Your Hydration and Moisture Key Points:
- There are some key differences between hydration and moisture when it comes to your hair care routine.
- Curls and waves need both in order to stay healthy and maintain their shape and definition.
- Hydration relates to the health of the inside of your hair strand, while moisture works to protect the outside.
When you have curls or waves, both hydration and moisture are key factors in your hair’s ability to thrive. As we’ve covered in the past, curls have trouble retaining moisture due to the shape of the hair strand. Understanding the difference between hydration and moisture can help give you a stronger understanding of how these factors impact your curly hair routine, and how to get the most from it.
Water vs Oil
To sum things up in a simple way, hydration relates to water, and moisture relates to oil. The ultimate goal of keeping hair hydrated and moisturized is the prevention of dry hair that can easily break and cause frizz.
- Hydration is focused on water absorption within the hair strands, along with water retention. The better you are able to keep your hair hydrated from within, the more bouncy and soft your curls or waves will be.
- Moisture is related to oils - both natural and from your hair products - that create a protective barrier on the outer layer of your hair. This outer layer is called the cuticle of your hair strand, and will help prevent the hydration in your hair from evaporating.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of hydration for hair, let’s dig in a little deeper. Believe me when I say my glasses are on, my cat is in my lap, and I’m ready to use some big words.
Each strand of hair is made up of three layers. The inner layers - the ones most affected by hydration - are the medulla and cortex. The medulla is a thin tunnel that lives in the center of each strand, and the cortex are small cells that surround it. These cells give your gorgeous hair its color, thickness and texture.
Needless to say, these two important parts of your hair strand are crucial in the health of your curls or waves. By keeping them hydrated with water absorption and retention, your hair can shine from the inside out. Moisture, on the other hand, doesn’t penetrate deep enough to directly impact the medulla or cortex.
As briefly mentioned, moisturization affects the outer layer of your hair, called the cuticle. The cuticle is actually a combination of cells that layer to create a protective shield around the hair strand. Having a strong and healthy cuticle can help preserve the inner layers of your hair, and also gives your hair a natural shine and smoothness.
Our scalps are a magical part of our body. Not only do they sit on top of our oh-so important brain, but they also produce natural oils called sebum. The tighter your curls are, the more difficult it is for those healthy oils to travel down the hair shaft and coat your hair cuticles. This is why anyone who loves Curly Hair Theory (me) will drill the importance of finding moisturizing products into you time and time again.
Over time, the cuticle on your hair strands can open up and make your hair more vulnerable to damage. By moisturizing your hair with products that help seal the cuticle, you can create a forcefield that keeps hydration in, and locks unwanted moisture out.
Why Your Curls Need Both
If you haven’t picked up on it by now, hydration and moisture go hand-in-hand when it comes to keeping your curls at their best. Having hydrated, moisturized hair helps maintain your hair’s definition, and prevents frizz and split ends. By incorporating products that are designed to lock in hydration and moisturize your hair’s cuticles, you’re setting yourself up for a head full of stunning curls or waves.
- Using heat styling tools can dehydrate your curls at a more rapid rate, and make your hair more prone to damage and breakage. By using a heat protectant, you lower your chances of damaging hair and keeping as much moisture and hydration locked into your hair.
- Using a cooler temperature when diffusing your hair can also help reduce possible heat damage for your curls or waves.
- Cleansing your hair too often can negatively affect your hair’s natural moisture by stripping your hair’s natural oils.
- A leave-in conditioner, like Royal Locks Curl Rescue, can help your styling products be more effective by sealing in water while your hair is still wet.