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Why Daily Moisture Is Not Beneficial for High Shrinkage Hair

Avatar • Apr 16, 2013

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Many naturals preach about the virtues of daily moisture, some even advocate for moisturising hair twice daily. The idea is that moisturised hair is less susceptible to breakage and is easier to handle. However, what if your hair is not in that category? The object of this article is not to be controversial but rather to again encourage every reader to think of their hair individually and not follow rules that may not suit your hair. It is not written with the intent of making people gather a complex about water or indeed have people ducking out of the rain, but rather to encourage a different way of thinking for those who need it. Here is my analysis of when daily moisture is not beneficial.

1.Does your hair shrink to a third or less of its full length when wet?
If your hair is 6 inches long but when wet and allowed to shrink with no restriction goes to 2 inches or less, you are in the category of high shrinkage. Hair with high shrinkage will tend not to form clumped up curls and instead each individual hair coiling down has a tendency to tangle and intertwine with other strands.

2. How does moisture affect high shrinkage hair?
If hair is in a free and open style, this type of shrinkage will encourage complex knots where several strands interlock when moisture (water or a water containing product) is applied and the hair is subsequently manipulated with fingers, a comb or brush into a style. These complex knots are entirely preventable but when they do form, they can be difficult to undo and need to be cut off hence stunting progress.

3. What if hair is not free but in a protective style?
In a braided or twisted situation, hair will still shrink although in a more controlled manner therefore for example 6 inches may shrink to 4 inches instead of 2. There is however a potential shrinkage related problem, a term called meshing where several strands within the twist or braid intertwine. This is the reason why some people can detangle hair and braid or twist it but after leaving the style for a few weeks, the hair requires quite a lot of detangling during the takedown. If the style is left in place for long, matting is also a possibility.

4. Should you completely avoid moisture on high shrinkage hair?
No, it is not the case that you should avoid using water but rather you may benefit greatly from spreading out the sessions. If you can moisturise once a week or once every 3–4 days, you will be able to keep your hair in a more stretched out style with minimal shrinkage which is beneficial for people with high shrinkage hair who want to grow it out longer.

5. How will hair get moisture if you are only moisturising once a week?
The purpose of moisture is to help hair be more flexible and this is most important during manipulation. If your hair is generally in a protective style, you are not manipulating the individual strands on a daily basis but your hair does need to moisturised when you are taking down or putting in the style. Finding a good leave in conditioner and routine based on your needs is also key e.g some people advocate for heavy cream moisturisers and light oils or light water/glycerine mixes with heavy castor oil or indeed a variation of these combinations.

6. Who will benefit most and who will benefit least from not moisturising daily?
If your hair clumps up naturally, daily moisture is not a problem, you will encourage clumping and reduce tangling by using water based products frequently. Avoiding water based products can cause your hair to frizz and tangle, so water is really for you. If your hair feels dry and brittle because water causes it to shrink up tightly, you are in the class who may benefit from not using daily moisture. Avoiding this complete, tight shrinkage is the master key to preventing unnecessary tangling and breakage.

Ladies, share your experience. Do you moisturize daily? Why or why not?

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Nooni
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Nooni

I have 4b hair and I’ve always done this! The whole ‘wash your hair every week’ or ‘cowash every couple of days’ is something I never do. I moisturise every few days when I feel it is needed.

Jade
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Jade

the woman’s hair in the picture looks so soft. I love shiny 4b hair!

jungfrau1010
Guest
jungfrau1010

I have figured it out a long time ago that daily moisturizing was not ideal for my very kinky fine, dense, 4b/4c hair despite what is generally promoted in the natural hair community. I pre-poo, use my mild homemade ayurvedic cleansers & conditioners and make sure my hair is left really moisturized at the end of my wash days. I usually don’t need to moisturize for the rest of the week or maybe 3 or 4 days after washing however I am quite generous with my natural oils on my hair between wash days. I also don’t have problems with… Read more »

Olu
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Olu

How long would you say is the maximum amount of time that one could leave a style up for?

I know the amount of matting makes it a very rough rule, but like, 4 weeks?

