Moisture vs. Moisturizers

This has come up a lot lately as it relates to the use of oils and butters, which is a topic I'm very interested in as there seems to be so much confusion and misinformation. I'm cross posting this from my blog:

This is very picky and semantic, I know. But words mean things. If we're going to try to dissect how products work for our hair, we have to be vigilant and use proper terms. I am NOT a chemist, and there are huge holes in my understanding. I'm doing the best I can here with the tools I've got.

I really feel there's a difference, when it comes to the chemistry of hair care, between the words "moisture" and "moisturizer." The terms are so close in spelling that people don't realize there's a difference in MEANING, so we've got to be careful:

Moisture = water content.

Moisturizer = chemical(s) designed to reduce evaporation (aka moisture loss), often combined with water in products.

Sadly, the terms are so over-used and misused that the semantic difference is nearly lost. It's almost impossible to Google the definition of "moisturizer". Products touted as "moisturizers" often contain a high amount of water (which will impart moisture) and chemical moisturizers (which will inhibit evaporation). It's that one-two punch that makes sense to me.

Chemical moisturizers that inhibit evaporation are all kinds of things. This is where I quickly get out of my depth - the chemistry behind it is complicated, and I really should be cleaning my house right now instead of trying to understand the difference between emulsions and liposomes... Simply put, oils, cholesterols, humectants (under the right circumstances), etc. can all aid in the gaining and retention of moisture when used properly in conjunction with water. Wikipedia is NOT my favorite source, but it's quick and easy and correct enough for our purposes.

So, an oil by itself is NOT moisturizing. You cannot put it on second-day hair and expect it to increase the moisture content of your hair. It can keep your hair from losing more water as you get further and further from wash day, but only an application of water or some water-containing product will be truly helpful if your hair is suffering from dryness.

I think this is why Lustrasilk works so well for me. The stuff is so water-laden that it gets soupy in my little bucket sometimes. It also contains oils and cholesterol, both of which will help keep the moisture in place.

Submitted for your perusal with much love!



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
A really helpful post! Just based on this, I'm going to try Lustrasilk. Thanks for all this good info, RR
2/c and some 3A. Modified CG.
Protein sensitive
Highly porous. Color over grey.
Best 1st day method: Super Soaker
Conditioners: Curl Junkie Beauticurls Strengthening Conditioner,
Deep condish: Curl Junkie Curl Rehab
Stylers: Mix Curls in a Bottle into everything for shine. Terrible pj
Sometimes try roller sets - classic glamor but I prefer my curls.
Every day is a gift
Thank you!

I do get frustrated with people having the understanding that they are adding moisture to the hair by adding oil.
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
Thank you!

I do get frustrated with people having the understanding that they are adding moisture to the hair by adding oil.
Originally Posted by redcelticcurls
Ah, thank YOU for being on the Geek Squad with me! It's a never ending battle against the mainstream hair care machine... LOL!



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
Well, and other people too, lol.

How often do we see the advice given of putting oil on dry (as in low moisture hair) as if it will help? I fail to see how it would help unless you add moisture and then use the oils to seal it on. Or, as you explained, use a product that is balance that way already.
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
Well, and other people too, lol.
Originally Posted by redcelticcurls
Yes indeed! We have a small army amassed here on NC. That's why I feel so comfortable posting my geekery here. Someday, perhaps it shall be a vast army...



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
Great post and info. I've often struggled with how oil can be moisturizing in and of itself.

I often post that I have no idea what people need to use to get more moisture as I use as little as I can get away with. I find it very confusing when other advice is given to do a hot oil treatment of some kind. I've often wondered if that really worked.

Thanks for clearing things up ladies.

I have a sample of the Olive Oil and Mango/Shea to try. Look forward to seeing how they work.
Current Products: CJ Products: CF, DF, CT, SG, AFG, CIAB AND CK is back!
Current Experiment: S&C by D

Curl Fix and Daily Fix are my HGs


Sulphate and cone free since July 2007

wavy/curly fine texture/medium porosity/medium-low density

http://public.fotki.com/whatsercurl/

PW: wavycurly

Seek not to change the world. Rather seek to change your mind about the world.
The natural haven http://thenaturalhaven.blogspot.com/...hair-oils.html
http://thenaturalhaven.blogspot.com/...nchy-hair.html

has a lot of info about oils! Some of them do appear to be moisturizing in that they penetrate the cortex of the hair. Some do not. She goes through some of the popular ones. Coconut oil, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil all are said to be moisturizing. Jojoba & Castor stay on the cuticle so they are sealants so they are not moisturizing. Great Geeky Blog!
Discovered CG 2007

