the basics of moisturizing natural hair

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Moisture is a subject discussed heavily in the natural hair world. Because natural hair is generally porous, it tends to be dry and as a result prone to breaking. So a lot of naturalistas turn to moisturizing to mitigate breakage as well as to keep hair from looking dull.

There’s TONS of information about moisturizing hair. But we wanted to get down to the basic things one absolutely needs to know about moisture and natural hair.

First, set your expectations about moisturizing. Black Girl Long Hair has a great article on what moisture can and can’t do. In sum moisture….

  • can’t make your hair grow
  • can mitigate damage by making hair more flexible
  • can create shrinkage
  • can make your hair feel softer
  • but can’t eliminate dry hair; our hair is naturally dry

Now very simply, when it comes to moisturizing your hair, you mainly need to remember to… cleanse, moisturize and seal.

  • Wash your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo (which is likely to not strip your hair of natural moistures) or with conditioner only (co-washing).
  • After cleaning your hair, moisturize with a leave-in conditioner or water-based moisturizer. (Water is the ultimate moisturizer.)
  • Seal in moisture with a butter (shea, murumuru, cupuacu) or oil (olive, coconut, castor, avocado). Because our hair is porous, moisture tends to escape. Sealing your hair helps retain the moisture you’ve added a little longer.


  • Wear a  satin bonnet when you sleep. I probably don’t need to say this, as most black girls come out the womb with a satin scarf. (I kid). But, yes, wearing a satin when you sleep and/or even sleeping with a satin pillow case will prevent moisture from being stripped from your hair.
  • Some naturalistas find that their hair responds well to misting it with water daily. But this really depends on your unique needs and your adaptability to that sort of a routine.
  • Adding a deep condition to your routine also can help with moisture. Some deep condition up to once a month after they’ve clarified their hair.

How Often Should You Moisturize

Unfortunately, there’s no golden rule for frequency of moisturizing. It really depends on your unique hair needs and goals. As mentioned some naturalistas moisturize every day, while others moisturize every other day or every 4-5 days when they wash their hair.

A commenter on Black Girl Long Hair gave this suggestion:

All you need to ask yourself is 

1. Does your hair feel brittle?

2. Does your hair break?

If the answer to this is no, your routine is perfectly fine. Hair of African origin can feel dry a few hours after it has been wetted but if your hair is not breaking or if it is in a protective style which does not require the hair to be flexible then you have nothing to worry about.

There’s definitely a lot more that can be said about moisturizing your hair. Here are a few articles we found helpful:

Since every head of hair is different. We want to know how and how often you moisturize your hair. Tell us in the comments!

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Team Unruly
Team Unruly
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