Sheshe
Guest
Sheshe

It really depends upon your personal hair type.

Aly
Guest
Aly

Like you said, I think it will depend on the person and their hair. I’m learning now that 3 weeks is a good amount of time for me. Some parts of my hair matt really easily so much beyond three weeks is pushing it. If I am adding hair however I can do the usual 6–8 weeks.

Dananana
Guest
Dananana

Yeah, I’ll echo everyone else and affirm that this sort of thing is dependent on hair type.

I personally suffer from meshing/matting issues after 4 weeks with added hair (2 weeks without) and I have type 4 hair with all 3 subtypes. The matting/meshing is the worst in my 4A hair, while my 4B/C would be happy to chill in twists/braids for 6–8 weeks.

BrinkyDinks
Guest
BrinkyDinks

I would say 3–4 weeks generally speaking. Some styles can stay in a bit longer at 6 weeks. Most professional hairstylist would say 8 weeks maximum or you really do risk matting and dreading.

nubia
Guest
nubia

So glad this is on the site. so many women I see with w&g styles with 4b/c hair really do not understand .. that the styles 9x10 doesnt look good. The hair looks like a hard greasy mess on many NOT all that I have seen. I am 4b and I have never wet my hair daily I picked up on this early on…We didnt stop the relaxer to imagine that our hair was some sort of curly halo. I puffy kinky hair is FABOLOUS!!

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

What works for some may not work for others. It is all trail and error. I have extremely kinky thick hair. 4b/4c and I moisturize daily. I find that the more moisture I add to my hair, the healthier it is. I wear a lot of protective styles that stretch the hair, so shrinkage is reduced somewhat. Furthermore I don’t mind shrinkage, it comes with the territory. I have learnt to embrace it and still have a healthy hair care regimen that consists of balancing moisture and protein (80/20).

JoJo
Guest
JoJo

I agree, I think I have 4b/4c hair also and its kinky crazy and unruly and when wet it stretches atleast 50%. I L.O.C daily because I work out 5–6x a week and without doing that my hair would be dry and stinky!

G
Guest
G

I think I have high shrinkage hair & moisturizing daily is a must for me! It prevents dryness and breakage and most days I sprintz with water and I havent had any issues with knots or tangles BUT I also use products with ‘cones which prevents knots!

Amanda
Guest
Amanda

have you tried doing a blown out style?
I’ve realized that my hair thrives if I blow it out because when I don’t it is prone to knotting and I have to moisturize EXTRA because it gets dry so quick. When i blow it out, because the hair is straighter, my natural oils keep my hair nice and soft and other light products help too.

G
Guest
G

I dont use any form of heat and shrinkage is no big deal for me to resort to heat, im not fully natural 19 months post relaxer

Amanda
Guest
Amanda

I can wear it either way and my hair grows regardless. While of course everyone is different, I realize my hair is an extreme shrinker and that the shrinking process makes it hard to moisturize and retain moisture. I noted that since you said you have to moisturize everyday because your hair gets really dry, it may help to use a stretched style (heat or no heat) so that your hair can fully moisturized and retain it without you blowing through all your good stuff 😉

G
Guest
G

I said i moisturize daily to PREVENT dryness not BECAUSE ITS DRY!
I havent used any form of heat and it has able me to retain length and to allow me to transition for almost two yrs. Heat is something I will never use, you do you!

hmm
Guest
hmm

Lol Why was she thumbed down for saying she won;t use heat in her hair.

I swear its too many heat and weave advocates on this site.

stephanieb
Guest
stephanieb

Amanda, I was interested in what types of styles do you do when you blow dry your hair and stretch it without heat? I believe that my hair texture is like yours and seems to do better when stretched out, but unfortunately I have some heat damage and also scalp issues, which have greatly affected my length. My hair is barely chin length, so I am really limited in wearing different styles (not really crazy about wearing an afro), whether with heat or without. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated because I really don’t know what to do with my… Read more »

Deirdre
Guest
Deirdre

Yes! When I first BC’d I moisturized daily and slept with a bag. Once I started doing twist-outs I realized that if I wanted the style to last that I could not keep adding my spritz on a daily basis.

