One of the key ingredients of beautiful hair is moisture. It's impossible to have silky, shiny tresses, if they happen to be dehydrated and lacking proper moisture.
People from cultures where long hair is admired and cherished often use a variety of different oils (carrier oils, not cooking oils or salad oils) on their treasured tresses. The oils are applied in a method widely known as oiling.
Note: Carrier oils (CO) are used as a base for essential oils (EOs) to be diluted into.
Although women are often more prone to perform hair oiling, men, especially those with long locks, may also partake of the time honored practice.
While there are basic rules for proper oiling of the hair, it's important that anyone undertaking a hair oiling routine experiment to find the best method for their hair type, texture, condition and overall needs.
When done properly, hair oiling can be time consuming. Be prepared to dedicate enough time to achieve the best possible results.
Hair oiling can be performed for the following hair treatments:
1. Pre-treatment oil treatment before cleansing. 2. Leave-in oil based conditioning treatment after hair has been washed and/or dried. 3. Deep conditioning treatments in between shampoo sessions as a temporary or overnight treatment. 4. Treatment for split ends on a regular basis. 5. Daily oiling for long tresses to protect from ongoing damage 6. Oiling to add shine, soften or for other hair care options.
Advantages To Oiling Your Tresses
Celebs like Katy Perry and Ashlee Simpson are rumored to oil their tresses.
It's the combination of oil treatments with constant healthy hair maintenance that creates beautiful hair.
These ongoing healthy hair maintenance include:
What You Need To Oil Your Hair
Oiling your hair requires the following items:
1. Desired oil or butter (see list of oils and butters below) 2. Wide tooth comb with very smooth teeth to prevent hair breakage 3. Regular tooth comb - bone or high quality comb is preferred 4. Clean rags or old towels to catch oil splatters
If hair is oiled before cleansing you will also need shampoo and appropriate conditioners to remove oils.
Getting Started - Oils To Use
One of the key differences in how hair is oiled is tied to the type of oil that is utilized.
Types and brands of oils that may work for one person may not work for everyone. Be prepared to experiment with different oils.
Some oils will initially make your hair feel soft but over time may make the ends or other sections of your hair feel greasy, oily or crunchy.
Some of the most common oils include but are not limited to the alphabetically arranged list below:
Camilla and safflower oils are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, similar in concentration to avocado and olive oil.
It should be noted that Qhemet Biologics Indian Macassar Oil is another oil that is growing in popularity.
Try new oils by buying in the smallest quantity possible and use a glass dropper to apply to hair in small doses.
Many hair consumers find that a variety of oils can be used on wet and/or dry hair. Some of the better known multi-task oils include virgin coconut oil, monoi de tahiti, shea and carrot seed oil.
Butters Versus Oils
One of the key differences in how hair is oiled is tied to the type of oil utilized. Some people actually prefer to use hair butters rather than hair oils.
The technical definition for butter is “a lipid which is characterized by a low melting point usually not higher than 500C”. The term lipid includes all substances which show strong hydrophobia (inability to dissolve in water) obtained from plants or parts of plants through a physical extraction process. These substances show chemical structures based on esters, fatty alcohols, fatty acids and hydrocarbons.
In simpler terms, butters are natural fats which can be solid or semi-solid at ambient temperature and are derived from a wide variety of natural sources – plants, nuts, fruits, etc. They are comprised primarily of saturated fatty acids, in particular, stearic acid and monounsaturated oleic acid.
Some people prefer to use butters instead of oil and butters come in a wide variety of options including but not limited to:
What matters most when you consider adopting an oil strategy for your hair is to consider the type of hair you have (straight, curly, wavy, frizzy), texture (thin/fine, medium, thick) as well as the current condition of your hair (healthy, damaged, combination of both) and the products you use on your strands.
Keep in mind that everyone must make their own choices when it comes to their hair. Sometimes the bottom line is that you have to experiment to find the very best combination of products, hair tools and procedures for your hair type, texture and condition.
When it comes to oil there is always a fine line between a perfect moisturizing application and too much oil that leaves hair feeling greasy or crunchy.
Oiling is a fabulous way to keep the moisture content high in strands all the way to the tips, and works best in combination with other details.
Coconut Oil Benefits
Previously published results from the Research and Development Department, Nature Care Division, Marico Industries Ltd., Mumbai, India. showed that both in vitro and in vivo coconut oil (CNO) treatments prevented combing damage of various hair types. Using the same methodology, an attempt was made to study the properties of mineral oil and sunflower oil on hair.
