Curl Care Questions: What is Moisture?

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What is moisture?

You’d be surprised at what some people think moisturizes their curls that sadly… does not. *cough* OILS *cough*

Moisture is literally… just… water.

Y’all – listen up! Moisture is lY’all – listen up! Moisture is literally just water. That’s right, any form of water is hydrating and, if we’re being real (we are), it’s the only truly natural source of hydration that will replenish your hair and body. For curlies, the weather-related hydration that affects us most is the dew point. Surprise! Can you believe it’s not the humidity? Truth is, dew point and humidity are in fact connected, but let’s explore the nitty gritty of getting you and your curls juicy and moisturized, living your best life.

Dew point is the temperature the air needs to be cooled at (at constant pressure) to achieve relative humidity (RH). HUH?! Okay, okay. In simpler terms, the higher the dew point in the air, the more moisture in the air. When the dew point is low (which occurs when the temperature drops), airborne water vapor can no longer exist in a gas form and will change into a “dew” like condensation or fog. Are we feeling like we’re back in science class yet?! Let’s keep going.

The higher the dew point in the air, the more moisture in the air.

RH measures how much water vapor is in the air compared to how much water it can hold at that temperature. For example, if your weather app shows you the RH is at 50%, that translates to: the air is holding half of the water vapor it can hold at its current temperature. How these two affect each other is shown in the graph below. The higher the temperature, the more water molecules can fit in the air (dew point) allowing for a higher RH. The lower the temperature, the less water can fit into the air, allowing a lower RH.

dew point chart
photo source: University of Illinois Extension

So what does it all mean?! When styling, think of the dew point as one of your products. In summer, the dew point will act as a natural humectant and moisturize your curls. Your hair and skin will naturally expand and contract to accept the hydration, just like a plant. Maybe we don’t feel as pretty as a flower blooming when our hair forgets what gravity is and expands crazily in the summer months ??? so to create balance, we suggest using a non-humectant product that repels some of the dew point in the air preventing your hair from expanding faster than you wanted it to. In summer, our go to is Spiralicious by Jessicurl as it is free of glycerin and does not attract moisture to your hair. This will keep the hair condensed and defined on high dew point days.

When styling, think of the dew point as one of your products.

As for the winter, which brings drier climates with low dew points, curlies need to simulate moisture lacking in the air by feeding your hair artificial moisture, or any product containing humectants like honey, glycerin, aloe, marshmallow root, etc. This is where your creams, foams, and leave-in conditioners really come in handy, but don’t forget to top your style with a gel to keep longevity and maintain structure.

dry curls need help stat
the dew point must be high… get these curls some moisture – stat! photo courtesy of the Curl Boutique

Don’t forget to top your style with a gel to keep longevity and maintain structure.

With Maine winters, sometimes using creams and leave-ins still isn’t enough to compensate for the low dew point. Don’t fret – rotate into your routine add a hydrating mask to keep your hair balanced. Some great hydration-based masks are Melt into Moisture by DevaCurl or the Hydrating Hair Mask by Innersense Organic Beauty. These babies are rich with humectants to help your curls attract hydration, and avoid breakage and poor elasticity. All of these products can be purchased through our online store or in-salon.

curl boutique maine gel
some of our favorite gels at the Boutique. photo courtesy of the Curl Boutique

To nail this whole dew point thing, our year round routine looks like this:

Summer: Shampoo, rinse all conditioner out, use aloe-based gel, and then top with humectant free gel.

Winter: Shampoo, leave some conditioner in, use cream or foam, and top with an aloe-based gel. 

Happy moisturizing all year round, curlfriends!


Spectrum News: How to tell if it will feel humid or muggy on a warm day
University of Illinois Extension: Dew Point Temperature Dew Point vs. Humidity
Wikipedia: Dew Point

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