Aloe Vera = Humectant?

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This has come up a couple of times now, and my inner nerd wants to get to the bottom of it!!!

Afrosheenqueen recently provided this link: http://www.cosmeticscop.com/cosmetic...ictionary.aspx which is from the Paula's Choice website. It lists aloe vera as a "water-binding agent," which, according to the same source, is synonymous with "humectant."

We just had another conversation about this very thing, and Jillipoo says aloe vera is not a humectant... http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlta...19962#poststop I'm not sure what her source is, but I'm hoping she can provide it!

Nowhere does the CurlChemist list aloe vera as a humectant. (See http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlre...tants-and-hair and http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlre...are-humectants)

So, I'm confused. If it IS a humectant, this blows several of my theories, which is fine, but it means I need to reassess some other things I'm doing, LOL!

Anyone have additional input?



Hair is best when wabi-sabi.
2b/2c at this length, more 3a when shorter
M/C ii

Mod CG: Sept 08
Using: Suave co-wash, GVP Conditioning Balm, Lustrasilk OOC, MGA, BRHG
Humectants: @ dew point 40+
My blog for dry climate curlies and growing out a pixie: Colorado Curly

Last edited by ReddishRocks; 12-15-2008 at 05:30 PM. Reason: duh... forgot to subscribe to this one!
I am very interested to find out more about this as well. I have never heard anyone call this a humectant.

- Silicone is listed as water-binding as well and that isn't a humectant (for my hair at least). She does say that they are water-binding to skin, not hair, as well. Her list of water binding agents: ceramide, lecithin, glycerin, polysaccharides, hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, mucopolysaccharides, sodium PCA, collagen, elastin, proteins, amino acids, cholesterol, glucose, sucrose, fructose, glycog en, phospholipids, glycosphingolipids, and glycosaminoglycans. Pretty much everything...

- This website also proposes that sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate is safe and gentle on hair. I know that this is not true for my hair.
I am very interested to find out more about this as well. I have never heard anyone call this a humectant.

- Silicone is listed as water-binding as well and that isn't a humectant (for my hair at least). She does say that they are water-binding to skin, not hair, as well. Her list of water binding agents: ceramide, lecithin, glycerin, polysaccharides, hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, mucopolysaccharides, sodium PCA, collagen, elastin, proteins, amino acids, cholesterol, glucose, sucrose, fructose, glycog en, phospholipids, glycosphingolipids, and glycosaminoglycans. Pretty much everything...

- This website also proposes that sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate is safe and gentle on hair. I know that this is not true for my hair.
Originally Posted by vkb247
I'm assuming you're referring to the Paula's Choice site, yes? I dug deeper into her SLS stance (http://www.cosmeticscop.com/skin-car...h-sulfate.aspx), and I can see why she says it's SAFE to use. I didn't see where she referred to it as being gentle, but I didn't exactly scour the site (I feel like I'm guano-ing my own thread, LOL!). I would be VERY upset to find Paula referring to SLS as gentle after the research she cites in that link...

Full disclosure: I use Paula's Choice skin care products, and I'm reasonably happy with them. I tend to trust her, but I know there has been some question in the past about the information in her books being correct.

That list of humectants from her site matches up with what the Curl Chemist says on NaturallyCurly.com, but perhaps there is some semantic confusion with the words "water binding agent", since Paula's lists both silicone and aloe vera as such.



Hair is best when wabi-sabi.
2b/2c at this length, more 3a when shorter
M/C ii

Mod CG: Sept 08
Using: Suave co-wash, GVP Conditioning Balm, Lustrasilk OOC, MGA, BRHG
Humectants: @ dew point 40+
My blog for dry climate curlies and growing out a pixie: Colorado Curly
I thought that maybe that was the case but I looked up humectant and it says "See water-binding."

In her dictionary under Sodium Laureth sulfate Paula says:"Can be derived from coconut; it is used primarily as a detergent cleansing agent. It is considered gentle and effective."