Mineral oil (MO) was selected because it is extensively used in hair oil formulations in India, because it is non-greasy in nature, and because it is cheaper than vegetable oils like coconut and sunflower oils. The study was extended to sunflower oil (SFO) because it is the second most utilized base oil in the hair oil industry on account of its non-freezing property and its lack of odor at ambient temperature.
As the aim was to cover different treatments, and the effect of these treatments on various hair types using the above oils, the number of experiments to be conducted was a very high number and a technique termed as the Taguchi Design of Experimentation was used. The findings clearly indicate the strong impact that coconut oil application has to hair as compared to application of both sunflower and mineral oils.
Among three oils, coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product. Both sunflower and mineral oils do not help at all in reducing the protein loss from hair. This difference in results could arise from the composition of each of these oils. Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft.
Mineral oil, being a hydrocarbon, has no affinity for proteins and therefore is not able to penetrate and yield better results. In the case of sunflower oil, although it is a triglyceride of linoleic acid, because of its bulky structure due to the presence of double bonds, it does not penetrate the fiber, consequently resulting in no favorable impact on protein loss.
Essential Oils (EO) To Add
Essential oils are scented oils such as rosemary, grapefruit, geranium rose and rose and these scented oils must be diluted in jojoba or some other similar carrier oil because if applied to the skin in full strength, a reaction can occur...including a blood stream issue for those who are more sensitive.
Also those who are pregnant or sun sensitive should really read up on essential oil use to be able to protect themselves properly. Not all oils are hair friendly, either. But the ones I named above are OK for hair.
Mixing Your Own Oil & Butter Recipes
There are a vast number of hair oil and butter recipes to achieve a wide range of results. Some popular recipes include:
What To Avoid When Oiling Your Hair
Like everything in life, there are good ways and bad ways to perform any task, including oiling your hair. Listed below are some steps to avoid when you oil:
1. After you oil your hair make sure you do not pile your hair on your head which can make it more prone to tangling or breaking both during the oil cycle and the shampoo cycle. 2. Use the highest quality shampoo and conditioning products for use directly after oiling and long term. 3. Invest in the highest quality detangling tools. 4. Combine oiling with other good hair habits including regular dusting (or trims if you are so inclined). 5. Keep hair detangled and well contained (buns, braids). 6. Practice good sleeping habits (satin pillowcases, keeping hair braided or bunned at night).
Preventing A Hair Oiling Mess
As a veteran of many years of hair oiling I have made my share of oil spattered messes along the way. I have learned a few tricks besides transferring a small amount of oil to a separate container rather than working out of the master bottle or jar.
The following tips will help prevent a major mess since oil splatter can be a problem.
1. Lay down clean old towels around the area where you plan to oil your hair before you start. 2. Have extra clean rags or old towels available for spills or random oil splatters. 3. If you oil your hair in the bathtub to contain the mess, consider the fact that if there is no oil in the tub, it may get slippery. The same is true for using oil in the shower without the water running. Always exercise caution around oil slicks. 4. Use a special plastic pillow case covering to make sure that the oil does soak through to your favorite pillows and bedclothes.
Where To Buy Your Oils
If you wish to buy your oils locally you can usually find high quality oils at the local Whole Foods or Central Market. Smaller herb and health food stores may or may not stock the oils you love but may be willing to special order them for you to guarantee freshness and avoid oils becoming rancid.
Oils can also be purchased from mail order catalogs as well as on the Internet.
If you buy your oils either locally or via mail order or the Internet, check immediately to make sure the oils are fresh and not rancid. It's important not to use rancid oil on your strands.
Depending on the quality of the oils purchased, many can last for many months if not years. Therefore it is important when buying oils to test that you only buy small amounts. Many users find that a 2-3 ounce bottle or jar of oil can last for 4-8 weeks, depending on the length of hair.
Keep in mind that some oils may go rancid quickly. Coconut oil is famous for turning quickly so buy only the amount you can use quickly. Jojoba oil may or may not turn rancid depending on the quality and how you store it and for how long.
If you're shopping at mass market or drug stores read the labels very carefully to make sure that all the ingredients are natural and not synthetic.
Listed below are some well-known Internet vendors (no particular order) who sell a wide variety of oils that are suitable for the hair or skin:
Step By Step - How To Oil - For Leave-In Conditioning
Although it may sound complicated, hair oiling is not only easy, it can be soothing. Just be sure to plan in advance to avoid a mess and allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy the process.
The hair oiling steps below are provided for oiling the hair and leaving the oil in place as a leave-in conditioner. If you wish to oil the hair for a deep treatment or for a temporary softening process you will need to take different steps at the end of the cycle.
Keep in mind that everyone develops a fondness for their own type of oil. I personally find coconut much too heavy for my hair but love jojoba and sesame. Depending on your goals you may decide to go with a very light oil or a heavier one as a protective measure.
