Moisturizing Natural Hair: Frequency and How To

Last updated on May 27th, 2023 at 10:59 am

how often should I moisturize my hair

It’s no secret that a major important factor in having healthy hair that thrives is moisture. Yet, there seems to be a little confusion for some. Many ladies with natural hair are asking the question, “How often should I moisturize my hair?

In this article, I’ll provide you with all you need to know about moisturizing your hair – with a specific focus on how often. It doesn’t matter if you have curly hair or straight hair.

HOW OFTEN TO MOISTURIZE YOUR HAIR

how to moisturize hair

To get right to the point, how often you moisturize your hair isn’t about how much you want to but how much you’ll need to.

Some choose to moisturize their hair proactively, meaning adding moisture to the hair before it gets dry. This can be a best practice but there’s one major factor that determines how often you’ll need to moisturize your hair.

That factor is Hair Porosity.

I talk about porosity in this post on Should You Wet Your Natural Hair Hair EveryDay? (Copy that link to read after you finish this article. These two articles compliment one another).

Moisturizing based on porosity

Once you determine the porosity of your hair, you’ll be able to easily tell how often you need to moisturize your hair.

For example, as someone who has low porosity hair (that’s also fine hair), I only need to wash my hair about every 6-7 days. That’s because low porosity hair holds onto moisture longer due to its tight cuticle layer.

Even if you don’t have low porosity hair, you can help guard your hair against moisture loss by how you style it. Doing a protective style where you use twists or braids as a base create a perfect environment for moisture retention. More on this below.

MOISTURIZING ON WASH DAY

dry hair moisture tips

There’s moisture and there’s hydration. Hydration occurs on wash day and moisturizing occurs throughout the week. However, you can’t effectively do one without the other.

On wash day, you aren’t just cleansing your hair. You are infusing your hair follicles with the vital nutrients it needs so your hair can grow and flourish.

Beyond giving your hair what it needs to be strong, you must also give it the moisture it needs. You’ve likely heard the term protein-moisture balancing.

Protein is another subject matter. You’ll find links to helpful articles on the subject matter at the end of this article. For now, let’s focus on the moisture side of hair care.

There are several steps in which your hair receives moisture on wash day:

  • The pre-poo
  • Cleansing
  • Deep conditioning
  • Styling

THE PRE-POO THAT MOISTURIZES

moisturizing pre-poo products

On wash day, you start the process of moisturizing your hair with your pre-poo. If you don’t pre-poo (why not? You’re missing out), after washing your hair, you get the deep form of moisture from your deep conditioner.

CLEANSING (WITH THE BEST MOISTURIZER)

cleansing for moisture

Water is literally the best moisturizer for dry hair. It’s the true source of moisture but it doesn’t stop there. Why?

Simple. Water dries up. It evaporates.

So, while water may be the best moisturizer, it needs a little help slowing down its evaporation process. You’ll discover more on what I personally use to achieve this in my sample hair routine for moisturizing below.

However, for the cleansing step of your wash day process, this is when you are getting the moisture and hydration your hair needs.

DEEP CONDITIONING FOR HYDRATION

how to hydrate hair

The best way to ensure your hair is getting the moisture it needs is to use a deep conditioner that contains the right stuff on wash day. This is the start of the process of getting moisture into your hair.

You may moisturize throughout the week but it starts on wash day. Your deep conditioner is your hydrator that prepares the way.

Properties of a Good Deep Conditioner

A good quality deep conditioner will having the following properties:

  • Water as a first or 2nd ingredient
  • Natural oils (example: Jojoba oil, avocado oil, coconut oil)
  • Humectants
  • Fatty acids

These ingredients will ensure your deep conditioner:

  • Has the slip it needs to be effectively distributed throughout your hair
  • Provides your hair with the hydration it needs
  • Improves your hair’s shine
  • Restores your hair’s elasticity

STYLING AND MOISTURIZING

moisture retention styling

When it comes to styling, the products you use can either further support your hair’s moisture levels or they can dry your hair out.

