Years ago, covering your hair with a plastic cap and then sitting under a heated dryer was how you went about deep conditioning and hydrating your hair. While this can still be done, there is another alternative: steaming. Steaming your hair regularly is one way to protect your strands during the harsh winter months. The products that you use can better penetrate your hair thanks to the warm air from the steam helping to open up the hair follicles. The warm air allows the hair follicles to open up and expand, and this in turn allows the hair to soak up the moisture from the steam as well as all of the good ingredients in your hair product. Continue reading for benefits of steaming, tips for successful steaming, as well as alternatives to buying a steamer.
Better Moisture Retention: You may experience being able to go longer in between re-moisturizing your hair. Steaming once a week can help to ensure your hair is properly balanced in terms of moisture. The better moisturized your hair is, the less likely you are to experience breakage that comes from dry, brittle hair. Prior to steaming, I would feel the need to re-moisturize my hair every couple of days. However, now that I’m regularly steaming for my weekly deep conditioning session, I can stretch my moisturizing maintenance during the week to 4-5 days.
Easier to Detangle: Steam helps to soften your hair, allowing your curls to clump together naturally. This loosening will make detangling easier, as much of the hard part will already be done for you.
Increased Circulation: Steaming helps to stimulate your scalp and allow for dirt and dead skin to be easily removed. This also aids in increasing circulation and blood flow. Improved circulation can help stimulate hair growth.
Don’t Use a Plastic Cap: A plastic cap is used when conditioning under a heated dryer, ensuring that the indirect heat from the dryer doesn’t dry out your hair. With a steamer, you’re getting warm, moist, direct heat that you want to make sure goes straight to your hair.
Pull Your Hair Up: You want to make sure that all of your hair benefits from the steam. Pulling your hair up into a high bun/ponytail will help to ensure that all (well, hopeuflly all) of your hair comes into contact with the steam. This is especially true for your ends, which is the oldest hair on your head. You really want to ensure that you show your ends some TLC. If you just comb your hair down and let it hang, only the top of your head (the roots) will benefit from the steam. The hair that the steamer doesn’t cover (again, think about your ends), will just be left hanging…literally.
30 Minute Session: Since you’re not dealing with a plastic cap coming between you and the steam, it won’t take long for your hair to benefit from this treatment. In the past, you may have sat underneath a hooded dryer for 45 minutes to an hour. Since your hair is now in direct contact with the steam, 30 minutes is more than enough time for the steam to penetrate the hair. One things I like to do is to reapply conditioner half way thru my steaming session. The Huetiful steamer I use runs for about 20 minutes before turning off. When it turns off, I add more conditioner to my hair (and refill the steamer with water), and go thru one more steaming session.
Balance: As therapeutic as it is, make sure you don’t steam your hair too often. There is a such thing as your hair being full of too much moisture. Mushy hair is susceptible to breakage. Steaming once a week, combined with ensuring your also incorporate protein treatments into your regimen, is a good way to go about balancing your protein/moisture needs.
Cool Before Rinsing: After you’ve finished steaming, let your hair cool down before proceeding to rinse and style. Rinse with cool water to help close your hair cuticles.
There are several different types of hair steamers on the market. Some things you might want to consider before making a purchase are:
Price: Keep in mind that just because something costs more doesn’t mean it’s better. And also, just because something is inexpensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll perform like the other products. Do your research. Check out reviews of the products and make sure you stay true to your financial situation. Don’t go putting yourself in a financial predicament just so you can have the steamer that “everyone is raving about”.
Type: Table top vs stand-alone. If you’re short on space, a table-top steamer might be better suited for you. If you have room to spare then you probably won’t have problems figuring out where to store your stand-alone steamer. Two popular steamers are the Huetiful Steamer (tabletop) and the steamer from LCL Beauty (stand-alone).
If buying a steamer isn’t in the budget for you, you do have some other options for treating your hair to a steam treatment.
Gym Steam Room/Sauna: If you have access to a gym, and they have a steam room, take advantage of steaming your hair while also ridding your body of toxins. You can apply your hair product and then either cover your hair with a towel or nothing at all.
Hot Towel and Heating Cap: Soak a towel in hot water. While the towel is absorbing the water, apply conditioner (or your product of choice) to you hair. Using rubber gloves (the kind used for washing dishes) wring out the excess water. Wrap the towel around your hair and cover with a plastic cap. To ensure some level of steam continues to be available, sit under a heating cap (or hooded dryer) for about 30 minutes.
As a final note, don’t think you’re limited to only using a conditioner with your steamer. See how your hair responds to steaming after applying an oil, type of clay, honey, or your favorite moisturizer. Also, experiment with steaming on dry hair (as a type of pre-poo treatment) and damp/wet hair (after you shampoo). Remember, everyone’s hair is unique and responds to products and treatments differently. Try out a few things and build your own regimen.
So, do you steam your hair? Does your hair like it? Have you seen any improvement in the health of your hair? Let me now in the comments below!
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