RukiyatG
Guest

I moisturize daily by lightly spritzing my hair before bed with a mix of distilled water/aloe Vera gel/ rosemary oil/ jojoba oil and place a shower cap on my head (baggie method / greenhouse effect). The key is that I chunky twist my twist out before spritzing! I’ll even roll the twists on sponge rollers to stretch & curl the twists. On some nights I’ll alternate with my silk scarf instead of the shower cap. Ultimately, the key is to twist my hair before the spritz and baggie process to keep definition to my twist out. It has been working… Read more »

msboogee
Guest
msboogee

Yawn

Candy
Guest
Candy

You must not have hair… I’m sorry. I promise it’ll work out. 🙁

mangomadness
Guest
mangomadness

I don’t moisturize daily because it’s unnecessary for my kinky, coily, high shrinkage hair. I moisturize weekly or twice a week.

When I re-moisturize, I apply a small amount of a creamy moisturizer on dry hair, seal my ends with a dab of castor oil and re-twist (18 twists). I have no problems with this method.

AGrlCanMAC
Guest

Yes, this is me too. My hair is all coils and wetting it every day is a no. I moisturize when it starts feeling a little dry which is usually every 2–3 days. I lightly mist my hair in sections with my homemade mist and seal with a hair cream. That seems to be working for me. I’m thnking if I try the LOC method with lighter products because I have fine strands and medium density hair, that I may have to moisturize even further apart. Great post! I came to this conclusion with my hair early in my journey… Read more »

Chicfro
Guest
Chicfro

I am so glad I read this article. For the first time in my natural journey I finally found a good mix of products that keeps my hair moisturized for most of the week. Resulting in me only needing to moisturize once a week or when I take down my protective styles. I was starting to feel like I was doing something “wrong” for not moisturizing everyday, but I just felt that I didn’t need to anymore! My hair was staying soft and moisturized. And my hair definitely has high shrinkage as described in this article. That’s why I love… Read more »

Nooni
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Nooni

I’m so glad someone finally said this!

la*belle
Guest
la*belle

great article, but right now with my twa i have little choice but to rewet every day. Soon, though 🙂

Dananana
Guest
Dananana

I liked this article. It made me rethink a potential weakness in my regimen that could lead to damage later on. However, I feel like there was something that was not discussed that could alter everyone’s perception of this issue in relation to themselves. Could it be possible that one’s hair length plays a role in how often one should moisturize? Let me elaborate on my thought process. When I first BC’d, I remember my hair sucked up moisture like there was no tomorrow. I mean I moisturized 2, sometimes 3 times a day just to avoid the crunch that… Read more »

LBell
Guest
LBell

Good point…I have mostly-coily mostly-4b super-high-shrinkage hair that I would wet daily when it was short (4 inches or less). I never had an issue with dryness because I was moisturizing and sealing before it ever became a thing… As it got longer, if I wanted my stretched style to stay stretched I’d avoid water or water-based products until wash day. However, if it felt dry and I didn’t have time to wash it, I would spritz or use a moisturizer, and I would then use oil to help lubricate the strands, which prevented some of the tangling. It really… Read more »

BrinkyDinks
Guest
BrinkyDinks

I’m 4a/4b with coarse hair, and I find I can’t wet my hair that often. I mainly noticed this when I blow out/flat iron my hair. My hair takes less than 10 minutes to detangle, and I KNOW there are no knots (I can run my fingers through it with ease). But as soon as I wet my hair to wash it as I go through each twist I can feel tangles! On a different note, when I do the LOC method I can go almost 5 days before my hair feels dry again (if it’s in a protective style).

ladyluo
Guest
ladyluo

I was just thinking about this last night. I have decided to stop daily spritzing and bagging because it is just too much. I am making peace with the fact that natural hair is inherently dry and as long as I moisturize once a week with a great moisturizer and seal with a great oil, that is all I need for the week.

honeybrown1976
Guest
honeybrown1976

I used to daily moisturize and seal my hair, which is 3c/4a with some 4b at the crown. I discovered the LOC Method and researched it. Now it’s part of my regimen. With this method, I only moisturize my hair every 2–3 days now and my hair feels great. Furthermore, I guess I have high shrinkage. My hair is bra-strap length but it shrinks to shoulder-length big time. Oh well. I’m fine with the shrinkage as I love my curls and the expression on the faces of those that see my straightened hair (although they only see it once a… Read more »

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

So true, do what is best for your hair!

