What is the difference between a conditioner and a moisturizer?

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Fair warning, this is long and in-depth and is probably going to get sciency

Okay, I read the Curly Girl book and the live curly, live free book and a few others I found on Amazon but I obviously am still confused about which ingredients do what.

I know 'most' oils can act as sealers /anti-humectants.

At some point I looked up some of the fatty alcohols and they were listed as emollients.

I realize some oils can absorb into the hair shaft and aren't really sealers.

I know that every product I've tried with more then 1-2 oils/butters has weighed down my hair.

I thought I understood all this; water equals moisture, emollients are moisturizers, oils and butters are sealers with limited moisturizing abilities, humectants are moisturizers but can cause issues.

But over the last week or so I've read a bunch of posts that lead me to question whether I 'knew' correctly so I did a search for emollients:

Emollients are oils and butters, fatty alcohols are mentioned as an afterthought. ?????

I tried searching for 'moisturizer' and ' conditioning ' but the results aren't what I'm looking for.

I did find this list of ingredient types. Ingredients Commonly Found in Hair Care Products but it still doesn't clarify the terminology:

What does an emollient DO? What properties make it emollient?

What does it mean when it says a group of ingredients 'conditions' the hair?

I always thought a conditioner was used to provide moisture but moisturizing ingredients are humectants and emollients that pull in or help the hair to hold water/moisture,..... right?

So how is a conditioner different from a moisturizer, what does each actually DO?

The list of humectants is mindboggling and at least four hydrolised ingredients I thought would be proteins are listed as humectants, huh?

I know I don't absolutely have to know all this to do CG or have 'good' hair but I kind of feel like I've been giving confusing if not blatantly incorrect advice because I'm using vague terminology, or at least terms that I and those I'm talking to don't fully understand.

I guess what I'm trying to understand is how various helpful ingredients actually help. I 'get' the broad ideas of cleanser, emulsifier, slip, film forming agent .... But those have fairly clear definitions, but the humectant-moisturizer-conditioner thing seems to be three separate yet overlapping categories.

I'm gonna stop talking myself in circles now and hope someone understands this well enough to explain it. Thanks for reading
2A / F / MD / LP / ?E / BSL --- CG since Dec. 2012

This is what I'm happiest with right now.
Co-wash: CJ DailyFix
Lo-poo: DermOrganic low-poo
RO: SS Caitlin's co
Leave-in: SheScentIt Okra Repair condish
PT: SS Caitlin's + SS PT
Stylers: Volumax Mega Gel, Max Green Styling Gel, DermOrganics Spray Gel
Techniques: Plopping & Pixie Diffusing.
glycerin, honey, oils & butters Protein!
I have a related question!

When we say "moisture" do we mean oil or water? Because those are two very different things but I think they're used interchangeably. Oils "moisturize" the hair, but then humectants do as well, and they pull in water.

I know some have said well (most) oils are a sealer so they help keep water in the hair shaft... but then, if i add oil or an emollient-rich product to my dry hair, that will still moisturize it, and there's no water so to speak to "seal in."
2BC/f/II. fine - low/normal porosity - medium density - normal elasticity.

Currently using:
Cowash: Cure Care diluted with water 1:1
RO: Cure Care, V05 Kiwi Lime
Styler: UFD CM (old formula), FSG + CNPF
PT: IAgirl's gelatine

Experimenting with: CeraVe Foaming as low-poo, gelatin gel

light moisture, hydrolized protein, jelly stylers
guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, sulfates
Neutral on cones.

iherb discount code: CFN646
There is overlap in terminology because different ingredients have multiple properties, it's not as simple as neat categories unfortunately. Plus there are industry definitions and lay definitions, and possibly slightly different terminology from country to country! You may also find different ingredients have different effects on skin and hair, so could slot into different categories .... argh!! Remember that skin is fed with water from the inside and potentially attracted from the outside, you can't really seal water out. With hair you could in theory seal water in, seal water out or attract water from the air.

The word 'moisturiser' seems to me to be the term used to have the most different meanings. Moisture = water not oil, if they are used interchangeably they are used incorrectly. A moisturiser is a skincare lotion or cream product (contains water, if it does not it is an ointment or anhydrous balm), you might also describe certain ingredients as moisturisers if they attract or increase water in the skin. From a UK perspective 'moisturiser' doesn't have a distinct meaning in haircare, the equivalent to a skin moisturiser product is a conditioner.

