As I learned more and more about hair, my knowledge expanded outside of the text of Curly Girl: The Handbook. While I found this book to be a great starting point, as I read more natural blogs and began to recognize how my hair reacted to different things, I was grateful to the slew of natural hair bloggers out there who were sharing their helpful tips and relevant info. One of the most routine-changing things, for me, came when I discovered sealants.
What is a sealant?
Now, many of us are using conditioner – whether leave-in conditioners (my personal favourite is Giovanni Weightless Moisture Leave-In), or simply not rinsing all of the conditioner out of our hair, it’s important for us to have a moisturizing component in our hair care. Curly hair is notoriously dry, and I can attest to the fact that I’ve never had to explain away an oily scalp. I was finding that the Curly Girl Method of leaving in conditioner, plopping, and then adding gel was causing my hair to become kind of crusty and dry after the third day. The volume was lacking, and I just didn’t love having to use gel for definition, because my hair defines on its own. What I was lacking was a sealant. Now, a sealant is something that you apply over your moisturizing components – for example, over your wet hair (water), and moisturizer (in many cases, conditioner). It helps to keep that goodness in the hair shaft by sealing in the moisture (I love it when names of things make sense!). There are lots of different options for sealants, too – I personally have fine hairs, so I need something that’s not going to weigh my hair down like crazy. I’ve been using Lily of the Desert aloe vera gel, and absolutely love it – it’s such a fresh, clean smell, and is so lightweight that it goes onto my strands like water. However, if your hair is thicker, or you feel like you need a more intense seal, here are some excellent alternative sealants for your locks:
- Jojoba oil (I’ve been using this on my ends in the winter, as they can use the extra loving!)
- Shea butter
- Almond oil
- Coconut oil
- Castor oil (this is very thick; I tend to only use it on the ends when doing a protective style, like braids)
A word to the wise: make sure that your oils are cold-pressed, organic, and extra-virgin, when possible. This ensures that your hair gets all the good nutrients without any of the extra junk. Basically, the good things remain intact! Also, a note on coconut oil – this is an incredibly unique oil, in that it has the ability to penetrate the hair shaft when left on for at least overnight. Most oils sit on top of the strands, but this one is able to go deep inside to give you lots of goodness and moisture. If you’d like to incorporate it into your hair care routine as something other than a sealant, I’d highly recommend putting it on your hair with a plastic cap and letting it sit overnight. This goes for straight-haired people, too – your hair will feel soft and wonderful when you rinse the oil out the next day!
How should I seal?
Always do this process when your hair is wet, or at least damp (knowing your hair porosity and how your hair soaks up moisture will help inform your decision on when you apply. Trial and error, my friends!). I put mine into three sections – two sides, and the back – and finger comb through my Giovanni Weightless Moisture Leave-In. I squeeze out excess moisture with a t-shirt by flipping my head upside down. Then, I take about a quarter-sized clump of aloe vera gel, rub it between my hands to warm it up (the good stuff that you can use on your hair needs to be kept in the fridge), and then apply it liberally to one section. I repeat this process for each section. It goes on very easily, and makes your hair feel fabulous! This winter, I’ve been taking some organic jojoba oil and applying it to the ends carefully to make sure no splits happen (or at least, are minimized).
How often should I seal?
I’ve currently been sealing whenever I have wash day, so about once a week. However, I’m going to try upping the ante and sealing more often. I’ve been wetting my hair every few days and applying some more conditioner, but I notice that it tends to lay on top of the strands, rather than penetrating. My current thought process is that after a hot shower (which creates steam, allowing my hair cuticles to open more), I will apply some water and conditioner, and then top with some aloe vera. I’m not sure if this will be ‘too heavy’ for my fine strands, but all I can do is try!
Have you heard of sealing? What are your sealants of choice?