Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What's Cookin': Oil Blend Recipe for Hair

Science-y Hair Blog Oil Blend or SHB Oil Blend Recipe

This natural oil blend is a pre-shampoo treatment, a sealer, a frizz-controlling shine pomade/serum, can be added to your conditioner for a deep conditioner. This oil blend adds softness and flexibility to your hair. It helps your hairs align with each other for gloss and definition. Adds weight to control frizz or reduce the volume of "poufy" hair.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
This mixture is blended to be similar the fatty acid component of the oils from your scalp, but still using oils that are fairly easy to find. It works differently than any single oil alone.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
Recipe: (makes about 1/4 cup)

Extra Virgin Olive oil              2 1/2 teaspoons (12 ml)
Coconut oil                             1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons (7.5 ml to 10) (1 1/2 tsp if liquid, 2 if solidified)
Shea butter or Cocoa butter *    2 1/2 to 3 well-packed teaspoons (12 to 14.75 ml): for cocoa butter, see *      
Jojoba oil **                            1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml)
Grapeseed oil                         4 teaspoons (20 ml)
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
Essential oil or fragrance oil (optional)
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* If you use cocoa butter, you may want to use just 2 teaspoons or even 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cocoa butter is harder than shea butter and may be more likely to cause build-up. If you know your hair loves cocoa butter - go crazy! Otherwise, use caution.
** If jojoba oil makes your hair static-y and flyaway and you want to use this on dry hair, replace it with canola oil or use more olive and grapeseed oil.©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

Measure oils into a double boiler or a heat-resistant bowl which you can place over simmering water or in a pan of hot water. Allow the shea or cocoa butter (and coconut oil if yours has solidified) to melt and blend for a few minutes.

Remove from heat. Store in the refrigerator. This will become semisolid in the refrigerator, but will melt in your hand. Refrigerating the mixture helps prevent rancidity. Alternatively, keep a small amount in a squeeze bottle at room temperature in a cool-ish, dark place (not in your bathroom). This oil blend should stay reasonably fresh (not rancid) for 2-3 months, depending on how the oils you used to make it were stored. Wipe the bottle to remove drips and keep water out.

Each oil adds something special, mainly they were chosen for their lipid profile. Olive oil contains squalene, and is a good lubricant and shine-enhancer. Coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft for softness and flexibility and helps porous hair resist swelling in water - swelling stresses your strands. Shea butter or cocoa butter soften hair from the outside and add "weight." Jojoba oil is a wax chemically speaking and waxes are a natural part of your skin's sebum, it's in this recipe for shine and lubrication. Grapeseed oil penetrates the hair somewhat, softens and lubricates. As with oils from your scalp, this blend is not made for heavy-handed use unless you know your hair can tolerate lots of oils and butters without unhappy side effects.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

Ingredients prior to melting.
Here is a link to a post with more about the oils.

How to Use SHB Oil Blend:

Pre-shampoo: Apply oil to dry hair before shampooing (or conditioner-washing or whatever you do to wash your hair). If your hair is fine, thin or silky or not very porous, use just enough to make it shine. If your hair is dry and rough and static-y, use enough to make it feel good and greasy. Leave it on for anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight (protect your pillow)! Then cleanse. 
This oil blend does not leave a high shine after shampooing, hair should have luster and feel soft and pliable. Experiment with how much to use - your washed hair should not feel overly oily when wet or dry. 

Sealer: Apply this oil to damp hair or over a leave-in conditioner to
All oils melted and blended.
trap moisture and control frizz.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
Serum/Pomade: This oil blend is heavy. Applied to dry hair and smoothed through, it will add weight, gloss and definition to curls and coils. Works well to control flyaways and shape styles both natural and "set." But it may flatten fine curls or waves. Be warned if you have allergies, oils on dry hair can accumulate dust, pollen and mold spores. Will add shine to your hair, but the shea butter in the recipe can lead to build-up which dulls hair. If this occurs, a gentle shampoo and plenty of warm water should remove the excess oil.©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

Semi-solid, refrigerated oil blend.
Conditioner enhancer: Add a few drops (or more) of this oil blend to however much conditioner you use, mix well and condition for extra softening and flexibility in your hair. Don't add it to a bottle of conditioner - the oils can go rancid or make the product separate.©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

Protein treatment enhancer: Add a drop or two (or more) of this oil blend to your favorite protein treatment.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
Removing crunch from hair gels: Use a very small amount of this oil blend (1-3 drops), rubbed in your palms, to smooth over your hair as though you are making a ponytail. Squeeze through to the ends to break up the "crunch" of hair gels for a soft finish.




