CNN Underscored June 29, 2020

CNN Underscored


Keep natural hair healthy and hydrated with these 25 expert-approved products


There are a few things that beauty lovers can anticipate in the summer: Oily skin will undoubtedly get shiny by the afternoon, SPF is non-negotiable, even indoors, and people who wear their hair natural may have to deal with drier strands than usual — that is, unless you rehydrate your hair with moisture-rich products.

According to the pros, chlorine from the pool, salt from the ocean and the sun’s harsh rays can leave coarse hair parched. “Summer is a tricky time of year for hair care,” says Annagjid “Kee” Taylor, celebrity hairstylist and author of “All Hair Is Good Hair.” “It’s super important to add extra moisture to your hair during the summer. When your hair dries out, it not only causes annoying frizz, but can lead to damage, breakage, a dull appearance. Essentially, everything you don’t want your hair to be.”

Stacey Ciceron, Oribe brand ambassador and textured hair expert, says that hydrating natural hair shouldn’t be limited to one season. “Moisturizing is important year-round,” she says. “In the summer, people’s activities change, so if you’re exposed more to the sun, you have to protect your hair. Be sure to rinse out chlorine and salt and keep hair moisturized.”

The first step to achieve well-moisturized natural hair is to understand the ingredients to look out for in natural hair care products. Hairstylist Courtney Foster says the best ingredients are aloe vera, shea butter, olive oil and jojoba oil.

“Aloe vera is great for stimulating hair follicles, which promotes hair growth,” she says. “Shea butter acts as a sealant, so it is great for moisture retention. Olive oil is an amazing moisturizer for hair and penetrates the cuticle to soften hair strands. Jojoba consists of similar ingredients that make up our natural scalp oils. It’s a very lightweight oil that does not weigh the hair down.”

Now that you know which ingredients will help hydrate hair, here are three that you should avoid: alcohol, parabens and formaldehyde.

“Alcohol is very drying to the scalp and hair. Both alcohol and sulfates strip the natural oils, leaving hair dry and brittle,” Foster says. “For curly hair, this is too harsh, but sulfates may be beneficial to people that have very oily hair. Parabens are used as a preservative and linked to cancer because it can cause a trigger in hormones. Formaldehyde irritates the scalp, skin and eyes.”

Protective styles such as braids, twists and bantu knots will help keep your natural hair hydrated this summer. “There’s something about braids that scream summer. It allows your hair to rest, and it’s low maintenance, so there’s not a lot of manipulation of the hair,” says Foster.

You can also make your washday routine low-maintenance by using the wash-n-go method, a go-to beauty move for Whitney Hunt, a stylist at Oscar Blandi Salon in New York City. “The wash-n-go method allows my scalp to breathe and recover my coils curl pattern. It allows my hair to be in its most natural state, giving me the option to embrace the beach-y textured summer look most women crave during the summer season,” she says.

No matter the hairstyle you choose this summer, be sure to wash your hair once a week, so your scalp is clean. Experts agree that you should also take time to do a weekly hair mask, especially during the summer months.

Before we get into the best natural hair products for hydration, you can determine how much moisture your hair needs by testing your hair porosity.

“Porosity is the characteristic that will help to determine how much moisture hair needs, fragility and the ability to withstand heat temperatures and chemical strengths,” says Leigh Hardges, a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “High porosity needs the most moisture, whereas low porosity needs the least.”

After you wash your hair to remove product buildup, fill a bowl with water, then drop a clean strand of hair into it. “Low-porosity hair will stay on top of the water; medium porosity hair will float and stay suspended in the middle; high porosity hair will sink to the bottom of the bowl,” she says.

Ahead, 11 hairstylists across the country reveal the must-have products they keep in their salons and at home, to hydrate natural hair all year long.

Michelle Dixon, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, says her go-to hair care line for natural hair is Thank God It’s Natural (or TGIN), a Black-owned business. “My favorite is the Honey Miracle Hair Mask,” she says. “It has raw honey, jojoba and olive oils, which nourish and heal strands in need of repair. The mask leaves your hair feeling soft and ultra-hydrated no matter what hair texture you have.”

Pro Tip: You can use it with a plastic cap under heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or 30 minutes to an hour without heat. “Personally, sometimes, I sleep in it,” she says. “It really is a hidden gem and is life-changing.”

TGIN Moisture Rich Sulfate-Free Shampoo

“This shampoo has coconut oils that gently cleanse the hair and Amal oil to reduce breakage and increase moisture retention,” Dixon says. “The result is healthy hair that is left feeling soft, smooth and moisturized, which many people with natural hair strive to find.”

The products are gentle enough for Dixon to use the line on her daughter’s hair as well.

EZ Detangler Brush

“I recommend detangling natural hair starting from ends to roots while a mask or conditioner is in the hair,” Dixon says. “This brush helps with tender heads with its flexible bristles, which are great for preventing breakage while detangling. I also like using the Tangle Teezer Ultimate Detangler, again working from ends to roots.”