Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New (May 2015) Update to Penetrating Hair Oils Post - Charts!

This is the link to the original post.

I have added a chart, with some updated sorting of oils to make it easier to figure out which oils work for your hair and if you have some you like, maybe to help you predict other oils which may work also.

I hope people find this helpful - it's one of the more popular posts on the blog.


  1. Hello WS! Thank you very much for your amazing post, I learnt so much about my hair and how to take care of them.
    I have been no poo since I learnt about natural hair care. However, it doesn’t work on me, I figure it might be the water that it has too much mineral in it and appears as dandruff everytime I went no poo.
    Then I went back to shampoo and dilute it which the ratio you suggested. My question is, If I use that shampoo mix, wash and use a bucket to catch the repour it again, will it defeat the purpose of less harsh shampoo and stripping too much oil from hair? Currently I can go 3-4 days between washes.

    1. Hello Ell,
      If by "no-poo" you mean using baking soda on your hair and scalp, that can be quite irritating to some people's scalps because the pH of the baking soda mixture is much higher than is generally regarded as "skin-friendly."

      Catching the water from cleansing your hair with diluted shampoo, then pouring it back over your hair during the same wash? Any excess oil that isn't trapped in the micelles created during washing might end up back on your hair (for better or worse). If that is what you want, then great. If you want to remove any excess oil, then pouring the captured wash-water back over your hair will work against you.

      Something else to consider is: If you had any dust or lint or if you're allergic to anything that you had just washed out of your hair (pollen, mold spores, pet dander), when you collect the wash-water and pour it back over your head, you will deposit all those things back on your hair too. Any styling products or product residue would also be returned to your hair in that instance.

      A dilute shampoo (1 teaspoon per 1/2 cup or 1 cup water / 5-10 ml shampoo in 250 ml water) is a weak de-greasing agent to begin with, but it still does a good job at removing things like dust and pollen.

      I think my preference would be to add some more ingredients to the diluted shampoo (a little oil, a little aloe vera juice or honey or mix everything up with herbal tea like nettle or chamomile instead of plain water) to make it more moisturizing and have a nicer end-result than to pour the used wash-water over my hair.
      But I live in a dusty area and it feels so good to me to wash out all the dust and itchy mold spores!

  2. Nice post and charts! I do wish someone would talk about the use of oils with heat. This is very damaging to the hair and yet no one talks about. Gals are oiling up then blow drying and after that using a heat tool. Only to find their hair to frizz, break and dry out. Yet they keep oiling. Oiling is fine but not in use with high heat. Why is this never mentioned?

    1. It depends on the oil, many have a high heat resistance. Mineral oil is awful. Olive, avocado, argan, coconut, and grapeseed are good ones.

  3. Thank you, I refer to your blog often and always before shopping! I keep seeing different references to fractionated coconut oil, capric/caprylic tryglycerides and medium chain tryglycerides. Looks like the terms are used interchangeably, but actually refer to different substances? (See linked) http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/qa/2009/8/14/capriccaprylic-triglyceride.html
    Which of these should we look for, when looking for which of these offers the best penetration in hair? thanks

    1. Hello Lynn,
      Coconut oil is widely available and while it does contain a lot of medium-chain triglycerides (somewhere around 70%), it does contain other fats like stearic acid. That's not necessarily a bad thing, those "other" fats have hair benefits. And coconut oil has the most research supporting it's ability to penetrate the hair and minimize damage from washing - to make porous hair behave as though it is less porous. What I mean by that is that coconut oil consistently has that effect in more than 1 study.
      The article you linked to has great information about fractionated coconut oil and caprylic triglycerides. Both of these have hair-penetrating ability. I would lean towards fractionated coconut oil because 1) it's still coconut oil so 2) you might expect it to behave like coconut oil and 3) Caprylic/capric triglycerides have not been tested so we're just assuming they should penetrate the hair based on their polar triglyceride structure.
      You can use coconut oil (about 70% really-penetrating oils) or fractionated coconut oil (still has hair-penetrating ingredients - not sure about lauric acid, which is important) or capric/caprylic tryglycerides and see which works best for you.
      I would personally stick with coconut oil because it has been demonstrated to work well.
      Best wishes!

    2. Something else to consider are the other attributes of the oil you choose. Coconut is highly comedogenic, while olive is less so and sunflower is one of the lowest risk there is.. both of which have good penetration. Personally coconut breaks me out almost immediately into cystic acne.. which is not a good tradeoff for moisturized hair IMO. If I'm careful I can use it in products that rinse out completely such as shampoos and conditioners.. not leave ins or styling products.. and even then I sometimes get problems if I use it too frequently. I had a heavy coconut based conditioner in my hair a few months ago in the shower and my dd didn't realize I was in there and decided to take a bath.. running us out of hot water. I just wrapped it in a towel and waited about an hour to rinse my hair, figured I'd make lemonade out of lemons and get a deep condition. My entire nape broke out and I was miserable for a week.