2C Fia BSL/Thick/Med-Coarse/Low(crown)-Normal Porosity Protein and Oil Sensitive

Link-Spritz & Condish Washing

I'm aCurlJunkieJunky

My hair LOVES Coconut DESPISES Soap Bars


CJRehab or H&B Fix, Deva NO POO, EO Rose & Cham POO & Condish, CJ CurlFix, CJ Pattern Pusha, CJ CIAB, SS FHG, KCCC, BRHG, AG Mousse Gel, ACV Rinses,Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse.

Last edited by DEL2C; 07-05-2009 at 07:09 PM.
The natural haven http://thenaturalhaven.blogspot.com/...hair-oils.html
http://thenaturalhaven.blogspot.com/...nchy-hair.html

has a lot of info about oils! Some of them do appear to be moisturizing in that they penetrate the cortex of the hair. Some do not. She goes through some of the popular ones. Coconut oil, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil all are said to be moisturizing. Jojoba & Castor stay on the cuticle so they are sealants so they are not moisturizing. Great Geeky Blog!
Originally Posted by DEL2C
ANd the super protein sensitive have to be careful with the protein retentive properties of coconut.
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
This is what the blog had to say about Protein in Coconut:

[I]On forums some say that coconut oil has protein but if there is some (usually well filtered oil will have almost nothing) it is very little. Hard hair from protein requires mega protein like commercial treatments like aphogee.[/
http://thenaturalhaven.blogspot.com/...nchy-hair.html

Now for me personally I would have to agree. I was using straight coconut oil twice a week sometimes 3 times when we were having sub zero temps in the Winter. I probably use it once a week or once every other now in higher dews because my hair doesn't seem to be craving as much moisture. Every time I use it I love the effect and I haven't OD'd on it yet. I've never ended up crispy or straw like from it and what she says is that if you do, most like you're using too much Oil.
Discovered CG 2007

2C Fia BSL/Thick/Med-Coarse/Low(crown)-Normal Porosity Protein and Oil Sensitive

Link-Spritz & Condish Washing

I'm aCurlJunkieJunky

My hair LOVES Coconut DESPISES Soap Bars


CJRehab or H&B Fix, Deva NO POO, EO Rose & Cham POO & Condish, CJ CurlFix, CJ Pattern Pusha, CJ CIAB, SS FHG, KCCC, BRHG, AG Mousse Gel, ACV Rinses,Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse.
I'm going by the NIH study that talks about coconut oil and protein retention.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12715094

"Among three oils, coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product."

Since many articles claim that proteins are moisturizers, I can see a possible link between protein retention and moisturization.

I get crunch with even small amounts of coconut, and actually, small amount of any liquid form of oil used on dry hair. At least there is an explanation for coconut if some people do get crunchy even from using small amounts.
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
I'm going by the NIH study that talks about coconut oil and protein retention.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12715094

"Among three oils, coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product."

Since many articles claim that proteins are moisturizers, I can see a possible link between protein retention and moisturization.

I get crunch with even small amounts of coconut, and actually, small amount of any liquid form of oil used on dry hair. At least there is an explanation for coconut if some people do get crunchy even from using small amounts.
Originally Posted by redcelticcurls
hmmm very interesting information...so now AOHR has Coconut in it right?? You are also able to tolerate the Jojoba in AOHR. So I guess with the right combination Coconut is OK but straight Coconut Oil is a No for you...Jojoba combined with butters seems to be OK for me but jojoba combined with other oils is a sure disaster for me.
Discovered CG 2007

2C Fia BSL/Thick/Med-Coarse/Low(crown)-Normal Porosity Protein and Oil Sensitive

Link-Spritz & Condish Washing

I'm aCurlJunkieJunky

My hair LOVES Coconut DESPISES Soap Bars


CJRehab or H&B Fix, Deva NO POO, EO Rose & Cham POO & Condish, CJ CurlFix, CJ Pattern Pusha, CJ CIAB, SS FHG, KCCC, BRHG, AG Mousse Gel, ACV Rinses,Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse.
I don't count the coconut fatty acid cream base as coconut per se since it's quite modified and is really one of the fatty alcohols (cetearyl maybe?). It doesn't have coconut oil.

