In the constant quest for how to properly moisturize type 4 natural hair, there are so many methods we can use. One of such methods is steaming and in this article, we’re going to be talking about all the great ways you can steam your natural hair at home!
We’re talking about steaming because one of our dear readers emailed us a question about the benefits of steaming natural hair and whether or not a popular steaming product on the market was worth the coin.
We hope our response answers any possible questions you may have about the benefits of steaming natural hair, how to steam natural hair at home and reasons you may or may not want to add this to your natural hair care regimen.
What are the Benefits of Steaming Natural Hair?
1. Imparts moisture into the hair strand
Steaming natural is a great way to literally force moisture in the form of steam into the hair strand. In that way, you get to hydrate your natural hair from the inside out! Especially when your hair suffers from excessive dryness and lack of moisture.
2. Helps to open up the hair cuticle
When steaming natural hair, the steam is able to penetrate the hair strand and cause the hair cuticle to swell and lift. When the cuticle is lifted, it becomes very easy for moisture, as well as any other product, to penetrate the hair strand. You can imagine how necessary this is for low porosity natural hair care.
3. Steaming enhances the benefits of natural hair product
As we described previously, steaming helps to lift the cuticle so that products can penetrate deeply into the hair strand. If you feel that a natural hair product isn’t currently working for you, using it during or after a steaming session can push the effects of the products further.
4. Encourages a deeper clean
For a nice deep clean to get rid of product build up on your natural hair, perform a steaming treatment on your natural hair right before washing it. This way, the cuticles are already lifted and product buildup can be cleaned from the inside out.
Possible Disadvantages of Steaming Natural Hair
Unfortunately, too much steaming, like anything else is not good for your natural hair. Here are a few things that could happen as a result of steaming natural hair too often or doing it incorrectly at home.
1. Hygral fatigue/Moisture overload
Though steam is a great way to get moisture into the hair, if the hair is high in porosity, lifting the cuticle, even more, may cause too much moisture to enter the hair strand. And unfortunately, when too much moisture enters the hair strand can cause it to swell beyond quick repair, leading to a condition known as hygral fatigue.
2. Scalding the scalp
Steam is produced as a result of water turning into gas after being heated. In other words, steam is hot! And depending on the method of steaming, there is a risk of scalding the scalp and causing damage to the hair follicles that hair grows out of!
3. Excessive moisture-loss
A steaming session should always be followed by a cold water rinse that serves to close the hair cuticle. This is because steaming lifts the hair cuticle, allowing moisture to get in. However, if the cuticle isn’t sealed after this, the moisture can easily and quickly escape shortly after.
Best Practices for Steaming Natural Hair
1. Don’t steam too often
Especially if your hair is high porosity. This is the quickest way to experience moisture overload or hygral fatigue. In other words, steaming your natural hair too often can throw your natural hair off balance and lead to damage.
2. Always seal your hair cuticle
Every time you steam your natural hair, you should always make sure to follow up with a cold water rinse. This ensures that your cuticles lay back down after they’ve been lifted during the steam process.
3. Steam natural hair before applying product
In order to get the most of your natural hair product, you want to steam your natural hair to open up those cuticles BEFORE you apply your product. This way you can ensure the product applied to the freshly steamed strands will reach as deeply as possible into the hair strand.
6 Easy Ways to Steam Natural Hair at Home
You should steam your natural hair after washing your natural hair and before applying your deep conditioner. Steaming works best on product-free natural hair! Knowing this, you can try any of these 6 methods to steam your natural hair at home and see which one works best for you!
1. Wet towel method
- Place a shower cap over your still damp, freshly washed hair.
- Soak a small towel in water.
- Then, put the wet towel in a bowl, and into the microwave for about 2 minutes.
- After this time, squeeze the towel lightly and place it over the shower cap on your head.
- Let it sit until the towel gets cold.
- Repeat the steps above to reheat the towel a few times until the total steaming time reaches 20 minutes.
2. Hot shower method
Now, this may not be the most ecological way of steaming your natural hair but it may be the most accessible. To do this:
- Block the underside of the door with a towel to prevent the steam in the shower from escaping.
- Let the hot water run during and shortly after your shampoo step, or until the steam builds up in the bathroom.
- When the bathroom is full of steam, leave your hair uncovered while you finish your shower & prepare your deep conditioning hair masks.
- Stay in the steam for about 10-15 minutes and then apply your deep conditioning product.
- This will encourage your deep conditioning product to penetrate the hair strand better.
3. Use a Bonnet Attachment
- You can use a bonnet attachment with your blow dryer in combination with the wet towel method for a great steam session.
- This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get an effective steaming session.
4. Using a Heating Cap
- If you already have a heating cap, you can use this in combination with the wet towel method for steaming.
- Note: if you’re using an electric heating cap rather than a flaxseed gel one make sure that the towel you’re using is not dripping wet to prevent electric hazards!
- It is a great way to generate indirect steam around your natural hair from the moisture inside the shower cap.
5. Handheld steamer
- Using a handheld steamer like the Q-redew is probably the most direct way of physically getting steam into the hair strand.
Some people actually use handheld clothes steamers for this purpose as well! Girl, steam is steam so if you have a handheld steamer at home I’d say experiment!
- Just be sure to keep the steam away from your face and hold it a good distance (12″) from your scalp and hair.
- One disadvantage is that you can only apply steam to one part of the head at a time.
- It requires filling up the reservoir with water, then letting the steam start to come out of the device.
- After this apply the steam coming out of the device to your natural hair by moving it up and down the hair strands all over the head in sections.
Check out this video from Naptural85 as she demonstrates how she uses her own handheld/table top steamer!
6. Tabletop steamer
- A tabletop steamer is the most compact way to get a salon-style, all-over-the-head steaming session at home.
- Add distilled water to the device and position it on a tabletop, with you under it in a comfortable position.
- You can sit under the steamer with your hair uncovered.
- Do this either before a shampoo for a deeper clean or after a shampoo to enhance deep conditioning.
- Sit under the steamer for 20-25 minutes.
Steaming is a great way to lift the natural hair cuticle to ensure that moisture deeply penetrates the hair strand! However, it is just one of many ways to moisturize natural hair! If you have the budget for handheld or tabletop steamer, then you can go ahead and add one to your natural hair care arsenal.
However, if you don’t have the budget for tons of natural hair devices then you can stick to something multipurpose like a heating cap that can get the job done!