Let’s whip up the scenario for you. With each passing day your curls are losing their helical twists, gravity defying springiness and is starting to look limp, frizzy or weighed down and you’re freaked out beyond your wits. Right? Yeah you aren’t alone.
What you may be experiencing is hygral fatigue – a common issue for curly hair caused by using products that are too heavy.
The good news is moisture overload is easy to fix with a few simple adjustments to your hair care routine.
Hygral fatigue (also called moisture overload) happens when curly hair becomes oversaturated with moisture, causing the hair cuticle to swell and lift. This leads to frizz, lack of definition, long dry times and inability to hold a curl.
Telltale Signs that Your Hair Is Experiencing Hygral Fatigue
- Your curls lack that characteristic spring and bounce. Instead, they look limp and stretched out as if being weighed down.
- That frizz monster is back in full force and then some – likely from your cuticles lifting to let in even more moisture.
- Drying time is interminably long. We’re talking hours or even overnight.
- Your curls won’t hold no matter how much product you use.
- Your once glossy, vibrant curls now look dull and lifeless.
- Poufy, undefined ends but flat roots – not exactly the banging curl look you’re going for.
- When you touch your hair, the texture feels moist, coarse and brittle instead of silky smooth.
If this sad hair saga sounds familiar, your beloved curls have unfortunately developed a bad case of moisture overload. But no need to panic. Hygral fatigue is a temporary condition that can be reversed.
Follow these 9 tips to avoid hygral fatigue and keep your curls healthy, defined and bouncy.
1. Clarify On A Regular Basis
Product buildup is a major cause of moisture overload. All those heavy creams, butters and oils settle onto your hair over time.
Clarifying shampoos remove buildup so moisture can properly absorb into your hair. Use a clarifying shampoo once a week or as needed if your hair seems dull or lifeless.
I recommend using a clarifying shampoo atleast once a week or as needed if your hair starts looking dull or lifeless. Really focus it on your roots and scalp where buildup accumulates.
Follow up with a nourishing conditioner or mask, since clarifying can dry your strands.
2. Skip On The Heavy Creams
Thick creams seem like the perfect solution for dry, thirsty curls. But hair saturated with creamy products can quickly become over-conditioned.
Instead of glopping on rich creams, opt for lightweight leave-in conditioners and curl creams. These formulas are water-based rather than cream-based, so they hydrate hair without weighing it down.
Look for leave-ins and stylers with lightweight ingredients like aloe vera juice, glycerin, or argan oil. These products provide the perfect balance of hydration and moisture.
Your curls will soak up these lighter formulas while still maintaining bounce, movement and definition. Think of it as if you’re giving your hair a tall, refreshing glass of icy mojito on a hot day instead of a heavy milkshake.
3. Give Protein Enrichment Treatments A Try
Protein helps strengthen and reinforce your hair’s structure. A periodic protein treatment can help combat moisture overload.
Look for protein treatments with keratin, amino acids or collagen. These powerhouse protein sources attach to your hair strands to reinforce that weakened cuticle structure.
I recommend using a protein hair mask or deep conditioner once every 2-4 weeks until your hair regains its balance and bounce. Just don’t overdo it – too much protein can make hair brittle.
Focus the protein treatment mostly on your strand ends, rather than roots, to avoid protein overload.
4. Cut Down on Usage Of Heavy Oils
Oils lock in moisture and provide lubrication for frizz-free curls. But just a few drops will do, no need to go overboard with them!
Regular use of heavy oils like coconut oil, olive oil and castor oil can quickly oversaturate hair. It’s better if you stick to lighter oils like jojoba, argan or grapeseed instead.
5. Air Dry Whenever Possible
Needless to say, unless you’re in a hurry for work or party avoid heat styling as much as possible. Letting your curls air dry helps hair retain moisture. It’s best if you shower a few hours ahead of your work schedule to have ample time at hand for letting your hair dry naturally.
Diffusing is a much gentler option than blow drying if you do need to use heat. Also, never forget to use a heat protectant spray to minimize damage when heat styling.
6. Avoid Silicones
At first glance, silicone seems like a curly girl’s best friend. It smoothes frizz, brings major shine, and helps define those coils. What’s not to love?
Well, not quite an ally. Silicone tends to builds up on your hair strands, blocking moisture from properly penetrating the cuticle. This gradually leads to dry, thirsty hair – yet unable to absorb hydration!
Check your product labels and opt for silicone-free options.
7. Skip the Brush
Brushing curls not only leads to frizz and breakage due to the delicate curl pattern but can also make it worse by spreading the product build-up to other unaffected areas of your hair. Instead, use your fingers or a wide-tooth comb only when hair is wet.
8. Check the Weather
When the forecast calls for a humid hair day, swap out your moisture-rich styling products. Opt for lightweight gels, foams or mousses instead. These provide definition without causing fatigue.
If you live in regions with arid climates, use extra moisturizing products to prevent parched hair and brittle ends.
9. Give Your Curls a Break
Between daily wash and style routines, heat tools, chemical treatments – it’s a lot for your locks to handle. And long-term, this daily styling grind can lead to fatigue and moisture overload.
That’s why I recommend giving your hair a break once a week. Pull it back into a low maintenance ponytail or bun. Or go completely product-free for a day.
This hair holiday allows your curls to rebalance and absorb moisture properly again.
Be patient through the adjustment period as your hair regains its balance. With some tweaks to your products and routine, your curls will get their gravity defying bounce back!
The Bottom Line?
It’s pretty straightforward really, don’t overdo heavy product and heat based hair care routines if you don’t want your curls to experience hygral fatigue. Clarify regularly, use lighter leave-ins, incorporate protein treatments and avoid heavy oils and silicones. Also, cut back on heat styling and brushing.
With a little trial and error, you’ll pinpoint the sweet spot of customized curl care routine to keep your curls hydrated and defined. Wave goodbye to limp locks and enjoy healthy, vibrant and well-balanced curls!