What’s the difference between nourishing and moisturizing when it comes to dry and frizzy hair? When should we hydrate and when, instead, should we nourish our hair? Can we alternate those two treatments or not? Can we both moisturize and nourish our dry and frizzy hair? Which treatment should I prefer during the different seasons?
If you asked yourself one of these questions at least once in your life, well, I hope to give you the best answer possible in this blog post, and I wish I’ll help you understand what your hair needs.
But which are the causes that lead to frizzy and dry hair?
You are dubious about the health status of your hair? After reading this dedicated blog post, you’ll be able to determine that by yourself:
I only want to remind you that:
If hair is damaged, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to bring it back to its original health.
Moisturizing / Nourishing hair = Moisturizing / Nourishing the skin?
We talked deeply about these two basic concepts: Moisturize and Nourish in the blog post dedicated to dry skin care: Moisturizing or nourishing creams for dry, dehydrated skin? But we shouldn’t mix these things:
We moisturize hair from the outside in, by using humidifying substances that give water to hair, while skin hydrates itself basing on the balance that is created between the endogenous intake of water (from the inside) and the intake of water from the outside.
Consequently, the effect of the moisturization is different on hair and skin. If we over-hydrate the skin, we wouldn’t obtain a negative result, instead if we over-hydrate hair, it could become weaker and more fragile.
So be careful of the over-hydration!
Why? Because after touching water, hair inflates itself and if it’s too damp, it could become less elastic and less resistant. If it absorbs too much water, there would be a damage in the protein structure of the keratin, and sometimes even in the outer part of the shaft, the cuticle.
For example, if hair becomes longer or curly when it’s too humid, it’s because the outside water molecules that penetrate in our hair, link themselves to the water molecules found in our hair, by osmosis.
This test made by the Italian Trichology Society about hair’s resistance to traction after hair being treated with the following substances is very clear:
1) Liquid lanoline improved hair’s resistance of the 2,4%
2) Olive oil improved hair’s resistance of the 9%
3) Castor oil improved hair resistance of the 9.2%
4) Mineral oil didn’t change hair’s resistance
5) Alcohol decreased hair’s resistance of the 9,1%
6) Water decreased hair’s resistance of the 7.7%
So, as you can see from these results, it’s important to find the right balance between the moisturization and the nourishment if we want to prevent hair dryness. Applying oil on dry hair that didn’t need an oily treatment just because we thought it would work on us may have a negative result, because it maybe your hair was simply dehydrated.
What Is Hair made of? Here’s everything you need to know!
But, if we want to give our hair a conscious care, it’s mandatory to know the structure of our hair, and I don’t want to take for granted the fact that you already know it. And, if you don’t know it, how can you take a conscious care of it and satisfy its needs?
So I suggest you to read the article about What is hair made of? Here’s everything you need to know! In order to make your own choices consciously.
Is it possible to nourish hair?
It should be noted that even if we see our hair grow day by day, it doesn’t mean that it’s alive and needs to be nourished.
Hair is made of biologically dead tissues, that’s why we can cut it, dye it, bleach it, straighten it but we can’t nourish it.
We can “nourish” the hair follicle thanks to its vascular capillaries that help hair grow, but the lengths are made of dead cells that can’t be nourished.
So, specifically, if we want to “nourish” our hair it means that we want to reintegrate its lipidic film by giving it oily substances like oils and vegetable butters.
So, if we want to “nourish” our hair follicles, we should do it through our diet, and leave behind hair masks that only penetrate a little.
The more you take care of your scalp, the healthier it is, the stronger and tougher hair gets.
But we can make our hair more resistant to mechanical treatments, by giving it a targeted care, and we can make it softer or rougher according to our own needs and/or we can make it look shinier.
In conclusion, we can nourish hair follicles but NOT hair lengths. “Nourishing” hair masks made with oily substances make our hair more elastic and help us reestablish the balance of the hydrolipidic film that protects our hair.
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How to hydrate hair in depth?
As you should know now that you saw the video above about the hair’s structure ^, hair is made largely of water that tends to evaporate (when, for example, we use high temperature tools on our hair or when there are difficult atmospheric agents like sun, wind or salt air).
Yes, that’s right, so-called “nourishing” hair masks can help restore the optimal hydration level because they DON NOT bring water from the outside in, but they help maintaining hair moisturized by filming it, without obstructing it.
For example, the leave-in hair mask or hair spray made with oily ingredients (that consists in applying oil on the lengths or the ends of the hair after washing it without washing the oil away) helps adjusting water evaporation, preventing a lack of water in hair, and helping the delay of hair dehydration. I suggest this leave-in treatment for very dry hair but not on thin and fine hair that tends to become oily.