It does have jojoba which seems to be fine for me in stuff, just not alone.

I can't explain it; I just work with it.
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
Yeah no kidding it's like me trying to explain the Honey in high dews

Now my theory is when using sealant type oils which cause so many of us problems it's because we're sealing out any additional moisture which leads to frizz and build up. So if we're going to use products with these types of oils, we we would need to DT often and probably Low Poo often. Or just avoid them altogether But having an understanding of what certain oils are supposed to do is very enlightening for me! It also explains why soap bars with Jojoba and Castor were the absolute worst for me. They were sucking me dry as well as stripping my acid mantle ICK!
Discovered CG 2007

2C Fia BSL/Thick/Med-Coarse/Low(crown)-Normal Porosity Protein and Oil Sensitive

Link-Spritz & Condish Washing

I'm aCurlJunkieJunky

My hair LOVES Coconut DESPISES Soap Bars


CJRehab or H&B Fix, Deva NO POO, EO Rose & Cham POO & Condish, CJ CurlFix, CJ Pattern Pusha, CJ CIAB, SS FHG, KCCC, BRHG, AG Mousse Gel, ACV Rinses,Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse.
Interestingly, I've been playing with oil sealing on WET hair for the past few days and have been having excellent luck in reducing later-in-the-day poof/expansion.

I'm using a little condish on wet hair, oil sealing, then using KCCC. I find that I don't need a gel over the KCCC and the KCCC even dries less crunchy.

My reasons for trying this were various. First, I found a jar of mango oil (which is buttery) in my fridge while defrosting the fridge. I originally bought the mango oil over the winter because I thought it would smell like mangoes. It doesn't. It doesn't smell good at all, lol.

I read this post, thought about the anti-humectant part in a Curl Chemist article, and read up on the various sealing threads here.

All of this churned around in my head. My porosity has been giving me issues with late day poof as moisture gets into my cuticles. Oils (many of them anyway) don't moisturize, but they can seal. I hate them on dry hair, but have used them over a DT for an overnight DT. So, if oils don't get absorbed, may seal, may be anti-humectant, why not try them to seal moisture into my wet hair? I can seal moisture in, and, hopefully, help keep the cuticle down throughout the day, preventing that late-day poof.

The weather has been really mild for the last few days, so I don't know if the success is from my method or the weather. I will have to wait until the dew points go back up to see how well this continues. Luckily my hair is coarse enough to get buttered, lol.
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
Now see this actually makes a lot more sense to me now. I've been using Afro Detangler which is full of butters and one oil Avocado. This was working beautifully for me until the dews got to about 60. Then it stopped working and I used CK in it's place thinking, I don't need the moisture. That in itself does not make sense, I know because of the Glycerin but I can't explain why it works either A couple times I tried AD and CK with stringy results.

I will play around with oil sealing too now that you've said this! I've got some Camilia oil coming from the Swaps don't know if that one is sealant or moisture?
Discovered CG 2007

2C Fia BSL/Thick/Med-Coarse/Low(crown)-Normal Porosity Protein and Oil Sensitive

Link-Spritz & Condish Washing

I'm aCurlJunkieJunky

My hair LOVES Coconut DESPISES Soap Bars


CJRehab or H&B Fix, Deva NO POO, EO Rose & Cham POO & Condish, CJ CurlFix, CJ Pattern Pusha, CJ CIAB, SS FHG, KCCC, BRHG, AG Mousse Gel, ACV Rinses,Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse.
Now see this actually makes a lot more sense to me now. I've been using Afro Detangler which is full of butters and one oil Avocado. This was working beautifully for me until the dews got to about 60. Then it stopped working and I used CK in it's place thinking, I don't need the moisture. That in itself does not make sense, I know because of the Glycerin but I can't explain why it works either A couple times I tried AD and CK with stringy results.

I will play around with oil sealing too now that you've said this! I've got some Camilia oil coming from the Swaps don't know if that one is sealant or moisture?
Originally Posted by DEL2C
Well, the odds would lean towards a sealant.

Check out the sealing threads I linked too. They describe it quite well. I haven't been just sealing the ends though, I've been sealing the whole length, lol. I'm looking at it as sort of a porosity-control-in-the-summer measure.

What happened with the AD in high dew points?
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.

