Humectants? Anti-humectants? Proteins?

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  • 1 Post By fihe
  • 2 Post By Geek_Chic

I was taking a look at the product review area of the website, and I'm really confused as to what humectants, anti-humectants, and proteins are used for when it comes to the hair. I know that humectants are good for helping hair retain moisture. I don't see how this is ever a bad thing! Therefore, why are anti-humectants necessary?

Also, I've read on here that some types of hair need more protein than others. How would I know if my hair needs a lot, a little, or none, and what effects does insufficient or excessive protein have on the hair?

Finally, does my heavy consumption of water and protein-rich foods have any effect on my hair?
Neleke likes this.
mostly 2a/2b hair, fine, medium density, low porosity?
When dewpoints climb, like in the summer, humectants can pull too much moisture into the hair, causing it to frizz and get poofy. Even without humectants, hair can poof in high dews. In that case, especially for people with high porosity hair, anti-humectants (like oils) help seal some of the humidity out while simultaneously sealing moisture in. So, the hair is already well moisturized and doesn't need to reach out for more. In low dews, like in winter, the air is drier than the hair and humectants can pull moisture out of it, leaving the hair dry and frizzy. In that case, anti-humectants can help seal moisture in and keep it from escaping as easily as it would otherwise. So, hair stays better moisturized.

Protein is what gives hair structure. People with fine textured hair (small individual strands) generally need to use protein in products to give their hair needed strength and weight. People with coarse textured hair (large individual strands) generally already have an abundance of protein in their hair, so they'll concentrate on moisturizing products to give their hair better flexibility (if that makes sense). This doesn't mean that they never need protein, only that they require it less often and in smaller amounts than others would. People with medium textured hair (in between sized individual strands) can use products with a mix of moisture and protein.

Porosity also plays a role in how much protein someone needs, though maybe not quite as much as texture. High porosity hair is often from damage (coloring, perms, heat) but can be simple genetics. It has a wide open cuticle, which means it gets wet and dries quickly. Even though well moisturized during and directly after a shower, it may get dry by the end of the day. High porosity hair can greatly benefit from protein because it helps fill in the open spots in the cuticle which allows it to hold onto moisture better.

Medium porosity hair has a cuticle that isn't too open or too closed and is middle of the road in terms of protein needs.

Low porosity hair has an overly closed cuticle, so it takes a while to get wet and a long time to dry. Heavier products can sit on the surface instead of absorbing, leaving the hair feeling producty and looking weighed down. It can take some encouragement to get it to accept moisture (or protein), but once absorbed, it hangs onto it. A little gentle heat and/or some additional time are both good for enhancing absorption of product into low porosity hair, whether it's protein or moisture. Some people like to use baking soda (a base) to open the cuticle, then pt or dt because the more open cuticle helps their hair better absorb the pt /dt. Afterward, an ACV rinse will close the cuticle back down, helping to seal in the good stuff they just added into it.

In this case, once you know how to get things to absorb well, it's helpful to look at texture to see what you need to give the hair. Fine, low porosity hair may like a good amount of protein. I know mine likes daily protein and a pt every couple of weeks. Coarse, low porosity hair may prefer daily moisture, and dt's every so often. Medium textured low porosity hair will need a mix of protein and moisture.

If you don't know your texture or porosity yet, this page is a good reference: Live Curly Live Free - Curly Hair Basics.
Neleke and fihe like this.
CG since 11/2011
2c /3a F /Mii, low porosity

Summer Products /Routine:
Clarifying: ACV rinses, Suave Professional Men Deep Clean Peppermint
Low Poo: Renpure Luxurious Argan Oil
Co-washes: VO5 Kiwi Lime Squeeze or Strawberries & Cream
RO: VO5 KLS or S&C, Cure Care
LI (if needed): VO5 S&C, VO5 SC, Cure Care
Stylers: FSG, AIF,
Tresemme Flawless Curls Bouncy Curls gel
PT: IAGirl's (link) as needed
ah, so an anti-humectant is basically a sealer! In that case, I think I'll be getting a lot of use out of my sheen spray this summer. I could have used it today but my hair didn't start to frizz until noon, long after I left the house and my hair products behind

Thank you so much for your helpful advice! I think I'll start to experiment with protein to see how well my hair responds to it.
mostly 2a/2b hair, fine, medium density, low porosity?

Last edited by fihe; 04-10-2013 at 07:57 PM.

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