You’ve heard it before, over and over again — moisture is everything when it comes to natural hair health. Still, many naturals struggle with keeping their curls, kinks and coils well-moisturized. Perhaps you’re guilty of one of our 9 ineffective moisturizing practices. Check it out;

1. Moisturizing dirty hair/hair that has product buildup

The objective of moisturizing is to apply water-based product that penetrates the cuticle (outer layer) of the strand and infuse the cortex (inner layer) with water. If there is too much dirt or product on your cuticle, then there’s little chance that any moisturizing product you apply will make it to the cortex.

2. Using butters or oils as moisturizers

With the exception of a few oils, like coconut oil, that can penetrate the strand — oils and butters will sit on the OUTSIDE of your strand because they are SEALANTS, not moisturizers. Their purpose is to lock in moisture — not apply it. If your hair is feeling dry, and you apply a butter or oil, you are just weighing down dry hair, making it more brittle and susceptible to breakage.

3. Using water based products without sealing

Just like oils and butters aren’t effective as moisturizers, water-based products — and water itself! — isn’t effective at moisturizing unless it’s sealed in. Water quickly evaporate out of the cortex unless a sealing product is applied to the lock it in.

*Note: Spritzes are a great daily moisturizing solution as they contain water, which penetrates the cuticle, as well as oils, that seal the water in. While they aren’t heavy-duty enough to provide long-term moisturizing, they are great as a daily refresher, in between moisture and seal sessions.

4. Under-moisturizing

Just like your body can be thirsty way before your throat actually feels parched, natural hair can need moisture way before it feels crunchy and dry. Start by moisturizing your hair at least once a day. If, in the following hours, your hair feels wet and mushy, you can cut your moisturizing down to every other day. If it still feels dry, then you might need to up your moisturizing to twice daily.

5. Neglecting the re-moisturizing process after a shampoo

Shampooing is a bit of a paradox when it comes to moisturizing — you are dousing your hair with water, while also stripping your strands of dirt and natural oils that help lock in moisture. So, in a sense, your hair is getting dryer as it gets wetter. The squeaky, super dry feeling your hair has after a shampoo is lack of lubrication, and its critical that it be replaced. Be sure to deep condition after every shampoo and follow up with a moisturize & seal.

6. Using styling products as moisturizers

The primary purpose of styling products is NOT to improve the health of your hair. Just like the primary purpose of moisturizing products is NOT to sculpt and style your hair. There are some crossover products that can do both, but most will not. Liquid styling products might look tempting as a fill-in when you need a moisturizer but they might contain alcohols and mineral oil that will dry your hair out in the long run.

7. Focusing on roots instead of ends

Your ends are the driest part of your strands and most susceptible to breakage. The natural oils that your scalp secretes don’t travel down far enough to coat your ends, so it’s important that you are proactive in protecting them. Work moisturizing product into your hair from root to tip. Some naturals even limit their product application to the bottom 75% of their strands.

8. Over Moisturizing

Properly moisturized strands don’t feel soggy and wet, they feel supple and strong — even when they’re dry. Applying too much moisturizing and sealing product can leave your hair perpetually wet, making it difficult to style. Be even-handed with your product application. Not only will it make styling easier, but it will save your bed spread, couches, car seats, and anything else your hair comes into contact with.

9. Deep conditioning/steaming for hours

While there are a few treatments, like henna, that require long-term application, most deep conditioning treatments need 30 minutes or less. Many naturals feel that keeping treatments on overnight helps with softness and moisture, but an increasing number are realizing that 30 minutes (or whatever time the product instructions say) is just as effective as 8 hours. Keep in mind that the makers of your conditioner have tested the product, and know how much time it takes to be effective.

Are you guilty of anything on this list? What are some ineffective moisturizing practices that you’ve been guilty of?

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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226 Comments on "The 9 Most Ineffective Ways to Moisturize Natural Hair"

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Sheila Nico

good read!


[…] last thing I want to share with you is this uselful post found on Black Girl Long Hair: The 9 most ineffective ways to moisturize your hair. Basically, a « what not to do » […]


[…] butter also is known to have humectant properties and coconut oil is one of the few oils that can penetrate the hair strands. My […]


[…] oils for styling. Science-y Hair Blog: Oils – Which Ones Soak In vs. Coat the Hair? The 9 Most Ineffective Ways to Moisturize Natural Hair | Black Girl with Long Hair 2C/3A. med-high porosity. waist length. color treated. LCEG My […]


[…] by BlackGirlLongHair […]


Some parts of my hair look like this now. What can I do besides trimming?