The same goes for the mucilages, polysaccharides that swell in contact with water, creating viscous substances that can cover our hair with a natural, not-occluding film (as opposed to the one created by silicones on our hair: Silicones in our Hair Care Products: Yes or No? Are they Pure Evil?).
We can find mucilages in flax seeds, psyllium seeds, in aloe, in mallow and in many other plants.
Plants have mucilages in them to hold water in them, in order to prevent dehydration. So why are we still talking about how to take a natural care of our hair when Mother Nature helps us with a lot of examples?
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Moisturizing hair masks should be in your daily hair care because they help prevent hair dehydration.
For example, Beautiliciousdelights' Natural Anti Frizz Moisturizing Hair Spray is the moisturizing leave-in spray ideal for dry and frizzy hair thanks to its innovative formula that uses the synergies created among its natural ingredients:
The spray can hydrate dry and frizzy hair in a balanced but “light” way, thanks to its natural ingredients, without leaving any hint of product:
- It wraps hair flakes with a natural and protective film
- Prevents damage of the shaft and restores hair’s ph
- Helps maintaining a great hydration in the hair
- Leaves soft and light hair.
Fruit acids (tartaric, malic and citric) extracted from apples, lemons and grapes, help closing the flakes of the shaft, making hair look shinier and glossier.
Biological aloe vera, rich in polysaccharides, along with panthenol (provitamin b5) helps maintaining hair hydrated for a longer period by strengthening it and by preventing hair damage.
Sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid’s sodium salt) works on the hair shaft as a moisturizer and conditioner, restoring the water balance of the hair and protecting it from excessive tension or stress.
You only have to shake it and spray it where you think your hair needs hydration. You can use it either on wet or dry hair, and you don’t have to wash it away!
How can I understand if my dry hair needs to be moisturized or nourished?
There isn’t a premade recipe, every hair is different, has different needs and reacts in different ways. Even our lifestyle and our daily stress can affect how it looks, so its needs won’t always be the same, but will change based on the evolution of our own routine and, maybe even based on the season.
You only have to learn, patiently, how to understand your hair’s needs. How? By trying! Experience is always our best advisor.
Based on your hair’s look, you can understand if you need a moisturizing or a nourishing hair mask.
You must MOISTURIZE your hair if:
- It’s particularly frizzy, rough and so dehydrated that it looks like hay. If it’s electric, dull and hard to comb and to untangle.
You must NOURISH (restore the lipidic film) your hair if:
- It’s very dry, dull, lifeless, if it has split ends and if it’s stringy.
You can understand if your hair needs a moistrurizing or a nourishing mask by the hints left by the daily stress your hair undergoes (like hair straightener, hair dryer, pool, sea, sun, wind, chemical dyes or chemical bleaches).
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If, for example, you tend to dye your hair (even gray hair) naturally with herbal hair colors or you apply hair masks made with healing herbs, it’s natural that your lengths would become drier.
But, to prevent the dryness due to herbal or ayurvedic hair colors, I suggest you to read the dedicated blog post:
If, instead, you notice that your hair is dry during a period in which you often go to the sea, it’s possible that your hair is dehydrated because of sun, wind and salt air. In that case, you must protect your hair with oily hair masks that can help restore the hydro-lipidic film that protects hair from atmospheric agents.
But, as I said, there isn’t a rule that can give you soft, shiny and strong hair immediately… you have to try for yourself and learn to understand how your hair responds to the treatments.
If the “nourishing” hair mask made with oily ingredients leaves your hair stringy, well, you can assume that your hair didn’t need to restore its lipidic film, but it’s probably dehydrated. Certain types of hair (fine, thin) usually don’t like nourishing hair masks because they can’t absorb the oily ingredients and, in the end, we only damage our hair with shampoos because we want to remove the oily look it has.
So, the key word must be: try, always try to find out if your hair needs to be moisturized or if you need to restore its lipidic film with a nourishing mask.
Always try, without, obviously, exaggerating and without insisting in using a hair mask just because other people had benefits using it. You need to find out for yourself what your hair wants and what it doesn’t.
Furthermore, if you’ll be able to treat it with the perfect care, without stressing it with chemical dyes or bleaches, or with hot hair dryers or hair straighteners, once you’ll manage to make it healthy and strong, you won’t need many hair masks… we always come back to the same thing: you need to find the right balance by learning how to understand your hair.
Take care of your skin and hair consciously. You'll find everything you need (even herbal hair colors) on our online shop. Click HERE to visit it!
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