Rebe A
Guest
Rebe A

I have tightly coiled hair and I do moisturize every night, but I do band it after moisturizing. That way it doesn’t coil back on itself and tangle

hmm
Guest
hmm

Ehh I hate the title. So now moisturizing isn’t something you should do regularly? Cause god FORBID you wet your hair and it shrivels up like a twa. Many 4b/4cers don’t wear wash and gos because of shrinkage, like hellooo your hair curls and coils its going to shrink. Why are you working against your hair? Not saying you should try to have a head full of knots but I’ve found this usually happens when you have “dents” on your strands like splitting. Either way forgoing water doesn’t “help” it flourish. This also bothered me : “If your hair feels… Read more »

#ABIOLA
Guest
#ABIOLA

I didn’t go natural to be afraid of the rain or showering without a cap”

AMEN TO THAT

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

We are all different hair types and etc. What works for one won’t work for another. These are just suggestions and helpful tips in case you fall under that umbrella. I wish I did not have to moisturize daily but my hair is VERY dry and gets frizzy in protective styles over two weeks. Find what works for you!

hunny
Guest
hunny

this is so me! thanks will take these tips on board! 😀 my hair has been giving me rage lately and co-washing has been my way of moisture.
i no longer spritz with water unless i am detangling. how times have changed!

Tarebless
Guest

I think it is important to assess your own hair needs and have a routine which best works for you. It’s also based on personal preference as well at the end of the day. If spritzing your hair daily is what your hair needs then that’s what it needs. There is not right or wrong when it comes to natural hair. Please guys also remember to adapt your hair care regime according to the seasons. What your hair will need in summer will be different in winter. Please follow my hair journey on youtube.com/tarebless Enjoy your hair curlies!x

Michelle
Guest
Michelle

Thank you for your much needed comment! Personal experience does comprise the bulk of information and advice on the internet regarding natural hair care. I’ve been transitioning for 4 1/2 months and I can only afford to rely on the internet for help for the time being. Your comment hits the nail right on the head. It’s great to know other women are in similar boats but personal experience is exactly that so it’s important for the natural www dots to stress that as newbies come on board. I’m not criticizing the blogs or websites because it has been fun… Read more »

nappy headed black girl
Guest

Thank you for addressing this issue. I haven’t moisturized my hair daily in years. This is one of the “natural hair rules” that definitely doesn’t apply to everyone. I found that once I used a high-quality moisturizer and leave-in I no longer needed to moisturize every day.

Candy
Guest
Candy

Which high quality ones do you use? Thanks in advance!

Tawnee
Guest
Tawnee

I have high shrinkage hair (75%) and these tips just won’t work for me. I have to moisturize/seal every single day because I workout 6 days a week. Unfortunately, I sweat really bad in my scalp and hair (hair is soaking wet like I jumped in a pool). My hair is always wet. I keep it in protective styles, but it tangles horribly. I’m not going to sacrifice my health and exercise routine just for dry, stretched hair so I guess I’ll have to deal. My hair retains about 4 inches per year, so I’m happy with that. I’m not… Read more »

BrinkyDinks
Guest
BrinkyDinks

The bondiband is amazing for keeping your hair relatively dry while working out. I sweat a lot as well, and I wear this and keep my hair in twists while working out. At the end my hair might be a little damp but it isn’t drenched in sweat like it used to be (I have really thick hair btw). I also rub my scalp with a tablespoon of jojoba oil mixed with tea tree or lavender essential oil (about 10 drops) to keep my scalp fresh until wash day. No itching or smelly hair. HTH

Caramel
Guest
Caramel

In terms of knowledge of treating black natural hair we need to remember that we are barely out of the starting blocks.We are learning all the time, i’m learning all the time.And I get the feeling from some of the comments that some people are full of glee with a ‘I told you so’ kind of attitude.I don’t believe anybody is deliberately putting up misinformation.The information they put up is what they believe to be correct at the time, however as our knowledge increases, things change and just like anything, there are always exceptions to the rule.But the one thing,people… Read more »

cacey
Guest
cacey

agree wholeheartedly. well said.

