What does it mean to have hydrated hair and why is it so important? When it comes to picking products, many naturals miss the mark on “hydration”. Most think looking for moisture is the same thing.
In the natural hair community, moisture and hydration are commonly used interchangeably. As confusing as it may be, let’s try and settle the difference between hydration and moisturization…
Hydration is the process of applying water (often referred to as “moisture”, different from “moisturize”) to the hair and involves penetrating the hair strand. It is meant to increase the absorption of water and decrease the loss of moisture in the product being used (so the product can continue to provide moisture for as long as possible).
This is an important distinction; decreasing the moisture loss in your hair is the work of a sealant – a type of moisturize (we’ll get to that later).
Moisturization is the process of locking hydration in the shaft which is focused on the surface of the hair strand; basically anything that will hinder water evaporation. As you read on, you’ll find that the word “moisture” is used a lot. It’s important to note that we’re contrasting “hydration” and “moisturization”, not “moisture” or “moisturizer”.
Improving moisture absorption is related to hydration while moisture retention is related to moisturization. This means hydrators will normally contain humectants while moisturizers contain sealants.
Popular humectants are glycerin and honey (which can be found in two of our hydrating Fresh Avocado Deep Conditioners), while popular sealants are natural oils and butters. Overall, hydration should come first and moisture second; after all, you can lock something in (moisturize) that isn’t already there (hydration).
Now that we’ve got that nitty gritty information out of the way, let's look into why we want hydrated hair in the first place.
Hydration will not only provide moisture to your hair, it’ll improve your hair’s ability to absorb water which will keep it hydrated for longer. You want to keep your hair moisturized so that you can retain all of that hydration.
But how do you know if your hair is dehydrated or lacking moisture? Dehydration occurs when your hair has no moisture in it and needs to be hydrated with water. This results in brittle, weak hair that is prone to breakage. If your hair is experiencing extreme dryness or becomes dry quickly, then your hair is most likely dehydrated. If your hair is tangled and feels dry, your hair needs to be moisturized.
Did you know there was a difference between “hydration” and “moisturization? Let us know in the comments below!