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.

    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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    30 Comments on "3 Ways to Avoid Over-Moisturizing Natural Hair"

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    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?


    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.


    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 :)

    Hi, 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… Read more »