Signs Of Curly Hair Moisture Overload, Hygral Fatigue + How To Fix It

moisture overload and hygral fatigue

Moisture overload and hygral fatigue are nightmares for some curly girls.

Hydration, water, and moisturizing curly hair products are a curly girl’s best friend but, as with everything in life, too much of something good can end up being bad.

If you’re experiencing moisture overload or looking for ways to prevent it from happening, this post should help you understand what happens when your hair has too much moisture and what you can do to restore the moisture protein balance.

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What Is Moisture Overload & What Does It Look Like

Moisture overload is simply when your curls are too moisturized. It means that your hair does not have moisture – protein balance, which is important for healthy, defined curls.

To tell if you’re experiencing over hydration, look for these signs or symptoms of moisture overload and hygral fatigue:

  • hair feels too soft when wet
  • lymp hair
  • frizzy hair
  • undefined and loose curls
  • weak hair
  • dryness

What Causes Moisture Overload

Curly hair is known to be prone to dryness and in an effort to ensure that your curls are hydrated and well moisturized, you can actually add too much moisture to your hair.

Moisture overload can be caused by:

  • Using only moisture-rich products
  • Not using hair strengthening protein products
  • Overnight deep conditioning
  • Deep conditioning for longer than is recommended
  • Using the wrong curly girl products for you hair’s porosity

What is Hygral Fatigue

Even though hygral fatigue and moisture overload are used interchangeably, there’s a difference.

Moisture overload actually leads to hygral fatigue.

Hygral fatigue is different from moisture overload, because it happens over time. When your hair goes from wet to dry too often, your follicles become more exposed to swelling and shrinking. Over time, your hair becomes fatigued. So, over moisturizing your hair makes you more likely to experience hygral fatigue.

Hygral fatigue is damage to your hair follicles caused by swelling from excessive moisture.


When your hair follicles are exposed to moisture (water or moisture rich hair products), they swell and when the follicles dry, they shrink. So, hygral fatigue is damage caused by your hair’s over-exposure to moisture and the constant swelling and shrinking of your hair follicles.

how to fix moisture overload, hygral fatigue, protein moisture balance

How To Fix Moisture Overload

The key to is to prevent moisture overload before hygral fatigue kicks in.

To fix moisture overload give your curly hair the moisture it needs and not more than it needs. Using products that contain moisturizing and protein ingredients will help keep your hair balanced.

To determine how much moisture your hair needs, it’s important to evaluate & assess your hair’s:

  1. Porosity – size of your hair cuticle and how moisture is absorbed and retained
  2. Elasticity – how much your hair strands will stretch, which is determined by the moisture of your hair.

With too much moisture and not enough protein, your hair strands will stretch too much and lose definition. However, you can prevent and minimize moisture overload and hygral fatigue from happening.

Steps to fix moisture overload:

  1. Wash Hair with a pre poo treatment
  2. Add curly girl products with protein
  3. Do not wet your curly hair too often

1. Wash Hair With Pre Poo Treatment

Pre poo treatments involve the use of oils, like coconut oil, on your dry hair before shampooing. This helps to reduce protein loss, prevent breakage, hygral fatigue and make detangling easier. For best results, pre poo treatments can be applied from a few hours before you wash your hair to the night before.

2. Add Curly Products With Protein

To fix moisture overload, adding products with protein ingredients to your curly girl routine will help to create moisture-protein balance.

How to tell if a curly girl product has protein is to look for some keywords like:

  • Repair
  • Strengthen
  • Rebuild
  • Enhancing

Popular and easy to spot protein ingredients in curly girl products:

  • Keratin
  • Biotin
  • Collagen
  • Amino Acids
  • Quinoa seed
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Hydrolyzed rice protein
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Hydrolyzed silk protein

As you can see, some of these protein ingredients contain the word “protein”, as well as hydrolyzed. Hydrolyzed basically means that the protein is broken down until it’s small enough to penetrate into your hair shaft to repair any damage.

If this is still too much and you’re unsure of a hair product you want to try, put the product or the ingredients into a site like “Curlscan” and it will quickly let you know if your product is curly girl approved and the types of protein ingredients included.

Use Less Moisture rich Curly Girl Products

If you’re experiencing moisture overload or hygral fatigue, it’s time to change your hair products. If all of the products you use are over hydrating your hair, then switch to minimize the amount of moisture you’re applying to your curls.

So, if you’re looking to add less moisture to your curly girl routine, it’s a good idea to know what the moisturizing ingredients are so that you can limit your use. If these ingredients are high up on the list of product ingredients, then you know that it’s a moisture-rich product.

Moisturizing ingredients in curly hair products:

  • water
  • glycerin
  • aloe
  • honey
  • panthenol
  • cetearyl alcohol
  • cetyl alcohol

3. Stop Wetting Hair Too Much

Wetting your hair too often will lead to the issue of constant swelling and shrinking of your hair follicles.

So try to wash your hair less often and stick to refreshing your curls on the days following your wash day instead of having to completely wet and restyle your hair daily.

Follow A Balanced Protein-Moisture Curly Girl Routine

To fix a moisture overload problem, add more protein into your curly girl routine.

Just be careful and avoid using protein rich products at each stage of your curly hair routine as you will run the risk of protein overload.

Instead, select a few curly girl products that contain protein to include in your curly girl routine:

  1. Pre Poo Treatment
  2. Sulphate Free Shampoo
  3. Strengthening Deep conditioning mask or treatment
  4. Leave in conditioner
  5. Curl Cream
  6. Gel or mousse

The best way to find out exactly what your hair responds to is to experiment. Try out different curly girl products with proteins to see how your hair reacts.

Curly Girl Method Protein Products

These curly girl approved products contain protein ingredients and are incredible for your hair. To purchase on Amazon, just click the product 🙂

Moisture Overload vs Protein Overload

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if you’re experiencing a moisture or a protein overload. The first way you can tell is to assess your current curly girl routine:

  1. Are you washing your hair too often?
  2. Are you wetting and drenching your hair daily?
  3. Do you use conditioner too often ?
  4. Do you leave your conditioner on your hair longer than recommended ?
  5. Check your current curly girl products to see if your routine is too moisture rich

In addition to answering those questions, this table can help you determine whether you are experiencing a moisture or protein overload.

Moisture Overload SignsProtein Overload Signs
Hair strands stretch with no bounce backHair strands have little to no stretch & break easily
Hair is too elasticLow elasticity strands
Limp hairDull hair
Dry, brittle hairHair tangles easily
Hair feels soft & mushyHair feels rough & stiff
Loose, undefined curlsStringy, undefined curls
Frizzy hair
Moisture Overload vs Protein Overload Signs
moisture vs protein overload signs

Knowing what your hair needs is the first step in restoring the moisture, protein balance so that you can get back your defined, bouncy curls. I hope that you’re gained a lot of insight from this post to help you!

Check out this post to see if you are experiencing protein overload.

Before you go, check out these other curly girl posts:

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