What really happens when you use kitchen oils in your hair
August 7, 2021
It seems like we hear it around every corner: “coconut oil is a miracle worker” or “have a problem? Try coconut oil!”
To an extent, sure thing!
The biggest difference between the coconut oil you use in the kitchen and the kind that’s added in hair products is that the coconut oil that goes into your hair products has undergone a process called hydrolization. ThoughtCo had a really great breakdown of what this process is in easy to understand terms, but the basic gist is that it’s a chemical reaction where water is used to break the bonds of a specific substance.
Why is this useful? Because sometimes we just don’t need every single bit of an ingredient and this is the best way to target the useful molecules that we need. Hydrolyzed oil will penetrate the cuticle, non-hydrolyzed will sit on top of the cuticle and more than likely cause a barrier or film
Don’t I need oil to seal my hair and add moisture?
Kind of. Your hair needs to have the right balance of protein, moisture, and ceramides (also known as lipids). We already know that protein and amino acids are the building blocks of the hair strand, and that hair needs moisture. Ceramides are a type of fat molecule found naturally in our body, mostly as the majority of the top layer of our skin. They’re beneficial in the hair by creating part of a barrier to keep moisture in where it’s needed and, ideally, other environmental debris out. Once you have everything in the strand that you need, you can seal it in with a lightweight oil or serum that’s designed to be removed with shampoo, as opposed to heavier oils like coconut that you need to shampoo over and over and over again to remove effectively.
Coconut and other similar oils can also soften the hair too much, which leads to your hair strands being overly stretchy. Why is that super bad? Soft stretchy hair is more prone to snap and break. Super coarse hair can sometimes benefit from those softening features, but that’s about it. What other oils can you find on the list of oils that are beneficial when hydrolized? Olive oil, sunflower oil, babassu oil, and a few more are on the list of beneficial penetrating oils. Much to my surprise, jojoba oil is on the list of oils that don’t really penetrate the hair at all.
In summary: yes oils can be extremely beneficial to your hair under the right circumstances and when processed the right way. The oils that you’re planning to cook and bake with have been produced for that purpose, and that purpose only. Using them on your hair is just going to result in your hair and scalp being coated with a film that’s difficult to wash off, which can actually increase dryness in your hair strand and cause problems at the scalp with your hair follicles.
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