The styles that do...
The way most moisture conserving styles work is simple. The key to maximum moisture retention is to minimise the surface area of your hair that is exposed to the elements, thus limiting the amount of water that can evaporate out of the hair. Styles that call for clustering the hair together in puzzle-piece formation, or for wrapping your hair in a protective layer made from itself, also keep much of the goodness from the products you use - plus most of the hair itself - safely tucked inside. You lock those emollients and moisture in, conserving the hydration and lubricity of your hair.
The cylindrical shape many of these styles share further heightens the moisture retention benefits of keeping the hair together; when you apply moisturizers and sealants, then wrap the hair around itself, you create a cocoon away from the harsh winter air that drains its moisture.
Buns and twisted updos
With your hair twisted into a sleek bun, or twirled into an elegant updo, leaving no loose ends, your tips especially will stay ultra-moisturized. In this style, only part of your hair - the outer layer of the twisted length, and the surface of the hair smoothed back on its way to the bun - stays exposed.
While sleek, smoothed back buns and updos keep a great deal of the hair under wraps, beware of overexposing and overextending the hair along your hairline, which forms the protective cover for the hair underneath. Excessively choosing buns (or updos based on the bun style) carries certain risks that, by now, we know all too well. Traction alopecia can result from repeatedly pulling the hair into the same style (especially if you overdo the tension), as can damage to the hair fibre due to repeated friction from brushing. If the bun itself is wrapped too tight, that adds the risk of wear and tear from torsion, the twisting force used to create these styles.
Low moisture alert!
When it comes to moisture, there is another danger. Leaving the hairline and surrounding area to bear the brunt of exposure to the elements risks allowing that area to get more dried out than the rest of your hair. Even if you're doing the most low-manipulation, low-tension buns and updos, localised dryness can result from relying on these styles too heavily. Telltale signs include hair that becomes uncooperative or brittle, with this lack of cooperation and brittleness mainly coming from the hairline to about an inch or two back. Another common sign is hair from that section becoming a lot fuzzier than the rest of the hair, a side-effect which becomes most visible when you're trying to style your hair in defined curls.
Senegalese twists use a double twist method to hold in place cylindrical shapes created by wrapping sections of hair around themselves. Twisting it twice ensures you lose neither moisture nor style via rebellious strands deciding at random that they want to unfurl. In this double twist style, the hair is also much less exposed than in conventional twists, where the hair isn't as unified.
Moreover, because the individual strands are kept in ordered, smoothed, and well-demarcated bunches, they tend to tangle much less, being less able to haphazardly wrap themselves around each other. Less tangles = less breakage; yet another boost to growing stronger, longer hair.
This style relies on sections of hair twirled around themselves, then twisted into a coil flat against your head, which holds the twirled strands together. The small amount of hair that is exposed to the air is especially evident when this style is done on soaking wet hair. Even on the least absorbent tresses, the inner layers of bantu knots done on wet, freshly washed hair are often still not dry by the next wash! To get the best of both worlds, do this style on damp, but not dripping wet hair. That way, you lock moisture in, without stressing your hair out.
Whether wrought by a comb or curled by a finger, coils have the same power as the other cylindrically-shaped styles. This ancient style keeps your hair in organized sections, limiting the surface area directly exposed to the elements, and, in turn, reducing both tangles and dryness.
The only drawbacks for this style is that the coils can be difficult to create if your hair is very resistant, and they also tend to have less hold as they are only twisted once. Fingercurls in particular have less longevity than some of the other moisture-conserving styles. To help on both fronts, select products with a little extra weight.
This method, which is used to start and maintain locks, can also be used on unlocked hair to protect against moisture loss. As the art of locking the hair plays close attention to not cutting the hair fibres, this is a very low impact styling option, its gentleness evidenced by the lengths locked hair, often repeatedly palmrolled, can attain. This method creates a similar look to comb coiled hair and actually helps the hair unite better, especially tresses that refuse to conform to comb coils. Its name sounds deceptively simple; the technique is essentially rolling the hair with the palms, however, palmrolling successfully requires a degree of mastery. For best results, consult your local loctitian rather than attempt these on your own.
Last of all: moisture retention isn't all cylinders. You can also reduce water loss by making the effort to define your natural curls systematically. This isn't randomly raking some gel through your hair, then simply shaking n' going. What it is, is sectioning your hair, working in your moisturizer and sealant, and smoothing likeminded, neighboring curls together into supercurls. Curls are much stronger together; if they are collectively clumped, they are less naked to the elements, and so much less likely to dehydrate than single strands getting hit by drying air on all sides. And, arranged in an ordered pattern, they are much less likely to tangle. In this sense, wearing your curls loose can actually be a protective style.
DHA Hair Care Experts
Dominican Hair Alliance