1. Start by taking a small amount of oil ranging from 1-3 drops or a small dap of solid oil and apply it to the palms of your prewashed, clean hands.
2. Rub the oil between your palms to gently warm. If you are using a solid form of oil such as coconut, scoop out the desired amount into a separate container with a sterile spoon or scooper to prevent ongoing contamination from fingernails.
3. After you have warmed the oil you will have a light coating on the palms of your hands. Apply your lightly coated hands to pre-washed, completely detangled and dry tresses. Apply the oil from the top of your ears down to the very ends of your hair. Avoid applying the oil directly to your scalp, especially if you plan to leave the oil on your hair for more than a few hours.
Note: Oil that is applied directly to the scalp and allowed to remain for days will create a pH unbalance. The pH imbalance will impact the balance of the scalp.
4. Stroke your palms and fingers down through the strands of your hair on each side of your head.
5. Work your way slowly through your strands making sure to carefully separate strands to make sure oil is applied to all the layers both inward and outward.
This oil is then left in as the leave-in conditioner and not removed until the next hair washing (which we recommend to attempt to do around twice a week at best).
Remember that scalp hair needs to be washed although typically the length does not.
The idea is to allow oils, regardless of the type used, to build up what is produced naturally from the sebaceous glands (on the scalp). Once the oils are built up distribute the oils. Depending on the length of the tresses, it is common to apply more oil to the length with less oil applied to the middle or tips.
Remember that a little bit of oil goes a very long way. Be conservative with the amount of oil you use until you have figured out how much oil to use on your strands. Hair readily absorbs the oil.
You can always add more oil, even a day or so later. It's better to use less oil rather than more which can become greasy. It's easy to add too much oil.
How do you know if you have added too much oil? You hair will feel greasy or sticky. To minimize the amount of oil applied to your strands you may wish to blot the palms of your hair on a paper towel to remove excess oils to avoid not applying to much oil to your hair.
Using A Boar Bristle Brush To Distribute Oils
Depending on the current condition of your hair you may or may not choose to use a boar bristle brush (BBB) to help distribute the oil throughout your strands.
Although BBBs should never be used for detangling wet or damp hair because of the potential for breakage, it can be used to help gently move oils down the length of the hair. Never attempt to brush out a tangle as this can break the hair. Instead, use your fingers to detangle or a comb. Do so gently.
A BBB can cause damage if there's a tangle or wet hair...and it also shouldn't be used if the hair is not in overall good health, such as suffering from excess frizz, excess flyaway, a fair amount of damage still, damage from perm/coloring.
However, a BBB can be used once the hair is stabilized in its basic strength and integrity to move the oils around. Unlike a detangling tool which is used bottom to top, the BBB is used, generally, top to bottom.
A BBB does not penetrate the thickness of one's hair so it must be used topside and underside, separately, and this is where the 100 strokes likely derives from. A lot of strokes to work in that oil. A BBB does cause fullness of the hair but this is easily calmed by following with a downstroke of the palm. If you're preparing for a hair wash, it is then OK to put some oil on the scalp hair (although you probably won't need it b/c the reason to wash the hair is there's an excess of buildup of oil on the scalp). You can also oil length heavily on purpose prior to a hair wash.
However, you may find you need to change your pillowcase a little more often nevertheless because of some very fine acne along the hairline (typical for some of us who go an extra day without a hair wash). With a little experimentation, you will find the right number of days to skip to build up oil and create a beautiful healthy shine and increase elasticity of the hair in due time.
Many believe that oiling the hair should be done after every single hair wash. This may or may not work for you and your hair depending on the texture, type and condition. Set your own schedule but once you do, be consistent.
Hair Oiling As A Hair Pre-treatment
You may oil your hair as a pre-wash treatment that can be left in while you sleep before you do your wash. A pre-wash treatment is an excellent way to nourish your hair and prevent protein loss. Coconut oil has been proven through testing to reduce protein loss for both damaged and undamaged hair when used as either a pre-wash or post-wash product.
If you're preparing for a hair wash, it is then OK to put some oil on the scalp hair (although you probably won't need it b/c the reason to wash the hair is there's an excess of buildup of oil on the scalp). You can also oil length heavily on purpose prior to a hair wash.
When considering the use of Jojoba Oil, look for an oil that is golden in color yet quite clear and rather see-through. Some Jojoba Oils tend to be muddier in color and murky looking. For best results look for the best quality oil that fits your budget.
Oiling Dry Hair
Oiling dry hair after cleansing it may cause the feeling of crunchiness. Many hair oil fans find it best to oil hair while it is still slightly damp.