Oils and butters generally are occlusives or barrier agents, colloquially known as sealers. Lanolin and castor oil also have humectant properties but most oils and butters are not moisturiser ingredients in that they repel rather than attract water. However they can be a component of skin moisturiser products and of course haircare conditioners. Some lipids (fats) also have emollient properties, particularly in skincare because they may be able to attract water to the surface of the skin from the inside, in haircare coconut oil can increase elasticity which you could argue is an emollient property.

Fatty alcohols and cationic surfactants are classic emollients or softeners, these ingredients also have weak humectant properties which is partly how they soften the skin, they can also act as emulsifiers (mix oil with water) and so as gentle cleansers! They are classic ingredients in skincare moisturisers and haircare conditioners, if neither ingredient family is prevalent in the formula a product is likely not a conditioner or moisturiser.

The glycosaminglycans in aloe vera, honey, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol and proteins are all classic humectants they attract water fairly strongly (hygroscopic). Many humectants used in skin and hair products are carbohydrates but not all, there are some proteins and fats; table salt and epsom salts also have hygroscopic properties but would more act against hydration of hair than for. The humectant property is partly why too much protein can make hair feel like straw. Humectants are certainly moisturising ingredients, but aren't ideal to use alone, they are as likely to draw water out of the skin or hair as draw it in, they therefore work best balanced with emollients and./ or occlusives.

You don't need to be spot on with your terms but in the right ballpark is helpful, my big bugbear is describing ingredients that do not attract or increase water even repel water as moisturisers. Certainly oils and butters can seal in water if you applied to damp hair, you *might* colloquially describe the total act of wetting hair and then applying oil as 'moisturising'. But that does NOT make a plain oil or butter a moisturiser, if you apply an oil or butter to dry hair you have not 'moisturised' because water has not been added or increased.

If you applied a conditioner product to dry hair you *might* colloquially describe that act as 'moisturising', since you are adding the water found within the product and the ingredients might be able to attract more water from the air. It is my bugbear because it's clear some people end up thinking they can condition or moisturise with occlusives alone, they then miss out on all the benefits of the classic humectants and emollients.

Someone else may well give you different answers tho!
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect
I have a related question!

When we say "moisture" do we mean oil or water? Because those are two very different things but I think they're used interchangeably. Oils "moisturize" the hair, but then humectants do as well, and they pull in water.

I know some have said well (most) oils are a sealer so they help keep water in the hair shaft... but then, if i add oil or an emollient-rich product to my dry hair, that will still moisturize it, and there's no water so to speak to "seal in."
Originally Posted by wavydaze
Moisture = water, that cannot be up for debate even if everything else can. Most oils or butters used alone do not moisturise the hair, that is an incorrect use of the word, they do not increase or add to the water content of the hair (hydration).

Your hair might feel silkier, softer or more elastic, you might correctly describe the result as emollient or at a push even conditioning. Moisturising and conditioning are not one and the same, tho there is overlap. By contrast it might be correct to say an emollient rich product has moisturised your hair if it is increasing hydration.

It's like US citizens describing any supplement in pill format as a 'vitamin', just because your friends call it that does not mean it is and it is unhelpful to others to use the wrong term. Any health professional needs to know if you are really taking vitamins (A, B complex, C, E) or actually taking minerals, herbal remedies or essential fatty acids.

Just because words are used by people incorrectly doesn't change the meaning of a word, at best it adds a meaning (slang). The problem with slang is that it is not universal, it's specific to a friendship group, generation, culture, college, city, country. When we are talking science, albeit at an amateur level, and have newbies and different nationalities in the same conversation it's deeply unhelpful to accept erroneous definitions or slang for words like 'moisturise' and 'vitamins'. All that happens is that people get confused and misunderstand one another.
artemis513 and curlyink3b like this.
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect

Last edited by Firefox7275; 06-19-2013 at 11:15 PM.
I have a related question!

When we say "moisture" do we mean oil or water? Because those are two very different things but I think they're used interchangeably. Oils "moisturize" the hair, but then humectants do as well, and they pull in water.

