What to look for in a moisturizer and what ingredients to avoid
Moisturizing hair is as important as deep conditioning* to any black person who wishes to have long hair. As washing and deep conditioning* the hair every day is quite impractical, a hair moisturizer is required to avoid dryness until the next wash.
Relaxed and natural black hair tends to be quite porous so loses moisture quickly. The key to long beautiful locks is to keep replacing the moisture lost. The easiest way to do this between washes is to use a good moisturizer.
Oil is not a moisturizer
First things first, let’s deal with a common misconception about oil. Oil is not a moisturizer! Oil lubricates the hair and ‘seals in’ any moisture you already have in the hair. If your hair is dry and brittle and you apply oil to it then you are doing your hair more harm than good. The oil will coat the hair and prevent any further moisture from entering the hair which will lead to breakage.
The best moisturizers should always be water based i.e. the first ingredient should be water; water is in fact the best moisturizer! Good moisturizers also contain humectants. These are ingredients which attract water from the atmosphere, glycerine being the most popular of these. Honey is also an excellent humectant but more commonly used in conditioners and not moisturizers.
Say no to mineral oil
Always avoid moisturizers that contain mineral oil or any other petroleum based product in the first few ingredients. Although mineral oil may not be the worst thing in the world, it does nothing but coat the hair which prevents moisture from the atmosphere from getting in. Bottom line is there are plenty of better natural oils to choose from.
You may find that the best leave in conditioners and moisturizers are the ones that are marketed to ‘wet type’ styles (jheri curl or wave nouveau) as they contain mainly water and glycerine. S curl is particularly good.
How to moisturize your hair
How to use hair moisturizers is just as important as getting the right product. If you plan to blow dry or roller set your hair, after towel drying apply a dime sized amount of a glycerine based moisturizer before you apply the same amount of heat protectant* and comb through hair to evenly distribute. After the blow dry or roller set your hair will be left soft and silky to the touch and will remain like this throughout the day. If you plan to flat iron it then only apply leave in conditioner* and a heat protectant* to the hair before flat ironing. You can always apply oil after you have straightened your hair. See the article on how to get movement in relaxed hair.
Moisturizers should then be applied daily or as needed. Only a dime sized amount is required for shoulder length hair. A touch more for longer hair. Always distribute the moisturiser through the length of the hair with either a wide tooth comb* or your fingers to make sure that every strand gets its share. You can apply a bit more to the ends if desired.
There is really no benefit to loading your hair with moisturizer. Hair is only about 10-14% water and all you are are trying to do is to restore the moisture that you lost during the day, not to drown your hair. If you put too much, you are likely to ruin your style by leaving relaxed hair looking greasy or making natural hair revert. A good moisturizer application should leave your hair feeling soft without weighing it down or being sticky.
Oil free moisturizers
Oil free moisturizers are not a bad option either. Instead of oil, they use silicones that help ‘seal’ the moisture into the hair but their first ingredient must also be water. Silicones are not as bad for hair as you may have heard, as long as you clarify your hair regularly to prevent build-up. Having said that, they should not be your first choice if sticking with natural products is your main focus.
Water and natural oils
The out and out winner for moisturizing hair is good ole H20 (water). Yep, you read right. All you need is a very light spritz of water on your ends to moisturize then seal in the moisture with oil. Alternatively, you can wet your hands and run it down the length of your hair before sealing with oil. Wetting your hair is not the aim here and your hair shouldn’t actually physically feel wet after moisturizing.
Some good examples of natural oils that can be used to seal in moisture after a wash are coconut oil*, avocado butter, mango butter or Shea butter. Remember that these are oils and will just lock in whatever moisture you already have in your hair.
Note – If you are natural with straightened hair, you may be better off going for a light moisturizer rather than using the water method to prevent reversion.
Cynthia Henry says
I have spent most of my day reading the srticles on your website. I have been natural for almost a year…my hair is very dry and still breaking now I know why. I will try the caramel treatment and let you know how it works…I thank you so much…I was really thinking about hetting another relaxer…I'll be talking to you later.
The Milk Maid says
Sick of blindly blundering around your steamy shower cabinet looking for the right bottle? Disappointed when that sensuous foam fails to froth? Fed up smearing your barnet in face cream, pile balm or domestos?
Why should you need the Hubble telescope to read the labels on bottles? Are the manufacturers aiming their products at only watchmakers and the blokes who can write the whole of the bible on a rice grain?
Unless you're waiting for the invention of talking containers, demand now that Shampoo and Conditioner bottles are colour coded and the text is written in 76 point bold electric neon. Threaten to never wash your hair again – that might work.
I have been transitioning to natural hair for about 6 months and very happy seeing the new condition of my scalp and less weakness of my hair. I have not cut my hair off, so I still have relaxed and natural hair. The breakage is not as bad as it was and my hair is growing; however, I notice that after I used a store bough protein product last weekend and this weekend after washing/conditioning my hair I have more breakage. Some of my ends feel brittle after this treatment. I am not sure what to do about this. My hair seems to have two or three types of hair. The sides and top of my hair seems thicker and the front and back is thinner. My hair is medium to fine based on the products I used when I relaxed hair. I am not sure what hair products I really need to use. Can someone provide any suggestions. Thank you.