Monisola
Guest
Monisola

I hear what the article is saying! Even my 4c high-ish porosity 70% shrinkage hair does not need daaaaaaily moisture. However, if I go more than two days without i will have brittle, splitting hair. So I will say this, it all comes down to balance (battle hah!) between moisture, shrinkage, and tangling for me. Keep my hair moist enough without too much shrinkage and keep it tucked away in twists for long enough, but not so long that it matts up. Let it get enough builllld up (so my strands are pliable) but noootttt so much build up that… Read more »

rrstyles
Guest
rrstyles

Moisturizing daily is very much a benefit to hair that has high shrinkage! Especially beneficial to the HEALTH of hair with an excessive amount of curls. Now if you’re speaking in terms of preserving certain hair styles, then yes, so the dilemma is finding the balance as to when you can moisturize your hair and maintain your style

cacey
Guest
cacey

i think it depends on the hair. if you’re applying this to everyone’s hair, then i know for sure my hair can’t tell whether it’s crispy or dripping. it fares the same either way. some ppl don’t need the daily moisture. i can go several days with relatively dry hair without there being any issues. if not longer, actually

**Sweetie06**
Guest
**Sweetie06**

My hair does well when I moisturize daily, and it is high shrinkage. It feels brittle when I go more than 2 days with no water in it. It loves glycerin and feels so soft and manageable when I use my glycerin mix or Cantu hair lotion. The only problem is that it looks very fuzzy and doesn’t look as good if I want to wear it out.

Heytonia
Guest
Heytonia

Great advice that I’m sure will be helpful and enlightening for someone. For the rest…Do what your hair likes. A no-brainer 🙂
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Black_Americana_Valentine.jpg[/img]

Nigeriangirl
Guest
Nigeriangirl

Nice article.

Patrice
Guest
Patrice

I have long known that daily moisturizing is not for me. I have far more issues with tangling, knotting, and yes, split ends, when I dampen my hair too often. Not to mention the fact that it’s not necessary for me. I apply oil then leave-in to damp hair after my weekly cowash and my hair stays moisturized all week in twists or twist-outs. Following hair advice can be very helpful when you are starting out, but it is important to get comfortable with your hair and to learn what your problem areas are. For me, tangling and SSKs are… Read more »

Tanya
Guest
Tanya

I am one of those ladies! My hair shrinks DRAMATICALLY (I am not exaggerating. I’d say about 90%) and I never moisturize daily. I wear twists 95% of the time, and they hold moisture amazingly well. Lately, I’ve been moisturizing every other day, and that is a lot for me. I have MBL hair, and grew it to this length while only moisturizing once or twice a week. It certainly wasn’t necessary for me to do it daily. I check it regularly, and it’s dry, I moisturize. The key is knowing your own hair. I know what my hair feels… Read more »

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

I have major shrinkage. Every two weeks I wash, condition and twist my hair and curl with rods or spongecurlers. This is my workout friendly, protective and professional hairstyle. Even if my hair is drenched with sweat, my curls drops a little which is still a cute hairstyle, I can decide to recurl certain parts or the straighter parts and my hair continues to look good. I get lots of compliments the older it gets. I sleep in a bonnet and I continue to sweat a little when I sleep and my hair looks good when I wake up. I… Read more »

stephanieb
Guest
stephanieb

That’s what I am hoping to do with my hair once it grows out a little more. I did the BC about a month and a half ago so I am wearing a wig for now while it continues to grow out.

