What Are Humectants?

What Are Humectants?

What Are Humectants?

Humectants are ingredients that, ideally, pull moisture out of the air and draw it into your hair. Vegetable glycerin, aloe vera and honey are classified as natural humectants. Look at the ingredients list of your shampoo or conditioner. You’re likely to find other humectants as well, look for names that may contain the word glycol.

Humectants and Humidity: High vs. Low

Because humectants are often so widely praised, it can be surprising to find your favorite humectant-containing product leading to less-than-ideal results. If it’s the height of summer or the middle of winter, that could explain why.  In humid weather, so prevalent during the summer, humectants may pull too much moisture from the air. This excess moisture causes your hair shaft to swell and leads to frizz. Women with high porosity hair will notice the effects more than ladies with low or normal porosity.  During the winter, when the air is dry, humectants can cause moisture to leave your hair and go into the air. Basically, they move moisture from where it’s more concentrated to a less concentrated environment.

Should You Use Humectants?

Since they seem finicky, you may wonder if humectants are worth the trouble. Are they only good during the spring and fall? It depends on the type of humectant.  Using one that moves too much moisture one way or the other either leads to dry, frizzy hair, or hair that takes forever to dry. If you find your tresses swelling in the heat or feeling rough in the cold, reassess your products. Instead of using something containing a high amount of humectant (often listed as one of the first five ingredients), try using products that have smaller amounts during weather that causes your hair to react negatively. By all means, bring out your high-humectant products when the weather isn’t so extreme in terms of humidity. You probably have a rotation of hair care products, so learning when to switch them out will help you have more great hair days.

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