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Are You Damaging Your Hair From OVER-Moisturizing? by Dr. Phoenyx Austin


Are You Damaging Your Hair From OVER-Moisturizing?

By Dr. Phoenyx of DrPhoenyx.com


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.

Boy do 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 Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. Special autographed book copies can be ordered directly from her blog, DrPhoenyx.com. You can also find Dr. Phoenyx on Facebook and Twitter.

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{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Tanesha Richardson September 20, 2012, 5:15 pm

    I just started with my transition, but I was reading comments about how some people moisturize like every night or every other night. I thought that was a good way to go but I’m glad I keep researching because I’ll be doing more harm then good to my hair, especially since I had to cut it all off from messing up in the beginning when I tired going natural before I decided to do this transition again. I already have a good grade of new growth so I’m excited for this journey.

  • Michelle September 20, 2012, 6:57 pm

    I moisturise my hair once a week and I thought I wasn’t doing it often enough!!!! The thing is I moisturise with oil and water (coconut and olive oils and water that is) and once the water part dries out my hair and scalp feel slightly oily for days afterwards so I don’t have to spray on that mixture more than once a week. Thank you for your article though, at least I’m doing one thing right – :) )

  • Michelle September 20, 2012, 6:59 pm

    I moisturise once a week with oil and water (heavy on the water, light on the oils – coconut and olive oils). Once the water dries out I’m left with slightly oily strands and scalp for a good few days hence why I only do it once a week.

  • Toshia September 20, 2012, 10:44 pm

    This was a great read. I usually moisturize my hair twice a day, using the L.O.C method…before then it was more because i was not doing deep treatment, but since iv started to use D.T i have notice i don’t have to moisturize as much. I love Shea Moisture products and Oyin’s, but I have also use some others

  • Tiffany Warren September 25, 2012, 1:38 pm

    Would you recommend using protein enriched Shampoos to avoid over moisturizing? I looked up a few of them, are there any from the list below you would recommend if any?
    1. Emu Shampoo & Conditioner
    2. Silk Protein Conditoner
    3. Bioten® Biotin Shampoo
    4. Sfree® Hair Growth Shampoo
    5. Awaken and Replenish Shampoo

  • Gbhlong October 9, 2012, 8:39 am

    Balance is key. I only moisturise my hair when it feels slightly dry, which is most days. And regular monthly protein treatments keep my fine hair strands strong enough to handle the daily moisture.

    I do feel that the message of regular moisturising is important for many black women to recieve, because it isn’t part of our traditional way of handling our hair, and dry brittle hair is often the source of tangling and breakage in afro hair textures. So the message is important, it’s just that you can get too much of a good thing.

  • Joules November 5, 2012, 6:32 am

    I moisturize, generally, once a day, with a shea butter / coconut oil recipe I got from Naptural85. My hair feels dry otherwise so I don’t think I’m overdoing it. Some days I have to throw a leave in conditioner on it in the morning but generally speaking I do a full moisturizing, sometimes styling, thing at night, put on a sleep cap and I’m ready for bed. The few times I’ve missed it I ended up having to do more moisturizing and less styling in the morning.

  • Deborrah December 23, 2012, 8:41 am

    There is no “one” way to do it because our hair structure is a bit different due to genetic history, and we live in different environments. The humidity in Houston for example is going to impact the hair differently than someone living in an arid desert climate in Nevada, or the high altitude winter cold of Denver. So women have to just figure out what works with their hair then stick to it. Raising awareness about the importance of balancing protein and moisture is important for long-term success.

  • Brenda January 18, 2013, 4:59 pm

    My hair is very dry, while doing research I found that adding little virgin olive oil to my shampoo, and then add a little to my conditioner. After towel drying my hair lightly, I separate my hair and add oil on the scape, then put my heating cao on for 10-15 minutes comb my hair out softly making sure not to pull my hair roughly, finally braid or cornroll it. I do this once a week and there’s no need to moisture my hair again til the next eash day.

  • M July 4, 2014, 8:44 pm

    I was putting olive oil or coconut oil on my hair three time a week for one hour. My hair was beautiful until 2 months ago when started to break. At first I thought it was falling out from de scalp as the hair was long but it seems that the old part of the hair is breaking. So, yes you can over moisturize… I learned in the hardest way.

  • April August 21, 2014, 8:44 pm

    Hi i just went natural a month ago and i added a color maybe two weeks ago my hair and scalp use to be dry often when i relaxed my hair so now that I’m natural i just moisturize it every night. I’ve decided to cut back to every other night maybe even two nights because my hair seems to hold the moisture now. Also if you have oily skin you should cut back on moisturizing and let your natural moist work

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