9 Most Ineffective Ways to [attempt to] Moisturize Your Hair

Original article by: Black Girl With Long Hair  |  Edited by: Black Zulu

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. You know think you’re doing everything you can think of to keep moisture in your hair but nothing’s working. You ask yourself why in a state of despair. 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.


The best time to start the moisturizing process is on wash day. After cleansing hair, adequately moisturize hair and remember to seal it in. If you use a lot of products, try co-washing between shampoos so that moisture can effectively penetrate your tresses.

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.


Apply a water-based moisturizer to your hair (or simply spritz your hair with water) prior to applying your butter or oil. That way, you’re adding moisture to your tresses before sealing. Here is an easy DIY hair spritz you can whip up in minutes!

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. Here is a great DIY recipe!


Always apply an oil or butter to your hair after you add moisture. Lock that baby in! If you find butters too heavy for your hair, trying whipping it to light and fluffy goodness as in this simple DIY whipped shea butter recipe! Also, if you find an oil too light, try a heavier oil like castor oil. If you find an oil too heavy, try a lighter oil like olive oil or grapeseed oil. Bottom line, find an oil that works for your hair. Remember, it is all trial and error until you find what works for your hair.

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. Even if you are moisturizing correctly, but not often enough, you could still end up with dry hair.


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. Its all trial and error. Pay attention to what your hair is trying to tell you. Once you find your rhythm, you will be OK!

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. Here is a great DIY deep conditioner recipe. You can also try just adding 2 Tbsp of coconut milk to your store bought deep conditioner. Softens hair like a charm!

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.


Be sure you have, and use, a separate product to moisturize your hair and another for styling. Don’t depend on an all-in-one. They are rarely ever very effective in adding or maintaining moisture.

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.


Simply pay attention to your ends and ensure that you really work your product into your hair from roots to tip as is usually recommended.

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.


Your hair would have absorbed as much as it can from whatever product you put in your hair in an average of 30 minutes. Leaving your product in past 30 minutes is really just having it sit on your hair — doing basically nothing. Over moisturizing, esp with heat, can also lead to limp hair so be very careful. 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?

Please feel free to share your thoughts!

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