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-tos for people who need urgent hair repair; however, they’re not a cure-all. If you’d like to find out more about what humectants can do for you, as well as get some of my recommendations for the best humectants available right now, read on!
What are Humectants for Hair?
Humectants are substances that moisturizes dry and damaged hair. They are are added to a lot of hair products because they can both retain moisture while keeping the rest of their solution intact. Humectants are often included in both skin care and hair care products and can be found as either natural and synthetic substances.
How do Humectants for Hair Work?
Humectants for hair work by attracting moisture in the air and keeping said moisture close to your skin. Other humectants for hair already come with moisture, and applying them as topical treatments allows these humectants to directly deliver moisturizing substances to your hair and scalp.
Types of Humectants for Hair
Humectants are categorized into both natural and synthetic, based on whether they are found in naturally-occuring 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 retaining moisture. Some natural humectants include aloe vera, 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 any other benefits apart from 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
Whether it’s due to external damage or an existing condition, your hair can lose moisture throughout the day. If left untreated, this can cause your hair to become brittle, dry, and frizzy.
Humectants help keep your hair healthy both by attracting moisture in the air as well as allowing the rest of their 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.
Topselling Humctants Products
Pros and Cons of Humectants for Hair
Like all products, humectants have their own 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
However, humectants also have their own downsides, most particularly:
- 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 conditioner or pomade. 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 work by attracting 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 to check if you have low porosity hair or not, as this will determine what kind of humectants will work best for you. If you don’t know your hair porosity, you can take a strand of your hair and place it in a glass of water. If your hair sinks quickly, that’s a sign of high porosity hair. A slow sink indicates normal 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 definitely want to get humectants that use glycerin – that stuff is slippery and works wonders on low porosity hair. On the flip side, 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 other components of their mixture to work without interruption, ask yourself what other health benefits do you want with your humectant.
Now that you know what to look for in your humectant of choice, here’s 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 a great 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 provide a thorough job of getting and keeping moisture where your hair needs it the most.
Happy customers have noted that Aveda Brilliant Humectant Pomade delivers on all its promises, giving unmatched curl definition while also adding shine and manageability to your hair – all without leaving a sticky and greasy feeling. However, there have been some complaints about the product being vastly different form the one available in stores. For best results, get yours straight from the Aveda store or at your local pharmacy or grocery store.
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 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 all throughout the day.
Customers have happily cited Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey 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: Doesn’t really do anything else on its own
Okay 100% Pure Glycerin Oil Review
Some of my friends have exhausted every option in the book when it comes to frizzy hair – humectant pomades, conditioners, and so on. So when I tell them “just put glycerin oil in your hair”, they pretty much do it with no 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 available, making this product a godsend for frizzy hair that just 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 gets rid of all these problems.
While it’s not really a downside, Okay 100% Pure Glycerin Oil is just that – pure glycerin oil. If your frizzy hair is being caused by another condition, such as infection, 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: Also serves as a carrier oil which enhances the potency of other hair care products, also helps with hair growth
Cons: Doesn’t really do anything else on its own
Maple Holistics Avocado Oil
As a follow-up to pure glycerin oil, we also have pure avocado oil. Maple Holistics Avocado Oil is a great humectant for people without low porosity hair – it works great at revitalizing and moisturizing your hair, but 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. This means that Maple Holistics Avocado Oil is great for your DIY hair care projects. By itself, it provides great moisturization for your hair, but when paired with other natural ingredients, Maple Holistics Avocado Oil amplifies their effects for holistic hair treatment.
While Maple Holistics Avocado Oil is undoubtedly a great humectant, in the end, it’s just avocado oil. If you’re just looking for moisturization for your frizzy hair or want to experiment with DIY essential oil mixtures, this is a great product. 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 if you’re looking 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 means that it will deeply moisturize and hydrate your dried-out hairs, detangling them in the process 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 still definitely recommend this product, as you absolutely get what you pay for.
Goodbye, Dry Hair!
Humectants are a fantastic 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 humectants, you can also use only lukewarm water for washing, limiting your shower time to 10 minutes at most, and using fragrance-free products. If you live in a particularly dry part of the world, consider investing in a humidifier as well.
What are the best humectants for low porosity hair?
Low porosity hair is particularly bad at absorbing and retaining moisture, making the choice of humectant that much more important. Glycerin and honey-based humectants are much more effective at penetrating low porosity hair.
I live in a humid environment and my hair is absorbing too much water. Is there a humectant product that will work for me?
Yes! There are substances known as anti-humectants. As the polar opposite of humectants, anti-humectants instead draw out 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 actually cause the humectant to draw moisture out of your hair, damaging it and causing it to become frizzy.
What are some anti humectants I should avoid?
If you’re looking to treat your hair with humectants and really need that moisturization, try and avoid products with lots of beeswax, 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 of them a product uses. Be sure to read the labels to see if the product in question is marketed as a humectant or anti-humectant.