then rinse it out.
You can then deep condition or apply a leave-in conditioner. Finally, seal the leave in conditioner with the gel of your choice.
You should begin to see results from day 3 but going all the way to day 7 guarantees the best results.
Hydration masks are very popular because of their ‘DIY” aspect. You can easily mix up your own masks at home, using locally and easily available products. Honey is a very common ingredient in many masks due to its ability to seal in moisture.
Depending on your hair’s condition, you could use various ingredients, ranging from yogurt (for protein) to avocado (rich in oil) and banana. For instance, you can mix yogurt and honey in a bowl, heat it up in the microwave and apply on your wet hair.
Cover it with a shower cap and leave it for 20 minutes before rinsing. It’s as simple as that, but the benefits are immeasurable. Different ingredients will offer different benefits, alongside hydration.
This treatment is similar to LOC, only that the order of application is rearranged. The liquid comes first, followed by the cream and finally oil is used to seal. LCO will work way better for hair with less porosity.
This is because applying water and oil first might lead to a low penetration rate since both of them require high porosity to be absorbed all the way to the scalp.
However, massaging the head with a water-based cream increases penetration and water retention. Oil can then be used as a sealant as it also gives the hair a nice lustrous finish.
Hydration Treatments Summarized
- Hydration treatments are a necessity for 4c hair if you want to maintain healthy curls
- The ultimate goal is to keep your natural hair moist even after washing and drying
- Vet the products you use and ensure they work on your hair and scalp effectively
Overall, you can try out different methods to establish which one works for you and then maintain a consistent hydration calendar.