At the beginning of my natural hair journey, while transitioning, I shampooed and deep conditioned my hair one fine day but something went wrong.
After my hair dried, it felt squishy and spongy like mashed potatoes. My hair was also very slippery and I could barely hold onto a chunk of it.
I did not realize it until later that I was suffering from over moisturized hair aka over-conditioned hair.
Read on for how I discovered what was wrong and how I rectified the issue plus tips on how to avoid over conditioning your hair.
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Can You Over-Moisturize Natural Hair?
As roundabout as that sounds, yes, you can over-moisturize in the process of trying to get as much moisture as you can into your hair.
Over moisturized hair means you have removed a lot of protein from your hair and created an imbalance in what your hair needs to remain healthy.
What Causes Over Moisturized Hair?
1. Too Many Products At Once
Applying too many products at once in the same treatment session can lead to over moisturized hair.
For instance, in the case I mentioned above, I pre-pooed overnight with oils, shampooed then applied oils.
I followed that up with a deep conditioner then sat under a hair steamer for over an hour. Are you shaking your head yet? My excuse, I was a dumb transitioner then.
2. Moisture/Protein Imbalance
If you continue with repeated moisturizing treatments over a long time without balancing with protein treatments at some point, you will eventually experience over moisturized hair.
Please note hair still requires protein treatments no matter how protein sensitive your hair is.
You do not have to do a hardcore protein treatment to maintain moisture/protein balance.
Shampoos, conditioners and deep conditioners that contain some protein are more than enough.
There are also several oils that mimic the effects of protein such as wheat germ oil.
3. Keeping Hair Perpetually Wet
Yes, natural hair loves moisture but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your strands to the drowned gods.
Keeping your hair constantly wet with moisturizing products for extended periods of time can lead to over moisturized hair.
For instance, you start the say with a wash and go, which is still slightly damp by evening.
Nevertheless, you wet your hair again, cover with a disposable cap keeping it wet all night. Rinse and repeat the next day applying even more moisturizing products.
Doing this for a few days once in a while is fine but if you keep it up for weeks, expect over-moisturization at some point.
This is why ideas like baggying make me nervous but as I said, a few times is fine. Excessive practice is asking for trouble.
4. Excessive Co-Washing
Back to back co-washing without shampooing or balancing out with something else will not lead to healthier, longer or more moisturized hair. Co-washing hair every day is also a big no-no.
As I said above, your hair still needs protein so you can’t keep on moisturizing and moisturizing without balancing it out with protein.
What Happens if You Over Moisturize Your Hair?
How do you know you’ve over moisturized your hair? Well, your hair becomes either squishy like I described above, stretchy, limp or gummy and gross.
Over time, over-moisturized hair will present its own set of problems, which ironically is a weird kind of dryness followed by breakage.
Why? Because the protein (strengthening) structure has been stripped completely from the hair.
Your hair needs both protein and moisture. You cannot have one without the other otherwise you will start experiencing hair loss at some point.
How to Fix Over Conditioned Hair
Whatever you do, do not immediately apply a protein treatment on over-moisturized hair. When I experienced over moisturized hair, there was really no information online to help.
Keep in mind, I was transitioning so I had about 50% relaxed hair and 50% natural hair. I figured I’d done something wrong.
That evening, I clarified my hair with a good shampoo and my hair returned to its proper state. I then applied deep conditioned and steamed for 30 minutes with a hot towel wrapped around my head.
When I rinsed out the deep conditioner, my hair was fine again but that’s because I caught it in time.
I did not assume I needed more moisture and applied even more products. I decided to start from the beginning by clarifying.
Some good clarifying shampoos you can use for this include those I recommended at 22 Clarifying Shampoos That Work Without Damaging Hair.
When you deep condition after shampooing, use a good protein deep conditioner. I made some great recommendations at When to Use Protein Deep Conditioners.
Finally, let your hair dry completely before you do anything else to it. You will need to repeat this process one to several times over a few weeks to restore proper balance to your hair.
How to Prevent Over-Moisturized Hair?
The best way to prevent the incidence of over-moisturized hair is by maintaining a moisture/protein balance in your hair care regimen.
Do not use too much of one to the disadvantage of the other. If your hair is sensitive to protein, you can opt for mild protein.
Read 10 Best Protein Deep Conditioners for Natural Hair for details on choosing products with different types of protein.
You can also mix 2 – 3 dollops of protein into a moisturizing deep treatment to achieve the same results.
By the way, you need a proper protein treatment, not eggs or mayonnaise. Neither of those items is deep protein treatments.
Read Mayonnaise for Natural Hair. Does it Really Work? for reasons why these aren’t proper protein treatments and what they do for hair exactly.
Have you ever experienced over-moisturized hair? Are you currently experiencing over-moisturized hair? Share in the comments section.