When soft hair becomes a bad thing!

I’m guilty of committing a rookie hair care mistake. I’m still experiencing a bit of postpartum shedding though it has slowed down considerably. However because I’m so used to seeing quite a few strand of hair on washdays it took a bit longer than it should have to realise I was dealing with a bit of breakage. It wasn’t until I noticed my hair tangling a lot whilst flat twisting that I stopped to examine some of the shed hair. Now I knew the breakage wasn’t due to dryness as my hair is super soft at the moment…too soft but I’ll get back to that in a moment. I immediately clarified my hair to get rid of any potential build-up on my scalp and hair but the tangling and breakage still persisted. So I did an elasticity test on wet hair and my hair just kept on stretching, till it was almost double in length before breaking and the light bulb finally went off in my head…I needed protein.

If you don’t already know, hair straddles a fine line between moisture and protein, as it needs both to be truly healthy. Protein gives hair its structure and strength but too much makes it hard, brittle and prone to breakage. Moisture on the other hand gives hair its elasticity, makes it pliable and soft, but too much is definitely a bad thing and you’ll get mushy, limp hair that’s too stretchy and that also leads to breakage.

When I had relaxed hair, protein was a staple in my regimen and product arsenal because my hair needed it. But since being natural, it’s something I’m often guilty of slacking on. I also LOVE rich moisturising conditioners and leave-ins, which really hasn’t helped matters. Once I realised the issue I immediately did an intensive protein treatment using Protein Defence + from Enitan Healthy Hair Studio. It’s basically pure hydrolysed protein that can be added to any moisturising conditioner and turns it into a one step protein treatment. Usually a protein treatment has to be followed by a moisturising conditioner in order to soften hair. I’m a busy mum so anything that cuts down my wash routine immediately gets a thumbs-up. Because my hair was super elastic I added a bit of hydrolysed Baobab Protein also to really intensify the treatment.

The results were immediate, my hair felt less mushy, springier and stronger and the breakage was reduced significantly. It took a while for my hair to become over moisturised and it will also take a little bit of time to fix it. I plan to add protein to my weekly conditioning session for the next month or so.

Dry Hair vs Wet Hair

Previously, when doing my hot oil treatments, I would first wet my hair then apply the oil. I honestly don’t know why I did it this way but it’s the way I’ve always done a hot oil. When I started ‘educating’ myself on all things hair I encountered many discussions on this issue with everybody having a differing opinion. As you can imagine this was a little confusing so I just carried on doing my own thing.

Recently, I’ve been trying to get a more scientific understanding of hair and haircare so I can really maximise the benefits of my regime. One of the things I came across is the first rule of chemistry which states that ‘like attracts like’. This really helped clear up all the confusion with my hot oil treatments and deep conditioning and I’ll explain why.

Oil is a hydrophobe, which means it hates and repels water and is attracted to other hydrophobic substances. As dry hair is naturally oily due to sebum and product buildup, the oils you apply will be attracted to the oils already on your hair. This makes application and penetration easier. If however, you wet your hair before applying oil to it, the oil and water repel each other making it more difficult for the oils to penetrate and coat the hair shaft. On the flip side, conditioners are mostly made of water so applying it to wet hair helps it penetrate and coat the hair shaft better. Anything which is attracted to water is called a hydrophile (e.g. humectants). I know people who apply their deep conditioners to dry hair but this has never worked for me and now I know why.

To summarise, it is scientifically more beneficial to apply your oils to dry hair and your conditioners to wet hair. However, you should do your own testing to see what works best for you. It’s about your hair and what it prefers.