Moisture is critical for the growth, health and strength of natural hair. But it can be elusive for some. You apply moisturizing products to your hair in the morning and find your strands are dry by the late afternoon. Well, there are many internal and environmental factors that contribute to moisture depletion. Here are 7 to look out for

1. Dehydration

No surprise here. Water plays a critical role in how our body functions. contributor Tiesha Whatley summarizes it perfectly:

Water is essential for the health of hair for a number of reasons. The hair is one quarter water. That fact alone should accentuate how important water is for the hair. Water also carries vital vitamins to the hair root and hydrates the entire hair strand from the inside. Water is the main source of energy for hair cells, including the cells that generate new hair growth. Water also clears the body from pollutants, which also cause hair loss. Without proper hydration, you will see dryness in your hair and skin that can only be restored by drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.

Incorporate water into your daily diet as a base line moisturizer for your hair.

2. Sleeping with your hair uncovered at night

While you’re getting your 8 hours of beauty rest moisture is evaporating from your strands into the night air. That’s why hair can feel dry and straw-like after being slept on, uncovered, for hours. You can slow down the evaporation process by covering your hair at night, thereby keeping moisture locked in.

3. Wearing “out” styles in non-humid weather

In dry heat (desert-like conditions) or dry cold (common winter weather) “out styles” like fros and puffs expose individual strands to the elements, speeding up the evaporation process and providing no atmospheric moisture to replace the lost H2O. Styles like twists, cornrows and updos, on the other hand, ‘hide’ strands, exposing a smaller percentage of your hair to the elements.

4. Blowdrying with high heat

Blowdrying works by speeding up the evaporation of moisture from both the cuticle (surface) AND cortex of the hair. No wonder extreme blowdrying leads to brittle hair and breakage.

5. Porous hair

Porous hair has cuticles that are naturally raised making it difficult for them to trap moisture in the cortex (the inner-part of your strand). Naturals with porous hair often find that their hair can suck up a lot of moisture, but lose it just as quickly. To correct this, try using Roux Porosity Control Corrector And Conditioner..

6. Damaged cuticles

Sometimes cuticles are damaged from bad hair practices like excessive shampooing and manipulation or using products that are too high in pH. Since the cuticle serves as a “gatekeeper’ to your cortex if it is damaged, moisture won’t be retained. Protein treatments like Aphogee Two-step Treatment for Damaged Hair can temporarily fill in where the cuticle has been damaged and degraded, assisting in the moisture retention process.

7. Bleaching and hair lightening

Bleaching and hair lightening work by raising the cuticle and removing hair coloring molecules from the cortex. More often than not this process is irreparably damaging to the cuticle, leaving it raised thus increasing the porosity of the strand and diminishing its ability to retain moisture.

Ladies, what “moisture depleters” do you encounter? How do you combat them?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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47 Comments on "7 Things That Deplete Moisture From Natural Hair"

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This is a very informative article. I’m really struggling with dry hair so I’ve been searching online and I also came across these two articles that I thought I’d share with anyone else experiencing dry hair issues as well.


So glad i found this site!


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That roux porosity control is a joke :/


always spritz water and drink water too they are most important part of hair routine. My hair been mostly moisturer when I had water/glyernic along with shea moisture cream . But I bet it has t do with me frequent co-washing , you just have to make sure it is hyrdating and natural ingredients (I used Natural Gate’s and Everyday Shea conditioner—never use any Garnier’s , Aussie, Herbal Essence, etc. they are not hydrating or natural )I dc 2 or 1x a wk


Not even Garnier? They have many natural ingredients,including the leave in conditioner has Argan oll.
Anyway, I use a co-wash most the time too..the one by “As I Am”,it’s got lots of coconut oil and cream (among others).

Marie Rascon

I have slept without a satin cap and noticed that I lost a lot of moisture even though there was a satin pillowcase on pillow.