I know some have said well (most) oils are a sealer so they help keep water in the hair shaft... but then, if i add oil or an emollient-rich product to my dry hair, that will still moisturize it, and there's no water so to speak to "seal in."
Originally Posted by wavydaze
Moisture = water, that cannot be up for debate even if everything else can. Most oils or butters used alone do not moisturise the hair, that is an incorrect use of the word, they do not increase or add to the water content of the hair (hydration).
Originally Posted by Firefox7275
.The word 'moisturiser' seems to me to be the term used to have the most different meanings. Moisture = water not oil, if they are used interchangeably they are used incorrectly. A moisturiser is a skincare lotion or cream product (contains water, if it does not it is an ointment or anhydrous balm), you might also describe certain ingredients as moisturisers if they attract or increase water in the skin. From a UK perspective 'moisturiser' doesn't have a distinct meaning in haircare, the equivalent to a skin moisturiser product is a conditioner.
Originally Posted by Firefox7275
Okay, this has been a lot of my confusion, I know from CG books and others here that most oils and butters are occlusives/sealers and don't 'moisturize'.
I know this from personal experience with Natural hand & body lotions that are usually oil/butter based. Using these so called all-natural moisturizing lotions caused sort of dry skin to first feel just weird all day, then dry within a few hours, then dry to the point that it felt like my skin was going to shrivel up and fall off to the point that I finally switched back to mainstream lotions in order to get a positive result.

I was telling other curlies to cut down on oils/butters and look for more emollient ingredients (I think I'll leave the emollient thing for another post). But over the course of maybe a week I saw at least half a dozen posts from curlies who 'moisturize' with oils and/or butters. I finally began to think I was wrong.

I guess a lot of the confusion is in how ingredients are combined and the claims made by haircare companies (natural and mainstream).
We are told jojoba oil is great because it is closest to the skins natural oils: this leads to the assumption that these 'natural skin oils' are what is doing the moisturizing.
We are told that hair and skin care products loaded with oils and butters are 'moisturizing' : but these products often have water or aloe (humectant !) as the main ingredient, we miss this part and assume if a product with oils/butters is moisturizing then the oils/butters on their own must be too.

In the US too, conditioners are for hair and moisturizers are for skin but both product types claim to moisturize (usually as the main benefit) and often contain the same ingredients.

So to sum up (this part); Only water can moisturize. Oils/butters generally can only help to hold in water that is already present in the hair

I definitely want to post on some more of your response Firefox, but I've gotta go to work. More later. And thanks for all your help and knowledge!
curlypearl and Firefox7275 like this.
2A / F / MD / LP / ?E / BSL --- CG since Dec. 2012

This is what I'm happiest with right now.
Co-wash: CJ DailyFix
Lo-poo: DermOrganic low-poo
RO: SS Caitlin's co
Leave-in: SheScentIt Okra Repair condish
PT: SS Caitlin's + SS PT
Stylers: Volumax Mega Gel, Max Green Styling Gel, DermOrganics Spray Gel
Techniques: Plopping & Pixie Diffusing.
glycerin, honey, oils & butters Protein!
So, what do oils do on dry hair in fact?

I'm still on a mission to tame the frizzies in dry hair, and I have tried the following things:
- try to tame them with wet hands (just water: didn't work)
- try to tame them with wet hands (water) that I covered with a bit of conditioner and water again: did work, but made my hair a bit greasier as well
- try to tame with wet hands (water + either jojoba oil, coconut oil or shea oil): worked but for some reason I don't like the idea of putting "straight" oil on my hair
- try to tame with wet hands: water + conditioner + one of the three oils: worked, but still no perfection...

What would be the best thing to tame my frizzies in dry hair then? (spraying things doesn't work, either it doesn't have any antifrizzeffect or it weighs my hair down)
2c: fine texture, normal porosity, normal elasticity, normal-high density
CG since March 8th 2013
Low Poo: Rainforest Radiance shampoo
Conditioner: Yes to Cucumbers
Styler: BRHG, Garnier Fructis Gel
PT: Gliss Kur Repair & Volume


iherb.com: get a 5$ discount on orders under 40$ or a 10$ discount on orders over 40$ when you order for your first order by using the following discount code: CFH441
Good thread! In my posts, when I say my hair was moisturized, or the product was moisturizing (referring to conditioner, stylers, or whatever), I simply mean the opposite of dry, lol.

The only oil I use as a treatment is coconut oil, because it is penetrating.

