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  • Brittany McKnight

Proper Hydration and Your Hair

I get questions all the time from my clients, and people I meet, about how to take care of their natural hair. People seem to think that natural hair is like an exotic animal in need of a special environment and diet. And in a lot of ways, their right. The whole truth is that everything that is good for natural hair is also good for relaxed hair and colored hair. These things are also good for your body. Instead of thinking of your hair as an animal; think of your hair like a plant. Water, sun, and fertile soil are all you need for healthy hair. We’ll cover fertilizer and sun in other posts but today I want to focus on water and hydration.

Everyone knows that water intake is a big deal. The human body is approximately 60% water. We lose water through sweat, saliva, and urine. It constantly needs replenishing. The body innately knows how to process any- and everything that enters, especially water. The lion’s share goes to vital organs, joints, and muscles. What is left over goes to skin, scalp and hair. The skin needs very little water to stay moisturized but one of the first signs of dehydration (other than higher than usual levels of thirst) is dry and/or peeling skin; especially on the hands, feet, and scalp.

I usually recommend drinking about half of your body weight in ounces. This means if you weigh 100 lbs, you would need at least 50 oz of water daily; or, if you weigh 200 lbs, you would need at least 100 oz of water. This method goes beyond drinking 8 glasses of water a day. Think of your body as a sponge: the larger the sponge, the more water it takes to fully saturate it. If you’re more active, you should drink closer to 75% of your body weight in ounces since you’ll be shedding more water.

Besides hydrating from the inside, you can also hydrate from the outside. Whether it’s a spray-on leave in conditioner or a cream moisturizer, water based products should be your go-to for moisture. Think of it this way: If you were thirsty you wouldn’t pour yourself a glass of olive or almond oil. You would drink water or another water based beverage. Also, about ¼ of your hair’s weight comes from water. Water-based products absorb into the hair quickly and deeply. When your hair is dry it is also difficult to detangle and that can lead to breakage.

DO NOT CONFUSE MOISTURE WITH SHINE. These are both important but completely different. Hair can be moisturized and not shiny, as well as shiny but dry. Most water-based moisturizers can be used AS needed and should be used WHEN needed. If you’re out of moisturizer, distilled water works in a pinch. Now, I know what you’re thinking: If I put water on my hair it will get frizzy and shrink! Say it with me: SHRINKAGE IS MY FRIEND! Shrinkage is a sign of healthy hair. When your hair is not properly moisturized it will draw moisture from the air causing frizz. If your hair is dry and you spray water or leave in conditioner and it starts to frizz that means the hair is absorbing the moisture. When hair reverts to its naturally curly/wavy state, it is trying to retain moisture because your curls act as a trap for the water. Another great thing to note is that your hair’s ability to revert is always a blessing. If your hair doesn’t revert it means your curl patter has been damaged. Shrinkage is just your hair coming home from whatever style vacation you took it on.

Your first step to healthy hair is, and always will be, moisture. Just like nothing desirable grows in the desert, your hair is not going to grow and flourish to its full glory of its not moisturized. You can live for almost three weeks without food as long as you have water. But without food and water you can only hope to last about a week at the longest and the effects would start to show within 2-3 days. Do yourself, and your hair, a favor and DRINK UP!

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