36 comments:

  1. Between the cocoa or shea butter, would you recommend one over the other? (I don't have either, so if one is better I'd rather buy that one! Or if one is easier to buy, then I'll do that instead!) ;)

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  2. Kenner, Sorry I took so long to reply. I prefer shea butter because it is a little softer than cocoa butter - the palmitic acid (saturated fat) content is lower. If you use cocoa butter, start with less than the recipe recommends unless you know cocoa butter works well in your hair.

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  3. WOW, I really like this recipe! I don't have fine hair, but it's easy for my hair to look lank and greasy. This blend makes my hair lie a little flatter than usual, but gives it such texture (I have just above the shoulder slightly wavy not-fine, not-thick hair). I've started augmenting my face moisturizer with a couple of drops of this blend. I make my own hand cream and I'm thinking of substituting this blend for the oils I usually use. What are your thoughts regarding suitability of this recipe, and changes, if any, to adopt the blend for skin care?

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  4. Calijam - I am so happy to hear that this recipe works well in your hair!
    This oil blend is based (somewhat loosely, but still...) on a recipe for synthetic sebum. So it should be good for skin as well as hair, especially if used as an emollient in a lotion. For hand cream it should be fine. I might worry about breakouts or irritation for people whose skin is very, very sensitive (eczema, rosacea). I do like grapeseed oil and shea butter in body lotions. I don't make lotion often enough!

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  5. There seems to be a problem with your oil volumes.

    Extra Virgin Olive oil: 2 1/2 teaspoons (10 ml)
    Grapeseed oil: 4 teaspoons (10 ml)

    2.5 tsp = 12.5ml
    4 tsp = 20ml

    My guess is that you meant 2 teaspoons of grapeseed oil, yes?

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  6. Thanks Mel P. Nothing like a math error to confuse a recipe. I corrected the post, it is supposed to be 4 tsp. grapeseed oil. WS

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  7. Finally I've got all the oils for this recipe, but I'm not sure if I have a double boiler or a heat-resistant bowl in the kitchen to place over hot water.
    So can I add the oils into a can otherwise and heat the can in a pan with hot water? Or can I also heat the oils directly in a small pan?

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    1. You can heat the oils in a pan over lowest heat, or you can put them in a glass or metal bowl, set inside a larger bowl, and add hot water to the outside, larger bowl and let the butters and coconut oil melt slowly. A can might work, but it shouldn't sit on the bottom of a heated pan. It can tip or "pop" up when the water heats.

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  8. I have bleached silver/white hair. Do you think using this as a pre-poo (leaving it on overnight) would tint my hair?

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    1. Hello Thais,
      This oil may not be a good choice for hair that is white naturally or has been bleached to be white unless it's more silver than actually white. Coconut oil is a better choice to try to avoid discoloration (specifically - yellowing). If your hair becomes brittle or stiff or crunchy with coconut oil, then you might use sunflower oil and follow it up with a blue or purple tinted shampoo or conditioner.

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    2. I would like to add that if you use coconut oil, then it is better to choose a refined one since that is colorless (pure coconut oil is yellowish).

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  9. I am allergic to olive oil, what can I substitute?

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  10. Can we subtitute coconut oil with moringa oil?

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    1. Hello Perpetue,
      Yes, I think you could substitute moringa oil for coconut oil - it may produce a different result in your hair. I have not tried that oil. From when I can find about its fatty acid chemistry, it has the potential to be a penetrating oil. It's a little more like olive oil than coconut oil.

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  11. Thanks for all the interesting information here!
    I'm currently experimenting with water only washing where one of the main goals is to get all hair covered by a thin layer of sebum to keep it contitioned and protected. Excess sebum and dirt is brushed off and rinsed out with just water. This works surprisingly well, but I've been experiencing some serious dryness in my lengths and ends because the sebum has not traveled down there yet.
    I've been using oil to ease this transition, but I think there's kind of a dilemma to it: on the one hand, oil is supposed to reduce the dryness and to help break up the sebum's waxiness and distribute it evenly, on the other hand oil seems to remove a lot of sebum which is the exact opposite of what I want.
    Any scientific thoughts on that or recommendations for me? :-)

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    1. I'm a fan of water washing (in between using a cleanser, anyhow for my itchy scalp). But there are some limitations you need to make up for. One is distributing that sebum. Depending on the technique, people massage or scratch their scalps. Go one step farther and spread any sebum on your finger-pads and then smooth it over the ends and dry portions of your hair. You have to put it where you want it. Additional oils can help fill in the "gaps." The oil blend recipe on this page is one option if you're trying to mimic sebum with plant oils. I wouldn't put plant oils where the sebum is naturally, only on the inflexible places.
      Sebum is a bit more solid for some people than others - allowing warm water to run over your scalp will help liquefy those oils so they can become more mobile. Some smoothing and distribution of oils (with fingers) can and should be done under the warm water of the shower for this reason. Or to conserve water, wrap your head in a warm, wet towel for a few minutes to soften the more-solid oil component (the waxy oils and cholesterols and saturated oils).
      >One thing that is missing here is humectants. Our hair contains humectants (proteins, amino acids etc.) and can benefit from humectants water-preserving ability. Aloe vera gel or juice (mix in a spray bottle with distilled water), flaxseed gel, herbal teas made with chamomile or nettle can all be good as rinses, sprays or gels to apply to the hair to help it retain water and stay hydrated. Hydrolyzed proteins also have a hydrating effect. If you want all-natural products, beer allowed to go flat (keep the foam) can stay on for a few minutes with some heat, then rinse out for protein. Protein additives like Neutral Protein Filler has protein and herbs and can be mixed in a spray bottle (must refrigerate).

