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There are thousands of products and ingredients that we refer to as moisturizers by habit, but because they don't hydrate the hair very well, they aren't really moisturizers. Although many of the products on the shelf are beginning to add hydrating ingredients, they still fail to moisturize the hair because of the many other drying ingredients. A good moisturizer should be water based, as this is the basis of all true moisture. They should also contain other hydrating ingredients such as natural butters and oils.
Mineral oil, paraffin gel, petroleum, propylene glycol, Triethanolamine (TEA) and other ingredients in our products are extremely drying to the hair and can combat any of the natural ingredients found in the product. Natural ingredients are always better when it comes to hydrating the hair because most of them contain water, depending on their derivative. They also keep the hair hydrated longer, are generally healthier for the scalp, preserving the integrity of the sebum, which serves to keep the hair healthy and hydrated. But, even some natural ingredients don't provide enough hydration, so you still have to choose them wisely.
Butters and oils are excellent sources of nutrients, but when used alone, they aren't the most hydrating. I have many people come to me complaining that no matter how much olive oil they put in their hair, it always feels dry. This is because many oils just sit on the hair and don't penetrate the shaft. Oils are great when heat is applied and when they are in other products such as a conditioner and moisturizer, but alone, they may not provide enough moisture. This is the same with butters; cocoa butter and even Shea butter have excellent healing properties for the skin, leaving it feeling soft and when applied to the hair, giving it some moisture, but for very dry hair, these butters alone may not get the job done. Some natural ingredients are better used for the skin or have properties that are great for the scalp, but that doesn't provide a lot of moisture. This is why it's important to find the right combination of ingredients in order to provide an adequate amount of moisture to the hair. Here I will list some good and bad ingredients for you to consider when purchasing a moisturizer.
Aloe Vera (neither a butter or oil), is native to Africa, has long been known for its medicinal properties The PH balance (slightly acidic) of Aloe Butter is nearly identical to that of skin, so it makes a good moisturizer. Upon chemical analysis it has been shown that Aloe contains minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and proteins which all contribute to its beneficial nature.
Good:Jojoba Oil is expeller pressed from the fruit (nut) of the jojoba plant that grows up to 10 feet high and is found in the deserts of the U.S. and Mexico. A naturally occurring ester, Jojoba oil is really a liquid wax. The oil is similar to our own sebum which is secreted by our sebaceous glands and helps to lubricate and protect your skin and hair. Jojoba Oil contains protein and minerals, as well as a waxy substance similar to collagen. Hypo-allergenic and pure, Jojoba Oil is perfect for any skin type, especially those with a large molecular structure.
Bad: Triethanolamine (TEA) - Often used in cosmetics to adjust ph. TEA cause allergic reactions, including eye problems, dry hair and skin leading to damage, and can be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.
Good: Avocado Butter, created through a unique hydrogenation process, is a butter that is creamy in texture and has excellent moisturizing properties. It is easily penetrated into the skin. Avocado Butter also contains some natural sunscreen properties along with Vitamins A, B, G and E making it an all-around great ingredient for a wide variety of products
Bad: Mineral oil/Paraffin - Derivative of petroleum, used industrially as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. It forms an oily layer on the skin and traps moisture under the skin thus preventing the skin from breathing. At the same time, it stops toxins and wastes from escaping. This may cause severe drying, damage to hair follicles, slow growth, stunted growth and hair loss.
Good: Olive Butter Cold pressed from selected fruits, this butter has excellent emollient and antioxidant properties making it a natural moisturizer. For those people who have found they have sensitivity to Shea butter, olive butter is a good substitute as this butter exhibits many of the same characteristics. Containing natural essential fatty acids and unsaponifiables, this butter is an essential ingredient for anti-aging products.
Bad: Petrolatum and Paraffin Gel (petroleum jelly) - Mineral oil in a gel form; causes many problems for photosensitive skin (that is to say it augments damage from the sun). It also tends to interfere with the body's natural moisturizing mechanism leading to dry skin. Any product sold that contains this chemical creates the very conditions that it claims to relieve. Many manufacturers use petrolatum because it is incredibly cheap.
Keeping the hair well hydrated aids in flexibility; flexible hair doesn't break as easily, unbroken strands, equal longer hair; so make sure you are keeping the hair hydrated.
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