Neleke, I use butters to tame frizzies during the day and to SOTC, and use only very small amounts to "seal" the hair.
2C/ Coarse/ Normal porosity/ SW Florida/ Salt & Pepper
Cleanse: CJ Daily Fix, JC Cleansing Cream, TJ Tea Tree Condish
Condish: JC Too Shea, CJ Curl Rehab (both as RO & LI)
Stylers: UFD CM, CJ PP, JC Spiralicious, Darcy's Cream Gel & Cocoa bean whip
A product can be called anything the manufacturer wants to call it. Just because a product is called a moisturizing conditioner doesn't mean it is. Just like something called a cleansing conditioner can have a mild surfactant or not--if it has a surfactant, is it really a lowpoo?? There are a lot of things to question, which is why you have to become savvy in reading ingredient lists, read and learn.

The other issue is about information that one reads on the internet. Just because someone says it, doesn't mean it's true. When you read posts on nc.com (or any other message board), you have to consider it to be the poster's opinion. As you read more, you will learn who has the knowledge and who is speculating with their answers. There's a lot of misinformation given, so "buyer beware." It's obvious from Firefox's posts that she has a scientific background and gives excellent technical information when she answers questions. That's not true of all of the posters, so you need to be careful when reading information on any site.

It can be really confusing because one reads conflicting information. So, just use caution when you read anything.
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
modified CG, since April '07
CG since 3/11/08

SE PA

HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic (now Hello Curly Curl Stimulater); Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Marie Dean Leave Ins and Curl Creams
A product can be called anything the manufacturer wants to call it. Just because a product is called a moisturizing conditioner doesn't mean it is. Just like something called a cleansing conditioner can have a mild surfactant or not--if it has a surfactant, is it really a lowpoo?? There are a lot of things to question, which is why you have to become savvy in reading ingredient lists, read and learn.

The other issue is about information that one reads on the internet. Just because someone says it, doesn't mean it's true. When you read posts on nc.com (or any other message board), you have to consider it to be the poster's opinion. As you read more, you will learn who has the knowledge and who is speculating with their answers. There's a lot of misinformation given, so "buyer beware." It's obvious from Firefox's posts that she has a scientific background and gives excellent technical information when she answers questions. That's not true of all of the posters, so you need to be careful when reading information on any site.

It can be really confusing because one reads conflicting information. So, just use caution when you read anything.
Originally Posted by kathymack
Thank you *blushes* and some sage advice here (emboldened). It's worth noting that people should absolutely check and clarify anything I say too, anyone can misunderstand, forget, be out of date. I very much can be biased - notable interest in reactive skin and porous hair, not a fan of most butters or silicones for hair to say the least. Plenty of opinion in my posts, something I'd do far less of in my work environment.

I'd really encourage people to read the more science-based blogs: Natural Haven, Swiftcraftymonkey, 'curl chemist' articles here on NC for example, Beauty Brains. But not Truth in Aging which is littered with sales bias and pseudoscience. For skincare BareFacedTruth is high quality, the guy who writes has the a solid pedigree in research, he can back everything up with study after study. His nature identical cytokines could be a big thing in scalp care and hair loss in the future.
artemis513, Lynaea and _Eva_ like this.
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect
What would be the best thing to tame my frizzies in dry hair then? (spraying things doesn't work, either it doesn't have any antifrizzeffect or it weighs my hair down)
Originally Posted by Neleke
Neleke - when I put coconut oil on dry hair, at first it tames the frizz, but over some number of hours it seems to straighten my hair, make it dryer, and make it frizzier. Coconut oil is a weird one because it penetrates, though, so I'm not sure exactly what's happening. Maybe what I should take from this post is that I need actual moisture.

Chloe - what exactly do you use? I know you're not buttering your hair like a baking dish

Kathymack - your posts, along with Firefox's, are the ones I look to for good solid information
Salt & pepper wavy mix 2B/2C
Low to normal porosity, coarse, kinky, normal elasticity
Current favorites:
Low poo: Yes To Cukes Color Protection (the no sulfate one)
Conditioners: Renpure MPHIP, CJ Smoothing Lotion, AB LI, CJ Curl Rehab, CJ Argan/Olive, Darcy's Pumpkin
Style: FSG, BRHG
Pre-poo/DT: Conditioner with honey & coconut oil

iHerb discount code: PNQ285
I know some have said well (most) oils are a sealer so they help keep water in the hair shaft... but then, if i add oil or an emollient-rich product to my dry hair, that will still moisturize it, and there's no water so to speak to "seal in."
Originally Posted by wavydaze
Moisture = water, that cannot be up for debate even if everything else can. Most oils or butters used alone do not moisturise the hair, that is an incorrect use of the word, they do not increase or add to the water content of the hair (hydration).