Also, the protein product I used was Aphogee protein conditioner pack.
Alma Ruddock says
A strong protein treatment should be followed up immediately by a moisturizing deep conditioner to balance your hair out. It’s likely that this is what caused the breakage. I would suggest that you find a good moisturizing deep treatment and see how your hair does.
I hv relaxed hair, If i wanted to start my natural hair journey, do i nd to cut the perm out my hair or can i let it grow out on its own? What do u recommend?
How about sweet almond oil? I have recently been using that mixed with a dab of organic coconut oil to moisturizer my face and love it, wondering if sweet almond oil is a good choice for hair?
Cynthia Wright Swan says
I am just beginning my natural haii journey. I have found your site to be very helpful and encouraging. But I have relaxed ends and do not know if I need to go have them cut off. If it is feasable I would prefer not to have to cut my hair unless it is to the betterment of my hairs health and growth. Does anyone have any suggestions.?
First off thank you for this site it has been so helpful. I am a little confused as to what is natural hair? hair that people only use natural products on or hair that is not permed. Also I have very wavy hair I pack on gel and put in a bun and wash it with herbal essence every three or four days because the gel flakes and I never really used grease or moisturizer. And it works for me. Well my hair is thin and sheds a lot so I get it cut every month shoulder length but that is all I do. I have never been into pricy hair products or learning about hair but I had my baby and she has a different texture and I was taking care of her hair like mines and it is falling out, dry and brittle. I can’t get it to lay down unless I use olive oil edge control which after awhile it turns her hair white but I pack it on anyway and it has I believe thinned her edges out. Her dad suggested I but her a satin pillow case, wash it less and put grease in it and I did this has helped a but it seems like it’s extremely dry a day after I add grease and I am at a point where I am washing it maybe once a month and she now has no bald spots! So I am going to try you hair regimen so I threw away the herbal Essence I was washing her and my hair with because the contained Sulfate’s and all the no-no’s and go Shea Moisture (Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner, and shampoo Sulfate free and & color safe. I then got the She Moisture brand Deep Treatment Masque with Sea kelp and Argon oil for the deep conditioning days. I going to do egg white, mayo and avocado for her protein days. I am going to use water as my moisturizer but where I am confused is do I just spray her hair with water then put in the coconut oil after and that’s my moisturizer? Or do I need to add the Coconut oil to some sort of cream or oil like Hot 6 oil which I read on this site was good. I am just confused as to how do i use the water daily and seal it in with the coconut oil or if I am understanding you correctly. Also my baby is 2 and I was using all the Just for Me and products formulated for Children in which they had Sufate’s and mineral oil and all the no-no’s so is it okay to use adult products on such as the shampoos and conditioners that I just bought and listed above. Also I Just had purchased Wild growth Hair Oil before I read this blog I had been using this as a moisturizer from you blog I see oil is not the way to go to moisturize so what is the best way to put this oil to use because it has a lot of the oil needed for the hair mentioned in the blog. Also someone said you can just put coconut on the hair without mixing it with something when using daily, or if you out in large amount or by itself it has to be washed out is this true or a myth. Pleasssssse Help!!!!!!
Glad to Have a healthy hair says
Spraying a little water before applying coconut or any other oil is fine. I use adult sulfate-free products on my daughter’s hair, and she is fine. Since we have different types of hair, I use heavier oils on hers (she has 4c type and I have 3a type). The products you switched out to seem fine. I have not done any protein treatments on my daughter’s hair, but she seems fine and her hair has stopped breaking and has grown down her back. When she was a baby I couldn’t get her hair to stop breaking until I stopped using the baby shampoos and Just For Me products. Good luck!
Hey, I’m starting my hair journey and I’m taking a lot of notes. I started my using Soft-Sheen Wave Noveau Lotion and JBCC and I love the way the lotion smells but the castor oil leaves my hair greasy, maybe I put too much in. I’m ready about other oils and moisturizers as well. What do you recommend for fine relaxed hair?
Sweet Almond Oil, Olive oil, Avocado Oil, Grapeseed oil…they are all lighter than Castor Oil. My favorite is Olive oil.
For my relaxed hair I lightly spray infusium 23 leave in conditioner and apply my homemade shea whip through out my hair at least 4x a week. Have a happy hair journey.
I am bit lost…
If I use the S curl for example I don’t need to put any water in my hair or oil to seal it?
I just start my hair journey and trying to understand all the stuff to build a proper first regimen
Tia Mitchum says
So needed this one
Andreyetta Walker says
Andreyetta Walker says
Anyone know of a good moisturizer for relaxed hair?
Lia Daniels says
BB Oil Moisturizer with Castor oil and aloe used to be a staple in my relaxed hair regimen. And I sealed with coconut oil cause that was the only oil that didn’t weigh my hair down.
Andreyetta Walker says