4 Definitions Every Natural Should Know

The terms humectant, humidity, cold pressed, and emollient are used frequently on natural hair sites, forums, and blogs. Many times these terms are not defined and yet understanding what they may mean is important in caring for natural hair.

Read on for the definition of each word and why it is important to know in relation to your hair.


Humectants, as defined by Tonya McKay of Naturallycurly.com, are “used in skin and hair-care products to promote moisture retention. These hygroscopic compounds possess a chemical structure that attracts water from the atmosphere and binds it to various sites along the molecule.”

In other words, humectants draw the moisture from the environment into your hair. This can create puffy, frizzy hair on warm day or dry hair on a cold day. These two environments that affect your natural hair are called high humidity and low humidity.

Natural humectants:

  • honey
  • jojoba oil
  • shea butter
  • aloe vera juice
  • vegetable glycerin

Read more: Humectants: What They Are via Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care


High Humidity occurs when there is an increased amount of moisture in the air. High Humidity usually happens during the summertime or warmer months. The moisture in the air can cause the natural hair to become puffy, frizzy, bloated, and tangled.

Low Humidity occurs when there is a low amount of moisture in the air. Low Humidity usually happens during the wintertime or colder months. Using a humectant based product can cause moisture to leave the natural hair.

Read more: Humidity, Humectants, and Hair via Naturallycurly.com

Cold pressed

Cold pressed is usually used to describe carrier oils and refers to the “extraction” process. The process of “taking” the oils from their original source, like plant leaves, is called extraction. Through the cold pressed method oils are obtained by using “high pressure to squeeze” the plant’s leaves or to “crush” the plant’s seeds.

Cold pressed oils are ideal for hair care because they retain important nutrients and vitamins.


Emollients are oils or synthetic chemicals that are used to provide sheen, prevent moisture loss, and to soften the hair. Natural emollients, like oils, are best to use in hair care because are less likely to cause irritation, fizziness, and product build up. While synthetic emollient hide the damage hair strands may have suffered by covering the hair, natural emollients nourish the hair over time.

For a list of synthetic and natural emollients read: Let’s Talk Hair Emollients for Shiny Hair via All Things O’Natural

More Resources:

Humidity, Humectants, and Hair via Naturallycurly.com

Humectants: What They Are via Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care

What is a Cold Pressed Oil? via Livestrong

source: Soaps, Creams, and Herbal Gels by Marlene Jones

What hair care terms do you not know? Share them in the comments for answers!

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