Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Low Porosity Hair - Moisture Miracle!

Since the start of my natural hair journey, I've noticed my hair took a long time to absorb water on wash day and then it took forever to dry. When it did dry, it didn't always feel soft and moisturized, it wasn't insanely shiny and I was left with a halo of frizz. I read different blogs, scoured Youtube. This left me with the conclusion that I wasn't sealing efficiently. So, I gathered my artillery of oils and creams, moisturizing, then sealing to lock in all that good moisture I was letting out. This left my hair feeling slippery, greasy and gunky.  It also left me self-conscious about  leaving my "hair print" on someone's nice sofa or armchair. At my wits end, the research continued. I came across Kimmaytube videos. As she explained PH and protective styling, so colorfully and scientifically, I thought to myself, that is it, it's my PH that's off balance. So, I started whipping up my Kimmaytube leave-in. I slathered it on my hair, concentrating on my ends. As my hair dried, I noticed white build-up and sticky, frizzy hair. Wonk, wonk, wonk! What's a girl to do? Trust me, I'd tried everything, even baggying. Pssh, my hair laughed at that and I woke up to a dry, mushy mess.

Well, I google searched my "symptoms" and came across articles on low porosity, like this one. As I continued to read on, I felt like the person who wrote the article described me! There was only one thing to do! I grabbed a cup of lukewarm water and placed a string of freshly washed hair in the cup. That strand of hair floated for the entire day (an indication of low porosity hair). I was so disappointed. Now my natural hair journey would be all about forcing moisture into my hair.

Thus, my low porosity research began. My research landed me right on the pages of the lovely Elle's blog "Quest for the Perfect Curl", where she talked about her lo-po aha moment. I thought, finally someone like me. She was the first blogger and Youtuber I came across who discussed such issues. While most people talked about hair regimens, natural hair musts, and curl patterns, Elle discussed moisture retention and lack there of. Suddenly, I became aware, why after my 1st year of being natural, I felt I had made absolutely no progress on my journey to healthy, long hair. Elle discussed, using a treatment called the Cherry Lola, which consists of baking soda, amino acid and plain yogurt-- essentially, a protein treatment. Baking soda is naturally alkaline and has a pH of 9 (for comparison shower water has a pH of about 7). Since lo-po cuticles naturally lie flat, using a product with a lower ph would further seal the cuticle, locking out moisture. Light bulbs went off in my head, it all started to make sense.

However, I had to admit, I was pretty terrified about the idea of using baking soda. I'd read on many blogs, that it was harsh, would cause irreversible damage, was equivocal to a relaxer, was impossible to remove from the hair, the list goes on.

On Curly Nikki, once an expert discussed haircare, particularly sealing and locking in moisture. I asked her for her advise on my hair, explaining that it was low porosity. She replied back with an informative response, however, warned me that it's rare for natural tightly-coily-haired women to be low porosity. She said the way the hair bends and twists, leaves it prone to damage, thus it requires gentle care and deep moisture. She also suggested my issue might be product build-up and that a good clarifying shampoo followed by a deep conditioner, moisturizer and seal, should do the trick. Since she was a hair chemist, I followed her advise and ignored my gut. So, I continued along with my regimen and left the Arm & Hammer on my refrigerator shelf.

As, I clarified my hair, it felt dry and brittle. What's worse the deep conditioner only slightly improved the situation. As I applied my leave-in, aloe vera gel, then oil, my hair could not have looked worse. With every slather of aloe, it was like it was shrinking into an tiny, dry horror.

I continued along with this routine for about 1/2 a year, never being truly happy with my results. Some products that helped were rhassoul clay, but following my treatment, I would then apply oils/butter and leave-in. I'd get out of the shower with spectacularly, moisturized curls and after styling I'd have a frizzy poof.

This all changed yesterday, that box of baking soda that's been sitting on my shelf? Well, I tested it on my hair, which I now know is low porosity. I made a mixture of 4 TBSP of baking soda, 1 c of conditioner and avocado oil and let it sit on my hair for about an hour. I rinsed it out and my hair didn't feel super moisturized, but strong and tangle free. I then applied my Cantu Shea butter conditioner that I recently purchased, which did nothing for my hair before. You know what? Magic happened, my curls melted into the conditioner, my fingers slid through my hair and my hair felt incredibly moisturized. I think a little tear shed from my eye. I jumped out of the shower after rinsing out the baking soda really well. I didn't follow-up with a vinegar rinse, b/c in my opinion I wanted to add my moisturizing products with a lower pH and keep the added benefits. I styled my hair and twisted it. My twists have never been so easy to do before!

The verdict? I'll continue doing these treatments and adding them to my regimen. Next time I will just apply baking soda and water, then let it sit. Afterwards, I'll rinse it out deep condition  with heat heat, allow it to cool, then partially rinse it out the conditioner (kind of a semi-curly girl routine).

I think there are many of us lo-po naturals out there, however, fewer than normal and high porosity naturals. This really is an issue that is not addressed enough in the natural beauty sphere. You really have to listen to your hair, it will thank you! Just because the majority of the natural hair world is sealing, using aloe vera, etc. does not mean you need to too. So if you think you may be lo-po, put down the aloe juice, your porosity control products, your apple cider vinegar, your heavy oils and butters and reevaluate your regimen. If you're nervous about using baking soda, you could try adding shavings of Castile's soap to your conditioner. In the mean time, I'll try to keep my blog updated with my baking soda results. It's only been week one, but I'm looking forward to updates!

What's your hair porosity, what works for you?

Twist out with my old regimen (left) vs twist out with my new regimen (right)

with baking soda treatment

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