In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s it was common to see black folk running around with aclear plastic cap on their heads. This was the era of the Jheri Curl and Wave Nuveau. Plastic caps helped the curl activator to penetrate the hair shaft, so that the curly look would be maintained.
Practically everyone I knew, who had a curl style slept in a plastic cap at night. This kept the moisture in, and kept the curl products from dripping onto our pillows. Prolonged use of the plastic cap however, will rob the hair of oxygen and keep it from drying properly.
Many of us who used plastic caps found that our hair grew longer. My hair grew back to the length it was at childhood which was over my shoulders. Friends and family, male and female who once had teeny weeny Afro’s, were now shaking their heads which held full thick curls. I saw women wearing pony tails, when before they did not have enough hair to braid.
Curl and wave styles called for less heat and maintenance. Any time you decrease heat and handling of the hair, there will be less damage. The plastic cap gave an added benefit. The heat coming from the plastic caused the conditioners and moisturizers to penetrate the hair shaft, right down to the tips.
When hair retains proper moisture, and you are not combing pulling and tugging, the hair will not weaken and break. This is why a plastic cap can be become black hair’s best friend. Utilizing a plastic cap after applying conditioner will help hair stay moisturized.
It is recommended that black hair not be shampooed more than once a week. After shampooing I apply whatever conditioner I am using that month, put on the plastic cap and go about my regular routine for 20-30 minutes. After rinsing, I apply my leave in oils and conditioners. I put the cap back on and leave it for several hours or the rest of the day if possible.
Because of its coily, kinky nature, black hair can be resistant. Conditioners and moisturizers do not penetrate the hair shaft as they should. The plastic cap promotes deep penetration of both rinse out and leave in conditioners.
Over time you will notice that you have healthier hair from root to core to the ends. One benefit I see is that my natural hair is thicker, softer and slightly less resistant. At night I sleep in a silk/satin scarf to prevent further damage.
Plastic hair caps do not cost much. You can however use saran wrap,or plastic grocery bags instead if you believe in recycling. I use a plastic cap or grocery bag, once a week when I condition after shampooing my hair. At least three times a week, I put the cap on after a leave in conditioner and keep it on for several hours.
I remove the cap, rinse my hair, and apply leave in conditioner. My hair feels soft and smooth. And the comb glides right through it. I m noticing that my hair is thicker an stronger. And does not come out in the comb, as it once did.