Hair products labeled with humectants can be a great way to complement your current hair care routine. The product has proven to do wonders for people suffering from dried-out hair and irritated, itchy skin on their scalp.
Humectants are among one of my most recommended go-to’s for people who need urgent hair repair; however, they’re not a cure-all. If you’d like to learn more about what humectants can do for you and get some of my recommendations for the best humectants for hair available right now, read on.
What are Humectants for Hair?
Humectants are substances that moisturize dry and damaged hair. Most commonly used humectants are added to many hair products because they can retain moisture and keep the rest of their solution intact. Humectants are often included in hair and skin care products and can be found as natural or synthetic substances.
Top-selling Humectant Products
How Do Humectants Work?
Humectants for hair work by attracting moisture in the air and keeping moisture close to your skin. Other humectants for hair already come with moisture, and applying them as topical treatments allow these humectants to deliver moisturizing substances to your hair and scalp directly.
Types of Humectants for Hair
Humectants are categorized into natural and synthetic based on whether they are found in naturally occurring substances or need to be made in a lab.
Natural humectants for hair tend to be cheaper than synthetic humectants. They also have additional health benefits apart from moisture retention. Some natural humectants include aloe vera gel, seaweed extract, keratin, silk, honey, oat, and cucumber.
Synthetic humectants for hair tend to perform better and are cheaper too. However, they don’t usually offer other benefits besides their humectant properties. Examples of synthetic humectants are butylene glycol, synthetic propylene glycol, urea, glycerin, sorbitol, dicyanamide, sodium lactate, and erythritol.
Benefits of Humectants for Hair
Your hair can lose moisture throughout the day due to external damage or an existing condition. If left untreated, this can cause your hair to become brittle, dry, and frizzy.
Humectants help keep your hair healthy by attracting moisture in the air and allowing the rest of its components to work without interruption. The moisture pulled in by humectants not only rejuvenates and repairs damaged hair but can also make your hair softer, smoother, curlier, fuller, and bouncier.
Pros and Cons of Humectants for Hair
Like all personal care products, humectants have their upsides and downsides. Some of their upsides are:
- Fantastic at retaining moisture and moisturizing your hair
- Adds volume, softness, smoothness, bounce, and fullness to hair
- Don’t interfere with other ingredients in products
Humectants also have their downsides, most notably:
- Humectants don’t work as well in areas with higher or lower-than-normal humidity
Side Effects of Humectants for Hair
Humectants have not been directly linked to any side effects. However, people with allergies should take note of the ingredients used in each humectant, as they may trigger an allergy attack.
How to Use Humectants for Hair
Most humectants come in the form of deep conditioners or pomades. For best results, follow the instructions that come with the product.
Humectants for Hair: Buyer’s Guide
The first and most important thing to look out for even before you buy humectants is the humidity of where you live. Because they attract water particles in the air around you, humectants for hair can do more harm than good if used in places with very low humidity.
The next thing to do is check if you have low porosity hair, which will determine what kind of humectants will work best for you. If you don’t know your hair porosity, you can place a few hair strands in a glass of water. If your hair sinks quickly, that’s a sign of high porosity hair. A slow sink indicates average porosity while floating means you’ve got low porosity hair.
Once you’ve checked your hair porosity, we can move on to the ingredients. People with low-porosity hair will want to get glycerin humectants – that stuff is slippery and works wonders on low-porosity hair. Conversely, people with high porosity hair should avoid glycerin as it’ll make their hair heavy and can lead to a gunky feeling.
Apart from glycerin, you should also check the other ingredients in your planned humectant. Since humectants allow the different components of their mixture to work without interruption, ask yourself what other health benefits you want with your humectant.
Now that you know what to look for in your humectant of choice, here are some of our top picks for humectants for hair.
Best Humectants for Hair
Best Humectant for Curls:
Aveda Brilliant Humectant Pomade
- Humectant-rich pomade that provides hold and moisturization
- Adds shine to hair
Pros: Unmatched curl definition. Works with oily, dry, and normal hair, light floral scent
Cons: Shady online sellers
Aveda Brilliant Humectant Pomade Review
Aveda Brilliant Humectant Pomade sits at an outstanding 80% 5-star rating on Amazon. If that’s enough to convince you that this is one of the best humectants for curly hair, you can also look at the shining reviews that happy customers have given it.
There’s not much to say about Aveda Brilliant Humectant Pomade other than it’s simply among the best humectants for hair. A blend of linseed oil, aloe, bladderwrack extract, and glycerin ensures that Aveda Brilliant Humectant Pomade will thoroughly get and keep moisture where your hair needs the most.
Happy customers have noted that Aveda Brilliant Humectant Pomade delivers on all its promises, giving unmatched curl definition while adding shine and manageability to your hair – without leaving a sticky and greasy feeling. However, there have been some complaints about the product being vastly different from the one available in stores. Get yours straight from the Aveda site, local pharmacy, or grocery stores.
Best Humectant for Dry African American Hair
Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey
- Citrus-scented humectant pomade that eliminates frizz
- Specially made for curly and kinky hair, from 4c to 1c
Pros: No parabens or sulfates, fantastic citrus smell, incredible at maintaining and nourishing 4c hair
Cons: Not all-natural, offers no hold
Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey Review
Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey was built from the ground up to serve as a good humectant for strong black hair – no matter the hairstyle or treatment it’s put through.
Harnessing the powers of mimosa honey, shea butter fruit, cocoa seed butter, lavender, sage, red clover, rosemary, and nettle, Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey provides not only curly hair control but also potent moisturizing properties that are sure to give your hair the lift and shine they need. This blend of ingredients is carefully formulated to ensure that your hair stays healthy and moisturized throughout the day.
