Friday, April 27, 2012
Much attention has been given to this study on coconut oil used as a pre-wash treatment for protection of the hair from protein loss and conditioning with good reason. It is clear that coconut oil can penetrate hair to the cortex level and by doing so, in addition to lubricating the hair surface, it reduces hair swelling from water, which makes combing less damaging. The results are defined by the lauric acid in coconut oil being able to penetrate hair that deeply and bind to protein in the hair's cortex. Note: Most fractionated coconut oils contain no to almost no lauric acid. They are not suitable to be used this way, to help prevent protein loss.
In order for coconut oil to penetrate hair in such a manner, it needs to be used on well clarified hair as in the study and the shampoo used needs to not contain any barrier coatings, that would restrict lauric acid from hair penetration during shampooing and build-up, also as in the study. Coconut oil did not do as well in the same study as a post-wash grooming aid because as it was later shown, lauric acid can only fully penetrate hair either during shampooing or with added heat.
Used on top of barrier coatings or in a product with them, coconut oil's properties are restricted to the hair's surface only. That is why when it is used on top of conditioned hair for example, it can often lead to dry hair and "crunchy" ends. The lauric acid cannot get past conditioner barrier coatings, which are mostly waxy or polymeric. This would also apply to any other oil that can penetrate more than the cuticle layers of hair. Barrier coatings would prevent them from doing so too and deep protein treatments are best used and often recommended to be used on well clarified hair for the same reason, to allow absorption.
Where all of this can be confusing is that oils often "disappear" after being applied to dry or damp hair as a grooming aid. They are in fact diffusing into hair cuticles, although on top of barrier coatings and residue, they can be visible and limited in doing so and in desired results.
Cosmetic mineral oil on can do very well used on top of conditioned hair, provided as with other oils, the hair does not have an excess of conditioner or treatment used at one time or build-up residue blocking access to the hair. It can fill in cuticle gaps missed by conditioners or treatments that have not coated hair well, smoothing and detangling hair more effectively. Although still primarily on the surface of the hair, small drops of mineral oil can be undetectable, other than by results. By reducing friction and tangling, mineral oil is preventing protein loss too by preventing abrasion. It is not necessary to use a shampoo that does not cause build-up before using mineral oil as its properties are restricted to the cuticles of the hair as a grooming aid and as a pre-wash treatment not fully washed out, it would still be able to reduce abrasion.
Mineral oil is a more effective moisturizer than vegetable oils, including coconut oil and spreads more easily without being sticky, heavy or greasy. It cannot replace coconut oil used as a deep treatment, or in oil shampoo using my methods, to yield the same results. Added to shampoo it does have possibilities and may work quite well depending on the shampoo and how it is used. Mineral oil does not have coconut oil's chelating properties.
Both oils have their place in hair care for different applications and both can enhance waves and curls. For coconut oil that means not using too much, as it is a heavy oil and it can easily leave hair greasy. Cosmetic mineral oil like baby oil is a lightweight oil. Of the two used as a grooming aid on damp to fairly wet hair for moisturizing, or on dry hair to maintain a good moisture level, or as a thermal protectant, mineral oil is more effective and versatile.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
There is no question that heat styling can damage hair. Using the highest temperature settings and overusing heat styling tools are not recommended by hair care professionals. Heat or thermal protection hair care products are recommended. The claims are that they can help prevent hair damage from happening. The newest ones contain various silicone emulsions, in addition to styling ingredients, to provide a more appealing, dual purpose product.
However, while thermal damage to hair may be minimized using such products, the downside can be dry hair, which can result in split ends and breakage because these products do not offer the best moisturizing properties or slip and cause build-up. They can also be sticky.
Petrolatum and mineral oil can be found in some thermal protection products too. What can be a better choice for thermal protection is cosmetic (USP/BP) mineral oil used on its own. Mineral oil is a thermal coolant with a solid history of that use in industrial applications. Mineral oil is a better moisturizer than silicones or vegetable oils and it can be washed out of hair easily, leaving no residue behind and it is not sticky. It is about the amount used, and not much is needed to moisturize and protect hair and still be removed easily. Small drops of mineral oil can be evenly distributed throughout the hair very easily. It has no colour unlike other products that can adversely affect hair colour.
Mineral oil can be a multipurpose hair product. It can replace the need for: styling aids, conditioners, detanglers and hair treatments. Used on damp hair, before blow dryer use, it can moisturize hair to help compensate for dryness caused by heat, while helping to protect hair from heat damage. Used on damp to wet hair that is dried before other heat styling tools are used, it can do the same.
Cosmetic mineral oil is a very inexpensive, safe, natural product, that can be used a number of ways to help achieve and maintain great looking and feeling hair.
Results of hair tested for changes at different heat temperatures
Results of hair tested for changes at different heat temperatures
Petrolatum contains both wax and mineral oil. In this study, it was shown to accelerate skin barrier recovery while it replaced intercellular layers. What this means for damaged hair, which does not heal naturally and cannot be healed period by any cosmetic preparation - Update: See this post - is that mineral oil, which contains no wax is doing more than just sitting on the hair surface when used. It is filling in gaps in the hair cuticles and replacing lost lipids needed to make hair shine and look and feel its best. That is what conditioners and treatments are supposed to do well. In spite of hype to the contrary, no natural oil is similar to human sebum, which has a unique composition and cosmetic grade mineral oil outperforms it for moisturizing and more.