Your hair might feel silkier, softer or more elastic, you might correctly describe the result as emollient or at a push even conditioning. Moisturising and conditioning are not one and the same, tho there is overlap. By contrast it might be correct to say an emollient rich product has moisturised your hair if it is increasing hydration.
Originally Posted by Firefox7275
Okay, so moisturize with water and condition with oils/butters. I can understand that easily. But if the effect is the same, silkier, softer, more elastic or simply not dry hair, what does it matter? I guess it's always good to be more specific. Or does it matter because for some folks moisturizing works but conditioning doesn't or the other way around? Like some people need more humectants and others more emolients? Or most people need both?
2BC/f/II. fine - low/normal porosity - medium density - normal elasticity.

Currently using:
Cowash: Cure Care diluted with water 1:1
RO: Cure Care, V05 Kiwi Lime
Styler: UFD CM (old formula), FSG + CNPF
PT: IAgirl's gelatine

Experimenting with: CeraVe Foaming as low-poo, gelatin gel

light moisture, hydrolized protein, jelly stylers
guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, sulfates
Neutral on cones.

iherb discount code: CFN646
Curly grey- I use about 5 drops of jojoba oil applied after my leave in, but before styling products, to seal in moisture- applied mainly to my ends and crown. Then, to SOTC I use a little less than a pea sized amount of either Jane carter nourish & shine or spiral solutions Emollience, emulsified in my hands. They add shine to my hair. There's a VERY fine line between the right amount and too much.

I use coconut oil straight up overnight about once a month. There's no way I could leave the house like this. It's grease ball city!
CurlyGrey3 likes this.
2C/ Coarse/ Normal porosity/ SW Florida/ Salt & Pepper
Cleanse: CJ Daily Fix, JC Cleansing Cream, TJ Tea Tree Condish
Condish: JC Too Shea, CJ Curl Rehab (both as RO & LI)
Stylers: UFD CM, CJ PP, JC Spiralicious, Darcy's Cream Gel & Cocoa bean whip

Last edited by chloe92us; 06-20-2013 at 08:12 AM.
Neleke - when I put coconut oil on dry hair, at first it tames the frizz, but over some number of hours it seems to straighten my hair, make it dryer, and make it frizzier. Coconut oil is a weird one because it penetrates, though, so I'm not sure exactly what's happening. Maybe what I should take from this post is that I need actual moisture.
Originally Posted by CurlyGrey3
I've heard of this reaction before. For me it has the opposite reaction... it softens and makes my hair curlier unless of course it's overconditioned.

It might be because you have coarse hair? Coconut oil is supposed to help with protein retention, and many coarse haired curlies have issues with protein so maybe that is in the mix.

I've had good look w/ oils in my hair... jojoba, coconut, olive, both on wet hair and dry. The problem is they take a while to absorb and even application is quite tricky so I would have parts of my hair that were left on the stringy side and others that were naked. That is why I now prefer leave-in conditioners which are typically an emulsion of water and oils/emollients.
2BC/f/II. fine - low/normal porosity - medium density - normal elasticity.

Currently using:
Cowash: Cure Care diluted with water 1:1
RO: Cure Care, V05 Kiwi Lime
Styler: UFD CM (old formula), FSG + CNPF
PT: IAgirl's gelatine

Experimenting with: CeraVe Foaming as low-poo, gelatin gel

light moisture, hydrolized protein, jelly stylers
guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, sulfates
Neutral on cones.

iherb discount code: CFN646
Neleke - when I put coconut oil on dry hair, at first it tames the frizz, but over some number of hours it seems to straighten my hair, make it dryer, and make it frizzier. Coconut oil is a weird one because it penetrates, though, so I'm not sure exactly what's happening. Maybe what I should take from this post is that I need actual moisture.
Originally Posted by CurlyGrey3
I've heard of this reaction before. For me it has the opposite reaction... it softens and makes my hair curlier unless of course it's overconditioned.

It might be because you have coarse hair? Coconut oil is supposed to help with protein retention, and many coarse haired curlies have issues with protein so maybe that is in the mix.