I am interested to know the "correct" answer on this as I am an info nerd like that, but I know that my hair does not react the same way to AVG as it does to glycerin. When I use glycerin in Bermuda's ultra humid weather then my hair will stay moist when I am outside, if I use avg (which I do on a regular basis) this same thing doesn't happen. I say if it works for you then don't stop using it because it is included in a category you think doesn't work for you.

I love humectants because of the humidity here but I was planning to leave them alone for my upcoming trip to the States. But my hair reggie will fall completely to pieces without AVG. I don't go a day without it in some form or another...
I thought that maybe that was the case but I looked up humectant and it says "See water-binding."

In her dictionary under Sodium Laureth sulfate Paula says:"Can be derived from coconut; it is used primarily as a detergent cleansing agent. It is considered gentle and effective."

I am interested to know the "correct" answer on this as I am an info nerd like that, but I know that my hair does not react the same way to AVG as it does to glycerin. When I use glycerin in Bermuda's ultra humid weather then my hair will stay moist when I am outside, if I use avg (which I do on a regular basis) this same thing doesn't happen. I say if it works for you then don't stop using it because it is included in a category you think doesn't work for you.

I love humectants because of the humidity here but I was planning to leave them alone for my upcoming trip to the States. But my hair reggie will fall completely to pieces without AVG. I don't go a day without it in some form or another...
Originally Posted by vkb247
ARGH! "Gentle and effective" my left butt cheek!

And I'm with you on AVG working differently than glycerin. I wouldn't totally drop it from my regime, but I'd definitely use less of it. I can't get rid of KCCC - I think I'd cry! But this may mean I lay off the FOTE + KBB SS on top of the KCCC...



Hair is best when wabi-sabi.
2b/2c at this length, more 3a when shorter
M/C ii

Mod CG: Sept 08
Using: Suave co-wash, GVP Conditioning Balm, Lustrasilk OOC, MGA, BRHG
Humectants: @ dew point 40+
My blog for dry climate curlies and growing out a pixie: Colorado Curly
okay, now that I'm totally confused......

I thought humectants were safe? There isn't much left out there that has anything in it that is safe that WORKS! I will never ever give up my KCCC, that is an HG for me. Oh sure, now that I finally buy it and I finally find something that works and I eliminate all the bad stuff, now this.... I use paula's choice skin care and LOVE it, I will have to dig around on her site now that you have me intrigued.

So, to clarify, are you saying that all water binding agents are gentle and safe and that water binding includes all silicones and humectants? Isn't honey a humectant? How in the world can aloe and honey not be safe???? I don't think you can get any more natural than that; explain this to the slower ones such as myself please.
Hair Type-3b Location: Florida
John 3:16
Poo: Jessicurl HCC, As I Am
Conditioners: Aubrey Organics, KCKT, CJ HBDT, Darcy's Botanicals
Leave In/Styling: KCCC, Darcy's Botanicals, SS
Favorites (HG): KCCC; spiral solutions jelly; darcy's botanicals, FSG
No-No's: castor oil, beeswax, glycerine, silicones
LOVE: aloe vera, agave nectar, shea butter, flax seed gel; good DT's once a week
http://public.fotki.com/discobug71/
password: curly
okay, now that I'm totally confused......

I thought humectants were safe? There isn't much left out there that has anything in it that is safe that WORKS! I will never ever give up my KCCC, that is an HG for me. Oh sure, now that I finally buy it and I finally find something that works and I eliminate all the bad stuff, now this.... I use paula's choice skin care and LOVE it, I will have to dig around on her site now that you have me intrigued.

So, to clarify, are you saying that all water binding agents are gentle and safe and that water binding includes all silicones and humectants? Isn't honey a humectant? How in the world can aloe and honey not be safe???? I don't think you can get any more natural than that; explain this to the slower ones such as myself please.
Originally Posted by discobug
Wait wait wait! You're combining two conversations here.

The whole "gentle and safe" conversation had to do with Paula's take on SLS - that side convo has nothing to do with the humectants. There are some people who think that SLS can cause cancer, etc... she argues that SLS is gentle and safe - SAFE I get, but gentle?!

