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, 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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curlyBlue

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.…

OBJECTIVELYyours

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.

KenyaPhi

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!

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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.

Brown

Shea mois­ture tran­si­tion­ing milk is a mois­tur­iz­er

OBJECTIVELYyours
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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[…] 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” […]

nes

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 ..

OBJECTIVELYyours
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 »
Globetrotter5K
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 »
Mzjewels

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

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[…] by Black­Girl­Long­Hair […]

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[…] 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 […]

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

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[…] 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 » […]

Sheila Nico

good read!

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