Have you ever seen someone with a fro so bouncy you wondered how they managed to keep it looking that springy, that smooth, or that round? Well, the trick is knowing about humidity, dew points and humectants.
Sorry to burst your bubble if you ever thought that you were done with science cause this is what all that knowledge was meant for. Yeah, with no doubt it was to prep you into a naturalista who knows how to maintain a thick fro in humid weather, curb frizz and pick products that do not wreak havoc on a mane. Hence, without further ado let’s get into the essentials and some important tips you should always remember for that poufy, pompadour, natural hair that you so deserve. You might want to check out this natural dictionary for further descriptions of natural hair terms and tips.
To understand the effects of humidity we should first understand what is humidity, dew point and its significance to natural hair.
Many might say humidity is the agent of frizz and dryness, but in more scientific terms, it is the measure of moisture content in the air. This brings us to the dew point. The Dew point describes the concentration of moisture/ water vapour in the air. Such that if the dew point was high we would conclude that there’s a high concentration of moisture in the air and vice versa.
But how do humidity and dew points relate to my natural hair?
To understand this we should remember simple facts which state that natural hair revels in moisture as this is what curbs frizz. That is the more moisture in your hair the less it is susceptible to frizz and tangles.
Therefore, the knowledge about humidity and dewpoints helps us be aware of what products we should use on our hair in order to curb dryness and tame frizz when it is humid/dry outside. It also illuminates the products we should avoid when moisture contents in the air are low or in other words when dew points are low. These products, also known as humectants (good for drawing moisture from the air into your hair, leaving it moisturized) can sometimes draw out the moisture from the hair and onto themselves leaving the hair dry, drab and looking like a cotton ball of frizz.
What are humectants?
Humectants are products that contain ingredients that draw and bind moisture to themselves. Whichever source is greater, whether the atmosphere of the hair, humectants are sure to draw moisture to themselves which can work in favour or against your hair. In short, their performance is dependent on the amount of moisture level in the air.
If you use humectants when the moisture level in the air is low humectants draw moisture from your hair. If you use them when the moisture levels are high, they draw moisture onto your hair. This is why knowledge about humidity/dew points is important.
Ever wondered why glycerin feels moisturizing yet at other times it just leaves your skin/hair dry and begging for salvation? Being a common humectant, it follows the concept of humidity and dew points. Another product which you might find drying because of its humectant ingredients, (like wheat protein) is the Mikalla conditioner and treatment.
Should I be checking the weather forecast now for my natural hair to thrive?
As much as some knowledge about Fahrenheit and Celsius might help, you don’t have to become a weather forecaster, a scientist or a magician for that matter, in order to learn about humectants. All you need is to do is get familiar with a few ingredients which make humectants – glycerine is the most common humectant – or save yourself the hustle and invest in anti-humectants.
So what are anti-humectants?
For one anti-humectants will save you the mental work of equating humidity to products in order to keep your hair bouncy and moisturised. Unlike humectants, anti-humectants are not hygroscopic. In essence, they are made of ingredients that do not draw moisture to themselves.
Needless to say, if you opt for anti-humectants, you miss out on the benefit of added moisture from the atmosphere to your hair. However, you also don’t run the risk of miscalculating the moisture levels in the air and ending up with dry hair. Irrespective of the humidity, anti-humectants lockout and prevent intrusion of moisture from the atmosphere into the hair.
To know if a product is an anti-humectant check for ingredients like silicones, ester (isopropyl palmitate) which will always appear high on the list.
Silicones are widely used as an ingredient in anti-humectants as they provide lubrication to the hair while adding shine. Natural anti-humectants include; beeswax, Hydrogenated castor oil, olive oil, shea butter, coconut oil and palm oil. The oils are good for sealing moisture, protecting, laying the hair cuticles and maintaining shine. Check out the best oils for natural hair.
Now, why do we need to know about humidity and humectants again?
All this effort is in an attempt to prevent dryness, split ends, broken strands and fly-away hair, that leads to that shaggy unkempt look. By now we know that when there’s less moisture in the air and you use humectants, the products draw moisture from the hair, your hair cuticles rise and the hair inevitably becomes dry. On the other hand, when you use humectants and there are high moisture levels in the air your hair cuticles remain laid, the hair feels softer by the day, and it looks shinier and healthily moisturized. In essence, this is the effect of humidity, dewpoints and humectants.
I am a writer with interest in hair, beauty and fashion. I also like telling stories, but most of all I enjoy listening and reading them. If I'm not doing any of the above, I will be trying to crack a game of chess or monopoly. My biggest fear is being ordinary.