Customers have happily cited Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey’s prowess at maintaining even 4c hair as the number one reason to buy this humectant for hair. However, Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey provides no hold on its own, and it’s not entirely free of synthetic substances.
Best Humectant for Low Porosity Hair
Okay 100% Pure Glycerin Oil
Special Features: 100% pure glycerin oil moisturizes even the most stubborn low-porosity hair
Pros: Also helps with dry and irritated scalps, no fragrance or additives
Cons: It doesn’t do anything else on its own
Okay 100% Pure Glycerin Oil Review
Some of my friends have exhausted every option in the book regarding frizzy hair – humectant pomades, conditioners, and so on. So when I tell them, “Just put glycerin oil in your hair, ” they do it without resistance. Lo, and behold – that’s often the solution.
Okay, 100% Pure Humectant Glycerin Oil is just that – 100% pure glycerin oil. Glycerin is one of the most potent humectants for hair, making this product a godsend for frizzy hair that won’t respond to anything else.
Not only does Okay 100% Pure Glycerin Oil help with damaged hair, but it also works wonders with dry, flaky, and irritated skin. By attracting moisture and hydrating your hair and skin, Okay 100% Pure Glycerin Oil restores your body’s moisture levels and eliminates all these problems.
While it’s not a downside, Okay 100% Pure Glycerin Oil is pure glycerin oil. If another condition, such as infection, is causing your frizzy hair, this humectant won’t be a miracle cure. Neither will it impart any other benefits aside from moisturizing your hair.
Best Non-Sticky Natural Humectant for Hair
Maple Holistics Avocado Oil
- 100% pure avocado oil for powerful moisturizing and antioxidant properties
- Avocado oil is a carrier oil, making this product great for DIY treatments
Pros: It also serves as a carrier oil which enhances the potency of other hair care products; it also helps with hair growth
Cons: It doesn’t do anything else on its own
Maple Holistics Avocado Oil
We also have pure avocado oil as a follow-up to pure glycerin oil. Maple Holistics Avocado Oil is an excellent humectant for people without low porosity hair – it works great at revitalizing and moisturizing your hair. Still, its strength is lower than pure glycerin oil. Remember: with humectants, you have to get the right strength to avoid hair that’s too heavy.
Avocado oil is not only a powerful humectant but also serves as a quick and efficient carrier oil. Maple Holistics Avocado Oil is great for your DIY hair care projects. It provides great moisturization for your hair, but when paired with other natural ingredients, Maple Holistics Avocado Oil amplifies its effects for holistic hair treatment.
While Maple Holistics Avocado Oil is undoubtedly an excellent humectant, in the end, it’s just avocado oil. This is an excellent product if you want to moisturize your frizzy hair or experiment with DIY essential oil mixtures. For those who want more out of a single bundle, it may be better to invest in another humectant.
Best Deep Conditioner Humectant for Hair
Avlon Keracare Humecto Creme
Special Features: Specially formulated to repair moisture loss from thermal styling appliances
Pros: Works even with thick 4c hair, eliminates static charge, and detangles hair
Avlon Keracare Humecto Creme Review
Avlon Keracare Humecto Creme is a great option to undo the damage caused by an overzealous hair straightening or curling session. This specially-formulated humectant was tailor-made to repair moisture loss from these incidents.
Avlon Keracare Humecto Creme’s deep conditioning properties mean it will deeply moisturize and hydrate your dried-out hairs, detangling them and expelling any static charges that can cause frizzy hair problems. Not only does this humectant creme moisturize your hair, but it also provides a lustrous shine and makes your hair silky smooth and soft.
While some may argue that Avlon Keracare Humecto Creme costs a bit much, I recommend this product, as you get what you pay for.
Goodbye, Dry Hair!
Humectants are a fantastic styling product for people with dry, frizzy hair – and they work even better on people with low porosity hair. If you constantly suffer from the dreaded hair frizz, give humectants a shot. You’ll almost certainly see results.
FAQs about Humectants for Hair
What are some other ways to retain moisture in my hair?
Apart from using common humectants, you can use only lukewarm water for washing, limit your shower time to 10 minutes, and use fragrance-free products. If you live in a particularly dry part of the world, consider investing in a humidifier.
What are the best humectants for low-porosity hair?
Low-porosity hair is terrible at absorbing and retaining moisture, so choosing a humectant is important. Glycerin and honey-based humectants are much more effective at penetrating low-porosity hair.
I live in a humid environment, and my hair absorbs too much water. Is there a humectant product that will work for me?
Yes! If you are in high humidity conditions, it’s better to use anti-humectants. As the polar opposite of humectants, anti-humectants draw moisture from your hair back into the environment.
I live in a very dry environment. Should I use a humectant?
Regardless of whether or not you’ve got low or high porosity hair, do not use humectants in very dry environments. This can cause the humectant to draw moisture out of your hair, damaging it and causing it to become frizzy. Use hair serums like Votala Hair Growth Serum or Vegamour Gro Hair Serum if you’re vegan. These products help with hair loss and, at the same time, moisturize your scalp to prevent further breakage.
What are some anti-humectants I should avoid?
If you want to treat your hair with humectants and need moisturization, try avoiding products with lots of beeswaxes, silicones, esters, hydrogenated castor oil, palm oil, shea butter, and coconut oil.
However, note that these substances can serve as either humectants or anti-humectants based on how much a product uses. Be sure to read the labels to see if the product is marketed as a humectant or an anti-humectant.
Mel is a licensed Chemist in New Jersey who has worked in several cosmetics companies and has years of experience formulating hair care and beauty products. She uses her knowledge in cosmetics to distinguish and find the best products to recommend to Union Of Barber’s readers. When Mel’s not writing, you can find her walking her dogs or cooking and baking at home!