Hydrating vs. Moisturizing Hair: The Difference
As a new naturalista, you're often told you need hydration and moisture, but you're probably left asking ‘what's the difference?’ On this journey, you'll be exposed to a whole new vocabulary about hair! We hear different terminology but don’t always understand the meanings and how they apply to our hair situation. ‘Hydration’ and ‘moisture’ are terms you hear and see on labels of hair products for curly hair, but if you’re like most people, you don’t quite know the difference. And, when it comes to actually hydrating vs moisturizing your hair, it gets even more confusing. Let’s break these terms down so we can recognize each one as a distinct step in your hair care routine.
Is it hydration vs moisture or hydration and moisture?
Often natural gals will hear and even use the terms ‘hydration’ and ‘moisture’ interchangeably — we don’t think of them as separate things, as hydration vs moisture. While these are similar concepts, in reality, they are more interdependent (you cannot have one without the other) than interchangeable (same concept, different name). To understand how hydration and moisture work hand-in-hand, we have to look at the multiple layers that comprise our hair. Human hair consists of three layers:
- The Medulla–The innermost, deepest layer of hair. Unless you have microscopic eye balls, you can’t see this layer.
- The Cortex–The middle layer that covers the medulla. This layer gives us hair color, thickness and hair texture.
- The Cuticle–The outermost, thinnest layer of hair. This layer protects the other layers.
When we speak of hydration, we are referring to the internal layers of hair; while moisture applies to the outermost layer of the hair. When you think of hydration vs moisture, think of it as drinking a glass of water vs taking a shower.
So, how do you actually get hydration into the inner layers of hair? Think of this concept the same way you think of nourishing your physical body internally: what you put into your body plays the biggest role in achieving and maintaining optimal health (most personal trainers will tell you that diet is approximately 70% of the health battle, while the remaining 30% results from physical activity). That means the biggest factors in having well hydrated hair are maintaining a healthy diet and ample water intake. Plus, when you feel at your best, you’ll look your best too.
Watch the video below for foods to incorporate into your diet to optimize hair growth and health.
Ok, so how do we optimize hair moisture? When the hair is wet, the cuticle opens up and allows nutrients and vitamins to go beneath the cuticle layer and be deposited into the inner layers of hair. This is where the 30% comes in — the quality (and pH) of hair products matter! With the wrong hair product, you could risk hair cuticle damage and fiber breakage. This can happen if your shampoo and conditioner have an alkaline pH level and aren’t properly moisturizing your hair.
A quality, hydrating shampoo and conditioner will be absorbed beneath the cuticle and cortex level to feed the hair down to the deepest layers.
There is one more critical step in maximizing hydration and moisture —- sealing the hair shaft. Using a quality oil is essential to sealing hydration in the inner layers and moisturizing the outer layer of hair. Oil will smooth your hair cuticle (think of closing the blinds on your windows) and seal the hair to allow maximum retention of nutrients absorbed in the inner layers. You cannot have one without the other: feeding your hair internally without sealing the cuticle will not give you optimal hair health and vice versa.
When you think of whether to moisturize vs hydrate, remember that they work together for your best hair health. Your journey to healthy, bouncy curls involves moisturizing and hydrating with products made for you and the way your hair works. It’s simple and scientific, and it works.
All products in the Moisture Love collection are specially formulated to optimize hydration AND moisture! Visit www.moisturelove.com today for more information and check out the spectacular product bundles to strengthen your hair from the inside out.
Upgrade your hair routine to include a product system formulated to care for your hair holistically, and you will see phenomenal results!
Make These Moisture-Rich Hair Products Yours Today!