Pho­to Source

By Jc of The Nat­ur­al Haven

Many nat­u­rals empha­sise the need to apply water to hair in order to mois­turise but the real key to hav­ing mois­turised hair is not con­stant­ly reap­ply­ing water. The real key lies in pre­vent­ing water that you have added from evap­o­rat­ing. There are two key prin­ci­ples that you need to be aware of to suc­cess­ful­ly man­age hair mois­ture. Do remem­ber that you can do all of the fol­low­ing things at the same time or pick and choose what suits you best.

1. Repair damage to your hair cuticle

Why : The hair cuti­cle is the key sur­face which pro­tects the inner cor­tex of hair. With­out it, water can flow freely into and out of hair. Cuti­cle dam­age is inevitable and applies to hair which is not tra­di­tion­al­ly dam­aged (i.e not bleached or colour treat­ed). You can reduce dam­age by being gen­tle with your hair at all times and espe­cial­ly when comb­ing and dry­ing (even when tow­el dry­ing).  How­ev­er, all manip­u­la­tion, wash­ing and even expo­sure to the sun even­tu­al­ly affect the cuti­cle.

How: You can tem­porar­i­ly repair the cuti­cle, essen­tial­ly patch it up using hair con­di­tion­er. The effect lasts for one wash only, the next sham­poo is designed to clean off hair and the con­di­ton­er effect goes with it.

The Sci­ence: Hair con­di­tion­er con­tains par­ti­cles known as sur­fac­tants (which is geek speak for sur­face active agent). These sur­fac­tants (the agents) make their way to the hair cuti­cle (sur­face) and then stick on to the hair (the action!) and the best part of it is that the sur­fac­tants are nat­u­ral­ly drawn to gaps in hair. Often con­di­tion­ers will con­tain more than one sur­fac­tant. Com­mon sur­fac­tants include behent­ri­mo­ni­um chloride/methosulfate and stear­alko­ni­um chlo­ride

The sec­ond ingre­di­ent to help repair dam­aged hair is to use a good pro­tein con­di­tion­er. A good pro­tein con­di­tion­er will have hydrolysed/hydrolised (also with a z instead of s) pro­tein. This type of pro­tein has been chopped up and can there­fore fit nice­ly into small gaps in the hair. Some of it can even enter into hair and car­ry with it ome water.

2. Create an artificial humidity barrier around your hair

Why: Water evap­o­rates from the sur­face of hair and the amount of water in your hair is relat­ed to the humid­i­ty of the sur­round­ing air. Very dry air leads water to be expelled from hair while more humid air leads water to be retained.
How: You can cre­ate your very own arti­fi­cial humid­i­ty bar­ri­er aound your hair by either delay­ing water loss from the hair using oil or increas­ing the water sur­round­ing your hair using humec­tants such as glyc­erin, aloe vera or hon­ey.

The Sci­ence: All oils (coconut, olive, cas­tor, min­er­al, sil­i­cones) form a bar­ri­er around hair. The bar­ri­er is always per­me­able, mean­ing even if you coat­ed your hair with an entire bot­tle of oil, you can still stand under the show­er and your hair will get wet as water will find its way through past the oil. Oils do slow down the pas­sage of water both into and out of hair. As I dis­cussed pre­vi­ous­ly, the best oil sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly for slow­ing down the exit of water is min­er­al oil. How­ev­er using any oil after wet­ting your hair is a key step to slow­ing down water evap­o­ra­tion from the cor­tex.

Humec­tants such as glyc­erin are spe­cial because they ‘hold’ water. The key step to suc­cess­ful use of a humec­tant is to first com­bine it with water so that it can per­form ‘the hold’. The next impor­tant step is to use the humec­tant as a leave in and not as part of the hair con­di­tion­er. Most humec­tants are very sol­u­ble in water which means a rinse cycle (or rain) can eas­i­ly wash them off hair. Humec­tants are tricky to use because they will be affect­ed by weath­er and often tem­per­a­ture. Too lit­tle will have no effect and too much will cre­ate a sticky feel­ing. There is a lot of tri­al and error to find­ing the right bal­ance, just be patient.

Ladies, have you tried these tips? How do you ensure that mois­ture stays locked in your hair?

For more hair sci­ence from Jc check out The Nat­ur­al Haven.

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34 Comments on "Two Steps to Effectively Moisturize Natural Hair"

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I LOVE her blog. It is my favorite!

I have extreme­ly thick, extreme­ly kinky and annoy­ing­ly dry hair and try­ing to get the best advise pos­si­ble. I have read all and still a bit con­fused. 1. Is it that you are to use a humec­tant OR an oil? If both can be used then in what order: wet hair, hon­ey, then oils or vice ver­sa? 2. Can the hon­ey be used as part of a pre-poo treat­ment or DC treat­ment? If so when I rinse, do I then add more hon­ey and water in a spray bot­tle? 3. Where in the line-up does the much acclaimed shea but­ter fall?… Read more »

And 4. why are some sites warn­ing you that pro­dud­cts A or B has pro­tein in it…I thought pro­teins were a good thing? con­fused!!!


I am sor­ry i though min­er­al oil was BAD for your hair. Can some­one plz explain when it became ok again?