      Oils and sebum lubricate and seal in moisture to prevent dehydration. Humectants promote hydration and are complimentary to oils.
      I hope that helps!

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    2. Thanks for your detailed reply, I think you provided some really valuable hints :-)

      Some more questions if you don't mind:
      As my main goal at the moment is a smooth transition to water only washing and then making this method work for me the best I can, I'm particularly interested in interactions between sebum and other substances.
      As I mentioned in my first post, oil, for example, seems to remove sebum - after rinsing out a fairly deep oil treatment with just water my hair always feels really clean, almost stripped - which leaves me baffled again and again.
      In regard to humectants, do you think they are capable of penetrating oil/sebum covered hair after all?
      Do any of those humectants you mentioned have cleansing/sebum removing properties? Because I really don't want to lose any sebum at this point.
      Can you think of any other interactions?

      Sorry for asking so much, I'm just really interested :-)

      PS: Maybe you could even do a post about all the different aspects of sebum one day - I'd love to read that!

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    3. When you say your hair feels almost stripped when you rinse out an oil treatment, it sounds to me as though your hair may not be having a good reaction to the oil you used. Each oil has different chemistry - plant oils are composed of a lot of different "ingredients" and some oils work very well for one person's hair and terribly in another person's hair. Coconut oil is one oil that can cause odd reactions in some people's hair.

      Humectants like aloe or flax and some herbal teas can form a film over the hair - clear, flexible, and invisible - that is water-trapping, whether or not they contact the hair. That's like a little moisture-barrier between your hair and the environment around it to prevent water loss.

      Aloe and herbal teas do have some very mild cleansing effects. Straight aloe juice might be able to remove oils a tiny bit due to the acidity (acids are often added to preserve the juice). Herbal teas are nice for refreshing the scalp and adding shine, but don't remove oils. So you might want to avoid acids like vinegar solutions or lemon juice rinses.
      Thanks for the blog-post idea! That's a good one.

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  12. Do you think this recipe would work as a pre-poo treatment for hair that normally can't tolerate coconut, olive, or jojoba oil well unless emulsified in conditioning products? Coconut oil makes my hair stiff, olive oil makes it a bit stiff and coated-feeling, and jojoba makes me kind of greasy. I am protein sensitive (though my hair loves smaller proteins as film forming humectants in styling products, which you helped me to discover :). The individual strands are coarse, strong, and quite dry. My hair acts like low porosity hair but the individual hairs are rough-feeling and my hair isn't too shiny... I think that I've got some weird hair lol.

    *The only oil treatment I've had good luck with is the Queen Helene's lanolin-based Cholesterol hot oil treatment. My hair really loves it as long as I shampoo my scalp and roots and thoroughly rinse the length of my hair after the treatment.

    Thank you for the article and for reading this.

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    1. Hello AMD,
      I have lower-porosity hair (especially the part that grows in winter when the sun is low) and I love this recipe - but only as a pre-poo treatment. You do have to be careful not to use too much - people who have porous hair or dyed or highlighted hair can use a lot of oil, but low-porosity hair needs a lighter touch. Just enough oil to add weight and shine, not to get really greasy-looking. Any oily look should disappear by the end of 6-8 hours.
      I tried swapping red palm oil (also penetrating) for coconut and ended up with extremely soft, fluffy hair - but that might be great for other people.
      What I like about this oil blend is that it adds some weight to my hair and lots of definition (through good lubrication). It helps pull the ends together if my hair is getting that "end of a broom" look where it wants to spread out. Or if individual locks are separating from the rest and looking lighter-colored, it helps them stay with the rest of the hairs.
      Sunflower oil is a great single-oil, penetrating treatment that doesn't have the weird effects of coconut oil. It doesn't quite have the same effect as this recipe, but it does help with lubrication and flexibility and give hair a nice feeling wet and dry. You could substitute sunflower oil for olive oil in this recipe.
      Porous hair gets a bigger boost from penetrating oils because they help is act less porous - so it isn't stressed by soaking up too much water and so it doesn't lose protein upon wetting (there is some soluble protein in the hair shaft that has the job of attracting water to keep hair hydrated). Lower porosity hair doesn't soak up water as quickly as porous hair so those problems aren't problems for low porosity hair. Low porosity hair benefits from to oil treatments for providing lubrication and flexibility - and definition. If you find an oil (or a blend) that gives you those benefits - that's a good oil!

