Now that the weather is changing and humidity has increased, you might be struggling with your curly and wavy hair. Many people opt for glycerin free hair products to help combat the high humidity.
If you’ve read my post on humidity, dew point, and weather styling then you understand why you’re having frizz and struggling with hold. But in case you didn’t read that post, although I strongly encourage you do, I’ll give you a quick little recap.
Glycerin, along with other humectants, is usually what’s causing problems in humid weather. So this is a great time to use styling products that don’t have glycerin or other humectants. It is also great to use anti-humidity ingredients and emollients.
How humidity affects curly hair
Humidity is how much water vapor is in the air. When the environment is humid, our hair tends to absorb moisture from the air which in turn causes swelling and frizz.
In the summer, the dew point is high meaning that the air can hold a lot more water than any other time of year. So this is why the humidity is such a problem in the summer and your hair struggles.
Humectants, like glycerin, are ingredients used to help hydrate your hair. Humectants attract water molecules. So in high humidity, humectants pull from the moisture in the air. You can clearly see why this is a problem.
What is glycerin?
Glycerin is a sugar alcohol and is one of the most popular types of humectants.
It’s so good at encouraging curl and adding moisture, and usually isn’t a problem. But in humid conditions, it might be best to avoid styling products with glycerin and other humectants.
Do you need to totally avoid glycerin?
No. Although some people do better off without glycerin altogether, that’s because it’s an ingredient that isn’t compatible with their hair, whether it’s in shampoo or gel, and regardless of the season or weather conditions. For most people, that isn’t the case and won’t need to have a completely glycerin free routine.
My recommendation is that you focus on the first 5 ingredients in the products you don’t rinse off your hair. So don’t worry about glycerin in your cleanser or conditioner. But do pay attention to it in your leave-in conditioner and styling products.
Glycerin Free Hair Products For Curls
*Because I focus on clean beauty, this list only contains glycerin free hair products that are considered more natural and clean.
Click on the image or name of the product to shop.
Glycerin Free Gels
Curlsmith Hydro Style Flexi Jelly – This lightweight hard hold gel is great for humidity and doesn’t build up. It’s another favorite of mine for the heat and humidity.
Giovanni LA Hold Gel – The Giovanni LA Hold gel is very popular because it’s affordable, hard hold, and works really well. In addition to being glycerin free, it contains a few humidity-resistant ingredients and is lightweight when watered down.
Jessicurl Spiralacious Gel – Jessicurl Spiralicious is another popular gel to use in high humidity because it’s hard hold and contains humidity-resistant ingredients.
Biosilk Rock Hard Gelee – This medium to hard hold gel is also pretty popular and has several humidity-resistant ingredients.
Kinky Curly Curling Custard – KCCC is an easy to find hard hold gel. It is glycerin free but doesn’t contain humidity-resistant ingredients.
Curls Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly – Although the Blueberry Bliss Control Helly is glycerin free, it does contain other humectants so keep that in mind if you want humidity protection.
Brazilian Curly Cocktail Curl Mousse – This is not a gel but is a good styling product to use in high humidity because of the humidty-resistant ingredients.
Glycerin Free Leave-in Conditioners & Creams
Jessicurl Confident Coils Styling Solution – This styling cream is great for humidity, full of humidity-resistant ingredients. It provides some hold as well.
EVOLVh Total Control Styling Creme (code HE15) – This lightweight styling cream provides medium hold and texture, making it a great choice for finer or lower density types that need volume.
Curlsmith Featherlight Protein Cream – This lightweight cream has protein to help your hair hold its structure in humidity. It also has some hold and humidity-resistant ingredients.
Giovanni Direct Weightless Leave-in – This leave-in is very lightweight but softens the hair well.
Kinky Curly Knot Today – KCKC is another popular leave-in that provides great slip and is light enough for most curls.
Other Tips For Humid Conditions
Aside from reducing or avoiding glycerin, you can do a few other things to help your curly hairstyle last a little longer in the humidity.
Reduce or avoid other humectants
Remember that glycerin is one of many humectants. Some other popular ones include:
- agave nectar
- propylene glycols
- algae extract
- butylene glycol
- sodium PCA
So again, look at the first 5 ingredients and see if there are any humectants. If you see one or more of these, I’d set that product aside until the humidity goes back down, or layer a hard hold anti-humectant product over it.
Download my free Humidity Styling Guide below to help you choose the right products and style correctly in the humidity. In this guide I list all humectants, emollients, and humidity resistant ingredients; recommended products with links; and include a text version of this blog post so you always have the info available to you wherever you are.
Use lightweight Moisture
Because there is so much moisture in the air, you won’t need as much in your hair, but you do need some. Even without using humectants your hair will still absorb some of the moisture in the air around it. It’s very easy for hair to get over moisturized in high humidity and dew points.
So you can try skipping the leave-in or using a lot less and see what happens. This works really well for me.
But remember that conditioner seals the hair, so you want to ensure your hair is conditioned enough and not dry.
