Knowing Your Ingredients: Dew Points

Okay, I lied.

Dew Point is not an ingredient. Dew Point is the temperature in which water vapor at constant pressure condenses into liquid at the same rate it evaporates. What???  Specifically, it is the water-to-air saturation temperature, the condensate forms “dew” and this is associated with relative humidity. Humidity, as most of us know, is the amount of moisture in the air. Some weather broadcast will either show a) Humidity in % or b) Dew Point in an actual temperature (sometimes without the degrees).

If I lost you, Cliff Notes Version: It is the amount of water in the air. Dew Point does change over time due to pressure in the atmosphere. If during the entire week it is 68 degrees F and the pressure changes during the week, a rise in pressure will cause the dew point to rise, thereby increasing humidity in the air and a drop in pressure will cause less humidity in the air.

Fun Fact: When humidity or dew point reaches closer to 100% or actual temperature, it is more than likely going to rain or snow. This means air has reached its maximum saturation. This also means you need to get your hair tied down, because whether you beat the bad weather or not, it will be a bad hair day. 

An important fact to remember about DP is that it can be affected by your cities elevation so be aware of that. In NYC, the elevation is pretty low, so changes in air pressure are pretty normal when it happens and aren’t that bad, but a city with a higher elevation will experience more moisture with the same change in air pressure.

So what does this have to do with knowing your ingredients?

My friend (who is in one of the pictures of the previous wash day posts) usually sends me texts during the cooler months to tell me that the DP is this, so we can’t use products A, B & C. And thats important because if there is no moisture in the air, especially during hotter and cooler months in NYC, certain products are straight bummers. For someone with LP hair, a DP under 30 (actually, more like 20, but 30 just to be safe) means we have to start putting some products to the side because they will leave your hair singing “Crunch, Crunch, Snap, Snap, Do Something Quick Or You’ll Have a Setback!”

Ingredients to be mindful of are humectants and emollients. You want to avoid the former when the DP is too low and increase the latter when the DP is too low. Vice Versa for higher DP’s.

Humectants (Most common you may find)

  • Honey
  • Glycerin
  • Agave, Glucose, Fructose (Sugar)
  • Pathenol
  • Glycols
  • Sorbitol
  • Hydrolyzed Proteins including Keratin, Collagen, Silk and Elastin (all my faves).

Emollients (Healthier options)

  • Butters
  • Pomades
  • Silicones
  • Sealing Oils

Emollients are usually cones, but butters, oils and pomades can serve as alternatives. Something to remember is that when using oils, you do not want to use penetrating oils like coconut, olive or even avocado to seal as they can penetrate. Sweet almond oil is a good recommendation, but it can penetrate up to 25%, same as avocado oil, so be careful with that. This may be a good time to go searching for some ceramide infused oils which strengthen the hair and seal really well. Even Palm Oil is good! Emollients work well in lower DP’s because they seal your moisture in and don’t really allow the outside air to interact with your hair, so your hair is not constantly losing moisture to the air.

Sounds Simple? It really isn’t.

The first winter of my hair journey, I used Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Smoothie religiously, but did have dry hair still. When I started adding Kanechom, because of the dimethicone content, all that dryness and breakage stopped. One of the first five ingredients in CD BVS is glycerin. When I added the Kanechom, the affect of glycerin was greatly impacted and that is why I had such healthy looking hair. I didn’t use Kanechom last winter and did experience little dryness, but none to really complain about. Last winter, I got my steamer, used it religiously and used Darcy’s Botanicals Cocoa Bean Hair Whip as my sealer every day to every other day and it worked great. I realized oils weren’t enough for me, but could be for you.

So what does this mean for you? It means you may have to reduce humectants, increase moisturizers with water and increase emollient usage more than double you use now or even invest in a new one. This would be a good time to make shea and cocoa butter based products your friend. Even butters like murumuru, uccuba, illipe and capuacu are twins to butters we may or may not like. I hate to say it, but even a small amount of silicones that do not get along with water will help. For me, the infusion of both worked, but one should be fine. For me, I didn’t have to reduce products I love, I just had to increase heavier sealers.

Tips to remember

  • Steam. Even if you have to DIY it (before my steamer, I would use a conditioning or plastic cap, cover it with a satin bonnet or tshirt, and cover that with another plastic cap and either do that alone or sit under my heating cap), steaming helps greatly with low dew points.
  • Increase your heavy butters or get some good sealers. You may not like the feeling, but you have to think of the end in mind. If heavy hair results in 100% retention, is the sacrifice worth it?
  • Maybe try some cones. I know, some of you hate them, but healthier hair responds better to cones than unhealthy hair.
  • You can get a humidifier or create your own air moisture but use it with caution. When you have allergies to mold and dust, humidifiers make your allergies worse and changes in air moisture (going outside after being in moist inside air) can affect your hair moisture. Sometimes, mimicking that moisture infused environment can work against you if your not careful. Especially when you have LP hair.
  • Get some good water based moisturizers. Decrease humectant use and if that is too hard, find those butters.
  • For LP hair, just be sure to assess your hairs moisture to protein content and clarify when needed, not on a schedule. LP hair shouldn’t be using butters anyway, but its all about the sacrifice.
  • For hair that is too dry, try playing with baking soda to open the cuticles a bit and still use heavy sealers to keep it in (though we know its hard to get it out). This was told to me by a natural and she said it does work at getting that moisture in. I haven’t done it yet, just a recommendation. How to use it? I will keep you posted.

I hope this helps. It sure as heck helped me!

One Day, It Will Happen

Tasia B.

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11 thoughts on “Knowing Your Ingredients: Dew Points

  1. I tried the baking soda thing with cherry lola to open the cuticles. Of course it was veganized with coconut cream. 😛 It wasn’t too bad, but it’s not something I would do more than twice a year.

  2. Pingback: Regimen and musings on hair | The Vegan Oracle

    • Hey girl,

      From what I’ve read, if the weather is too humid, more than 50% humidity, you should stay away from them as well or limit the use a bit. It can cause the hair to swell with too much water.

  3. Great post! Came at the right time too. I have majorly soft moisturized hair right now for the first time in weeks after a cowash last night and following all your good advice. The winter has been playing havoc with my hair. But now I have clarity. You should feel my hair! Thanks Tasia.

    • Glycerin is not bad, you just have to know how to use it. Ive seen people use it successfully, but my hair doesn’t get along with it, so I just make it happy!

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