Beginners Guide

What’s in YOUR Moisturizer?



I grew up in a Pink Lotion household. That Pepto colored salve was the only staple in my then non-existent hair regimen. You could not convince me that,  that “moisturizer” didn’t leave my hair shiny and nourished. I didn’t even mind the faint chemical smell it left behind; I welcomed it. I washed my hair weekly,  I occasionally conditioned it and I used Pink Lotion religiously.  Back then I didn’t read labels. I also didn’t have much hair.

Before going any further I want to clarify that this isn’t a post bashing Pink Lotion. Pink Lotion’s only crime was being  cheap and conveniently located in the ubiquitous “Ethnic Aisle.”  It’s not Pink Lotion’s fault my hair was dry and brittle, it was mine. It never occurred to me to read what my holy grail moisturizer was made of; I’m not sure I even realize ingredients were listed on the bottle. No this post isn’t about bashing Pink Lotion, it’s about educating you.

There are a million hair products on the market and just as many ingredient combinations. It can be daunting knowing what to look for when you are trying to find moisturizing products for your hair. What works for me might not always work for you. What works in the summer might not work as well in the winter and on and on and on. Learning what products work isn’t going to happen in one trip to the beauty supply store but there are a few  ingredients that you should always avoid when trying to improve the overall moisture of your hair.

*NOTE*. Ingredients are listed in order from most used to least.

  1. Petroleum and Mineral Oil. Petroleum and its derivatives are colorless and odorless lubricants that help seal the hair shaft, protecting it from the surrounding environment. The issue here is that petroleum is commonly sold in moisturizing products but they don’t actually do anything to moisturize. Quite the opposite is true, it forms a barrier that keeps moisture in, and most importantly out. Save the petroleum base products to help seal  your already moisturized strands.
  2. Beeswax.  While beeswax is great to help aid in braids, twists and locs, it also is found in many commercial moisturizers, like my beloved Pink Lotion. It is great for adding hold, sheen and softness to the hair but it isn’t actually adding in any moisture.
  3. Silicones.  Silicone are minerals that help smooth hair adding shine and slip. If you are not careful they can also cause major build up which prevents moisture from penetrating your hair follicles.    This one is a bit trickier because not all silicone’s are created equal. Some are water-soluble( good) and some water-insoluble (bad). When looking for a good moisturizer you’ll want to stick to the products that contain silicones that easily let water pass through them. Here is a list to help you keep it straight.
  4. Alcohol –  Alcohol, like silicones, can be both good and bad. Some  pull the moisture from your hair leaving it dry and brittle, while others actually help hydrate your hair. Best to Avoid: Isopropyl alcohol, Propanol, Propyl alcohol and SD alcohol 40.  Once again here is a list to keep things straight.

Knowing what to look out for is half the battle. As long as you choose a water based moisturizer, meaning water is the first ingredient,everything else is trail and error. Learning what your hair loves and hates takes time but at least now you can avoid the Pink curse I endured those many years ago.


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