I've had good look w/ oils in my hair... jojoba, coconut, olive, both on wet hair and dry. The problem is they take a while to absorb and even application is quite tricky so I would have parts of my hair that were left on the stringy side and others that were naked. That is why I now prefer leave-in conditioners which are typically an emulsion of water and oils/emollients.
Originally Posted by wavydaze
I was thinking it was something like this. OTOH, I've had great luck with doing a long pre-poo with a combo of conditioner, coconut oil, and honey. I added the conditioner just to make it easier to distribute, but maybe my hair wants the moisture with the oil. Or maybe I'm just washing the oil away before it has time to penetrate
Salt & pepper wavy mix 2B/2C
Low to normal porosity, coarse, kinky, normal elasticity
Current favorites:
Low poo: Yes To Cukes Color Protection (the no sulfate one)
Conditioners: Renpure MPHIP, CJ Smoothing Lotion, AB LI, CJ Curl Rehab, CJ Argan/Olive, Darcy's Pumpkin
Style: FSG, BRHG
Pre-poo/DT: Conditioner with honey & coconut oil

iHerb discount code: PNQ285
Okay, so moisturize with water and condition with oils/butters. I can understand that easily. But if the effect is the same, silkier, softer, more elastic or simply not dry hair, what does it matter? I guess it's always good to be more specific. Or does it matter because for some folks moisturizing works but conditioning doesn't or the other way around? Like some people need more humectants and others more emolients? Or most people need both?
Originally Posted by wavydaze
I didn't say to condition with oils and butters. You normally condition with products containing emollients like fatty alcohols and cationic surfactants, you may or may not also have humectants and occlusives in a conditioner formula. You might just about get away with describing the feeling after oiling your hair as conditioned, it's preferable to inaccurately describing the feeling as moisturised. What something feels like is not necessarily what it is, feeling dry doesn't mean your hair is lacking in water, my hair can feel rough and 'dry' when I have overproteined but it's still dripping wet.


I've explained why I think it matters to use roughly the right words
"You don't need to be spot on with your terms but in the right ballpark is helpful, my big bugbear is describing ingredients that do not attract or increase water even repel water as moisturisers. Certainly oils and butters can seal in water if you applied to damp hair, you *might* colloquially describe the total act of wetting hair and then applying oil as 'moisturising'. But that does NOT make a plain oil or butter a moisturiser, if you apply an oil or butter to dry hair you have not 'moisturised' because water has not been added or increased.

If you applied a conditioner product to dry hair you *might* colloquially describe that act as 'moisturising', since you are adding the water found within the product and the ingredients might be able to attract more water from the air. It is my bugbear because it's clear some people end up thinking they can condition or moisturise with occlusives alone, they then miss out on all the benefits of the classic humectants and emollients
."

"Just because words are used by people incorrectly doesn't change the meaning of a word, at best it adds a meaning (slang). The problem with slang is that it is not universal, it's specific to a friendship group, generation, culture, college, city, country. When we are talking science, albeit at an amateur level, and have newbies and different nationalities in the same conversation it's deeply unhelpful to accept erroneous definitions or slang for words like 'moisturise' and 'vitamins'. All that happens is that people get confused and misunderstand one another."
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect

Last edited by Firefox7275; 06-20-2013 at 09:31 AM.
Neleke - when I put coconut oil on dry hair, at first it tames the frizz, but over some number of hours it seems to straighten my hair, make it dryer, and make it frizzier. Coconut oil is a weird one because it penetrates, though, so I'm not sure exactly what's happening. Maybe what I should take from this post is that I need actual moisture.
Originally Posted by CurlyGrey3
You maybe need to rely on other ingredients for clumping, fatty alcohols are good for this maybe you need more product. Use your coconut oil within a conditioner base or dry pre-wash soaks to reduce porosity.

"Both coconut oil and mineral oil enhance clumping of adjacent hair strands. This mechanism aids in curl formation, definition of curl pattern, and curl retention. Capillary adhesion, the mechanism by which this is possible, occurs when oils form sufficiently thick films on the surfaces of hair strands and capillary forces between adjacent hairs attract them to one another, effectively binding them into clumps.

Researchers found that capillary adhesion between hair fibers remains constant with mineral oil, but is found to decrease over time with coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil. The reason for this is that the very non-polar mineral oil molecules remain on the surface of the cuticle of the hair. In contrast, the saturated or mono-unsaturated fruit and vegetable oils in this study slowly penetrate into the cell membrane complex (CMC) and are transported into the hair shaft.

