Skip to main content

3 Ways to Avoid Over-Moisturizing Natural Hair

• Oct 27, 2012

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.

    Leave a Reply

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

    Notify of

    Hi, really interesting and helpful site. I’m glad you’re here. 🙂 Now please change “overdue” in the last paragraph to “overdo” and ease my OCD tendencies. Thank you!! Looking forward to reading more of your articles.


    I moisturize my hair every other day and I use softee’s aloe vera activator gel as my moisturizer and seal with coconut oil.

    reggy rey

    thanx for the tips i have really been searching for easy ways to grow my hair long


    What r the best moisturizer

    I use Shea Moisture products-inexpensive yet effective-found at Target/Walgreens. I use a leavein conditioner every couple of days and seal with my mixture of sheabutter/oliveoil/various oils. I wash my hair @ every 4–5 days. I’ve been natural for 3 years and my hair grows at the average rate and it is healthy. I have never been this happy with my hair. SN: I had a conversation yesterday with 2 friends, one Mexican and the other Puerto Rican. The former expressed dismay with her thinning hair and the other thought MY HAIR was so pretty and she wished she had hair… Read more »

    My hair gets wet everyday in the shower and I seal with my whipped shea butter daily. However, I’ve reduced my co-wash to only twice a week and deep treatments bi-weekly. I used to use conditioners more often, but found them becoming less effective. As for protein, my hair is protein sensitive, so my leave in conditioner has a bit of keratin and so does my gel so I get protein that way. Plus my hair is completely virgin to heat and dyes, so I don’t need more aggressive protein treatments.

    Tiff Dizzle

    I spray s curl activator on my hair everyday and switch my sealers one day castor oil, one day raw shea butter, another hair milk from palmers my hair is braided up cus I wear half wigs. its very soft and manageable


    I think I can never never never EVER over moisturize my 4b type hair. It sooo naturally dry!




    Well correction. My hair is highly porous. I just don’t wanna attribute that to a “hair type”.




    I’ve been using shea moisture’s curl enhancing smoothie ever since i big chopped. My hair loves it along with olive oil.


    lol@ the coming to america picture. that’s why i avoid doing the overnight bagging treatment too often. while it moiturizes my hair, it wet for like a day or two afterwards.


    My 4c hair is sooo dry,i dont think coconut oil is for me so i’m going to try macadamia nut oil,read many good reviews. I usually sprits my hair with water,then either use the ORS hair lotion or motions leave in then seal with cocnut oil. Question,how do you baggy,think it might help my dry tresses?


    try a thicker oil like castor oil or shea oil. i used to use coconut, olive, sweet almond but they also did nothing for my 4c hair. i have not tried macadameia nut though


    I spritz and use a leave-in (rose water, tea tree oil, lemongrass oil, shea butter, coconut oil or Shea Moisture) every day, detangle with moisturizer every other day and probably only truly shampoo and condition every two weeks. I baggie (just a cheap plastic cap topped off with my satin scarf) about once a month. So far so good. By BC was last June and I took it very close to my scalp. Now my hair is APL (arm pit length). I have virgin 3C hair.


    Anybody has any alternative to protein sensitive scalp. anything that has protein, hydrolizyed protein, silk amino acids, i break out. what else can i use to make my hair stronger??


    Try ceramides.


    A friend recently told me that taking over-the-counter prenatal vitamins can increase scalp hair growth. What is your opinion?


    A friend recently told me that taking prenatal vitamins can enhance hair growth. True or False? What are the consequences of taking prenatals during and after menopause?

    Guest — true religion size chart


    Yeah that’s true, daily wash of locks can really make them loose their natural shinny and with the passage of time they also become thin as well. I must say nice tips.

    Party Dresses

    I would really love to know which moisturizers you think would be good ones.

    I totally over conditioned my hair this past weekend. My hair was actually fine before the last deep condition, but I wanted to make sure it looked REALLY good before I had to play two dj gigs that weekend. That was like my third or fourth deep condition in the past week or two, so I guess my hair finally had enough. I had a bad hair weekend. My hair just would not work with me at all. And of course, everybody wanted to take pictures of me and with me. As I like to wear my afro boldly, I… Read more »
    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.

    Johnny Gavin

    I’m a young black male trying to maintain my Afro, I recently got the hang of moisturising my hair but I don’t know how often I should do it.


    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… Read more »

    Shopping Cart