The difference between moisturizing and sealing oil

The difference between moisturizing and sealing oil

For every curly girl, It is important to know that not all hair oils are alike! When you know how different hair oils act, the better results you can get. 

There are two different types of oils: Moisturizing and Sealing oils. It is really important to distinguish between a moisturizing oil vs. a sealing oil to gain the best possible results with your natural hair journey. So let’s break down the facts!

Olive oil is partially moisturizing and sealing

What You Need to Know Now: Moisturizing Oil vs. Sealing Oil?

A moisturizing oil is an oil that can penetrate the hair shaft and moisturizes it from the inside. These kinds of oils are ideal for very dry and thirsty curls. In contrast to moisturizing oil, a sealing oil cannot penetrate the hair shaft, instead, they latch on top of the hair fibre forming a thin film. The formed film protects the hair from outer damage and prevents any added moisture to escape from the hair. However, the film also prevents any moisture to go into the hair shat after the oil application. Due to this, sealing oil should be added after adding leave-in conditioner or other moisturizing product to lock in the moisture. If added before or solely, actually oiling your hair may result in very dry and brittle hair. To ensure well-hydrated locks, you can try the so-called a LOC or LOG method where you first add the Leave-in (L) or any other water-based conditioning product, then seal the moisture with a hair oil (O) and to add hold follow with a curl cream (C) or gel (G). This method will leave your hair moisturized for days! However, as a rule of thumb, we always recommend adding a leave-in conditioner or moisturizer after showering. That way if you are not sure, whether the oil you are using is moisturizing or sealing, you can't go wrong with it. Here are some examples of moisturizing and sealing oils:

From The Wild Curl products moisturizing oils are

From The Wild Curl products sealing oils are

Benefits of moisturizing oil

Since a moisturizing oil can penetrate the hair cuticle, it can moisturize the hair from inside by reaching the cortex and therefore, will not only protect the hair cuticles from damage but also nourish the hair from inside with much-needed nutrients.  As well, penetrating oils can reduce the amount of water absorbed in the hair, leading to a lowering of swelling. This can result in lower hygral fatigue (repeated swelling and drying), a factor that can damage hair. The oil can fill the gap between the cuticle cells and prevent the penetration of the aggressive substances such as surfactants into the follicle. If you have very dry, porous, rough-feeling, or coarse hair, the penetrating oils are good fit for your hair.

Benefits of sealing oil

The cuticle layers of the hair can be easily damaged by manipulation, styling tools, chemical treatments or environmental factors. Applying sealing oils to the hair will seal the hair and help to prevent and protect it from these damaging effects. It can be used as a frizz control and to add shine. It works as hair lubrication, which facilitates the detangling process and decrease the number of split ends and hair friction. Sealing oils are good to use after leave-in conditioner or a moisturizer to lock in the moisture. Also, it works well for keeping locks and braids in good condition. If you have a fine hair structure, sealing oils works well for you, since they tend to be light-weighted not leaving your hair with a greasy feeling. As well, they work well with all hair types and are very good to treat cuticle damage. They lay on top of the hair fibre to help smooth the cuticles to lay flatter, which attributes to the hair feeling smoother, softer and looking shinier. 

Top Moisturizing Oils

  • Coconut oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Palm kernel oil
  • Capric / Caprylic Triglycerides (Fractionated coconut oil)
  • Babassu oil

Partially moisturizing and sealing oils:

Sealing oils:

    What makes oil moisturizing or sealing?

    The amount of triglyceride and short-chain fatty acids the oil contains defines whether it penetrates the hair shaft or it stays on top of it. Small atoms, like lipid molecules with less than 20 carbon atoms and non-branching structure, tend to penetrate the hair shaft. Example of short-chain lipids is a triglyceride, which is an ester derived from glycerol and three fatty acids. All the short-chain lipids are usually straight chains with non-branching structure, making them small, compact molecules that penetrate the hair shaft easily. These can include fatty acids such as lauric, capric, oleic, linoleic, myristic, palmitic and caprylic acids. Also, monounsaturated fats tend to be better at penetrating your hair than polyunsaturated fats.

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