Linda
Guest
Linda

The author did a good job but let’s not forget that everything she said is based on her experience; one has to know one’s own hair likes and dislikes in order for any advice to be beneficial. For instance, I have an extra high shrinkage and I don’t moisturize on a daily basis and seal with oil like most naturals do why,because I discovered long time ago that I don’t need to; my diet and lifestyle providing the necessary moisture to my hair already. I drink plenty of water and herbal teas all day long, eating plenty of fruits and… Read more »

imani
Guest
imani

i just performed an experiment on my hair this weekend.i wanted to my shrinkage after washing with NO styling product added. I discovered i have major shrinkage!My soaking wet hair goes from just touching my shoulders to shrinking to mid earlobe! And talk abt tight indiviual curls?wow! no clumping here without styling product and my denmans brush!I knew i had shrinkage with product but not this much! so clearly the butters and such weigh my hair down enough that i really thought i had minimal shrinkage. But now i see left on its own, I have a fine but dense… Read more »

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

*tearing up* I fight daily to stay natural. I cannot figure out my hair AT ALL. I do know that it likes to be put away under a wig…never worn out which makes me sad. As soon as I get comfortable with one routine, it gets upset and breaks off in clumps. The only thing I can do is wear it plaited and seal my ends. If oil even touches my scalp, I have flakes and itching. So, I am washing every other day. As much as I love my own hair, it is driving me to the edge of… Read more »

deb
Guest
deb

aww I’m sorry to hear that. lt might be your hair personality or it might be a real problem it has that you might not know. Have you lheard of komaza hair analysis? There’s a long thread on longhaircareforum about it. Ladies that are confused and have problems with their hair have had rave reciews about the detailed analysis they get about the state of their hair and recommendations from the ladies that run the analysis. At least check the thread out and see if it something that might give you some answers about your hair. I wish you well… Read more »

Ephodza
Guest
Ephodza

Literally about to give up on my hair and all, but I noticed when it is stretched out and I put it in a style it is just sso much easier and I actually FEEL the moisture better rather than once I start to spritz it with water and try to add leave in conditioner and sealer. It always remains DULL when I do so and never understand. Everywhere I go it is the same story- to always moisturize and put water daily. Also high water/glycerin products again leave my hair very DULL and just ugly, even with seal ins… Read more »

Vera
Guest
Vera

I haven’t permed my hair in nearly ten years. I usually just wash it, condition it, and braid it to stretch it out since it shrinks a ton. On the other hand, my hair is fairly easy to detangle. Lately, I’ve been wanting to try some new things. This weekend, I did a wash and go, and I love how my hair curled, and it’s holding up quite well, but it is so short! I’ll try something new next week. It’s definitely a learning curve finding what works and doesn’t work for one’s hair.

Siboniso Ndlovu
Guest
Siboniso Ndlovu

This article totally helped me!!! Lately my hair has really been shrinking because of the moisturizing issue and I am having in-between hair growth blues! People were even asking me if I cut my hair only for me to show them the length by pulling it. I had decided to leave water for wash day which remains 1–2 times a week!

Amy
Guest
Amy

I have learned that my hair actually retains moisture when stretched out in twist outs or braid outs or whatever can keep it stretched. Therefore to maintain that, I cannot spritz with water everyday. That would require restyling too frequently which is just asking for breakage (my hair breaks with a lot of manipulation). I would say this, water is a great moisturizer but is not exactly compulsory on a daily basis. Use moisturizing oils when your hair is stretched out and you need to moisturize without having your hair shrink back. Use oils like coconut oil and creams that… Read more »

Denise
Guest
Denise

My hair is very fragile and I have about 70 percent shrinkage. I can not go a day without moisturizing, if I try to manipulate my hair in a dry state, it breaks A LOT. I moisturize daily and use a leave in conditioner with a lot of slip. I do a wash and go. Once my hair is moisturized and styled, I do not touch it! I dampen it to put it up in a pineapple at night. I don’t know what type of hair I have or the porosity, all I know is I have to moisturize (every… Read more »

Justine
Guest

My hair can’t go a day without moisture either! I can’t even imagine trying to comb my afro daily without it. I’d pass out from the pain or shave all of my hair off!

Willijed
Guest
Willijed

My hair clumps into defined curls. In the back it looks like a straw set and the front it’s more kinky. However I have high shrinkage all over and exprience complex tangles and mating in the back no moisture or no moisture. The only way to combat it is to detangle the back every couple of days, so I don’t believe moisture is the problem.

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