Friday, August 19, 2011

Question Answered - Dull Hair?

Check out the email addy on the side bar! I opened a new account so I can have more interaction from the blog :-) Email me your questions and I will try to answer them privately or in a new post.  I got this one today:
My name is Sarah and I have hair that is very very dense like yours and my hair is very curly when it is wet, but when it dries (during a wash n go) my hair is dull and looks dry (even when it may not be dry). I would truly be a product junkie if I could afford it, but I can't so I have researched products on you tube experiences.

So far, like I said, your hair is more like mine than any other I have seen, but your hair is shiny and not as frizzy as mine when it dries. I watched the video about "kiss my face" gel and castor oil. Is this better than eco styler? -because I love eco styler, but once it dries my hair frizzes and looks dull and dry.

Also, are there any other products you can recommend to decrease frizz and add shine?
Hi Sarah!  I hope the following helps.

There are two things that may be going on with your hair.

Certain types of natural hair can tend to have more Sheen than Shine.  Sheen is an overall sparkle rather than a reflective shine in light.  Cottony, fine, and porous hair types can tend to be this way.  It doesn't reflect much light, but it can sparkle brilliantly with sheen if its moisturized well.  I don't know if your hair is more sheeny than shiny, but my hair is more shiny than sheeny when its clumped together.  Its fine and dense but when it clumps it reflects light.  (When I say shiny I'm not talking straight hair silky shine. I don't have that either. I'm talking about light reflecting shine!)

Read more here or here.

But I believe you when you say your hair is like mine and the frizz is something else.  Frizz can rob your hair of what shine it has.  So point 2- I think technique is the key factor to defeat frizz, and employ as much shine as possible.

Smoothing the product onto the hair is defense mechanism 1.  I don't like to get too technical because I'd be lying if I said I understood the exact mechanisms by which this works, but it does help a lot when you smooth the hair all in one direction.  You can start smoothing when the conditioner is still in your wet hair.  Once the section of hair is detangled, use your fingers to smooth the hair down in one direction.  I kind of rake my hands through but as my fingers pass through the hair I squeeze them together to smoosh the hair between them together. I get all of my hair smoothed in a downward direction and then rinse with COLD water.  Well, as cold as you can stand it at least.  That helps seal the hair cuticle/keep the little surface flaps closed.  At this point its good to add a light oil to the hair- in the same downward and minimally disturbing way.  This further seals in the moisture from the water and conditioner.  Depending on what concoction I am doing my wash and go with, I will sometimes add a leave in after this, and maybe even a thicker oil even after that.  OR I just mix all the rest of the products in with the gel.

When I use the KMF gel I use a waterbased leave in (like shea moisture curl and style milk), smoothing it through again in all one direction.  Then I use the gel and Castor oil mixture on top of that.  I like KMF/castor better than the Eco styler gel and get less frizz and crunch when it dries, and for days after.  I get the elusive "silky" curls like in the picture. Again though, I smooth everything through, any gels, any leave ins, in one downward direction.  And I always use some sort of oil- castor agrees with my skin.

For instance, the Kinky Curly line is kinda self contained and does not play well with other products, including oils.  My hair will look shiny and smooth on the first day when I use it, but I feel like looks dull after a day, and it also gets frizzy faster than a KMF wash and go does.  I think the oil assists in keeping the flaps down, and adds some surface shine. I don't use KCCC much any more.

I also know that if I just use conditioner (even most leave ins) alone and let it dry that my smoothing is quickly undone as my hair dries and shrinks.  It needs to clump so that the high texture of each individual strand does not show individually- thus producing sheen more than shine.  So for me- the gels are very important for the shine factor.  For some types of hair though the gels just don't work in that way.  I would surmise that the surface of hair that has little shine is just very fragmented, like, the curl has curls, and the plains of those little turns are what make the sparkles.  Whereas shiny hair can be tightly coiled but the surface of the hair in the coil is smooth, and can lay flat on the hair next to it, and so forth and thus clump.

If you try smoothing and the clumps still come apart as your hair dries I'd say you may have hair with sheen.  Sheen is beautiful when it is embraced.  Just keep your hair moisturized with water and oil and try to avoid damaging it!

Traction and heat damage can also make those little surface flaps stay up or break off.  Damaged shiny or sheeny hair will not emit anything :-(

Pressing damage years ago robbed my hair of all its luster and I ended up cutting it all off.

*Edited to add*
Also- almost forgot- make sure you are removing any product build up from your hair, at least once a month. I use a shampoo like Trader Joe's Tea tree tingle, or Shea Moisture's curl and shine shampoo.  A good protein conditioner like Renpure or Joico K-pak also seems to fortify my hair and make it more likely to shine.  I use those once a week for about 10 min. 


  1. Hi to Sarah!

    My hair is dense like Nia's as well, but her hair is typically a lot shinier than mine as well *shakes fist at her shiny hair*. I have found that a couple of things have really helped me a lot:

    1. Cold rinses - particularly with club soda fresh out of the fridge (sounds weird, but it works). I can do a post on it if people are interested.

    2. Regular spritzing with water + aloe vera juice + vegetable glycerine

    3. Little to no manipulation of the hair when wet.

    That said, I think she'll always have more shine than me, but me and my afro sheen are happy as we are regardless! :) Hope this helps.


  2. can I just say that I was looking for a "shiny hair pic" for 15 min yesterday before I picked the one I used in the post... and I JUST now realized that the entire BG of this blog is my hair looking rather shiny... *facepalm*


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