How often should I moisturize my hair?

Moisture is essential for healthy hair. Dry hair leads to split ends and breakage, plus it’s hard to style and harder to maintain. Finding a good moisturizing regimen for your hair will make it much easier to reach your length goals and allow you to spend less time taking care of your hair with less frustration.

black woman with short natural hair needs to moisturize more often

Hydration vs Moisture

First we need to understand the difference between hydrating and moisturizing the hair. Often these terms are used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Hydration happens when water is added to the hair. We accomplish this by wetting our hair and using water based products that are able to penetrate the hair shaft to get water inside of our hair. Moisture refers to sealing in that water by applying a product that contains oil. The oil is meant to coat the outer layer of the hair to keep moisture inside. 

We should be hydrating our hair on wash day by cleansing first, to remove dirt and old product, then using a conditioner to penetrate the hair. Once we rinse out our conditioner, we should be using a moisturizing leave in conditioner or moisturizing cream to seal that moisture into our hair.

How to choose a moisturizer

The moisturizer that you use should be formulated with a larger amount of water or aloe vera and a small amount of nourishing oils. This way you are getting additional hydration on top of your deep conditioner, as well as the right amount of oils to seal in moisture.

If you are using a high quality moisturizer, you should not need to add any oil to your hair before styling and you should not need to reapply your moisturizer each day. If you prefer to add oil to your hair while styling, use a small amount of a lightweight oil that can lock in moisture without weighing the hair down.

aloe vera plant pieces with jar of extract to moisturize natural hair

Do you need to seal with oil?

While some oil is beneficial, too much oil can weigh the hair down and cause buildup and dryness. If your hair is covered in oil, you won’t be able to re-hydrate your hair between washes. Most people will need to moisturize every 3-7 days, but if you saturate your hair with oil on day 1, the only way to get new moisture into the hair will be to start from the beginning and wash the hair to remove the oil before conditioning and moisturizing again.

The best way to add oil to your hair is to have it as an ingredient in your moisturizer, but not the main ingredient. A well formulated moisturizer with nourishing ingredients will allow you to moisturize and style your hair without the need for any extra oil to seal in moisture.

How do you know if your hair is dry?

Unlike straight hair, black hair in its natural state is not always shiny, and it doesn’t always feel silky to the touch. If you’ve never experienced your hair in its fully healthy, hydrated state, it can be hard to know what your hair is supposed to feel like.

Your hair should feel softest right after wash day. As you get further away from your last wash your hair may begin to dry out a bit, but it should still feel fairly soft and spongy. If your hair feels like a nice soft sweater, that’s a good sign. If it feels like an itchy wool sweater, it’s probably dehydrated and you could use a good deep conditioning treatment followed by a high quality moisturizer.

I recommend touching your hair each day for a week or two so that you can get an idea of the different states of your hair and how the feel of it varies throughout your wash cycle. Once your hair starts to lose the softness from wash day, it’s a good time to rehydrate with water and add more moisturizer. If you’re using Indara Naturals Argan Aloe Leave In Conditioner, a little of this product goes a long way. I know you’re used to having to add globs and globs of product to get any real effect, but this product is made with high quality ingredients and is not watered down or full of fillers. This concentrated formula means that you really can use a dime sized amount of product and be all set for the next few days.

Common causes of dry hair

If your hair feels dehydrated or you find yourself needing to reapply your moisturizer daily, there many different factors that could be affecting your hair's moisture balance. Here are a few common reasons:

  • Shampooing too frequently (more than once a week)
  • Using a clarifying or sulfate shampoo too often
  • Not covering your hair with silk or satin when sleeping, or under hats, scarves, and head wraps
  • Overuse of oils and butters
  • Not deep conditioning on a regular basis (a least once a month)
  • Using oil based products (conditioners and moisturizers) or products that don't contain enough of the active ingredients
argan oil with flower and seeds to moisturize natural hair

How to apply your moisturizer

If you are following hair care best practices and using high quality products, you should moisturize your hair every 3-7 days depending on your hair’s needs. Between washes, you should lightly mist your hair in the shower or with a spray bottle and then apply your moisturizer to damp hair for best penetration.

Be sure to apply your moisturizer in sections so that you don't miss any spots. Add a little extra product to the ends, as this is the oldest part of your hair and the most prone to dryness.

If you’re wearing a style like a braid out or twist out and don’t want to disturb your curl pattern, you can put a little of your moisturizing cream in a spray bottle with some water, shake it up, and spray it on your hair instead of applying it with your hands.

In summary, make sure you are monitoring the status of your hair and reapply your moisturizer as needed. If your hair is in good condition, you should expect to moisturize your hair every 3-7 days with a high quality, water based moisturizer. If you're looking for the right product for your hair, check out our Argan Aloe Leave In Conditioner

If you need help with your hair, I'm always available to answer questions! Sign up for our email list below and you'll be able to email me directly for 1-on-1 help with your hair.

argan aloe leave in conditioner to moisturize natural hair