Humectants ARE "safe"- both CG and shouldn't cause tumors. Humectants are totally CG, but just not especially advisable in low dew points. The question at hand though - is aloe vera a humectant? That's why I'm trying to determine if aloe vera needs to be relegated to the "summer only" box or not.



Hair is best when wabi-sabi.
2b/2c at this length, more 3a when shorter
M/C ii

Mod CG: Sept 08
Using: Suave co-wash, GVP Conditioning Balm, Lustrasilk OOC, MGA, BRHG
Humectants: @ dew point 40+
My blog for dry climate curlies and growing out a pixie: Colorado Curly
I must say the confusion in this thread is palpable!

I have an inner nerd, too, and it is unfortunately coupled with no scientific training. Oh, the inner conflict...! But here's my take, for what it's worth.

When cosmetics people speak of "water-binding agents," it seems that they often mean it in terms of how those substances interact with water -- in the formulation that's in the bottle. This is, of course, different from how those ingredients behave by themselves.

So, that being said, let's look at aloe versus humectants. According to Curl Chemist Tonya, a humectant is a substance that attracts moisture from the air (provided there is any to pull in). So, stuff like honey or agave or glycerine -- basically things that are sticky -- work on this principle. Aloe is a beast all its own because it doesn't depend on the environment to work. That's what I meant earlier when I said that aloe *is* moisture. Instead of pulling it from somewhere else, aloe is simply *it*.

But I'd love for a scientist to weigh in on this. Without talking about molecules. Cuz then I'm lost.

Also, I just want to add that aloe, humectants, and even silicones are "safe." They serve different purposes and every head has to decide for itself what it needs given the weather, genetic tendencies, and other products it's exposed to. A curly living in the desert would not likely choose to use humectants. A person in love with hot rollers might actually be a big fan of silicones. See what I'm saying? Nothing is good or bad -- it's just a question of what works for your particular head.

I've been giving KCCC a lot of thought lately, because it is such a weird combo of humectant and aloe. I've been wondering whether they balance each other out to make the product workable in a wider range of weather conditions. I'm new to KCCC and am still trying to figure it out. Maybe I'll start another post about that....
3a and strictly CG since August 2007. Porous and on the fine side. No to magnesium sulfate and glycerin. Yes to protein! Favorites:
CO-WASHES: Suave Coconut
CONDITIONERS and LEAVE-INS: Mop Top Daily Conditioner, KBB Nectar, Aubrey GPB or Island Naturals, Robert Craig, Any Jessicurl
CURL ENHANCERS/CREMES/MOUSSES: KCCC, JoiWhip
GELS: Fuzzy Duck, B5 Design, MGA Scultping, BRHG


Fotki password: chuckle
Blog: http://jillipoo.blogspot.com/
Twitter: nopoojillipoo
Also, I just want to add that aloe, humectants, and even silicones are "safe." They serve different purposes and every head has to decide for itself what it needs given the weather, genetic tendencies, and other products it's exposed to. A curly living in the desert would not likely choose to use humectants. A person in love with hot rollers might actually be a big fan of silicones. See what I'm saying? Nothing is good or bad -- it's just a question of what works for your particular head.
Jillipoo - you're awesome. I totally agree with you! Knowledge is power... and all that rot.

I'm going to copy here what Koukla72 wrote in that other thread:

I think part of the problem is the various uses of the word humectant itself. It's often used in different ways, to mean anything from "moisturizing", to "attracting water" which to me are contradictory, one implying that it gives moisture and the other that it takes moisture up.

I can't find them right now (I'll try to track them down when I have more time), but a couple of the study results I've read about aloe refer to its polysaccharide content as preventing moisture loss. There are different types of polysaccharides and they are not the same things as disaccharides (like honey or agave nectar are comprised of) since they of course have a different structure and may not attract water molecules in the same way that disaccharides do.

