Humectants for curls: When to use them and when not to

Humectants for curls: When to use them and when not to

Humectants are ingredients used to promote water retention in your curls by drawing moisture from the air. The result? Soft, bouncy curls that retain their shape and are less likely to break. Between 1 and 10 °C  (35 to 50 °F) is the optimal ‘dew point’ (the temperature at which air is saturated with water vapor) for curly hair. Colder than this and the humectants may draw moisture out of your curls causing dryness and breakage!  

Finding the right balance with humectants


In humid conditions at 15°C (60 °F) and above, humectants can actually attract too much water in the air and have a reverse effect causing frizz, fluffiness and result in your curls losing their shape. This is when you should apply a styling product with anti-humectant properties that doesn’t absorb moisture. 

Curve ball: Effective anti-humectant products usually contain silicones (generally not good for curly hair) as it coats the hair and doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate. Thankfully, with the power of science and nature combined, there are natural alternatives for these that we have used in some Trepadora products. 

To keep it simple (and to even forget the term humectant altogether), please follow the Trepadora routines below based on the weather! 

For warm and humid days we recommend

Start with a clean and purified scalp. You want to remove all the environmental pollution and excess natural sebum (not all of it) by cleansing with the Gojiberry Mint Reviving Hair Rinse. 

For warmer and more humid conditions we need to use a natural anti-humectant  like coconut oil so that it repels water. Condition with the Coconut Almond Smoothing Conditioner and rinse thoroughly. 


All of the styling products in the Trepadora range use glycerin (a humectant) to draw in moisture but are very cleverly formulated to repel water and create the ultimate stronghold cast. We recommend using either the Papay Slip Taming Potion, Bamboo Ginseng Curling Glaze or layer these products for the ultimate resistance to humidity. 

Awesome fact: Papaya Slip Taming Potion Uses the ingredient sebacic acid copolymer. This is a biodegradable vegan liquid that mimics the properties of silicone emollients (but without the aggressive buildup that silicones cause). This makes it a significant plant-derived alternative to dimethicone and a perfect styling product to resist the high level dew point, *high five*!

We recommend not using a leave-in conditioner when it is humid outside. 

For cold and dry days we recommend

Cleanse with the Gojiberry Mint Reviving Hair Rinse or if you prefer a non-lathering cleanse try the Hibiscus Pink Cleansing Clay-Wash. 


Deep condition with the Quinoa Repair Deep Conditioner or apply it as your regular rinse out. The plant-derived Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Panthenol and sorbitol are classic humectants that  pull moisture from the air and keep your curls looking lucious and bouncy making this your perfect cold weather companion. 

Every gel requires anti-humidity benefits otherwise it just wouldn’t work as a styling product. So, If your curls are particularly thirsty or damaged then we would suggest applying the Babassu Quench Leave-In Curl Primer or Avocado Kokum Curl Defining Smoothie as a moisturising base and then layer the Acai Berry Fix Defining Gel with either the Papaya Slip Taming Potion or Bamboo Ginseng Curling Glaze. 

Important to note Adding this extra layer of moisture will lessen the overall hold of your chosen styling gels so it is worth testing this to find the right routine that works for you. 

Between wash days
Smooth a tiny amount of Miracle Maca Moisture Balm over your curls to refresh. 



  • Jenny (Trepadora team member)

    Thank you for your lovely comment @Susan :) . @Kay, we would still recommend the cold and dry day routine option. Wet days are problematic for curls so perhaps the Bamboo Ginseng Curling Glaze would be a more preferable option for the stronger hold. We would then recommend a gel refresh by adding 1 pump of your chosen gel to wet hands and scrunch into your curls.

  • Kay

    What about on rainy days, like today in London?(13C and rain) I haven’t come across an article talking about humectants that mentions what the best approach is when it’s wet outside. Any tips please?

  • Susan Williams

    I’m impressed with the service , the in-depth intelligent product information and the wonderful products results .10/10
    So refreshing , thank you !

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