How To Moisturize Naturally Curly Hair

 Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.”
~  Robert Louis Stevenson

It shapes many curlies’ experience with their natural hair. With it, curls retain length and a beautiful, springy mane is formed (aahh). Without it, those same strands will become thirsty and brittle, leading to breakage (gasp!). It is moisture, and it is the essential to naturally curly hair health.

Moisture drop

Photo credit: clogette

I’ve spoken to many frustrated ladies whose curl quest has been less than stellar due to their hair’s dryness. Others have completely abandoned ship, fleeing back to flat irons, pressing combs, and perms. Stop in your tracks! Put down that creamy crack!

Remember patience is a must when it comes to natural hair, and your hair will reward you once you take the time to find the techniques that work for you.

Note: Your hair consists of a cuticle layer, which is the outermost, shingle-like layer of hair. It is made of keratin and protects the cortex aka hair’s inner layer that protects the medulla. The cortex provides strength, texture, and color. The cuticle can open or close, allowing moisture to enter or exit the hair shaft. Ultimately, you want to close your cuticles and allow them to lay flat. Your hair’s porosity should also be taken into consideration.

Here are a few ways in which you can infuse moisture into your curly mane:

Start With A Clean Slate

First things first. Make sure that you clarify your hair with a moisturizing shampoo (like Creme of Nature Detangling Ultra Moisturizing Conditioning Shampoo) or baking soda. If you don’t have a curl-friendly shampoo, use 1/2 shampoo and 1/2 conditioner to wash your hair. Also remember to avoid shampooing your hair often throughout the week (approximately 3 days work for me). You want to remove products that have built up onto your hair without completely and continuously stripping away your natural oils, which are necessary for keeping hair supple. More on this later.

No Gizmo, Water Is Your Friend

With freshly pressed tresses, you must avoid contact with water, or your hair will revert to its curly state. On the other hand, natural hair, water is a curlies’ best friend. It is nature’s moisturizer, so seek water-based products, particularly leave-in conditioners. Just don’t forget to seal. See details below.

Seal The Deal

Once you moisturize your hair, you must seal this in with either an oil or butter. Oils/butters will coat and trap, not create, moisture within your strands. They also add sheen, de-stiffen hard products, and nourish hair. When I seal my curly mane, I work in sections throughout my hair. I layer either of the following as successful combinations:

a moisturizer (with a leave-in conditioner like Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner) + oil (Vatika, avacado, or coconut oil) + styler (product that styles hair such Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls)


a moisturizer + styler + oil.

Try Kind Stylers

Watch out for stylers that strip your hair of moisture, particularly products that contain mineral oil and/or silicone. Both products coat rather than absorb into the hair shaft and form a barrier that can either seal in moisture (a good thing) or prevent it from entering into the hair (nooo!). Some curlies have had varied results with these two.

Other stylers may contain humectants like aloe vera gel, honey, or glycerin. By design, humectants cause water retention and will draw moisture into or out of the hair depending on humidity levels. This is particularly helpful during the summer months, as these ingredients will help draw moisture from the atmosphere into dry hair. Be cautious during the winter months, as these same humectants may draw moisture out from your hair and into the dryer atmosphere.

Deep Treatment

Deep conditioning under a hooded dryer or steaming curls weekly for 30 minute sessions can rejuvenate curls. You can also coat your hair in conditioners and cover it with a plastic cap for a few hours. Both techniques helped me to rehab my heat damaged curls.

Freshen Up

Fill a spray bottle with water or water and glycerin (a humectant). Spritz your hair throughout the day, as needed. I’ve tried this method but soon gave up the practice because:

1. I always had flat, wet hair, which I didn’t like. I prefer predictable, dry looks.

2. This was difficult to carry off in an office environment. It was a bit too high maintenance to continuously monitor and spritz throughout the day.

3. It made me look like I was rocking some Soul Glo! Whomp whomp. Unless your goal is to capture the Jheri Curled look, go light with the spritzing.

While it didn’t work for me, don’t let this discourage you. Remember everyone’s hair differs, and your curly mane may love this approach.

Easy Does It

Waaaiiit fooor iiiit … If you overdo the above mentioned tips, your hair will become over moisturized, resulting in soggy, noodle-like hair that’s excessively elastic to the point of breakage. Over moisturized hair needs protein to reverse this problem. Try a protein-based deep treatment like ApHogee and stylers like protein-rich Eco Styler Gel to revive your curls.

Yes, yes, this is indeed tricky and requires balance, but I recommend that you try any of these steps and report back. If you’ve got additional tips, come on in; the water is fine! Share your secrets!

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