The Natural Haven
I have nev­er sub­scribed to that line of think­ing. Min­er­al oil was deemed as bad because it comes from fos­sil fuel (which by the way is nat­ur­al) and because it is sup­posed to ‘choke hair’ — i.e forms a water tight bar­ri­er which pre­vents water get­ting in and requires a harsh sham­poo to wash it off.  There are par­tial truths to these ideas. Min­er­al oil does form a real­ly good bar­ri­er mak­ing it a very good sealant if you have already mois­turised your hair. Most ladies also find it easy to wash off with mild sham­poos or soap. I actu­al­ly do not… Read more »
The name mois­tur­iz­ing is actu­al­ly not good, because fat­ty acids from oils are more impor­tant. To keep the hair anti dry you do this from the inside and the out­side. From the inside with food and the out­side through two main treat­ments. 1. Ingre­di­ents inser­tion in the cor­tex of the hair, with amino acids of the hair. 2 Keep­ing the cuti­cle slight­ly open. To keep the cuti­cle slight­ly open from the always stand­ing open hair­cu­ti­cle of kinky and curly hair you use oils with the same fat­ty acids and a pH val­ue slight­ly high­er than the hair. The prod­ucts you apply… Read more »

[…] Read the Sec­ond Step at Black Girl Long Hair. […]


Thank you for this arti­cle, Jc. It’s just in time as the weath­er here has start­ed get­ting cold­er and the air dri­er.

The Natural Haven

Your wel­come :)


May I make a request for a future BGLH post? This is based on some oth­er com­ments I’ve seen on oth­er posts…

Can you dis­cuss what “mois­tur­ized” means? I keep hear­ing peo­ple talk­ing about their hair being “moist” and it’s not the same thing. Afro hair isn’t sup­posed to be treat­ed like a Jheri Curl…your hair is going to dry at some point and it’s how that dry hair feels that deter­mines whether it’s mois­tur­ized. At least that’s how I feel about it…would love to hear it from the experts!



tonia b

Good sug­ges­tion!


i’m not ready to use Min­er­al water on my head but i already use hon­ey and cas­tor oil


Do you mean that you leave the hon­ey in your hair? I imag­ine that it would attract bugs. How do you go about this — I’d love to try it!


I’ll tell you how I use hon­ey: I some­times put a lit­tle bit of it (like a tea­spoon per 100 mil­li­liters) in my home­made leave-ins. Not too much or your hair will get sticky (but no bugs will be present :P) Com­bined with the olive and cas­tor oil it makes my hair look so shiny. And I always rinse my hair with ACV after wash­ing, thanks to a forum I now also add a big spoon of hon­ey. Hope this helped :)


Love your hair & thanks for the info!

Miss p

I like these new posts that give more prac­ti­cal facts and infor­ma­tion about how to care for our hair!


Thanks for this post. You’ve pro­vid­ed some great advice which I real­ly need down here in Flori­da. Keep­ing mois­ture in my hair has been impos­si­ble!


didn’t read the arti­cle yet but had to com­ment about the beau­ti­ful mod­el w/that gor­geous hair!


I use straight drug­store min­er­al oil from the bot­tle while hair is damp after con­di­tion­ing. It’s changed my life. Detan­gling is so easy and my hair stays moist and soft for days. i have extreme­ly kinky coiled tex­ture, and noth­ing was keep­ing it moist.


for those that are still in doubt about min­er­al oils~~ do tell are you wit­ness­ing any hair breakage/ loss. I know the answer is NO, but for oth­ers who are still on the fence~~~


I notice less break­age. My hair was so dry it would snap and tan­gle eas­i­ly. I still use cas­tor oil, Shea but­ter, and a leave in like I always did. I just use a small amount of min­er­al oil absolute­ly last while wet to kind of lock every­thing in. My hair is real­ly oily the first day but it’s a small price to pay for the mois­ture reten­tion and eas­i­er detan­gling. I only wash every 2 weeks with non sls sham­poo and I haven’t had buildup issues. But my hair is porous it does­nt hold onto any­thing very long.


I thought that min­er­al oil & cas­tor oil would serve the same pur­pose. Is that true? Also, after you put in the min­er­al oil, do you let it dry nat­u­ral­ly? I only ask b/c I sev­er­ly dam­aged my hair w/ col­or.


I thought that min­er­al oil & cas­tor oil would serve the same pur­pose. Is that true? Also, after you put in the min­er­al oil, do you let it dry nat­u­ral­ly? I only ask b/c I sev­er­ly dam­aged my hair w/ col­or.


Black­onyxx as well as All Things O’Natural has great tuto­ri­als that demon­strates what this infor­ma­tion arti­cle is explain­ing.


Steam from show­er then seal­ing with jojo­ba oil helps the most to seal in mois­ture in my hair.


Alright…i’ve decid­ed. I’m going back to min­er­al oil…lol for real. I will just have to sul­fate it up every once in a while and keep it from my scalp


That’s exact­ly what I end­ed up doing when I decid­ed I want­ed to wear a BAA in the humid sum­mer­time. And the only min­er­al oil I had in the house was straight Vaseline…and it WORKED. A good sul­fate sham­poo wash got it all out sev­er­al days lat­er. Next sum­mer I def­i­nite­ly plan to plait my damp hair with some min­er­al oil-based hair grease if I want to wear a BAA. My hair stayed soft AND big…which is some­thing I could nev­er say when using any of the “clas­sic nat­ur­al” ingre­di­ents (oils, but­ters, etc.).

Jc, so glad you’re a BGLH con­trib­u­tor! :)

The Natural Haven

Thank you so much LBell.….:)

K. Lynn

thank you, I know what I’m going to do next sum­mer!! I was so frus­trat­ed with my hair this sum­mer it was ridicu­lous. It just frizzed and shrank using the “clas­sic nat­ur­al ingre­di­ents”


Nat­ur­al and stun­ning.


Beau­ti­ful hair and fea­tures.


Yes indeedy!! Just gor­geous:) Info was fan­tas­tic!! Thanks BGLH and Nat­ur­al Haven :)