Quenching Thirsty Locks: Understanding the Difference Between Hydrated & Moisturized Hair

Quenching Thirsty Locks: Understanding the Difference Between Hydrated & Moisturized Hair

Looking to deliver a major dose of ultra-nourishing TLC to your curls? Start speaking your hair’s love language by giving it all the hydration it needs & the moisture it craves. As you may have already heard, hydration & moisture are known as two major players in maintaining healthy curls. 

But when it comes to hydration vs moisture, you might be wondering, are they one & the same?

To hydrate vs moisturize hair might seem similar (after all, both processes will deliver juicy, bouncy results), but hydration & moisture are actually two different natural hair care elements. Fortunately, we’re diving into the difference between hair hydration vs moisture so that you can create a hair care routine that’ll leave you with healthy, happy & heavenly strands.

What’s The Difference Between Moisture vs Hydration for Optimal Curl Health?

The differences between hydration vs moisture hair care might seem pretty minor. After all, these terms get used interchangeably quite a bit. But there’s actually a fairly significant distinction between the two—one that can have major implications for your hair health. To understand the nuances between hair moisture & hydration, we’ll need to start at the root. 

Your hair is so much more than the individual strands you can see. Each hair shaft consists mostly of keratin (a protein also found in your nails & skin), & is made up of three distinct layers:

  • The medulla – This innermost layer of the hair shaft is mostly large pockets of air & cells. Some people’s hair doesn’t even have a medulla—this extra inner layer is usually only found in those with thicker hair.

  • The cortex – The cortex is what gives your hair its unique magic. This middle layer makes up 75% of the strand’s total weight & contains the keratin, melanin & pigmenting cells that provide color & texture to your hair.

  • The cuticle – The outermost layer of your hair is made up of overlapping layers of cells that work like the shingles on a roof to protect the cortex underneath. 

  • The key to remembering the difference between moisture vs hydration hair care is knowing what parts of the hair shaft each element helps to care for:

    • The medulla & the cortex inside your hair shaft crave hydration
    • The outer cuticle looks for moisture in the form of nourishing oils & emollients 

    Ultimately, hydration & moisture work together to give you bouncy, beautiful curls full of life & shine, with hydration supplying the water your hair needs & moisture allowing your hair to hold onto that water. 

    But how do you know which you need—& what’s the best way to deliver it? Let’s break down when to focus on hydrating vs moisturizing your hair.

    How Can You Ensure Your Curls Are Well-Hydrated?

    Looking for signs of dehydrated hair can help you determine if it needs hydration. You’ll know if your curls need hydration help if it feels very dry & brittle to the touch. Without hydration, your hair might be more prone to breakage & snap easily. This occurrence might be intensified if you have high porosity hair, which is less likely to retain water, or low porosity hair, which is less likely to let water in. If you’re unsure, you can take a hair porosity test to help you better understand your curls. 

    Luckily, it’s easy to bring your locks back to life with just a few simple steps—here are a few of our favorite hydrating tricks:

    • Start your shower strong with PATTERN’s Hydration Shampoo, specially designed for thirsty tresses. This gentle formula skips out on harsh surfactants that can strip much-needed oils from your hair & instead treats your locks to hydrating ingredients like aloe vera leaf juice, honey & coconut oil.
    • Add a splash of hydration with our Intensive Conditioner, created to help moisture more easily access strands. With this hair treatment, your hair will soak up this Avocado Oil- & Shea Butter-packed deep-conditioning experience, leaving it shiny & strong.
    • Protect your hair from hydration-stealing culprits like UV rays & rough textiles. This might mean wearing a hat the next time you’re in the sun or swapping out a cotton pillowcase for one made of hair-smoothing silk.
    • Maintain a healthy moisture balance with PATTERN’s Transition Mask. Designed to help you transition your hair out of protective styles or chemical treatment routines, this mask is packed with hair care goodness, like White Tea & Manuka Honey. We recommend pairing this hair mask with our Hydration Shampoo & Intensive Conditioner to give your hair the hydration it’s been craving.

    How Can You Ensure Your Curls Are Well-Moisturized?

    If you want to say goodbye to frizz, learning how to moisturize curly hair is key. Moisturizing is all about sealing in that hard-earned hydration to keep your hair looking (& feeling) happy & healthy. Moisturizing works by smoothing the hair shaft’s cuticle, which boosts shine & sleekness. For this reason, you’ll know if your hair is in need of more moisture if you’re beginning to notice more dullness or frizz.

    The best way to achieve well-moisturized curls is with hair care picks that are brimming with rich, nurturing ingredients like oils or Shea Butter. Just like your skin needs moisturizer to stay well-nourished, your strands need a similar curly hair treatment. Look for products that you can leave in your hair after washing to give them as much time as possible to soak in. Here are a few of our faves:

    • Leave-In Conditioner – This hair care holy grail offers your locks a restorative & moisturizing pick-me-up with its one-of-a-kind mix of Avocado Oil, Jojoba Oil & Sweet Almond Oil. The right leave-in conditioner can act as a deep conditioner to help prevent frizz, dry & damaged hair from occuring in the first place.
    • Styling Cream – If you’re looking to style your well-moisturized mane, use our lush blend of Shea Butter, Coconut Oil & Sweet Almond Oil for a touchably soft, all day hold.

    Soak In Your Hair’s Natural Beauty With PATTERN

    By understanding hair moisture vs hair hydration, you can figure out exactly what your locks are thirsty for & ensure beautiful, bouncy curls full of life & shine.

    At PATTERN, we’re all about caring for our uniquely breathtaking hair & taking joy in our hair care routines. It’s why we craft one-of-a-kind curly hair products made with nourishing ingredients that can help you embrace & celebrate your natural hair. Explore our collection today to discover everything we have to offer.


    VeryWellHealth. The Biology, Structure, and Function of Hair. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-biology-of-hair-1068785

    PureWow. How To Moisturize Hair That Feels Bone Dry.  https://www.purewow.com/beauty/how-to-moisturize-hair