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Oh yes WATER. I always forget to drink water regularly and I think that’s what’s been killing my skin too. My hair is looking good but that’s because I use Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan oil after each shower and argan oil is crazily good for hair. I’m interested in getting the pro naturals shampoo and conditioner too, they seem good 🙂


I prefer out styles to up-dos mostly because of the time & energy it takes to do the. I also have Hand in Hair Syndrome 😉 i just cant help myself! My most major issue is drinking enough water. I have to remind myself on a daily basis to do so. Especially in the colder months, it’s not as bad in the warmer months, go figure! it’s what tips can you ladies give me to increase my water consumption?

Drinking water regularly is a problem for me too. So to encourage myself to drink it over the winter, I bought fruit-flavored herbal tea and I drank it without sugar. If I absolutely felt like I needed it to be sweet I added a little honey. I’m a tea addict so it was easy for me to get up and make a cup of tea every two hours (or less lol) and I’ll probably do it all year-round because I could drink a hot cup of tea no matter the temperature. Otherwise, I just try to keep a cup full… Read more »
Lady Kinks

To remind yourself to drink water you can download a phone application that alerts you to drink water. I have one and you can customize it to your schedule.


i tend to cover my hair in a satin cap now. i almost always have my hair in a protective style when out and about. but my hair is bleached, so it takes seconds for it to dry after it is wet. but no biggie. i’ve been managing bleached hair for years, so it wasn’t a shock for me to have instantly dry hair. i do struggle with hand in hair syndrome. i’m always touching it now. i didn’t touch it nearly as much when i flat ironed it, for some reason. but eh, i’m trying to curb that.

Esther Morgan

I wear my hair braided out or in fro most of the time. I need to learn how to do some protective styles. Most of the time I do cover my hair at night, but to tell the truth I was so sleepy last night i didn’t cover up and I do have a satin pillow case, but I didn’t have it on last night. Shame on me.


Quick question does reason number 2.Sleeping with your hair uncovered at night, really an issue if you have a humidifier running in room at night and keeping your humidty between 50%–60%?


I used heat for years, and my hair was always dry and brittle. now i’ve been heat free for 6 months, and my curl pattern has emerged. After my next trim all of the heat damaged ends will be gone. Go figure, right?


yeah, the last three months sans the flat iron have done wonders for my hair. it’s now touching my brastrap whereas three months ago it was just at my armpits. it’s truly made the difference. now i’m not sure when i’ll flat iron again- probly never mwa ha ha!


Sorry, but number 1 makes no sense to me. As far as I can fathom, water does not travel from your body down through your hairshaft. There are no vessels in hair, and hair is dead material. If I’m wrong, please explain the mechanism of how drinking water keeps your hair hydrated.



It doesn’t make sense to me either. Folks should stay hydrated but I don’t think drinking water moisturizes hair. Water, conditioners and…moisturizers moisturize hair.

I think the point of number 1 is that you being hydrated from the inside gives you a head start. Lack of hydration will mess with the hair that grows from your scalp just as much as it will mess with your skin. If you are dehydrated it can lead to your hair follicle getting neglected as your body chooses to send water to more important parts of your body. Which causes the follicle, sebum, and sebaceous glands to not perform at their peak. Which can then lead to thin/brittle/fragile strands. So instead of starting with your hair at the… Read more »

Curls, thank you for that response! That statement made sense to me [it’s like the lightbulb finally came on to why water is sooo important]. I have also read that at least 8 hours of sleep is also important b/c the body will try to work twice as hard to keep more important aresa functioning properly instead of hair… so destress yourself with rest.


How does one know when they have highly porous hair? What are the attributes or characteristics of this? Just asking because some people may go out and purchase this porosity corrector when porpsity MAY not be the problem.


to my understanding it’s when your hair cannot hold moisture for long. for example, my hair is uber porous. no sooner than i step outta the shower, it’s already dry. that’s partly because my hair is bleached blond. so i hafta constantly re-wet it just to make it through a single detangling session


Just for clarification… If my hair dries quickly but my scalp remains wet/moist for a while does that still mean that I have/don’t have porous hair? Also when I look at my hair in its wet state, the water or whatever product I have appplied sits on the hair strands as small beads. How does that factor into the porosity issue?


