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Glycerin Free Hair Products & Tips To Humidity-Proof Curly Hair

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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.

The most popular type of humectant is glycerin. 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.

humidity and curly hair - how my curls look after being in the humidity
Above is my hair after spending time outside in the rain and humidity.

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.

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Glycerin Free Styling Products

*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.

Giovanni LA Hold Gel

Jessicurl Spiralacious Gel

Biosilk Rock Hard Gelee

Uncle Funky's Daughter Curly Magic

Jessicurl Confident Coils Styling Solution

Kinky Curly Curling Custard

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk

EVOLVh Super Curl Defining Cream

EVOLVh Total Control Styling Creme

Innersense I Create Hold

Curls Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly

Brazilian Curly Cocktail Curl Mousse

Glycerin Free Leave-in Conditioners

Giovanni Direct Weightless Leave-in

Kinky Curly Knot Today

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:

  • honey
  • agave nectar
  • propylene glycols
  • algae extract
  • butylene glycol
  • panthenol
  • 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 Weather Styling Guide to help you choose the right products based on the weather. In this guide, I list all humectants, among other things to consider in humid and dry conditions.

Skip the leave in or use less

Because there is so much moisture in the air, you won't need as much in your hair. 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.

glycerin-free-products-humidity-curly-hair

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.

Use emollients/anti-humectants

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 (use code INNATE15HOLISTIC to save).

glycerin free hair products emollients

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, 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

Try Smasters technique

If you're not sure what Smasters is, it's when you add a small amount of styling product to your hair once it's is mostly or fully dry to help seal in the style and get a good cast. Simply put, glaze and scrunch in some hard hold gel (a small amount) after it has dried.

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 things for our curls since it basically encloses our hair in a protective layer which forms a barrier to the outside.

Simple Curlies & Wavies facebook group

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!

glycerin-free-products-humidity-curly-hair

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.

Conclusion

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!

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.

curly girl method pdf guide download

Check out my other popular curly hair posts:

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Glycerin free styling products to humidity-proof curly hair
Glycerin free styling products to humidity-proof curly hair

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18 Comments

  1. Hi, you say mango butter is both humectant and anti humectant. I checked ingredient list of a few recommended glycerin free products from your list and found that they contain glycerin.

    1. Oops, mango butter is an anti-humectant so that’s a typo. Which products did you find have glycerin? I just checked through them again and I don’t see any.

      1. Briogeo leave-in lists glycerin as ingredient #5… I only clicked through and looked at two products so not sure about others. Very informative post though, thanks for sharing! I live in Houston, TX where it’s ALWAYS humid, so this is an important topic for me!

        1. Yes, I actually have the conditioner linked here not their leave in for that reason 🙂 I’m glad this post was helpful. I struggled with this for so long myself since I live in Florida.

          1. Omg I’m in FL n I’m still struggling w/ frizz. My Low porosity hair is not happy. I’m looking for a curl cream. No protein, no humectants. Grrrr

          2. Hi love this article! But the Briogeo conditioner curl charisma does have glycerin as their #5th ingredient.

          3. Thanks Helen. I just checked and see that too. It definitely didn’t have it before, but companies do reformulate all the time.

  2. Hi Delilah,
    Two glycerin questions – how do you know / what happens when glycerin is incompatible with your hair? And is vegetable glycerin different than glycerin in the affect on hair (it’s in most of the Shea Moisture products, which I see you kept on this list)? Trying to solve a major hair breakage mystery, thank you!!

    1. ALl glycerin will have the same results on the hair. You’ll notice it’s an issue if you use products with it and you get lots of frizz when you go outside, or if as soon as you apply the product your hair feels different, it turns dry and loses the seaweed feeling. Make sure you’re clarifying with olephin sulfonate to remove product buildup, which often causes breakage.

  3. I find the humectant issue extremely frustrating, due to a lack of available information. It’s easy to quit using a product with, say, glycerin, because we all know it’s a humectant. But I’m still having serious issues with my hair, and most of my products contain botanical ingredients/extracts. Turns out, many of those are humectants as well! And I often can’t find information on the particular ingredient, so sometimes it’s impossible to know for sure. IsitCG doesn’t recognize most of the extracts, so I find myself looking up each ingredient and still can’t always find out what they do.

    1. Yes, it definitely can be tricky navigating all these ingredients. Just takes some experimenting to find what works for you where you live.

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