Last edited by redcelticcurls; 07-05-2009 at 08:18 PM.
Now see this actually makes a lot more sense to me now. I've been using Afro Detangler which is full of butters and one oil Avocado. This was working beautifully for me until the dews got to about 60. Then it stopped working and I used CK in it's place thinking, I don't need the moisture. That in itself does not make sense, I know because of the Glycerin but I can't explain why it works either A couple times I tried AD and CK with stringy results.

I will play around with oil sealing too now that you've said this! I've got some Camilia oil coming from the Swaps don't know if that one is sealant or moisture?
Originally Posted by DEL2C
Well, the odds would lean towards a sealant.

Check out the sealing threads I linked too. They describe it quite well. I haven't been just sealing the ends though, I've been sealing the whole length, lol. I'm looking at it as sort of a porosity-control-in-the-summer measure.

What happened with the AD in high dew points?
Originally Posted by redcelticcurls
I saw that nice long list of threads....can't wait to read them! The AD in high dews made me POOF that's why I paired it with CK but then I ended up stringy AND Poofy. I was also using KCCC(sthe smallest amt!) so not sure if that was contributing. I should try again maybe with just BRHG and see if the same thing happens.
Discovered CG 2007

2C Fia BSL/Thick/Med-Coarse/Low(crown)-Normal Porosity Protein and Oil Sensitive

Link-Spritz & Condish Washing

I'm aCurlJunkieJunky

My hair LOVES Coconut DESPISES Soap Bars


CJRehab or H&B Fix, Deva NO POO, EO Rose & Cham POO & Condish, CJ CurlFix, CJ Pattern Pusha, CJ CIAB, SS FHG, KCCC, BRHG, AG Mousse Gel, ACV Rinses,Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse.
Ok I discussed this with an expert. You'll have to trust me on this but this person is more then a blogger. This person actually has many years experience with hair product formulation.

Yes Moisture=Water

No amount of oils will change the water content already present in your hair. If you need "moisture" you need conditioners. Adding oils will give you slip and help to "seal" your moisture.

Oils are more emollient, they give us a smooth, soft feel to our hair. It's somewhat of an illusion for us coarse heads. So if you DT with coconut oil but your hair is already dry you may end up feeling more dry. If you add some coconut oil (or any other oil) to your condish, now you might notice a difference in the moisture level.

Also it's not fair to say that your hair hates only this oil or that. It's all about formulation and there is no way to know by reading a label exactly what the percentage of any ingredient present. So, I thought my hair hated Jojoba. It doesn't. It hates it in AOHR due to the formulation of that particular product and several others that I've tried without success. When I used Curls Goddess Glaze I thought this could work because of the Butters which my hair does well with. I was guessing and took a chance and it worked! Same thing with Afro Detangler 1 oil several butters. I was very hesitant to try CJAF because I didn't have much experience with Almond Oil and was afraid it might react like it does to the wrong type of protein. But the amount of protein is so minimal there's a good chance I could do well with it. I was pleasantly surprised to have it work!!

So, all this being said. We will have to continue to experiment which doesn't help the PJ's much does it?
Discovered CG 2007

2C Fia BSL/Thick/Med-Coarse/Low(crown)-Normal Porosity Protein and Oil Sensitive

Link-Spritz & Condish Washing

I'm aCurlJunkieJunky

My hair LOVES Coconut DESPISES Soap Bars


CJRehab or H&B Fix, Deva NO POO, EO Rose & Cham POO & Condish, CJ CurlFix, CJ Pattern Pusha, CJ CIAB, SS FHG, KCCC, BRHG, AG Mousse Gel, ACV Rinses,Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse.
For any that are interested, this is a topic that's been discussed on here for some time. This is a thread search using the advanced thread search "sealing" titles only (thanks RCC). I tried the link RCC posted but it didn't work a few days later
http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlta...archid=2713230
Discovered CG 2007

2C Fia BSL/Thick/Med-Coarse/Low(crown)-Normal Porosity Protein and Oil Sensitive

Link-Spritz & Condish Washing

I'm aCurlJunkieJunky

My hair LOVES Coconut DESPISES Soap Bars


CJRehab or H&B Fix, Deva NO POO, EO Rose & Cham POO & Condish, CJ CurlFix, CJ Pattern Pusha, CJ CIAB, SS FHG, KCCC, BRHG, AG Mousse Gel, ACV Rinses,Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse.

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