Natural oils that penetrate the hair shaft promote growth and overall healthy hair. There is some confusion about selecting oils for hair loss prevention, sealing in moisture, and skin absorption.
Moisturizing oils are ideal for preparing your hair for the shampoo and condition process. Sealing oils are used to seal in moisture. An example of this would be the L.O.C method, you would use a liquid such as water then seal in the liquid with an oil so your hair will stay hydrated longer.
Natural oils should be selected based on your hair and scalp condition. Carrier oils are classified as base oils and derive from plants. Carrier oils can be combined with essential oils to give your hair more nutrients. Conventional hair products have more chemicals and additives. People are learning to research and find out more about natural oils to use for hair absorption. We are returning to using products that our grandmothers used for great skin and hair. It is important to understand how hair with low porosity need oils that penetrate the hair shaft and seal in moisture.
How does the oil penetrate the hair shaft
Oil penetrates the hair shaft and helps to maintain healthy hair. Hair products are a mixture of ingredients that we cannot pronounce nor understand the label.
Natural oils are a great alternative to repairing and building the hair. For instance the genetic compounds of jojoba oil mimics our own sebum oil and our hair loves this oil. Oils that penetrate the hair shaft are perfect for restoring damaged hair caused by heat and the environment.
Coconut oil, shea butter, and Avocado oil penetrate the hair shaft and leave the hair feeling soft and manageable. Moisturizing oils have a high amount of fatty acids such as lauric and caprylic acids.
The fatty acids have a small molecular structure and size. Natural oils such as coconut and jojoba oil enter the scalp and hair.
Hair needs nutrients mainly because hair is often dehydrated from harsh water and overuse of products. Most people hear about the science of how products work, but it can be confusing at times. Natural oils can directly penetrate the hair follicle when applied in small amounts. Water is often hard and does not hydrate the hair as needed. If you notice white mineral deposit on your faucet then you have hard water and you may want to think about buying a shower filter. My home has hard water and I use the Culligan shower filter and have seen improvements in the way my hair responds to products.
Applying coconut, olive oil, or Jojoba oil before your shampoo is beneficial. You can use a heating cap such as the Hair Therapy Cordless thermal turban or a hair steamer such as the Q-Redew to assist the process of penetrating the hair shaft.
Some oils will sit on top of the hair without penetrating the hair shaft such as hemp and flax seed oil do not penetrate as readily as Jamaican black castor oil. We all know and love this oil don’t we.
It is recommended to mix oils that penetrate the hair shaft with carrier oils as an added benefit. Base oils are a perfect way to help dilute essential oils while giving the hair nutrient such as eucalyptus oil, rosemary oil and peppermint oil. Carrier oils typically do not have a strong aroma and evaporate easily.
The following are carrier oils:
- Shea butter
The beauty of natural oils is the ability to mix carrier oils with moisturizing oils that penetrate the hair shaft. Basically, the carrier oil is the base oil for most products.
We often see olive oil, castor, and grape seed oil as the first ingredient in natural products. Argan oil is excellent carrier oil.
Another name for Argan oil is Moroccan oil. Moroccan oil is made from the kernels of the Argan tree fruit that grows exclusively in Morocco. This oil is one of the rarest in the world. There are a small supply and limited areas for growth of the fruit tree and the oil is made by hand. Moroccan oil increases growth, and repairs damaged areas of the hair. It is a great idea to add natural oils to your hair regimen for healthy, shiny hair.
Sealing oils vs. moisturizing oils
Sealing oils versus moisturizing oils are important to understand so you can use the correct product to keep your hair moisturized. Commonly used sealing oils are Moroccan oil, olive oil, and grapeseed oil.
Moisturizing oils seals and locks in the moisture. People tend to purchase oils that do not penetrate the hair shaft.
We forget that a healthy scalp produces healthy hair. Sealing oils do not absorb in the skin or hair.
The natural oils such as grapeseed oil and olive will sit on top of the hair. Moisturizing oils play a large part in skin absorption.
Skin absorption is a route by which substances can enter the body through the skin.
The best results for using olive, coconut, and avocado is applied after conditioning or spraying a leave in conditioner. These natural oils give elasticity to the hair and prevent breakage.
Porosity is a key factor in determining if you need sealing oils versus moisturizing oils. What is hair porosity?
Porosity is the hair’s ability to maintain moisture and absorb products into the hair. There are three categories of porosity for the hair: low, high, and average.
The cuticle is the outermost part of the hair shaft. The hair cuticle determines how quickly products will transmit through hair.
It is recommended for hair with low porosity to use moisturizing and penetrating oils. Low porosity hair repels water due to the closed cuticle and can be dry.
Apply heat to open up the cuticle and soften the hair once you have applied your oil. In direct heat should be relatively low, you do not need a high heat setting to open up your hairs cuticle.
Sealing oils help to control frizz especially for people with multiple hair textures. However, most kinky curly queens have multiple textures on our head.
Grapeseed and Argan oil (Moroccan oil) can penetrate and seal at the same time.
Hair that is thick and course will need a heavier oil like castor oil and olive oil to seal the hair.
Here is a list of moisturizing and sealing oils:
- Avocado oil
- Argan oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Jojoba oil
- Castor oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Shea butter
Penetrating oils vs. sealing oils
Penetrating oils versus sealing oils are based on the condition of your hair and scalp. Coconut oil is most popularly known for penetrating the scalp and the most cost effective.
Sealing oils such as castor oil and grapeseed oil are perfect for sealing the moisture. Conducting a porosity test is helpful for figuring out the best natural oils for your hair.
Remember that sealing oils lock in the moisture and protects the ends of the hair. Natural oils like Black Jamaican Castor oil seal the hair and create a luster.
Here is an easy method for conducting a porosity test:
Steps for conducting a Porosity Test
- Fill a glass or bowl with room temperature water.
- Take a couple strands of your clean hair and put them in the water. If you have oils or products on your hair, it will alter your results.
- Watch it for 2-4 minutes. If your hair sinks immediately, it has high porosity.
You will be able to tell if your hair is screaming for penetrating oils, sealing oils, or both. Coconut oil is very penetrative and works immediately on the scalp and hair.
South East Asian women use coconut oil, and it has spread to Western culture. Coconut oil is applied (before shampoo) to avoid the loss of protein.
Coconut oil has the smallest molecular size and is ideal for the prevention of hair loss. Apply coconut oil hours before the shampoo, then shampoo, and condition the hair.
Style as normal and apply castor, grapeseed oil, or jojoba oil as the last step. Hair will appear shiny and hydrated.
Avoid tangles that can damage the hair cuticle, splits ends and create holes in the hair shaft. Oils can penetrate the hair shaft and have the ability to leave a thin protective film over the cuticle layers.
Penetrating the hair shaft with moisturizing natural oils is important. Low porosity, skin absorption, and sealing in moisture are important factors for reaching the goal of healthy hair.