Mineral oil is not new to hair care. Used separately from other ingredients like petrolatum that are heavy, sticky, greasy, can be much harder to remove by comparison, and using a lightweight version on its own, in small evenly distributed drops, on damp to wet, or dry hair can allow it to: rehydrate hair, maintain a good moisture level, and reduce or eliminate friction, frizz, and tangles. It is also antistatic. It is a different approach to using a product with well documented advantages over other products. Pure cosmetic mineral oil (USB/BP) is not heavy or sticky. It is not greasy unless overused and that is more difficult to do than with other oils used in similar amounts.
It can provide all of the benefits to hair mentioned above more effectively, easily and cheaply than conditioners or treatments, vegetable oils, butters, or silicones, without build-up or making hair feel coated and stiff, or look unappealing. The benefits last longer too and can last, without reapplication, between hair washes, for a week or longer.
With mineral oil helping to prevent more damage caused by friction and tangling and re-balancing the hair's moisture level, damaged hair can grow out stronger and be manageable and its appearance can be very pleasing and shiny. The hair can feel much softer and be easily combed and styled.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Cosmetic mineral oil (USP/BP), whether it is in the form of baby oil or sold for wooden utensils and cutting boards or for laxative use can be tricky at first to get drops of the right size to apply to hair.
One thing I have found helpful is to pour out a very small amount of mineral oil onto a saucer (a small plastic scoop would do too) and use a Q-tip to apply the oil to the inside of fingers for finger combing or to hands for application. It makes such a light oil more easily controlled without waste, as what is not used can be returned to the bottle or used on wet skin as a moisturizer.
The beauty for me at least is that if I have applied too much to my hands for example, rather than have to stop and wash off the excess, the other end of the Q-tip can be used to take off extra oil with a swipe or two and I can continue with the application.
Updated November 2, 2012
Recently, I used baby oil to "polish" mostly dry, catnipped hair. I tipped the bottle of baby oil very carefully, to get one small drop in my hand and used a Q-tip or swab, to swipe away about half of that. I rubbed the remaining oil between my hands and ran them down the length of my hair on one side, on the top of my hair and on the top layer of the back of my hair.
My hands showed no oil on them after that. I then repeated the procedure and applied the oil to the other half of my length and the same other places as the first time. Again my hands showed no oil or shine left on them. The baby oil was not visible on my hair, except for the results. My hair was somewhat smoother looking and remained that way until I washed my hair again.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
I do believe that cosmetic mineral oil can replace conditioner and treatments for more people than just me, using an acidic rinse beforehand or not, after washing hair with an acidic shampoo, preferably one that does not cause build-up. Acidic rinses can help with hard water issues and are needed after an alkaline shampoo and those are soap based. Most shampoos today are acidic.
Conditioner can coat the hair unevenly because the hair itself is uneven, not only because of possible damage but individual hair shafts have different thicknesses and texture variations on one head of hair. Not all conditioners work well either as many people know. Mineral oil, spreading so evenly, results in smoothing well, reducing friction in doing so and is known for that property (slip).
True story: Years ago a hairstylist told me that the best remedy for hair damage caused by a perm is oil. She did not specify the kind of oil. But the research is clear that mineral oil outperforms vegetable oils and silicone for moisture and slip and more. It makes sense to me.
I do not think most damaged hair needs protein replaced. Cuticles that have been lost through damage (protein loss) can be coated to replace the lost hair shaft protection. That is what most protein additives do in conditioners, some shampoos and even in treatments where some kinds of protein can also penetrate hair.That is exactly what mineral oil does too. It only coats the hair, See this Update - but it can be used without the downside of build-up and resulting residue limiting its effectiveness.
The interesting thing to me is that aside from catnip, mineral oil is the only product that has ever left my mostly fine hair tangle-free with a great moisture level, after washing and drying it, until my next hair wash as long as on average, a week later. I let my hair air dry. The shampoo I use that does not cause build-up is Sunsilk Lively Blonde Shampoo.
I used many conditioners years ago. The one thing my hair always did back then was tangle very easily, which led to a good amount of mechanical damage and breakage. My hair was dry then too at the ends and it split badly.
Catnip has solved all of that for me. Now mineral oil can do the same thing for me, when not using catnip, and I have seen no increase in the minimal mechanical breakage I can get when I am sometimes careless with my hair, nor have I seen any split ends.
Update: April 17, 2012
Friends of mine have successfully been using cosmetic mineral oil on their hair since I started recommending it at the beginning of December 2011. Some still use conditioner but much less of it and some now prefer no conditioner or styling aids, just mineral oil after washing. They update me periodically.
Among recent updates I received is one regarding treatments. None were used following a lot of conventional chemical processing a while back. My friend forgot to use any form of pre-treatment which can help considerably and even prevent damage, depending on the choice, method of use, type of processing and how the processing is done. She had used treatments previously after such processing and found most she tried to not be all that helpful in the long run. She used mineral oil drops alone this time at my suggestion, to see if that would help instead. She clarified her hair first as she had been using heavy conditioners and was unhappy with the results. Using the mineral oil has brought her hair back to a healthy looking and feeling state. It looks like that hairstylist was right about most kinds of hair damage and right "on the money", literally too.
Cosmetic mineral oil is much less expensive than most treatments and can be used as one much more simply, as a grooming aid, in place of conditioner and treatments, on fairly wet, damp or dry hair. That is how my friend has been using it, no fuss, no long hours, no fancy application techniques. Her hair's condition has simply, steadily improved.