Indians have had an old relationship with oiling hair. Our grandmothers and mothers have done it since their childhood and continue it on us too 😀 With the changing times, we have almost given up oiling our hair. Do we really have to oil our hair the exactly same way our ancestors did? Are there any benefits of oiling curly hair at all? If so, which oils should we be using? And how should we apply oil to curly hair? Let’s find out 🙂Benefits of oils on curly hair
1. For hair growth – Along with a few oils that actually do penetrate hair, another important benefit of oiling your hair is the massage that comes with it. It increases circulation of blood to the scalp thus promoting growth. Here’s another post you may like ! – 7 ways to grow healthy hair
2. As a pre poo protector – They act as a protector before your shampoo (pre-poo). When you have oil on your hair, the shampoo is less damaging to your hair and the little remnants that do remain after shampooing will act as a sealant, sealing moisture in your hair strands.
3. As a deep conditioner – The fatty acids in the oils help restore your hair’s lost lipid layer. So if your hair is very dry and rough, oiling definitely proves useful. They key here is to keep them for a longer duration (like you would do with a deep conditioner).
4. As a detangler – Oils provide a lot of slip and thus make detangling very very easy. Done before your wash, oiling makes, detangling further in the shower while conditioning, a breeze 🙂
5. As a leave in – Light sealing oils can lock in moisture and impart gloss and shine to your hair.
6. To fix your not-so-great conditioners – Do you have a conditioner that you paid a lot for, only to find it does nothing to your dry hair? Mix in a few drops of oil and the conditioner just before you apply it on your hair.
So now the next obvious question that comes is what oils should we be using to get the benefits? And how do we apply oil to curly hair?
Types of oils and how to incorporate oils into your curly hair care routine
Oils can be put into 2 groups based on if or not they benefit the health of your hair.
Moisturizing oils – These oils can actually provide nourishment to your hair by penetrating the hair shaft. Coconut oil is the best at penetration, followed by extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil. The main fatty acids in these oils are really small, thus making penetration easy (That explains why Malayali women (women from Kerala – the land of coconuts) have thick black lustrous hair right?!).
In addition, lauric acid found in coconut oil has a high affinity for hair proteins thus preventing protein loss – Science of Coconut oil on hair(plus brand suggestions)
Let’s see how we can use moisturizing oils on curly hair.
1. Do not use so much oil that you would need extra shampoo or an extra rinse to get rid of the greasiness. That beats the whole purpose of oiling your hair, right? Your shampoo quantity should remain the same. This will help you decide how much oil you need to apply. In fact one benefit of oiling before shampoo is to protect your hair from the shampoo so you don’t want to it to become counterintuitive by adding more shampoo! Also you should leave a little oil on your hair (a very tiny amount) so that it acts as a sealant.
2. Concentrate on the scalp while massaging using your fingertips (not your nails) to ensure a good blood circulation. As you reach the length of your hair, change your technique from massaging to detangling. Approach your hair in sections and very slightly detangle the knots in your hair using the oil as a lubricant.
How long should you leave oil in your hair?
There is a research paper(Quantitative measurement of the penetration of coconut oil into human hair using radio-labeled coconut oil) that shows that hair can absorb around 15% of its weight in coconut oil in an hour. An overnight soaking oil (six hours) increases absorption to around 20% or 25%.
3. Wait for as long as you like (anywhere from a few minutes to a whole hour) and wash it off. Since the above oils actually penetrate the hair shaft, you will benefit more the longer you keep it in your hair.
The above 3 steps can be done every time you feel your hair is super dry, or if you want me to give you a number, I would say probably once a week. The amount of oil, as I said, would be less than what makes your hair look greasy or makes you want to add extra shampoo but just enough to remove dryness.
4. If you don’t have time for a pre poo (oiling before shampooing), mix a little oil into your shampoo before lathering it onto your hair. This helps to keep the shampoo gentle and moisturizing at the same time.
5. Mix a really small amount of the oil with your conditioner. I love using olive oil for this. I find that this method works better then applying oil on dry hair because it works in unison with water to lock in moisture.
The above 2 steps can be done every time you wash your hair.
Sealing oils – They just seal in moisture. That means you need to provide moisture to your hair before applying these oils. These don’t penetrate the hair shaft but they block humidity and impart sheen. Light oils like argan oil or jojoba oil work best as sealing oils.
Mix them with your styling product for the added shine. But remember that you only need 1 or 2 drops for this method to avoid greasy looking hair. You want shine not grease.
Oiling in earlier times used to be solely for hair growth and they wouldn’t wash it off making hair look super greasy. Now we know that new times still call for hair oils. Just the method of applying and purpose has changed 🙂
You may also be interested in this – Difference between Moisturizing and Sealing (Oiling)
If you have any doubts regarding the article, shoot them in comments below 🙂