I have type 4C hair and one of my biggest challenges when it comes to maintaining my fro’s health is moisture retention. When I started researching what moisture retention methods or hacks I could try, I stumbled across “humectants”.
Humecants and how they work is actually very scientific — these are basically materials used in products that have the ability to attract water to the hair. What makes these materials useful? Moisture doesn’t come from products, moisture comes from water so by keeping the moisture levels in your hair high, it gives your hair a higher chance to absorb the moisture; and who doesn’t love a moisturized fro?!
Back to how humectants work; when water is brought into contact with your hair, some of it can be absorbed into the hair shaft thus moisturizing your hair. This can make your hair softer, bouncier, more elastic and less brittle. They also help protect your hair from dry weather and breakage. In figuring out how and when to use these materials or products, it is important to understand the relationship between the weather and humectants ability to draw water molecules from the atmosphere as well as bind them into your hair structure.
Have you noticed how much softer your hair is when it has been raining or when it is humid? Or, after you take a steamy shower without wearing a shower cap? This speaks to moisture coming from water not products which is the same reason humectants are useful for moisture retention. When the humidity is high, humectants may attract too much water to the hair from the wet atmosphere. Water is good for your hair but as the saying goes, too much of a good thing is bad. Likewise, too much water/moisture may cause the loss of shape, dryness and frizz. In fact, it may cause so much damage to your hair that it causes breakage. In conditions where the humidity is extremely low, the use of humectants may draw water out of the hair shaft while results in dryness, which often causes breakage. Fundamentally, the most important thing is to know the type of hair you have and how much moisture it needs to use humectants accordingly.
Some common humectants include:
You should always be aware of what you are putting in or on any part of your body so it works in your favour if you check the labels of whatever product you choose to buy. The materials above should be listed as part of the ingredients in whatever product or moisturizer you choose. Some of these humectants can be used on their own (such as aloe vera and glycerine) which can be added into shea butter to make hair butter.
Now that we’ve covered what Humectants are, how they work and how you can use them, you can apply this knowledge into your routine for a softer, bouncier, and most importantly, healthier fro!
— Katlego Tefu (@thegalwithafro)