How to Moisturize Natural Hair Like a Pro

Gamechanging tips abound.

The number one concern for those with natural hair is learning how to combat dryness and frizz. Natural hair is largely defined as the texture that those of African-American descent are usually born with. It is also used to define hair that has not been relaxed or chemically altered. It is characterized as being a dry hair type and has a curly, kinky or Afro texture. That’s why it’s so vital to learn how to moisturize natural hair like a pro.

Moisturization is the main priority for this hair type. Apply too little conditioner and it’s a battle of the frizzies; too much, and you risk weighing your curls down and flattening your style altogether.

It is also good to know your specific curl type in order to help you find the ideal moisturizing schedule or cocktail for your strands. Read on to learn how to moisturize natural hair the correct way:

hairstyles for curly hair natural hair
Regular conditioning keeps curls shiny and springy. Photo credit:

To determine the most optimal way to give your natural hair the nourishment it needs, it’s best to take note of the following:

1. Figure out your curl type.

Curly hair can be considered dry across the board—it takes longer for the sebum in your scalp to make its way down your coils, versus if you had strands that were straight. That said, curls still come in a variety of types, each with its own moisture requirements. Locking down your specific hair category is extremely helpful to know before you even start buying any products.

2. Pre-poo.

To moisturize natural hair, start before you wash. Applying a conditioning oil treatment to your hair before shampooing (hence the name) can help protect delicate natural strands from getting stripped dry during the washing process. Good to note: Some women prefer to co-wash, or wash with just a cleansing conditioner, altogether. Washing can cause hair cuticles to open, and pre-pooing via a hair oil, protein conditioner or creamy treatment can help lubricate frayed strands and prevent too much washing trauma. Shopping for options? We love Bed Head by TIGI Calma Sutra Cleansing Conditioner.

3. Shampoo and condition with the correct system.

Even the driest of curls have to start with a clean slate! Moisturizing ingredients and styling products latch better onto strands that have no prior product build-up. This also helps these styling products perform better and achieve visible results. We suggest starting your week with a wash-and-care duo that moisturizes as it cleanses your curls. We love the nourishing properties in TRESemmé Botanique Curl Hydration Shampoo and Botanique Curl Hydration Conditioner.

4. Go for after-care.

After rinsing off the conditioner, it’s best to lock in that freshly imparted moisture by coating their strands with a lightweight liquid moisturizer, oil or cream.  You can also do all three, following the LOC (or liquid-oil-cream) order. This helps seal the moisture into the cuticle and shield the hair shaft from the frizz-causing effects of humidity.

Some women choose to use a leave-in conditioner in lieu of everything else—it’s a matter of knowing how much your strands need, really—as their after-conditioning product of choice. Top it off with a natural hair oil of your choice to lock the moisture in. We love the all-purpose formula of Love Beauty and Planet Smooth & Serene Argan Oil & Lavender Leave-In Smoothie Cream.

5. Give strands a rest.

On your off days, simply invigorate strands with a dry shampoo (we like the lightweight refreshing formula of Nexxus Dry Shampoo Refreshing Mist) if things end up getting greasy or sweaty. Or use a leave-in hair moisturizer that also works to define second- or third-day curls. An easy-to-follow day-off cheat sheet: First spritz hair with some water, then seal in that moisture with a water-based moisturizer for a fresh, glossy refresh, and simply use some recall cream like Bed Head by TIGI On the Rebound to spring them back to life.

6. Spoil your strands on Sundays.

When you moisturize natural hair, it’s important to indulge your locks in a weekend deep-conditioning treatment. This helps replenish parched strands that may have been exposed to extra damage during the week via city pollution, heat styling or even sweat, chlorine or saltwater. Starting with wet hair (shampooing optional), apply a conditioning mask like Dove Anti-Frizz Oil Therapy Hair Mask evenly onto hair and leave on for three to five minutes. Rinse off and avoid heat-drying immediately after to further preserve hair’s new moisture.

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