What do they *actually* mean?
By Leal Alexander @curlygallal
If you’re thinking.. “Wait: this is a ~thing~? I didn’t know about this… WHY DIDN’T I KNOW ABOUT THIS?!
You’re not alone, it’s a thing!
According to my research, many people in the curly community are baffled about the difference between the two [as I once was].
As curlies, especially in the social media realm ,we see the terms “hydrated” and “moisturised” thrown around, often being used interchangeably as one in the same. But, who knew that they actually are quite different. It’s a common and easy misconception, so if you thought you knew the difference, ‘cause duh?!’ hold your horses! But, don’t fret! Because that’s why I’m here.
So, let’s dive in!
Nurturing our curls is a process of trial and error, (translated in ~Curly Girl~ terms as a product graveyard on your bathroom shelf). We’ve all suffered dry curls and if you’re a ~curly-devotee-come-product-junkie~ like me you will have stocked up on all kinds of products, espesh those that claim to “provide moisture”, “hydrate thirsty curls” etc etc etc. We’ve seen it ALL. But what does it actually mean? Believe it or not, these phrases aren’t just catchy marketing traps, but *actually* yes actually, describing the intended function of the ingredients in the product.
A leave in conditioner will typically have a high water content with the aim of hydrating curls. Although your moisturiser will include water, it is often present as a dissolve to create the creamy consistency of your cream, butter etc. These will be packed full of emollients, natural oils which slow down the loss of hydration in your hair. It may seem like a fine line, but it is important to distinguish the gap between the two. As when I finally discovered this, it CHANGED my curly hair game!!!
Still following? Okay. Below are 2 examples to help describe the difference:
Example 1: It’s a hot summers day.. your mouth is dry as hell… you’re thirsty so you’ll probably opt for a glass of water, afterwards you probably feel “hydrated”… right? You would not say “aaah, I feel SO moisturised”.
Example 2: You apply a cream onto your skin after a shower. YEP your skin now feels moisturised. Honestly it’s as simple as that.
But, how does this translate to your CURLS?
The scientific-y bit: Products that claim to ‘hydrate’ the hair are simply encouraging your strands' uptake of water through penetration. Look to your leave in conditioners. Whereas those that claim to ‘moisturise’, like styling creams/butters etc, often include emollients such as butters and oils that form a seal around the hair. Thus preventing moisture from leaving the hair!
“if you were simply to add a moisturiser to dry hair without properly hydrating first, the sealant isn’t sealing anything in”
Think of it like this; when we add water to our curls they feel super soft, shiny and bouncy, right? I mean, the shrinkage is so real. Well, eventually this water will evaporate if we don’t seal in the hydration with a sealant (which repels water) eventually leading to dry, brittle curls that are prone to damage. However, if you were simply to add a moisturiser to dry hair without properly hydrating first, the sealant isn’t sealing anything in, so the hair will eventually look and feel dull sooner.
My advice? A two-pronged attack is 100% the way to go! Achieve the best of both worlds and do both, hydrate first, then moisturise. I love to use a leave-in on damp hair and then seal in all that goodness with a moisturising cream. For extra hold, I may add a gel. This will really stretch your wash and go across the week until your next wash day. With a good product line, I can definitely last up to 5/6 days with no refresh.
As with anything, there are going to be factors that may make one’s results differ from another’s. Hair porosity, health, texture and their personal routine. Also, it is important to remember that having a clean scalp that is free of build up, will provide a clean canvas for your stylers’ ingredients to do their job - but that’s a WHOLE OTHER blog which we won’t get into today.
That’s all, thank you for sticking with it!
Have a lovely day and happy wash day!
Best, LAL XO