3 Ways to Avoid Over-Moisturizing Natural Hair

Like the saying goes: You can have too much of a good thing.

OK, so you’ve crossed over to natural hair and everyone’s talking about how important it is to moisturize your hair on a regular basis. I mean, you don’t want hair that tangles and breaks easily, do you? Of course not! But there’s a catch when it comes to moisture:

While moisture is great for hair, it is also possible to OVER-moisturize your hair to the point that it’ll be just as weak and prone to breakage as hair that’s dry.

Sounds odd doesn’t it? But it’s true.

We all know that dry hair is something to avoid. And we also know how dry hair usually looks and feels like- usually dull, straw-like and easily breaks when pulled or combed. But what about over-moisturized hair? What does that look like? And what does it feel like? Well, over-moisturized hair tends to look limp, oily and my even have a “mushy” feel when rubbed between your fingers. Over-moisturized hair is also very elastic and stretchable. And at its extreme, over-moisturized hair is basically Soul Glo or Jheri Curl-like. Still don’t know what I’m getting at? Well here’s a visual…

God I love that movie!

Anyhoo, both dry and over-moisturized are weak and prone to breakage. Hair is a fiber- a fiber that’s made of long strings of protein that are “braided’ together- kind of like cable wire. Hair’s funny in a way because it is

quite strong and resilient, but still very delicate at the same time. And basically, if you want to have healthy hair that doesn’t break easily, you’ll need to find a balance where you’re moisturizing it just enough to help it maintain elasticity. Elasticity is a word that describes hair’s ability to stretch and recoil. Ultimately, when it comes to keeping hair strong and healthy, protein-moisture balance becomes key.

So how do you find a balance? And how do you keep from moisturizing hair too much?

Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid daily wash-n-go’s, especially if you’re not regularly giving your hair protein, i.e. protein treatments
  • Cut back on lengthy deep conditioning treatments. Most conditioners don’t need to be held in hair for longer than 15 minutes, and depending on what type of conditioner it is, keeping one in hair longer than that, could actually weaken your hair
  • Regularly balance moisturize with protein by using products with hydrolyzed proteins (i.e. hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed quinoa protein) and/or amino acids. These all help to strengthen hair and counteract the effects of over-moisturizing
  • Remember, hair needs moisture, but it’s all about balance. Having over-moisturized hair is just as bad as overly dry hair. So when moisturizing your hair, make sure to do it regularly and sensibly. As great as moisture is for hair, it is possible to overdo a good thing.

    How often do you moisturize your hair? What are your favorite hair moisturizers?

    Dr. Phoenyx Austin is a physician, author and media personality. Dr. Phoenyx’s new book, If You Love It, It Will Grow: A Guide to Growing Long Afro-Textured Hair is available on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes. Special autographed book copies can be ordered directly from her blog, DrPhoenyx.comYou can also find Dr. Phoenyx on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Black Girl With Long Hair

    Black Girl With Long Hair

    Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast.

    • Karen L

      I have been wearing my 3 C hair natural for the past year but have decided to put a permanent color in eight months ago. But for the past two months my hair was breaking. Can you recommend something to stop the breakage please?

    • Coley

      Condition 15 min, apply leave in, apply coconut oil, apply moisturizer and gel mixture ….and twist! #seemslikealot

    • Giselle D

      I have a mix of 4b and c hair. I do a weekly deep condition with olive oil and hot cap for at least 2hrs. I then shampoo and condition. I then apply my own leave in conditioner mix: coconut oil, Shea butter, and Argyo oil with water and Infusium. Then twist. It has been working well for me so far, but I now wonder if it is too much?!? I live in Canada so the weather plays havoc on my hair during the winter months.

      • coco

        The thing to keep in mind with all these articles is that they’re just guidelines. If your hair is healthy and growing, you’re good :)

    • Troubled


      I have been natural for 7 months but in the last 3 or so months I have been experiencing breakage. I’ve been altering my regimen but cant seem to figure out what my hair really needs.
      I have 4c and 4b hair which tangles very easily so I washed and conditioned every weekend, twist my hair with Shea Moisture and seal with coconut oil. The twists would set for about 3 days then I would do a twist out until the next wash day. I figured that my hair doesn’t like being touched so often and every week so I started washing and twisting every two weeks and using Jamaica black castor oil. I saw improvement with JBCO but nothing significant with the breakage and rest of the routine. I also keep my bonnet on my hair when I am home, and tie it with a satin scarf at night.
      I discovered Aunt Jackie’s product line 2 weeks ago and it seems to be the only products which don’t strip my hair, and moisturize for at least 2 days (as opposed to daily moisturizing i.e. messing in my hair). I am now twisting every two weeks, doing a twist out thereafter but I am not sure if this will work or what else to do or leave out.

      Sorry for the length of this post but I’d like to know what advice you would give me to have better length retention.