It sounds like you have low porosity hair like me. If your hair takes a long time to get wet and is never really soaking wet then you most likely do. I find with my hair it is initially difficult to moisturise but once moisturised it remains so for long periods of times.


Putting coconut oil on my scalp & hair works well for me. I use Vatika from the Indian store. Parachute coconut oil is even more popular, that’s what the Indians use to grow their hair long, shiny, and healthy.


Sometimes I don’t bother to cover my hair when I go to sleep. I usually sleep with a satin pillowcase. I don’t see the point of doing both unless the hair covering is prone to fall off. But if you wear a satin bonnet and it doesn’t stay on, why wear one in the first place?


I think the bonnet is to keep the hair out of the air which will dry it out! The silk/satin pillowcase replaces the drying cotton one that absorbs the moisture in your hair…I read that somewhere and it stuck with me..but it makes sense.


isn’t evaporation normal? if your hair has more water than the environment, it will lose water… if it has less water, it gains water. you can literally walk from a dry home into a humid night out on the city and have the moisture content in your hair change.


i know right. that’s science 101


As of right now, I am terrible with making sure that I’m taking in enough water. I’ve got to do better so I think I’m going to do a personal water challenge to really make sure I’m getting my 8 glasses a day. I feel like I need to do this for a healthier lifestyle not just for healthy hair, though. 🙂


I have a question:

I sleep with a satin pillowcase. Is that worse or better than sleeping with a satin scarf? I always thought that sleeping on a satin pillowcase would be just as good as sleeping with a scarf or bonnet.

Should I be doubling up — so satin bonnet & a satin pillowcase — or is one method enough?


That’s what I do. If I don’t feel like wearing my bonnet I’ll just lay on my satin pillow case – which I never remove from my pillow.

You don’t HAVE to double up if you don’t want to, it’s totally up to you 🙂

A silk pillow case will provide just as much protection as a silk bonnet/scarf.


Thank you! xx

I had my hair bleached last year and I just recently had permanent black color applied to my hair, so my porosity is quite off. I use Joico KPAK Intense Hydrator as my DC because it has both strong protein (hydrolyzed hair keratin) and moisturizing properties in its formula. This is really helping my hair to retain its moisture and strength. I was trying to go the all natural route since dyeing my hair black, but I realized since I put a chemical in my hair, I need chemicals to maintain its balance until the color grows completely out of… Read more »
Wearing my hair out and sleeping with it covered are my issues. I don’t like my hair up or twisted when it’s short so I wear it twisted out, wavy or curly fro or regular fro. I’ve noticed that it’s more dry by the end of the day. I counter that by twisting or plating it up at night. And I’m trying to get better at covering it while I sleep. I HATE wearing hats, scarfs or anything on my head so to have it covered at night is almost akin to torture. I do it ’cause I want my… Read more »

A satin pillow case would be helpful 🙂 .


Just last night I twisted my hair and slept on my sating pillowcase alone. I ususally double up by wearing my bonnet and sleeping on the pillowcase just it case I start sleeping wild and lose my bonnet in the process. I say all this to say that this morning my hair was drier than usual. What the post says about the night air absorbing moisture I think is true. This experience will make me more vigilant about wearing that bonnet.


I cannot tell a lie. Sometimes, I “forget” to wear my satin bonnet to bed. 🙁 What’s sad is that I place it under my pillows so as to not forget. But, I do. I have my moments. But, I usually get back on schedule after kicking myself in the butt.


Yes, LOL, I have been “forgetting” to put my satin head wrap as of late. We need to work on that.


You are not the only one. Sometimes it’s just too darn hot! I felt like the reason I had moisture w/ the scarf was due to sweat! But I do sometimes just try to tie it loosely


I tend to sweat in my head and I get too hot wearing a bonnet to bed. Instead of a satin bonnet, I use satin pillow cases… have used them for years and they work for me! Macy’s has some good ones and I also take one with me when I travel.


A good list of basics, but is it me or are there a lot of spelling mistakes (retard in place of reduce and conditions in place of conditioner)?