When I talk to other women with natural hair online or attend natural hair events, the most asked question is how to keep their hair moisturized. Because naturally textured hair tends to be dry, moisture is crucial for healthy hair. There are tons of products that claim to add moisture to our hair, and new techniques are being shared to optimize moisture. Some naturals are keeping water bottles in their purses, ready to spritz down their hair at a moment’s notice. This might sound like a good idea, but can you over-moisturize your hair?
Surprisingly enough, the answer is yes. You can actually over-moisture your hair and cause more harm than good. Over-moisturizing has a name, and it’s hygral fatigue. Hygral fatigue is when our hair swells when wet, then shrinks as it dries, and that back and forth as you try to keep it constantly moisturized causes breakage. Besides constantly spritzing your hair with water, deep conditioning your hair well beyond the time recommended by the manufacturer or even overnight on a regular basis can cause over-moisturization as well. Totally avoiding protein can also result in hygral fatigue.
How do you know if you’ve gone to far and are suffering from hygral fatigue? Here are some signs to look for:
*Low elasticity. If you have a hard time stretching your hair when it’s wet and it does not return to its natural state after pulling, your hair likely has low elasticity. Elasticity is a balance of moisture and protein in the hair, so when you eliminate protein completely from your hair care routine, it can result in hygral fatigue.
*Limp, gummy or mushy hair. If you hair feels limp, gummy or mushy when wet, that is a strong indication that it is over-moisturized.
What to do:
If you think you are experiencing hygral fatigue, seek the assistance of a hair care professional. You may think that going straight for a protein treatment is the best solution, but too much protein can make the hair brittle, also resulting in breakage. A professional will be able to ascertain the appropriate treatment for your hair.
Preventing hygral fatigue is fairly simple, and some of these things you may already have as a part of your hair care regimen. Applying oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil which are known to penetrate the hair shaft before shampooing can reduce the amount of swelling your hair cuticle experiences. Avoid keeping your hair constantly wet or saturated with moisturizing products, and allow products to dry thoroughly, especially if you like wash-n-go styles.
Remember, the key to healthy hair is balance. Balancing moisture and protein is the key to improving hair elasticity, which helps prevent breakage.