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    2. Thank you for the very thorough reply!! I definetly get that broom effect and hairs that escape from the pack sometimes, so this might be really helpful for me. I can't wait to try this!

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  13. WS, Did you receive my comment I left the other night? Please let me know. Thanks, BA

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    1. Hello blueangel1985, I don't see any other comments from you. Just this one. Sorry! I wasn't able to access the comments for quite a while and I'm working my way through them now.

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  14. Thanks for responding.

    Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge. Much appreciated. I was diagnosed with Seb. Derm. in the late 80's. Got a Rx for Hytone Cream. Mixed it in my hair grease and applied it to my scalp. It worked well for a long time. Then I started using Hydrocortisone Cream the same way and same results. Issue: The last 3 years or so, my scalp has been dry, itchy and recently flaky.
    In your Oil Pre-Shampoo or Pre-Wash (And how to make it work for YOUR hair) article you stated "(as long as you don't have any itchy or flaky scalp problems). "
    Oils I have on hand: Avocado Oil-Extra Virgin Coconut Oil-Extra Virgin Olive Oil and African Royale Hot 6 Oil (Ingredients: Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Safflower Oil, Castor Oil, Sesame Oil, Vitamins E, A & D, Cyclomethicone, Sheep Sorrell, Yarrow, Slippery Elm Bark, Sage, Henna, Comfrey, Burdock Root, Ginseng, Golden Seal, Cherry Bark, Black Walnut, Chamomile, Alfalfa, Hyssop, Wheat Germ And Fragrance.)
    I believe that my hair will benefit from the "overnite" pre-shampoo treatment.
    With the information that I have given, the situation with my scalp and the oils that I have on hand. How can I make this work for me. I would like to make a 1oz. batch. Thanks again for your help. ~BA

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    1. Hydrocortisone worked for you - that's a steroidal anti-inflammatory. Hmm. There are some essential oils that promote skin healing (cedar or "Juniperus," thyme, rosemary) when diluted in a "base oil" like olive or coconut through anti-inflammatory means, but you didn't mention those and they smell very strong and be irritating too.

      Comfery contains chemicals known as allantoin which is commonly used as a skin protectant in lotions or ointments, but that is as an extract and water-soluble. So that doesn't mix with oil. It might make a nice scalp rinse, though.

      There is some evidence of castor oil having anti-inflammatory effects - so that might be a one to try. Coconut oil can have anti-microbial properties, so it might be a good combination with castor oil or a first or second choice to try alone.

      I would not choose olive oil for my own scalp because that tends to have a lot of oleic acid which can be irritating. I encourage you to try it on a patch behind your ear a couple nights to see how that skin reacts first, just to play it safe.

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  15. I don't have grapeseed oil. Is it completely necessary or can it be replaced by a different oil or even taken out completely?

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    1. Hello Alana,
      Take out the grapeseed oil - replace that amount of oil with one of your favorites or with 2 teaspoons each of olive and jojoba or olive and coconut, whichever your hair prefers. Because I like sunflower oil (a lot!) I might replace it with sunflower oil.

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    2. Thank you so much for your prompt reply and also for creating this very informative website.

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  16. Is there something I can sub for the olive oil so that I don't smell like a bruschetta? Thanks :)

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    1. Hello Alessandra,
      You might switch the olive oil for safflower oil, sweet almond oil or avocado oil for their oleic acid content.

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  17. Can i substitute argan oil for jojoba oil?

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  18. One more question, what are your thoughts on babassu oil? Thank you.

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    1. Hello LL,

      You can substitute argan for jojoba oil - that will not be the same chemically, but argan oil is such great stuff and it brings its own unique chemistry to the mix.
      Babassu oil is wonderful - light and penetrating and softening. It could be substituted for the coconut oil for hair that doesn't do well with coconut, or for part or all of the shea butter.
      Good luck with your blend! W

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  19. Hello I'm so glad I found your website so informative I have low porosity hair and in trying to find a regimen that works well. Is this oil recipe better as a pre poo then seal with a jojoba and argan oil mix. Also one question for my low porosity hair can I use shea butter to moisturize my hair and seal it in? Do you have a moisturizer you can recommend im just starting my natural hair journey. Thank yoi

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    1. Hello Babsy,
      This oil recipe works well for some people as a pre-poo. That's what I use it for because my hair generally tends not to get along well with coconut oil and for leaving in. For hair that is okay with some or all of the oils in the recipe, it might be a good sealing oil.

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