Moisturize & Seal 101: What Is It?

Moisturize & Seal 101: What Is It?

Up until this point all of the things covered in my “Covering the Basics” series are things you’ve heard of, even prior to embarking on your healthy hair journey.  Shampooing and conditioning your hair are common practices that you’ve most likely been doing since birth.  Where most people get a bit lost is during talk about moisturizing and sealing (M&S).
Moisturize and Seal Hair
It is a fact that Black hair is the driest type of hair.  A number of scientific studies have confirmed that not only is it dry but that its naturally coiled structure makes it difficult for natural oils (sebum) to travel down the hair shaft, contributing to the problem. Dry hair snaps and breaks making it impossible to retain length.  So solving the dryness issue will lead to better retention and longer hair.  Simple enough, right?
The ultimate moisturizer is water.  Hair, skin, food, wood – just about anything that needs to be moistened – water is the best way to do it.  Now think back to your elementary school days.  I’m sure we all did the experiment where we left a cup of water out to demonstrate evaporation right?  Now if you were to do the exact same experiment and add a layer of oil to the top, there would be little to no evaporation.  In fact, one blogger did this experiment (check out this post – Healthy Hair by Ren) and sure enough the oil worked to effectively maintain the same amount of water.  This is the principle behind moisturizing and sealing, you moisturize to prevent dryness and seal to maintain the moisture you just put in and prevent it from escaping.  Again, a pretty simple concept, right?  But as simple as it seems many of us were not familiar with this hair practice prior to our HHJs and trust me it makes a HUGE difference in the health and appearance of your hair, and in my opinion is one of the major “secrets” to length retention.
That should help you understand why water based moisturizers are the best for moisturizing your hair.  When we say water based, we mean those that have water as the first or second ingredient (I prefer first) and also ingredients that aid in maintaining high amounts of water (humectants – glycerin, panthenol).
Moisturize and Seal HairSealing is to apply an oil (or sometimes a butter like shea, coconut or mango) following your moisturizer to help keep your strands moisturized and to lubricate your hair.  I prefer natural oils to seal rather than commercially prepared ones.  Some oils are heavier than others (olive & castor) and generally are thought to seal more effectively, but the tradeoff is that they can also weigh the hair down particularly if you have thin or fine hair. Other oils are lightweight but may have other properties that are beneficial to the hair such as ceramides (hemp, safflower, grapeseed oils) or the ability to penetrate the hair cuticle (coconut).  My personal favorite is one that contains a mixture of most of my favorite oils conveniently packaged in a pump top bottle, Rapunzel’s Hair Silk.  It saves me the effort of having to mix a bunch of my favorite oils and find storage for them until they are used.
How often you should moisturize and seal is an area of heavy debate.  I used to moisturize and seal faithfully every single day, sometimes twice a day.  Now that my hair has reached a certain level of health and I’ve found a great core group of products, I sometimes only do it every other day.  I would suggest daily moisturizing and sealing when first beginning.  The goal is not to only do it when your hair feels dry, but to do it regularly to prevent your hair from EVER feeling dry.
The next part will cover HOW to moisturize and seal and the products I personally use (which can also be found on my Hair Regimen tab).
  • This was a very helpful post!! Thank you for explaining about sealing. This is helpful for all types of hair. My daughter is natural and we struggle with keeping her hair hydrated. I’m transitioning, so my hair usually isn’t as dry, but I will do the same routine to (as you said) prevent it from feeling dry.

    FYI: Your blog just popped back up in my blog reader for some reason. Blogger! Ugh!

    • I’m so glad you found it helpful! And guess what, yours did in mine today also!

  • Good info! Since beginning my HHJ 9 months ago, I am amazed at all I DIDN’T know! It may seem like basic info to some but…trust…lots if folks don’t know! Thanks!

    • *Happy Dance* It’s these types of comments that make my day, thanks girlie & I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • The perfect post!!! I’m definitely sharing this with my SO because he looks at me crazy when I try to explain moisturizing and sealing to him.

    • Lmbo! Let me know what he says! I’d die if he starting doing it too! lol

  • Candice

    This post is right on time! It’s like you know I’ve been slacking! lol

    • LMBO! Yep the hair fairies told me girl, get back on it!

  • Hi Ebony. I just did a post on moisturizing and sealing and I must admit that yours is very comprehensive. I’m going to put a link at the bottom of my post to yours. Take care

    • Hey there, I missed your post I’ll have to check it out. Thank you so much for that!

  • Layla

    Can you use water to moisturise and then an oil to seal your hair or does it have to be a water based moisturiser that is used?

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  • Mojo

    Enough said! I really enjoyed reading this article. during my HHJ I decided to stop straightening my hair and thought that would combat the breakage that I was experiencing, but no…I then decided to incorporate protein treatments to my regimen but no…though it helped strengthened it, it did not help with the moisture…I then began doing more co washes and less shampoo (unless needed instead of the weekly) that helped a lil bit, but I was still not retaining the moisture that was put in my hair. Any who, after researching and reading more about others different experiences I found out how to properly seal in the moisture I was putting it in…I typically use the L.O.C method…Another factor of course is using the right products for your hair. I went back to the basics and began using shea moisture products…I use the yucca milk as my leave in (L), and the mimosa hair honey from Carol’s Daughter as the (O.C)…this product has both oils and is creamy so I do not bother in adding more oil…I am back inlove with my hair and I am sticking with these products..even though I am a product junkie lol -_- however, I now know what to look for. For instance, for me butters work best instead of oils as a sealant…but I do use oils for my hot treatments, and love products that already have oils in them…..I hope this helps someone peace&blessings *mojo*

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