As this diffusion occurs, the film thickness on the surface of the hair gradually decreases, which diminishes capillary forces. As a result the cuticle scale structure begins to dominate the behavior of the surface of the hair once more, and subsequent tangling and frizz can occur
."
Mineral Oil Versus Coconut Oil: Which is better?
CurlyGrey3 likes this.
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect
You maybe need to rely on other ingredients for clumping, fatty alcohols are good for this maybe you need more product. Use your coconut oil within a conditioner base or dry pre-wash soaks to reduce porosity.
Originally Posted by Firefox7275
I was just trying it to see if it could smooth frizz on second day hair - and it was terrible at that for me.

A question. What's the minimum amount of time coconut oil can be on the hair to be useful as a pre-wash soak? I've mentioned before that my hair loves the Suave Coconut + coconut oil + honey pre-poo and the longest I've done that is two hours. Is it a waste of time/money to put coconut oil in there if it takes longer to penetrate?
Salt & pepper wavy mix 2B/2C
Low to normal porosity, coarse, kinky, normal elasticity
Current favorites:
Low poo: Yes To Cukes Color Protection (the no sulfate one)
Conditioners: Renpure MPHIP, CJ Smoothing Lotion, AB LI, CJ Curl Rehab, CJ Argan/Olive, Darcy's Pumpkin
Style: FSG, BRHG
Pre-poo/DT: Conditioner with honey & coconut oil

iHerb discount code: PNQ285
A question. What's the minimum amount of time coconut oil can be on the hair to be useful as a pre-wash soak? I've mentioned before that my hair loves the Suave Coconut + coconut oil + honey pre-poo and the longest I've done that is two hours. Is it a waste of time/money to put coconut oil in there if it takes longer to penetrate?
Originally Posted by CurlyGrey3
I don't think it is a waste of time and money, but you will probably get the best results from longer exposure times or by applying heat (heat cap, blow dryer, shower cap and towel if you have a warm head) or frequent treatments. You don't need pricey branded/ extra virgin coconut oil either, the studies are using basic refined oil.

One of the studies left the oil overnight because the researchers were aiming to mimic how certain ethnic groups use coconut oil. Another was looking at diffusion into the cortex after twenty four hours, not to say you won't get absorption occurring faster just the research has not been done on shorter time frames.

My gut instinct would be you could get results in two hours especially with some heat because the molecules are small and have an affinity for protein. You can certainly get excellent diffusion of semi permanent dye molecules into hair than endures for weeks or months with a two to four hour treatment. But that is done on dry porous hair and works best with a high pigment product (lots of molecules). The more you dilute the coconut oil the less opportunity there is for lauric acid molecules to diffuse in so maybe do more oil, less honey, less conditioner and be sure the hair is only slightly damp?

http://journal.scconline.org/pdf/cc2...283-p00295.pdf
http://journal.scconline.org/pdf/cc2...169-p00184.pdf
CurlyGrey3 likes this.
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect
Thanks, Firefox! I do put it on dry hair. The only way for me to stick to an amount of coconut oil that I can comfortably cowash out is to mix it with the conditioner, otherwise I have a terrible time distributing it evenly. I'll play around with the proportions, though, and see what I get.

I wish someone would do a study for a shorter amount of time!
Salt & pepper wavy mix 2B/2C
Low to normal porosity, coarse, kinky, normal elasticity
Current favorites:
Low poo: Yes To Cukes Color Protection (the no sulfate one)
Conditioners: Renpure MPHIP, CJ Smoothing Lotion, AB LI, CJ Curl Rehab, CJ Argan/Olive, Darcy's Pumpkin
Style: FSG, BRHG
Pre-poo/DT: Conditioner with honey & coconut oil

iHerb discount code: PNQ285
Firefox, when I say a "product is moisturizing", "provided moisture", "hair felt moisturized", should the proper terminology be something like "my hair felt conditioned"? I think I'm more confused than ever about when to use moisturized as a description! Moisturized as an adjective, to me, means the opposite of dry (referring to hair that is either wet or dry!).
2C/ Coarse/ Normal porosity/ SW Florida/ Salt & Pepper
Cleanse: CJ Daily Fix, JC Cleansing Cream, TJ Tea Tree Condish
Condish: JC Too Shea, CJ Curl Rehab (both as RO & LI)
Stylers: UFD CM, CJ PP, JC Spiralicious, Darcy's Cream Gel & Cocoa bean whip

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