If you want to oil your ends inbetween shampoo sessions you may get better results if you slightly damped your strands before applying the oil.
Hair Oiling By Hair Types & Textures
Natural curls respond well to consistent and regular hair oiling. Not only does oiling add important moisture and help to minimize frizz, it often helps to slightly weigh down ringlets while emphasizing the curl pattern. In addition, regular oil application will provide a protective layer for curls protecting them from tears and split ends.
the weight helps the hair to move as one body (very appealing to the eye); brittleness & dryness cease; and the hues of one hair color come forward resulting in a beautiful sheen that catches the light in interesting ways; and finally, the hair becomes supremely soft.
When using oil as a leave in treatment it is very important to remember that a small amount goes a very long way. Be conservative when you first start using oil as a no-rinse leave-in treatment. Remember, you can always add more oil, even a day or so later. Oil used as a leave-in treatment can be added as needed. It's definitely easy to do too much. If hair feels or looks oily or greasy you put in too much.
Hair usually readily absorbs the oil. It does not rub off on clothing or linens. However, you may find you need to change your pillowcase a little more often nevertheless because of some very fine acne along the hairline (typical for some of us who go an extra day without a hair wash).
With a little experimentation, you will find the right number of days to skip to build up oil and create a beautiful healthy shine and increase elasticity of the hair in due time.
Oiling Hair With Spray/Spritzer Bottles
There are those who prefer to oil their strands by using a spritzer bottle. Pour the desired oil in a spritzer bottle diluting it in water & applying after a fresh wash yet while the hair is still wet. This is fine if that works for you; however, do know, that the oil does not "capture" water to stay on the hair.
Oil, especially jojoba, is meant to mimic the natural oils produced by the sebaceous glands. This oil is called "sebum" and has a waxy texture. You may notice that when your hair oil builds up on the scalp you can remove what feels like a soft rolled bead, which is sebum.)
This waxy medium is the protection for hair and the reason hair shines. Frequent washing removes this and also causes excess build up in a day or so. You can train yourself and your scalp to change its rate of production over the course of a month or so.
Oils Which Float On Top Of Hair
Polyunsaturated oils which sit on top of hair and are good for leave-in conditioners include, but are not limited to the following:
Jojoba Sunflower Grapeseed Sesame Broccoli Seed
Straight Chain Glycerides That Penetrate Hair Shaft
Straight chain glyceride" is another term for saturated fat. Oils which penetrate into the hair shaft and could be used for deep conditioning include:
Coconut Olive Avocado Palm Kernel Camellia Sweet Almond Castor Oil
Oils Which Only Partially Penetrate
Oils that partially penetrate the hair shaft
For heavy pre-shampoo oiling consider rotating sesame oil with unrefined organic coconut oil. Sesame is lighter and easier to wash out. Coconut oil reduces protein loss. Consider doing the pre-oiling approximately one hour before applying shampoo.
For scalp massage try a mix of grapeseed, castor oil and essential oils such as rosemary, thyme, cedarwood and lavender.
Good scalp massage oil:
Leave-in Hair Oil
Consider using a drop or two of jojoba oil to seal moisture in after applying desired leave-in conditioning products like Phyto 7 or Phyto 9.
Great leave-in hair oils include:
Deep Conditioning Hot Oil Treatments
Depending on hair type, texture and condition the following oils are considered best for deep conditioning hot oil treatments:
Keep in mind that not all oils will work for all types of hair. Be willing to experiment. You may also wish to experiment with mixing various oils to achieve different results. Popular oil mixtures include:
You can mix one or two drops with your jojoba or coconut oil to scent your hair with. Do change the amount of jojoba (or whatever your choice) to accommodate this addition so as not to over-oil your hair in one sitting. (In a way, there's no such thing as too much oil over the course of, say, a week, but in one sitting it can be too much.)
You can choose other oils such as Sweet Almond Oil. I know of one person who uses vegetable oil (she didn't say which brand) achieving beautiful results; however, I have been advised that many such oils are pressed differently (two or more times) to withstand high heat (for frying and such) and thus, the acid content is higher.
In days of yore (and likely still) other cultures have used olive oil; however, it tends to be rather heavy and is pressed differently for sustaining high temperatures (and not breaking down). Oils such as flax seed oil are not intended for hair use although they are not pressed to sustain high heat
So, give it a whirl. Remember that you will have to do it around 2 times before you get the hang of it and find the right amount for you. A little really does go a long way. You can fan your hair out on a soft cotton sheet and oil that way if you like - I find this method gets to more of the individual strands then.
- Revised Date: 12/31/11
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