We’ve been told, and sold on the idea, that we should moisturize our hair through the media and the packed aisles of products on drugstore shelves. However, if hair is not alive, then why do we need to moisturize it?
Even though hair is dead, it does contain 8-12 percent water by weight and it is possible to lock more water into the hair using moisturizers, explained the Beauty Brains.
The act of increasing moisture does not necessarily mean increasing water though. The Beauty Brains explained that moisturizing really means “fighting the effects of dryness.” When your hair has roughness, dullness and loss of manageability these are the effects of dryness you are trying to reverse.
The Natural Haven blog has some very in-depth discussions about the science of hair and how to condition and moisturize it.
They state that one question they are repeatedly asked is whether the conditioner used must actually penetrate the hair to work. The answer is basically no. However, different people have different type of hair needs that dictate what type of products may help their hair appear less dry.
There are various ingredients used in store bought conditioners. Some are more penetrating than others. Their job is to smooth the hair cuticle down so that hair will be softer and more manageable, and to add slip, so hair is easier to comb.
The cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair and is made up primarily of keratin (structural protein). It looks like overlapping shingles or scales laid along the hair shaft.
Surfactants and hair softeners are contained in both regular and deep conditioners. They deposit on the outside layer of the hair to soften it. Silicones also counter the affects of shampoo that can raise the cuticle, and they add slip making hair easier to comb. Mineral oil acts like a barrier after the hair has been moisturized.
Hydrolyzed protein coats the surface of the hair to fill breaks and chips in the cuticle. Humectants that are left in the hair during styling create a humidity barrier to keep hair moisturized.
Additionally, there are some penetrating ingredients in products that help repair damaged hair.