For example, using an alcohol based gel will undo all the hard work you put in to moisturizing your hair.

Some best practices for styling and moisturizing your hair on wash day include:

  • Using a leave in conditioner on freshly deep conditioned hair that’s been rinsed well
  • Sealing moisture into your strands (albeit temporarily) with an oil or butter. The fineness of your strands will dictate which.
  • Style your hair in a manner that causes moisture to be “trapped” into the strands, slowing down evaporation.

NATURAL INGREDIENTS TO USE

natural moisturizers

Aside from using a deep conditioner with specific good quality ingredients, there are other natural ingredients you can add to your hair regimen. These ingredients can be used to:

  • DIY a hair spritz
  • Boost the efficacy of your store bought conditioners
  • Add slip to your hair products while causing them to be more moisturizing

Here are some natural ingredients that you can use that will help you achieve some of the things your deep conditioner can do plus more:

  • Marshmallow Root
  • Aloe Vera
  • Glycerin
  • Honey
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocado
  • Flaxseeds
  • Teas

Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow root is a natural emollient that can give your DIY hair conditioner a lot of slip. It’s also great for adding in detangling your hair. 

A simple way to use marshmallow root is to get it in powder form. Then, add a tablespoon of it to about 10 ounces of warm distilled water. Allow it to infuse for about an hour. Then, strain and use as a natural hair conditioner or detangling spray.

Aloe Vera

Fresh Aloe Vera, Aloe Vera powder, Aloe Vera gel, and Aloe Vera juice can all be used in your hair to boost your moisture levels.

The fresh leaf and gel can be used as a pre-poo. I love this video that Natural85 on YouTube shares about how to make a pre-poo with Aloe Vera and natural oils:

If you create your own hair conditioner or use herbs like henna in your hair, the good news is you can balance out your hair’s moisture levels by mixing a bit of aloe vera powder with your other herbal powders.

The juice of Aloe can be used to mix up herbal hair masks and also as a final rinse before applying a leave-in conditioner.

Glycerin

Glycerin is the king of humectants (next to honey). It can be used to detangle your hair. It can also be used to create a hydrating conditioner.

Honey

Honey is another humectant which helps to draw moisture into your hair. It can be used year round when added to a conditioner which will be rinsed out.

However, if you live in a climate where the dew point is low (below 35 degrees Fahrenheit), you don’t want to use any products containing humectants that you will leave in your hair (example: stylers). This is because it will cause moisture to be drawn AWAY from your hair.

Olive Oil

While olive oil isn’t a moisturizer on its own, it promotes moisture within the hair strands and coating the hair shaft. It’s rich in the fatty acids, oleic acid and linoleum acid. It also contains squalene, a saturated oil that helps with increasing hydration.

Olive oil can be added to your conditioner. It can be used to seal and it can also be used for a hot oil treatment. There are many ways to use olive oil to improve your hair’s moisture retention capability.

Avocado

Avocado is rich in healthy fats and natural oils. It can be used transform parched, dry hair.

Fresh avocado can be pressed into a hair mask that will deeply moisturize and nourish your hair. You can mix it with honey and olive oil for even more benefits.

Alternatively, you can use avocado oil in your hair recipes.

Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds contain a high amount of fatty acids which help with moisture retention. They are also a rich source of vitamins B and E.

Boiling flaxseeds and skimming off the gel to use in your hair and scalp is a great way to experience the moisturizing benefits of flaxseeds.

Teas

Teas are awesome at creating hair teas to moisturize the hair. Once the tea is made, you can use it:

  • For a hair spritz
  • To mix up conditioning hair masks made from herbs
  • As a final rinse to smooth the hair cuticle
  • To combat scalp issues

The type of teas you can use include green tea, Moroccan tea, black tea, rosemary tea, chamomile and oolong tea.

