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Sure, a single human hair looks like one cohesive strand; but if you put it under a microscope, you will find it looks more like the roof of a house. Made of little shingles that protect the inner hair shaft, the outer layer works best when every “shingle” is in place -- if some break loose or pull up, your hair isn’t going to be as healthy as it could be. That’s where sealing and moisturizing your hair comes in. While the two may sound similar, sealing and moisturizing are actually two very different things.
Think of things that are sealers: the caulk around your bathtub or the little zipper that keeps your snacks in your sandwich bag. Basically, they keep moisture in and whatever’s outside out. The same goes for sealing hair. You apply a product over your hair that seals the moisture inside your hair, and it also keeps potentially drying or damaging particles from penetrating your hair.
If you rub your hair together and it sounds crunchy, you’ve got moisture issues. Hair can lose its moisture in myriad ways, from heat-styling to cold weather to over-shampooing. When you lose moisture, you also lose shine and control for your hair, making it harder to style; you’ll have flyaways all over the place. Moisturizing hair is an attempt to put moisture back into your hair shaft. For example, some conditioners contain moisturizers known as humectants that act like magnets to attract moisture.
Moisturizing humectants contain products like proteins, which give your hair shaft strength, and botanical ingredients that act to naturally soften your hair. A lot of hair-sealing products are natural oils, such as jojoba, castor, coconut, almond or olive. Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil coating your hair shaft will keep the moisture in and other stuff out.
Room for Both
If you have very dry, brittle hair, there’s definitely room for hair sealers and moisturizers in your weekly beauty routine. You can apply a daily moisturizing conditioner in the shower to infuse moisture and strength back into your hair. After you dry it, apply a small amount of hair oil to seal the moisture in. Since the outer portion of your hair shaft is smoother, you’ll also amp up the shine factor.