Emollients, Proteins & Humectants: Why are they so essential for hair health?

Emollients, proteins and humectants – these terms may sound strange, yet we are sure that you (unconsciously) supply the hair with these substances in your daily beauty routine. Without doubt, the P-E-H balance is the key to stunning hair because each one separately handles other tasks and plays different functions. Together, they complement one another, which is why, it’s tremendously beneficial to know what they are and how they affect the hair. It’s also worth learning the most effective ways of applying emollients, proteins and humectants to strands in order to get the most of them.

EMOLLIENTS: What are they?

Emollients have lubricating properties and counteract water loss. Hair needs them to lock the moisture in and maintain high hydration levels. From the biological standpoint, emollients are formed with hydrophobic amino acids, fatty acids and fats. The most common examples of emollients are:

  • natural oils and vegetable butters
  • silicones
  • waxes
  • fatty alcohols
  • paraffin
  • film-forming polymers

Apart from locking moisture in tresses and preventing dryness, emollients play another tremendously important role in hair care. Namely, these substances shield hair from scorching sun, UV rays, hot air stream and urban pollution.

How to apply emollients?

The key to successful emollient use lies in the careful and mindful application. This means that if you apply too much, you will end up having flat and loaded hair that looks unflattering, to say the least. On the the flip side, when the amount of emollients is insufficient, strands become dehydrated, prone to static and lack resilience. As it’s now clear to see, emollients must be used wisely because only then can you achieve smooth and lustrous hair that is easy to comb and detangle. Additionally, emollients make a perfect match with humectants, especially on days when the humidity is either extremely high or low.

To sum up, strands that are treated with emollients too often look as if we neglected it completely – they seems to be oily and flat. On the other hand, if the level of emollients is too low, hair starts tangle, gets frizzy and is easily affected by static.

Emollients in beauty products

In most cases, emollients have the form of oils, hair masks and conditioners. They can be find in hair care products enriched with all known natural oils, e.g. coconut oil and argan oil, shea butter as well as silicones and paraffin. They should be used as the last step in your daily hair routine – therefore reach for a hair mist or hair mask.

PROTEINS: What are they?

Proteins create a group of substances that constitute one of the basic building blocks of hair. They are responsible for increasing hair resistance to damage and help the strands maintain their good health. Apart from that, proteins are supposed to fill in and repair all damage done to hair, including the damage done to the inner hair structures. We divide proteins by their molecular size:

  • amino acids – have the lowest molecular weight. They can be found in arginine and l-cysteine.
  • small molecule proteins – a slightly bigger in size, they are able to penetrate hair deeply. They can be found in keratin, elastin, collagen and silk.
  • macromolecule proteins – reside on hair’s surface. They can be found in common food products such as egg yolks, kefir, yogurt and gelatin.

How to apply proteins?

Application of proteins is strictly connected with how porous hair is. For example, low porosity hair is smooth so it doesn’t tolerate proteins very well. In most cases, such hair looks flat when treated with a huge portion of proteins. On the other hand, high porosity hair that is frizzy and static-prone by their nature, and which is difficult to detangle, it reacts well to proteins – they leave such hair more resilient and voluminous.

Proteins in beauty products

In most cases, you can supply the hair with proteins through the application of conditioners and masks. Below you will find some examples of the common proteins used in hair care products:

  • keratin
  • collagen
  • silk
  • sericin
  • elastin
  • wheat proteins
  • maze proteins

HUMECTANTS: What are they?

Humectants are hygroscopic substances that are able to attract water molecules and lock it inside the hair. Without proper hydration, hair starts breaking, is brittle and dry, which applies mainly to hair ends. This is why humectants are so important if you want to keep your hair lovely. These small molecules, commonly known as moisturizers, are also able to attract the water form the air to keep adequate moisture levels in hair. What’s really important, if you don’t give humanists the access to water, they will start absorbing it from hair and skin, which inevitably leads to dehydration. For that reason, it’s crucial to pair humectants with emollients that prevent water from evaporating.

How to apply humectants?

Application of humectants is determined by the humidity levels. For example, on a rainy and foggy day, you should reduce the amount of humectants delivered to strands to the minimum. Otherwise, you may encourage the hair cuticles to rise and this is how hair will start absorbing water from the air, which results in frizziness. On hot days, humectants may encourage water to evaporate from hair. This means that you should make use of humectants when the humidity levels are moderate.

Humectants in beauty products

These moisturizers are easily found in various hair conditioners and masks. Choose the proven and efficacious humectants such as:

  • algae
  • aloe
  • urea
  • hyaluronic acid
  • d-panthenol
  • glycerin
  • sodium lactate