The ONE Ingredient Your Hair Moisturizer Should Have

thinkstockphotos-87648227To really find the best moisturizer for you, we’ve got to understand what a moisturizer really is.

Moisturizers can be water-based or oil-based. In oil-based moisturizers water and oil are blended using “emulsifiers”; emulsifiers stop the water and oil from separating. Any good moisturizer will have water so as to hydrate and nourish the hair deeply within the hair shaft. Water-based products are necessary. Anything anhydrous or without water such as a 100% oil-based product will not be an effective moisturizer. This is because oils and waxes DO NOT moisturize. Oils replace lost lipids from the hair, nourish it and can create a barrier to seal in moisture but they do not moisturize.

Using an oil-based product with the hopes of moisturizing the hair won’t work and will likely result in dry hair especially if there is no moisture in the hair shaft. With that said a great moisturizer will contain humectants to draw water into the hair and occlusives to keep it there.

Humectants attract water from the surroundings by absorption into the hair, and adsorption onto the hair, at defined conditions, which include temperature and humidity. When it comes to skin, the essential components to skin moisturization are humectants, emolliency and occlusiveness.

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Glycerin is probably one of the most popular and well-known humectants because it’s very effective and relatively inexpensive. It can absorb its own weight in water over 3 days. However, many naturals avoid products with glycerin because it can leave their hair feeling dry or looking frizzy. As a result, many natural hair care companies are manufacturing products that are “glycerin free”.

Other Humectants
While glycerin is the most well known humectant there are several others. This is where I take issue with some companies that market products as “glycerin free” because they will leave out the glycerin, but often add other humectants. These include:

– agave nectar
– honey
– sodium PCA
– sodium lactate
– propylene glycol
– urea
– honeyquat
– sorbitol
– panthenol

Just to name a few. Certain humectants have more moisture binding capability than others and each humectant is unique bringing other properties to a formulation.

In high humidity frizz can ensue because moisture is taken from the environment into hair resulting in…