Autumn is here and winter is approaching and we want to be sure that our hair products and usage are optimal for use during this cold, dry season. Many of us are tweaking products, and putting some to rest until the spring and summer are back. One such ingredient found in many of our moisturizing products that gives many a naturalista pause are humectants with glycerin being of most concern and sending some products to the trash bin during the cold months. There are many types of humectancts with the most common humectants used in hair and skin care products being: glycerin and glycerol, honey, panthenol, hydrolized wheat protein and propylene glycol.
Humectants attract moisture/water to themselves and bind together to provide supreme hydration to hair and skin while imparting a smooth, soft feel. While there is some concern that humectant use in dry climates will rob the hair of moisture, there is no conclusive evidence that this is fact.
Can glycerin dry the hair out during the winter? Though I’m personally not a believer that this really happens, we also asked Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, author of Hair Care Rehab what she though about the glycerin hype and scare many curlies face during the winter. “It can, but it isn’t always the case,”she says. “It really depends on the product used, how arid the air is, and the person?s hair. Glycerin likes to draw moisture to itself. When there is lots of moisture in the surrounding air, glycerin helps bring that moisture to you. When there isn?t much moisture in the air, glycerin pulls moisture from wherever it can – that?s typically you! When this happens, you may feel some dryness. If the product is well formulated, there?ll be sufficient water in the product to prevent this. Homemade mixes are likely the culprit.”
To get the most from glycerin-rich products during the winter, try these quick tips.
If you are making your own mix, never put glycerin directly onto your hair and always make sure there is more water than glycerin in your bottle. A safe mixture is 1:3 adding your oils afterwards.
Don’t throw out your products with glycerin! Read the label. If glycerin is the first half of the total ingredients, that means that the product has a lot of glycerin since ingredients list are based on quantity. That’s okay! Balance this by incorporating an oil into your routine. We recommend wet hair (freshly washed and conditioned with a leave-in or misted with water or a leave-in) and then sealing in your glycerin-based product with a light oil. For example, we love Giovanni Direct Leave-In conditioner, Shea Moisture Organic Curl Enhancing Smoothie follow up with pure jojoba oil. Or you could even switch your oil and glycerin-based products around.
Either way listen to your hair and play with your products. There is no need to throw out your glycerin-based products and if your hair does not like glycerin, just stop using it and try replacing it with honey or other moisturizing humectants.
Cheers to your hair!