Use hard hold styling products
Hard hold styling gels will help your curls keep their shape and block out some absorption of the moisture from the air. Just remember to keep it light handed, especially if your hair is fine or thin.
Anti-humectants are the opposite of humectants. Instead of attracting moisture, they seal the hair to block absorption. They include emollients, which are hydrophobic (don’t like water).
You can try sealing in your style with emollients by scrunching in a few drops of your favorite oil into your hair after styling. I recommend light oils like jojoba and argan oil. My favorite is The Innate Life Rose Hair Elixir.
Some other popular anti-humectants are:
- butters like shea and mango
- oils like coconut and olive
- beeswax, which is not CG approved
These can be heavy though so be careful. And they can build up since they are not water soluble.
Use humidity resistant ingredients
Anti-humidity ingredients are great to block out humidity and provide hold, but they do cause build up. However, they are the most effective at preventing frizz from humidity. I recommend if you use products with these ingredients that you clarify regularly.
Here are some common humidity resistant ingredients:
- polyquats (ployquaternium-4 and others)
- PVA/VP copolymer
- Polyacrylate acid
Layer Styling Products or Try Smasters technique
Layering products can help ensure your hair holds up. I recommend no more than 2 to avoid heaviness and buildup.
If you’re not sure what Smasters is, it’s when you add a small amount of styling product to your hair once it is mostly or fully dry to help seal in the style and get a good cast.
When I do this, I stop diffusing when my hair is mostly dry then glaze and scrunch in some hard hold gel (a small amount) and continue drying.
Leave your hair in the cast
If all else fails, try just leaving your hair in the cast as long as possible, or don’t scrunch it out 100%.
The cast is the most protective thing for our curls since it basically encloses our hair in a protective layer which forms a barrier to the outside.
How to determine if a product will work well in humidity
The first step is to look at the ingredients list. Let’s have a look at 2 popular gels: Giovanni LA Hold and Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie.
Check the top 5 ingredients to scan for humectants. If you don’t see any, then it should be fine. Continue to scan the rest to see what else is in the product.
Below is the Giovanni LA Hold Gel. The first 5 ingredients contain an anti-humidity ingredient. Then further down the ingredients list, you can see one emollient. So this is great for my hair because it isn’t full of a bunch of butters and oils, it has an anti-humidity ingredient close to the top, and it’s hard hold. I can see why this is so popular!
Below is the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. You can see it has glycerin as the 6th ingredient. It also has a lot of emollients, including in the top 5. So this could possibly work for someone who can handle heavy products, but it doesn’t have any anti-humidity ingredients so this one is a toss-up. If it didn’t have glycerin then it would be ok.
A very popular gel for humidity is the Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Stronger Hold Gel, which happens to have glycerin. However, if you scan the ingredients list, you’ll see lots of hard hold and humidity-resistant ingredients, which negates the negative effects of glycerin.
Living in Florida, this gel works really well for me and many that I have recommended it to. So you don’t always need to avoid glycerin, you really just need humidity-resistant ingredients and hard hold.
TWIST Weather Up Gel (code HOLISTICENCHILADA) is another one of my favorites because it has humidity-resistant and hold ingredients so it’s great for humid places.
So now you know exactly what you need to avoid and what to look for to have lasting defined curls in humid conditions. I recommend trying out glycerin free styling products to see if it helps you have frizz-free curls in high humidity. And let me know what your favorite summer curly hair product is in the comments below!
- Film Forming Humectants – What They Are and Why You Need Them – The Science-y Hair Blog
- Glycerin and Humidity – The Science-y Hair Blog
- Humidity-Resistant Hair Styling Products – The Science-y Hair Blog
- Polyquat or Not? – The Science-y Hair Blog
- Why Is This Ingredient In My Conditioner? – The Science-y Hair Blog
- What Humidity, Humectants and Dew Points Mean for Curly Hair by TONYA MCKAY BECKER – NaturallyCurly.com
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If you want help with embracing your naturally wavy or curly hair, you can join my FREE email course and download my FREE pdf guide, THE QUICK START GUIDE TO MASTERING YOUR CURLS, full of everything you need to know to get started and bring out your beautiful waves and curls.
Check out my other popular curly hair posts:
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- What Products You Really Need To Start The Curly Girl Method
- Curly Girl Method Routine for 2B 2C 3A Hair
- 50+ Curly Girl Method Approved Products
- Curly Girl Night Routine To Protect Your Curls At Night
- How To Refresh Curly Hair
- Tips For Fine & Low Density Curly Hair
- How To Clarify Curly Hair
- Rice Water Rinse Guide
- 14 Hacks For Curly and Wavy Hair
- How To Repair Damaged Curly Hair
- Curly Girl Method Before and After – 1 Year Progress Update
- Ultimate Guide to Hair Porosity for Curly Hair
- My Favorite Products for Fine Curly Hair
- 11 Surprising Reasons You Have Frizz + Tips to Beat Frizz
- Common Causes of Limp Curls & Their Fixes
- Guide to Humidity & Weather Styling
- EVOLVh Review