I have 4c hair and live in Los Angeles. What is the best way to keep my hair moist during the dry months (when my hair tends to break/shed the most). I know the excessive shedding is from the climate and I just want to know what to do to keep it from falling out so much in the summer. When I was living in D.C. my hair thrived in the summer humidity and suffered in the cold winter months. Here in Cali it’s the opposite. Again, I have 4C HAIR and live in DRY SEASON/CLIMATE looking for a good… Read more »

I’m a little confused. So it is not enough to just moisturize, we need to seal it too? So, two different products? One for moisturizing and one for sealing the moisturizer ..

Exactly! You can use any oil you like and/or can afford as a sealant. You just moisturize with water or a water-based product then seal with an oil. If your hair is more on the rough/damaged end then apply a leave-in conditioner (you can dilute your go-to with water). But to honest, you can still retain length without a sealent too. Growing up, I had a lot of hair that came to my waist. My g-ma and I just kept my hair moisturize on a regular basis (maybe 2 to 3 times a day). Plus, it was kept in a… Read more »

[…] last thing I want to share with you is this uselful post found on Black Girl Long Hair: The 9 most ineffective ways to moisturize your hair. Basically, a "what not to do" […]

Gigi Poki

I have to disagree with #6. My Shea Moisture transitioning milk leaves my hair very soft moisturized after I’ve used it. Then again, I use it after I wash out my deep conditioner, so I may feel some of that in there as I’m applying the product.


Shea moisture transitioning milk is a moisturizer

I know this is old, but that is considered a water-based product. If you used NOTHING but just butters/oils in your hair alone then you are only coating the hair. Hair is like a plant – it needs plenty of water to thrive – to grow; stay moist and hydrated. And like soil, butters/oils is nourishment for the hair that keeps water in while helping the hair stay strong and prevent damage. Your product contains a lot more than just shea butter. Water is listed as the first ingredient in your product. Therefore, it is moisturizing your hair. Even conditioners… Read more »

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I have locs and for months I tried to figure out how to keep my mane moisturized. I finally discovered that miiing oils worked best for me.I now use a mixture of coconut and olive oil to keep my hair moisturized and happy. I also throw in a little Jamaican Black Castor Oil to thicken up the mix and help with growth. I pledged to never put anything on my hair that can’t be used on the rest of my body (except shampoo). All natural!


I just spritz with water before bed and when I wake up. I bought a semi expensive sealant and don’t know what to do with it. The text has useful oils but they don’t penetrate my hair. I’ve tried many ways to use it but, I’m not satisfied. What about hair lotions? Most provide moisture but I’m not sure how to use it. Do I just apply that product? Do I apply that product and a sealant? Do I apply when it’s wet or dry? Confused….


I’m a bit confused by what you’re asking exactly. However, it sounds lik you’re doing everything correctly. Penetrating oils are still a typical oil except they just work their magic inside the hair shaft instead of on the outside. Trust me, if you’re using a pure penetrating oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, or avacado oil then it is penetrating your hair. You can’t see with your naked eye, but it is penetrating.


[…] Original article by: Black Girl With Long Hair […]

Andrea Mack
I’ve been reading everyone’s posts and am trying to learn how to take care of my hair. I shaved it off and now have about 2 inches. What is cowash? My routine is shampoo with Taliah Waajid herbal wash, leave in conditioner, protective mist bodifier and then the african healing oyl. I then twist and wear a ball cap all week! I hate that but the length doesnt style cute. I also deep condition once a week with Shea Moisture deep treatment masque for 30 to 45 min. When I twist I use T.W. curly curl cream. What do you… Read more »

Sounds like you have a solid routine down. As far as the products, use what works for you! I’ve never used any of the products you’ve mentioned so I can’t comment on them but if they work for you then keep at it!


Hey, I’m trying to go natural because I’m tired of the Creamy Crack. I haven’t had a relaxer since September and I recently took my braids down about a week ago. I was told Cantu was a good product brand for natural hair, before I spend all my money on this entire line and brand I was wondering if you have tired that brand.


