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Thirsty Hair? Look For This One Ingredient In Your Products, Says A Hairstylist

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor
By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Image by FotoDuets / istockphoto
January 26, 2022

If you're dealing with dry, brittle strands right now, well, same. Prioritizing hair health is one of my 2022 beauty resolutions, and a significant chunk of that goal means focusing on moisture—hydrated hair, after all, appears softer, fuller, and more vibrant. 

For those on this hair care journey with me, let's welcome regular hair masks, pre-shampoo treatments, and a bounty of moisture-rich shampoos and conditioners. On the hunt for said products, anything labeled "hydrating" (duh), "smoothing," or "frizz-free," is often a safe bet, as these tend to be chock-full of natural hydrators. However, NYC-based hairstylist Matt Newman says there's one important buzzword you should look for if you really want to secure bouncy, hydrated locks. "If you're looking to add moisture to your routine, seek glycerin," he declares. 

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Why you should look for glycerin in hair care products.

Glycerin is a type of humectant, meaning it draws water from the environment and into the surface of the skin and hair. And any ingredient that helps usher water into the strands is a hair care winner, says Newman. "The only way to get moisture in your hair is literally through water," he notes. "And extra ingredients can help it get absorbed better and faster." Enter, glycerin! 

See, humectants like glycerin can effectively plump the strands with moisture, thus making your hair appear soft and shiny. "Humectants are basically 'water magnets,'" board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D., founder of SKINFIVE, reminds us about the ingredient category. "They work to help pull moisture from the air into the upper layer of your skin to keep the skin cells hydrated, plump with a firmness and bounce." The logic stands for hair care, which is why many brands incorporate vegetable- or animal-derived glycerin into their products.

Glycerin also plays nice with other ingredients—another reason you can find it in so many formulas. It also can help buffer potent actives—like, say, an ACV-loaded clarifying shampoo—making them more tolerable and moisturizing for sensitive scalps. 

Just know that while glycerin is top-notch for drawing in water, it doesn't exactly seal that moisture into the strand—that's what nourishing hair oils are for. Of course, many shampoos and conditioners will include a healthy blend of humectants, emollients, and occlusives in their formulas (so nothing to worry about there!), but it's always a good reminder in case you ever apply a hydrating humectant serum on thirsty locks

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The takeaway. 

If you're hoping to add more moisture to your hair care routine, look for glycerin in your hair care products. Considering it's a popular humectant that works well with a variety of ingredients, it won't be difficult to find a glycerin-based formula you love.

Jamie Schneider
Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.