TOOLS TO HELP WITH MOISTURE RETENTION

moisturizing tools

To get your moisture on, you’ll need a few tools at your disposal:

  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic caps
  • Microwaveable deep conditioning caps
  • Your shower stream
  • Silk Pillowcases
  • Satin Bonnets

A MOISTURIZING HAIR CARE ROUTINE

There are many ways to build a moisture routine. They will involve using a sealing method like the LOC method.

To provide you with a real life example, I’ll provide you with my personal moisture routine for when I’m styling my hair in twists.

This is my step by step process from wash day through mid-week:

  1. For extra moisture, I pre-poo my hair with coconut oil or a DIY Amla mixture
  2. Shampoo
  3. Detangle with this product (it’s super moisturizing with tons of slip)
  4. Use the cool and seal method to rinse (which I learned about from my friend Shelli-Hairscapades)
  5. Use a leave in conditioner followed by a light weight oil like Jojoba or Almond Oil
  6. Twist
  7. Seal the ends of each twist with a heavy hair oil like castor oil or shea butter. Then, double seal with a small amount of Eco-styler or CurlMaker gel

Once my hair is sealed and styled, I’ll sleep with a satin scarf on a silk pillowcase. If I’m being lazy and don’t feel like tying a scarf on, I’ll sleep with a satin bonnet.

It’s always a good idea to protect your hair while sleeping.

This the process I do whenever I’m twisting my hair. It allows my twists to look shiny and more importantly, stay moisturized for days on end.

EASY DIY MOISTURIZER FOR HAIR

guide to hair moisturizing

If you find that your hair porosity requires you to moisturize a bit more often, then try this DIY moisturizer for hair.

It can be used as a leave in moisturizer for natural hair by way of simply spritzing when your hair is beginning to feel dry.

  • 4 ounces of distilled water
  • 4 ounces of aloe vera juice
  • 1 tablespoon of a leave in conditioner
  • 3-5 drops of an essential oil (sweet orange and lemongrass are my faves)

Mix up the ingredients and store in a spray bottle. Since there are no fillers, any oils included will separate so you’ll need to shake before each use.

Also, because there’s no preservatives, you don’t want to make large batches. It’s best to use within 3-5 days.

This recipe makes about 8 ounces. It it’s too much for your length of hair thickness, then 1/2 the recipe. 

Using the right products for your hair’s porosity will help you to quickly answer for yourself, “How often should I moisturize my hair?

This, along with the tools and right routine will help your hair to either retain its moisture or easily have moisture restored to it.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. How often should hair be hydrated?

Hydration occurs on wash day when you wash and deep condition your hair. Some hair types require hydration more often than others. This is based on your porosity. For those with low porosity hair, hydration can occur every two weeks. For those with high porosity, hydration should occur at least weekly.

2. Can you over moisturize your hair?

Over moisturizing your hair is definitely possible. This occurs when you give your hair more moisture than it needs. This then causes protein levels to be thrown off.

Over moisturizing typically occurs when you allow your hair to be moist for extended periods of time when it’s unnecessary. An example is deep conditioning the hair over night.

3. How can I moisturize my hair daily?

Back to the subject of porosity, if you have high porosity hair, daily moisturizing may be required.

Here’s an article that goes into more details about moisturizing natural hair daily: Should I Wet My Hair Every Day?

4. What hydrates hair the most?

Water. Water is the ultimate moisturizer and it’s what starts the hydration process on wash day. Deep conditioning your hair further hydrates your hair.

Moisturizing and Hydrating are two different processes. Moisturizing deals with the surface of the hair. Hydration deals with getting moisture into the inner shaft of the hair.

Pin this article to share with others.

how to moisturize hair properly
Now let’s look at the importance of protein for hair. Read these next…

Why Fine Hair Needs Protein?

How to Protein Your Hair Even When You Think Your Protein Sensitive

How to Deal With Protein in Hair Products

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Michelle Smith

Michelle is a Christian natural hair enthusiast. She's been natural for 20+ years and shares natural hair care tips and easy hairstyles for those with low density or thin fine natural hair. It's her joy to inspire you to live by faith in God while caring for your "crown."

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