The pick has been used for decades to achieve volume amongst all hair types, but is this styling tool causing harm in the process? For most naturals, hair as high as the heavens is the most desirable and everyone would take fullness over sparse styles any day. However, if this fullness is at the cost of the health of your strands is it really worth it? Picks that function correctly glide through your strands while EFFORTLESSLY fluffing your roots. If you seem to be putting in a little more work in to get that pick through your hair, one of these stated below might be your issue:
- 1 PICKING THROUGH THE PROBLEMS
- 2 PICKING THROUGH SOLUTIONS
PICKING THROUGH THE PROBLEMS
YOU DON’T MOISTURIZE WELL
When it comes to moisturizing, most naturals recommend the LOC/LCO method. This method provides moisture that is long-lasting and effective for managing our hair. When your strands are depleted of its moisture, they are more susceptible to snagging and breaking. This is so because of the fragile, rigid state our hair cuticle is in when it is dry. Dry strands have problems with gliding past one another for people with coarser textures. Instead of easily slipping through, the rough cuticles of the strands hug one another leading to tugging, tangles, knotting and eventually breakage. If your hair strands have a hard time gliding past each other when your hair is dry, there is no doubt in my mind that your pick will have the same problem.
YOU’RE USING TOO MUCH PRODUCT
Excessive use of products without shampooing (especially for LOW POROSITY naturals) can cause buildup on our hair strands. This buildup acts as a barrier between the hair strand and any other product you slap on top of it; this, in turn, leads to more products layering on top of your strands rather than being absorbed. While you think you’re doing a good thing for your hair by constantly applying moisture products, you’re in fact suffocating your strands and preventing any moisture from entering your cuticles. No moisture means dry hair and dry hair means a lessened state of manageability. The more manageable your hair, the easier it is for styling tools (your pick in this case) to do their jobs without breakage.
YOUR MOISTURE/PROTEIN LEVELS ARE THROUGH THE ROOF
Protein is known to help restore and strengthen damaged strands, however, too much of this good thing could leave you with more damage than what you started with. Naturals that overdo it with protein treatments can expect to have hair that is dry and FRAGILE TO THE TOUCH; the hair has been so strengthened that it hardens to a point of EXCESSIVE BREAKAGE. Picking out your strands on hair that has been overloaded with protein is a disaster waiting to happen. If your fingertips cannot avoid incurring damage, your pick will definitely not be able to either.
Hygral Fatigue is the term used to describe moisture overload; the strands swell up and shrink constantly due to an overuse of moisturizing products. Dry, gummy, limp hair is achieved as a result of this action, leading to more porous strands. The more porous your strands are, the faster your hair releases any moisture you try to treat it with. So when you go in with your pick on second-day hair that is going through Hygral Fatigue, you’re essentially going in on dry, brittle hair because all the moisture has escaped. The damage your pick can do when your hair is in this state will leave your hair thinning at best (balding at worst).
YOUR CUTICLES NEVER CLOSE
This one is mainly (but not exclusively) for my HIGH POROSITY girls. Porous hair has a harder time with retaining moisture and requires taking extra measures to ensure chronic dryness does not become an issue. Alkaline substances are used to raise the cuticle and allow for the absorption of a product, but if not sealed afterward with a slightly acidic substance, then all of your moisturizing work will have gone to waste. An open cuticle translates to hair that is in a constant state of moisture loss. The lack of moisture will only make it more difficult for your pick to comb through your rough, brittle hair.
PICKING THROUGH SOLUTIONS
TRY STEAM FOR MOISTURE
If your hair needs a little something extra for moisture to enter and stay in your strands, try steaming your hair before your moisture routine. Sometimes our problem isn’t anything other than the fact that our hair doesn’t take up products well. The heat from steaming activates the cuticles and opens them up for moisture absorption. Shower steam, the baggy method, and handheld steamers are all effective for opening the cuticle. Once you have made sure that your hair is moisturized, remember to listen to it to gauge when to moisturize again. Natural hair loves routine and will easily tell you when something is wrong. With good moisturizing habits, your pick won’t be able to bring about unexpected damage.
TRY GETTING RID OF INGREDIENTS FOR BUILDUP
There are a few reasons that you may be experiencing buildup. Sometimes your products are just really bad, containing ingredients that are hard to remove from the scalp and hair. Silicones, mineral oil, and petroleum are a few among the many ingredients that cause build up. If you intend on using products that contain these ingredients, you will have to increase the several times you are clarifying your hair which will, in turn, lead to stripped, fragile hair. Along with upping your clarifying number, these ingredients coat the hair to prevent any other product from entering, causing more build-up altogether. To be on the safe side, try life without these ingredients in your products. You’ll be amazed at your pick’s ability to glide through your strands without problems.
While it could be your products causing buildup your hair, it could also just be you and your heavy-handedness while styling. Products always come with instructions; make sure you read them carefully to know the amount you need. Experience as a natural will help with this as well. Your hair does not need to feel drenched in order for you to know that a product is working. Only use what you need to avoid buildup, granting a stress-free afro picking life.
TRY BALANCING PROTEIN AND MOISTURE
When it comes to moisture and protein you don’t want to be too far on either end of the spectrum. Balance is key. It would be wise to not use one without the other; as a basic rule, naturals should always follow protein treatments with moisturizing treatments, unless you are protein sensitive or in the process of recovering from moisture/protein overload. The balance will allow your pick to perform effortlessly, minimizing breakage. At the end of the day, your hair will tell you what it needs. Some people will need less protein/ moisture than others and vice versa. Do what is best for your strands and your pick will love you for it.
TRY PH BALANCED PRODUCTS FOR CUTICLE CLOSING
Our hair thrives with products that share the same pH as our natural sebum (4.5-5.5). When our strands are experiencing its natural pH, you will notice shiny, lustrous, and moisturized hair. This is the ideal environment for picking your hair. Strands that are exposed to highly acidic (pH 0 – pH 3) or highly alkaline (pH 10-pH 14) products are at risk of becoming chronically dry or permanently damaged. When striving for pH balanced hair, you will need cuticle-closers at hand i.e. aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, cold water, and any other product labeled “pH balanced”. While apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, and pH balanced products help restore your hair to a pH of 4.5-5.5, cold water is used to shock the hair cuticles shut, resulting in long-lasting moisture and a happy environment for your hair pick.
The next time you go to pick out that lovely style, stop and think about to state of your hair. If health and moisture have been issues lately, maybe you should skip the pick until they are not issues anymore.