Hair, Ponytails/Buns, Protective Styles, Reviews
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When Good Hair Goes Bad: Humectants in Summer & the Textured Bun

With summer coming to a close, one would think humidity is no longer a pressing concern for one’s hair.  However, if you live in an area where humidity reigns well into the fall months like I do, be sure to refrain from excess humectants.

I have low porosity hair.  One aspect of low porosity hair is it’s inability to retain a lot of moisture (low porosity hair repels water).  As a result,  humectants are generally necessary to attract moisture to the hair.

I live in a state with a significant amount of humidity in the summer.  Therefore, I avoid humectants like plague for these few months.  But now that summer is coming to an end, I figured that my hair may appreciate added moisture therapy.  So I decided to give Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Gel Souffle a whirl in a twist and curl.  I purchased this product at Walgreens for less than $10.

shea moisture curling gel souffle collage

Like most (if not all) Shea Moisture products, the souffle contains all natural products, featuring coconut oil, agave nectar and flax seed oil.  Agave nectar is the active humectant in this product. The primary component of this syrup is fructose, which draws water from the environment to the hair shaft.

The consistency of the gel is thick and soupy.  It also smells incredibly sweet–like saccharine sweet.

During application, the gel seemed a little sticky to the touch, but by the time my hair dried, I was actually pretty pleased with how the twist and curl came out.  The flax seed gel in the product delivered shine and all in all, my hair looked decent, aside from the slight sticky feeling (sorry, no before pictures because I was running late for work).  HOWEVER, by the time I got to work, my hair had swelled to enormous proportions (and it only takes me 10 minutes to get to work guys!).  Literally, the only curl definition left in my hair were on the relaxed ends, as a result of using perm rods.   Quick fix? A textured bun to the rescue!  I did leave out some bangs to illustrate the effects of swelling.

humectant collage

Illustrative purposes only. I pulled back my bangs post picture because swelling + relaxed ends ain’t cute.

What a fluffed out, stringy mess!  Let’s just say I’m not a fan of this gel.  Though, to be fair, some fault my lay with my use of the product in the summer.  I’ll hold on to it and give it one more shot in the dead of winter and see how it fares.  Right now, though, it’s not on my list of favorites.

Object lessons: High-humidity conditions =  a tremendous amount of moisture in the air.  This can be disastrous for curly hair as it is naturally more porous than straight hair, absorbing water from the air quite easily.  As illustrated above, some of the side effects includes swelling.  Swelling causes the cuticles to raise, resulting in a rough surface, tangles and zero curl definition (aka the dreaded frizz).  Therefore, products with humectants will intensify these effects.

Some humectants, like syrups (which includes agave nectar), become sticky when saturated with water.  This explains the gel’s sticky feeling in my hair.  But, like I said, I’ll reserve final judgment until I give it another shot in winter.

Don’t get me wrong–I love a good humectant.  They’re just not ideal for curlies in high humidity climates.  Curly ladies who find themselves in moderate or low-humidity conditions are welcome (and encouraged) to incorporate humectants into their hair regimen, especially if your hair has a hard time retaining moisture.

If any of you have tried Shea Moisture’s Curling Gel Souffle, let me know how it worked out for you.  Would love to hear your thoughts!

Peace, Love, and Live Life Full,

P.A.

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2 Comments

  1. Yours is one of the many natural abroad accounts I’ve read about problem hair with humectants in high humidity. Interestingly, it’s super humid here but my regimen still benefits from a humectant heavy regimen. The only thing I’ve noticed is that if I’m indoors in an office with super cool air conditioning, my hair feels dry and crunchy until I go out again. But to keep frizz at bay, I try to use humectant free products these days, for styling. So interesting how our hair interacts with the weather! 🙂

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    • So true, AB! I don’t remember having to style my hair around the weather in Nigeria before my mom put relaxer in my hair. But for some reason in the States, I have to watch the weather report before I decide to do a defined style lol. It really is ridiculous. 🙂

      Like

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