[…] The 9 Most Ineffective Ways to Moisturize Your Hair […]


[…] feel a bit dry, that’s just its texture. The most important two things I can tell you are: 1. Do not moisturize dirty hair that is layered with product (it won’t penetrate the strand) and 2. Butters are not […]


[…] feel a bit dry, that’s just its texture. The most important two things I can tell you are: 1. Do not moisturize dirty hair that is layered with product (it won’t penetrate the strand) and 2. Butters are not […]


[…] inclui informações e apontamentos (pois é, ficou 4 vezes maior! rs). Espero que gostem. Eis AQUI minha fonte de […]

Norah Critzos

I have found a product WEN by Chaz Dean that works very well on natural hair. I use this product for a cleansing wash. When my clients have to use a medicated shampoo for scalp conditions I use the medicated shampoo on the scalp and Wen on the mid shaft and ends. By doing this the cuticle is not blown open and the hair combs out well, very conditioned, feels silky, has volume and movability.


Im guilty of all of these from time to time lol. I have phases where i just leave my hair alone and neglect it, then suddenly im obsessed with it again and do loads of DT’s and stuff lol.

Its you BGLH!! every time i come on here to read 1 article then end up clicking on a million!
This site just makes me love all types of hair way too much lol.


What I’ve learned is what you put into your body also affects the condition of your hair. This means food, drinks etc. All this plays a role in having healthy, moisturized hair. On my quest to embrace all things organic and natural, I’ve started a company that specializes in Made to Order, Organic skin products and baked goods.


I agree with this list!

onome avae

I really don’t know about the last one “Deep conditioning for hours”..
I make my own deep conditioners and i normally leave it over night.. So should i stop?


Hey y’all I think I’ve been moisturizing my hair or using the wrong products as moisturizer wrong because my hair is always dry now. Is soft after applying my products but finding out that butters and oils are sealants I’m torn now. What are some good moisturizers? Also what’s a good regimen to follow after co-washing? Thanks

Hey Yall, I could use some advice! I’m definitely struggling in this area. I started my transition 3 months ago and have struggled with dryness. About 3 weeks ago I did a hot oil treatment and it left my new growth hard and crunchy. Since then, I’ve tried washing it out with clarifying shampoo twice, but I’ve been unsuccessful. My hair feels soft and strong during the shampoo and deep condition process, but when it dries over night (after I finish twisting), it’s dry by morning and hard crunchiness returns to my new growth. I’m not sure what I should… Read more »
Hey Elizabeth. I saw your post and thought i give you my two cents, since i loove ORS conditioner and i love wearing my hair in twist. I have to ask, why the two conditioners? I only use the ORS for deep conditioning and my other conditioner as a co-wash. Never at the same time or day. Try this… 1. Pre Poo 2. Shampoo (only when needed. i only shampoo once a month) 3. Condition (rinse with cold water.) While your hair is still wet… 4. Use the Leave in condtioner (this and the water from he wash is your… Read more »

It does; thanks!


Also please try and use a detangler that should help a lot with breakage and moisture


So should the order be wash, condition, moisturizer, sealant, styling product? I’m tying to get this right because my hair always looks dry and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

Hi Nae, Your order of treatment seems just fine to me. Did you try rinsing out the conditioner out of your hair with cold water, instead of hot water? You could try leaving the washing with shampoo out of your regimen. Maybe just stick to co-washing/ deep conditioning. That helped my hair tremendously. What kind of leave-in conditioner or moisturizer do you use? Maybe one of the ingredients in it is drying out your hair? Or maybe it’s your styling product? Also I think a good moisturizer, (not greasy), is the Taliah Wajid Protective Mist Bodifier. I LOOOOOVE this product.… Read more »

I love using protein to moisturize my hair. People say is dries your hair out but the Nutress Hair protein pack and other products keeps my hair RIGHT.


This was very informative, i’m still trying to figure out a few things like, what should you use as a moisturizer(product wise)? That’s the main thing I have trouble figuring out. What to use????!!

