Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mushy Naps

Have you ever overcooked noodles? Did you know that noddles keep cooking if you leave them sitting in hot water? One busy evening, I boiled a pot of spaghetti, and left it sitting in the water. As I ran around the house managing one crisis after another, the spaghetti soaked up much of the fluid in the pot. When I finally returned to the kitchen to dish up our meal, I was amazed by the sheer size of the water logged noodles. I thought I could save the meal by drowning the spaghetti further in sauce, but as I watched in dismay, large chunks sloshed off the serving spoon in the transfer from pot to plate. I encouraged myself with the thought that sometimes food tastes better than it looks, but when I gingerly sampled a tiny bit, it disintegrated in my mouth in a gooey, mushy mess. I quickly spit it out, and reached for my phone to call in pizza.

Mushy naps can behave like water logged spaghetti noodles. We all know nappy hair can be dry, and many of us go to extremes trying to keep it moisturized. I've found a plethora of extreme moisture regimens online. While we may occasionally need to do a long conditioning treatment to remedy an unusual problem with dryness, we shouldn't be incessantly soaking our nappy hair with moisture building concoctions. Ever heard the adage, "too much of a good thing is a bad thing?" This is very true for nappy hair.

While you won't wake up one morning with strands you can visibly see have swollen to twice their size, that's exactly what's going on when we trap too much water, or moisture rich products in our strands. When nappy hair with this problem is touched, it feels too soft. If you gather a good portion in your fist it's like squeezing a handful of mush.

Mushy naps are too stretchy. Elasticity is good, but a good moderate stretch should hold with average resistance. Mushy naps keep stretching, but there's no strength to hold. They snap sickly under modest pressure. Mushy naps are fragile and weak.

Mushy naps are too lazy to hold on to adjacent strands. Our strands maintain sets by twining with adjacent strands and standing strong. Mushy nappy strands have everything invested in holding the water within.

Your nappy hair may be mushy, if it feels too soft, and all the crinkles, waves and curls quickly fall out, when you remove braids, twists and curlers. You may also be able to observe hair that barely floats, and almost looks heavy. As you manipulate this mushy hair it stretches too much, and snaps weakly, like an old rubber band which has lost its strength.

The chief remedy for mushy naps is protein treatments balanced with moisture. First, we substitute moisture rich products for protein rich products. Protein strengthens the hair shaft, but be careful. Nappy strands which are overloaded with protein behave like work hardened metal. If you bend a paper clip back and forth, it hardens until it snaps apart. When you treat nappy hair with protein, be sure to return to a balanced moisture routine as the shaft hardens to a normal degree. Look for a moderate stretch that holds against average pressure. For example, detangled nappy hair should NOT stretch and snap as you slide a rat tail comb through to separate two sections with a part.

Be sure to use a balanced approach with whatever you learn here, in books, and on the internet.

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