As complex polymers, with a different structure that the disaccharides or glucoses that comprise them, I think they would be more like film-formers. I've seen the polysaccharides in aloe referred to as mucilaginous polysaccharides which seems significant to me. So since aloe juice/gel is itself 99.5% water, I've taken that to mean that rather than attract water to itself like a true humectant would do, it forms a film once dried. Since we're putting it onto hair which is naturally porous to a certain extent, my understanding is that the hair absorbs the aloe's water content and consequently that moisture is bound inside by the film that is formed as the aloe dries. Not that the aloe itself attracts moisture from other sources.

Of course, I could be totally wrong. I do wish our Curl Chemist would join in...



Hair is best when wabi-sabi.
2b/2c at this length, more 3a when shorter
M/C ii

Mod CG: Sept 08
Using: Suave co-wash, GVP Conditioning Balm, Lustrasilk OOC, MGA, BRHG
Humectants: @ dew point 40+
My blog for dry climate curlies and growing out a pixie: Colorado Curly

Last edited by ReddishRocks; 12-15-2008 at 09:03 PM.
God I love geek threads.

I find conflicting information on various websites, so I really can't provide a reliable source.

But, from seeing dry climate curlies here in their experiences with aloe vera, I don't personally feel that it is a humectant and that it functions more as a moisture agent for hair.

Or, I'll just say that I'm signing on to jillipoo's post.
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
Great idea -- good cross-reference. Koukla is our new sage!
3a and strictly CG since August 2007. Porous and on the fine side. No to magnesium sulfate and glycerin. Yes to protein! Favorites:
CO-WASHES: Suave Coconut
CONDITIONERS and LEAVE-INS: Mop Top Daily Conditioner, KBB Nectar, Aubrey GPB or Island Naturals, Robert Craig, Any Jessicurl
CURL ENHANCERS/CREMES/MOUSSES: KCCC, JoiWhip
GELS: Fuzzy Duck, B5 Design, MGA Scultping, BRHG


Fotki password: chuckle
Blog: http://jillipoo.blogspot.com/
Twitter: nopoojillipoo
God I love geek threads.
Originally Posted by redcelticcurls
We are hair-geek soul mates.



Hair is best when wabi-sabi.
2b/2c at this length, more 3a when shorter
M/C ii

Mod CG: Sept 08
Using: Suave co-wash, GVP Conditioning Balm, Lustrasilk OOC, MGA, BRHG
Humectants: @ dew point 40+
My blog for dry climate curlies and growing out a pixie: Colorado Curly
Edited due to a cyberstalker. Sorry, guys.

Last edited by Koukla72; 02-12-2009 at 12:40 PM.
So, I'm confused. If it IS a humectant, this blows several of my theories, which is fine, but it means I need to reassess some other things I'm doing, LOL!

Anyone have additional input?
Originally Posted by ReddishRocks
Don't know.. but I do know that I have better luck with it when the humudity is high. I've stopped using it when cold temps really started to hit us. It just wasn't working as well.
Jenn- 3A
My weapons of choice: KCCC, BRHG, Jessicurl: GLS, Gelabration, CC, AG: Re:coil, hard gel, mousse gel, shampoo bars, dairy whip, Curl keeper, KCKT, KBB milk, HETT, AVG, Honey

Jumping in here from the other thread I started.
Are any of these ingredients humectants?

So maybe if Aloe "is" moisture, maybe it's not the aloe itself that is giving me the dryness and frizz, maybe it's the other ingredients in the gel.
3b/c fine, thick, porous, protein sensitive
Modified CG, CJ Rehab, JCWDT, KCKT, VO5 Chamomile Tea Therapy, CJDF, HEBE Gel/Mousse, Bioinfusion Rosemary Mint shampoo, occasional protein

Experimenting with BRHG

"If you want the rainbow, you've gotta put up with the rain"
ITA w/Jillipoo's take on aloe. It definitely moisturizes my hair and does not act as a humectant, nor have I read or heard anything about it being a humectant except in some threads such as this, LOL.

