Oils play an important role in the health of our hair. To combat this winter’s dryness, I turned to my trusted blended oil treatment. I keep four amazing oils, in my arsenal, sure to have brittle hair strong and nourished. The strength of your hair will play a big role in hair health and length. Hair strength is defined as hair strands resistant to breakage with no split ends. It also means the hair is at it’s full capacity in both diameter and length, with an intact cuticle and cortex. The strength of your hair will depend on the integrity of the cuticle layer and the physical stress on the hair.
The Protective Cuticle Layer
The cuticle layer of the hair is the outer protective surface. This layer is composed of a hydro-lipid barrier. This water and oily barrier will serve as a film or shield, regulating what is allowed in and out of the hair. Overtime with friction from styling, heat and different chemical treatments, the lipid or oil content on the cuticle will decrease. As lipids are removed, gaps will form on the cuticle layer and leave thee hair cortex exposed to the sun, air, water and many chemicals to get inside. This causes cracks and fissures in the cortex which will eventually result in the hair breaking off.
Water and Friction as Stressors On The Hair
Big stressors on the hair include physical manipulation and hygral fatigue. It’s fairly easy to understand that roughhousing, when it comes to styling, can lead to damage, but we often don’t take into account the intense stress water puts on the hair. Our cuticle layer is made to allow water into and out of the hair. Too much water, especially with damaged cuticles, gets soaking in or dry out of the hair, will force the hair to swell and shrink to accommodate the water. The more often this action of swelling a shrinking is done, the structure of the hair is weakened, and breakage can occur. Even exposure to humid or dry air without an intact cuticle can cause stress on the hair and breakage.
Oil Is A Lubricant & Protective Film
The great benefits from using oils are that they will relieve friction and relieve fluctuations in water content. The four oils, jojoba, castor, olive and last but not least argan oil, are amazing oils in that they are composed of fatty acids that can fill in gaps in the cuticle where lipids have been lost. The oils will form a smooth film on the hair, reducing friction, snagging and tangles and it coats any rough edges on the hair strand. This film will also ensure water content inside the hair remains balanced, with less extreme swelling and shrinking, by preventing excess water movement into and out of the hair.
Nourishing and Strengthening Hair Oils to Take Care of Dry Hair in Winter
My favorite way to incorporate a hair oil treatment is right before a shampoo. This is done on dry hair in a warm room, so the cuticles are slightly open and receptive to the oil. This will replenish the protective lipid layer and make sure only necessary amounts of water will enter the cortex once we begin washing. If it's been a while since wash day, it can be beneficial to massage your sebum from your scalp, down the hair strands so your own natural oils are incorporated into the oil treatment. Once the hair is thoroughly coated, the oils can be left on the hair for 30 minutes to a few hours, as long as the hair is free of water. The oil can then be shampooed out, followed by a good washout conditioner, humectant/water-based moisturizer and oil product. This treatment, even after washed out, will correct imperfection in the cuticle layer, improving hair shine, elasticity and manageability.
Jojoba oil, as it is often referred to, is actually a polyunsaturated wax that has a chemical structure so loosely packed together it forms an oil like liquid. Thanks to it’s high composition of eicosenoic acid, jojoba oil is very similar to the sebum produced by our scalp. This means it can interact with our hair oils and unclog plugged pores.
Comedogenic rating of 2/Moderately Low - may clog pores for some
Castor Oil is a thick oil with a high composition of ricinoleic acid making this oil particularly great at improving the penetration of products into the hair. This oil is great for washout treatments or, in small amounts, before a protective style.
Comedogenic rating of 1/ Low - low chance of clogging pores
It is suggested the high concentration of oleic acid allows olive oil to make the hair softer and pliable. This fatty acid is also suggested to improve resistance to weathering effects on the hair[4,5].
Comedogenic rating of 2/Moderately Low - may clog pores for some
Argan oil has a high composition of linoleic and oleic acid, making it capable of keeping the hair at balance moisturization levels and preventing weathering. Linoleic acid is also lightweight and thinner than oleic acid improving this oils absorption into the hair and allowing it to be applied daily.
Comedogenic rating of 0/Non – Should not clog pores
Like with most things, consistency is key. Researchers have found frequent reapplication of thin oils is most beneficial for hair strength; however, oils that form thick films can be useful, with less frequency, to correct an imperfect cuticle layer. All of the oils above also contain
vitamin E making them antioxidants and protectants from UV sun damage.
Check Out the Approximate Fatty Acid Composition of Strengthening Oils Below
1. Dias, M. F. (2015). Hair cosmetics: An overview. International Journal of Trichology,7(1), 2. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.153450
2. Matsumoto, Y., Ma, S., Tominaga, T., Yokoyama, K., Kitatani, K., Horikawa, K., & Suzuki, K. (2019). Acute Effects of Transdermal Administration of Jojoba Oil on Lipid Metabolism in Mice. Medicina,55(9), 594. doi:10.3390/medicina55090594
3. Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glyceryl Ricinoleate, Glyceryl Ricinoleate SE, Ricinoleic Acid, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Zinc Ricinoleate, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Ethyl Ricinoleate, Glycol Ricinoleate, Isopropyl Ricinoleate, Methyl Ricinoleate, and Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate1. (2007). International Journal of Toxicology,26(3_suppl), 31-77. doi:10.1080/10915810701663150
4. Song, S., Lim, J. H., Son, S. K., Choi, J., Kang, N., & Lee, S. (2019). Prevention of lipid loss from hair by surface and internal modification. Scientific Reports,9(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-019-46370-x
5. Maeda, K., Yamazaki, J., Okita, N., Shimotori, M., Igarashi, K., & Sano, T. (2018). Mechanism of Cuticle Hole Development in Human Hair Due to UV-Radiation Exposure. Cosmetics,5(2), 24. doi:10.3390/cosmetics5020024