Any cream based product where the first ingredient is water will work. You just have to try a few things out to see what product your hair likes. Qhemet biologics burdock cream (forgot the exact name but it’s the cream in the jar with “burdock” in its name LOL) or Oyin handmade hair dew is another goodie. Herb N Life herbal spritz is a product that is insanely slept on but works freakin wonders in the hair of whoever I try it on…it’s sort of hard to find but I always call this one store in Massachusetts that always has… Read more »

Thank you so much!! At least I have a start, I live in the Caribbean so finding products isn’t easy pretty much have to order everything online.


Sorry about the *thumb down* phone icon is so tiny.


@ Zena if you dont mind can you list the name of the website that ships the herbnlife. Thanks in advance


Sure! The website is It’s kind of a bootleg website but I’ve ordered from them twice and have had excellent service from them. I believe their website is currently down but if you call them (the number is listed at the website) you’ll be good (my last order from them was via phone and they sent my stuff out that day!). You will LOVE the herb n life hair cleanser fyi..I don’t even know if you’re getting that but you should LOL. Denimpixie on YouTube has a review out on their stuff as well that should help you decide


Wow thanks so much for the fast reply and advice. I’m currently recovering from breakage do to braids and I decreased it by 90 % little to know breakage. I’m also wondering is it possible to be breakage free ?


Probably not LOL. Since the ends are the oldest part I think a little breakage is normal..esp if your ends are more than a few years old. Three years ago when I decided to go natural I used henna on a regular basis. I had like no breakage then! Lately I’ve been thinking about revisiting the henna esp since I now have insane post pregnancy hair…

Leticia Grace

Hey Naturalistas! I’m a 4C girl the kinkiest of them all but I’m having trouble of keeping it moistured and according to number 2 butters ain’t moisturisers but sealants I actually never knew that so does that mean Shea butter is sealant Bcoz that’s what I use (raw Shea butter from Ghana) but it doesn’t stay moistured for long. HELPP PLEASE!!! Thanks 🙂

I’m 4c with porous hair and shea butter on its own has the same effect, so I whip it with oils my hair likes, e.g., coconut oil and olive oil, and a few drops of glycerin. (Haven’t used tea tree oil, but it seems to work for many naturals.) I co-wash, DC, clarify with an ACV rinse, air-dry till it’s damp, then use the LOC method; it’s the only thing that’s ever worked for me over the years. Also, it’s important I twist in the whipped butter and oils when LOC’g and then retwist, otherwise it’s a no-go. Doing so… Read more »
Yes, Shea Butter works as a sealant. Whatever moisture you start with before applying the Shea butter is going to work well with the Shea butter…for a day or two. Once that original moisture dries out, it’s not easy to get moisture back under that layer of Shea butter. Even though I fell in love with the idea of using such a thick, luxurious butter on my hair, I had to admit that it left my hair dry. The best and longest lasting moisturizing process I ever had was to cleanse everything off of my strands, and then do weekly… Read more »
I really need some help. My hair is breaking badly. I have low porosity hair and I have been doing a low porosity regimen but that has not changed anything. I have already cut my hair and it is continuing to break. I believe that this was caused by wet stretching and combing/brushing a lot. I have been finger detangling only and nothing moisturizes my hair, nothing. I have tried bagging and that left my hair too soft, mushy and wet so it was overly moisturized. I cannot braid it at all now or even bun it because that seems… Read more »
Hi there. Don’t know how long you’ve been BF but your hair problems could be from giving birth and then BF. I don’t recommend you stop BF cuz your baby needs his food more than momma needs her hair LOL. I’m going through the exact same thing. My munchkin is 3 months and I’ve been shedding like crazy with dry, brittle, horrible hair about two months after I gave birth. Don’t despair, it’s only temporary although I’m sure it doesn’t seem that way now. I wash and condition my hair as normal then braid my hair in about six braids… Read more »
I agree w/Zena about the hair damage post-birth: my hair and skin did unbelievably well when I had my son 14 years ago–growing like a weed, healthy, thick, shiny, etc.–but right after, my hair began to thin out and break (and then Depo Provera ruined my skin). It’s one of the reasons I got my BC 5 months later. Some women experience the reverse: their hair and skin do badly during pregnancy and then bounce back afterwards, e.g., 2 friends of mine. Either way, your body’s been through spectacular changes and might need some time. As traumatic as it can… Read more »
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