My hair doesn't much like humectants like glycerine or honey as a rule, but it loves AVG any time of year for both moisturization and frizz control. I'm not using it as much lately because I never have much trouble with frizz in the winter, and it's already just generally better moisturized now from the products I'm using than it was when I was relying heavily on AVG back in the summer.
2C/3A/3B - modified CG - med./fine, normal/low porosity/normal elasticity

Current Main Rotation: MG217 medicated or Aim2Health 'poos for scalp, YTCarrots or Elucence cond., Spiral Solutions Protein & Deeply Decadent Cond., CJCCCC reg or lite, KCCC, Giovanni LA Hold Hair Spritz + lots more, sporadically

HG Method: Super Soaker + Smasters-ing, brief upside down diffusing w/360o diffuser then clips/clamps & air dry. Newly gray - stopped my henna glosses!

www.fotki.com/auntnett
I've been giving KCCC a lot of thought lately, because it is such a weird combo of humectant and aloe. I've been wondering whether they balance each other out to make the product workable in a wider range of weather conditions. I'm new to KCCC and am still trying to figure it out. Maybe I'll start another post about that....
Does KCCC act as a humectant? I was just going to make a trip to Whole Foods to pick some up to try. But living in the desert I should probably avoid all humectants, right?
Maybe I'll add to the confusion here but I think the problem is that aloe vera is not one compund. When you talk about glycerine then that is a single compund which is clearly a humectant. Aloe vera is a naturally occurring product that contains a whole range of compounds e.g. acetylated mannans, polymannans, anthraquinone C-glycosides, anthrones and anthraquinones and various lectins (i copied that from wikipedia but it sounds about right). So some of these compounds could well be humectants but the others could be having completely different effects so using aloe vera is not the same as using a typical simple humectant. Or to put it more simply, it's more like using a conditioner made up of multiple ingredients with various functions.
Hair type: 2c-M-ii with extra frizz
I've been giving KCCC a lot of thought lately, because it is such a weird combo of humectant and aloe. I've been wondering whether they balance each other out to make the product workable in a wider range of weather conditions. I'm new to KCCC and am still trying to figure it out. Maybe I'll start another post about that....
Does KCCC act as a humectant? I was just going to make a trip to Whole Foods to pick some up to try. But living in the desert I should probably avoid all humectants, right?
Originally Posted by mary99
It does have some humectant properties, yes, and some people don't use it in the winter because it doesn't perform as well for them. Hard to know what it'll do for you, though. I can send you a sample, if you like. I'll PM you.
3a and strictly CG since August 2007. Porous and on the fine side. No to magnesium sulfate and glycerin. Yes to protein! Favorites:
CO-WASHES: Suave Coconut
CONDITIONERS and LEAVE-INS: Mop Top Daily Conditioner, KBB Nectar, Aubrey GPB or Island Naturals, Robert Craig, Any Jessicurl
CURL ENHANCERS/CREMES/MOUSSES: KCCC, JoiWhip
GELS: Fuzzy Duck, B5 Design, MGA Scultping, BRHG


Fotki password: chuckle
Blog: http://jillipoo.blogspot.com/
Twitter: nopoojillipoo
Jumping in here from the other thread I started.
Are any of these ingredients humectants?

So maybe if Aloe "is" moisture, maybe it's not the aloe itself that is giving me the dryness and frizz, maybe it's the other ingredients in the gel.
Originally Posted by Magoo
That's a really good point, Magoo. Could be another ingredient. But it could also be aloe vera overload. I've noticed that if I give my hair more than it needs, it just keeps absorbing it, stretching out the cuticle and making my hair feel like it's actually dry when really it's just rough from plumping up from all the moisture.
3a and strictly CG since August 2007. Porous and on the fine side. No to magnesium sulfate and glycerin. Yes to protein! Favorites:
CO-WASHES: Suave Coconut
CONDITIONERS and LEAVE-INS: Mop Top Daily Conditioner, KBB Nectar, Aubrey GPB or Island Naturals, Robert Craig, Any Jessicurl
CURL ENHANCERS/CREMES/MOUSSES: KCCC, JoiWhip
GELS: Fuzzy Duck, B5 Design, MGA Scultping, BRHG


Fotki password: chuckle
Blog: http://jillipoo.blogspot.com/
Twitter: nopoojillipoo

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