Due to frequent washes, periodical dying and using heat for styling, my hair used to be very dry and damaged. No matter how much product I used in an attempt to make my hair shiny and soft it just felt like hay. I would later learn that my hair needed a break from styling products, dyes and heat. I resolved to focus on a long-term repair routine rather than a quick fix to mask the natural appearance of my hair.
I switched to a sulfate and silicone-free shampoo which, at first, made my hair feel unmanageable and dry. However after a couple weeks, it gradually started to look healthier and day by day its texture improved. I also started to use oils to moisturize it and, within a few months, my hair became shinier, stronger and silky soft. Silicone based shampoos coat the hair with a thin waterproof layer that makes the hair look smooth and feel slippery, so that it is easier to comb through. However over time, silicone build up can prevent oils and moisture from penetrating the hair, making it dull, dry and damaged, like mine was.
Whether your hair is dry, curly, damaged, or even straight and fine like mine, it can still benefit greatly from oil treatments. Using a hair mask or overdoing the conditioner is not necessarily going to make your hair softer than an inexpensive, homemade oil mask. Moreover, some of the most beneficial oils for your hair may already be in your kitchen pantry or in your skincare cabinet.
Here are my favorite oils for hair care:
According to a study published by the Journal of Cosmetic Science, coconut oil is very effective at preventing hair breakage, as it was found to reduce protein loss when used as a pre-wash and post-grooming treatment. It also acts like a deep conditioner, making the hair softer as it promotes a healthy scalp by moisturizing it and providing an antibacterial effect. Among the oils tested in the study, coconut oil was found to be the only one that penetrates the hair shaft.
How to use it:
I use about one tablespoon of coconut oil. Some people like to heat it up and apply it warm (coconut oil solidifies at cooler temperatures). I usually warm it up in my hands by simply rubbing it, and then I lay it on my scalp and work my way down it the ends. I make sure to massage it and evenly distribute it, and then I let it sink in overnight. I do not like to wear any type of protective cap and I prefer to braid it, but you may wear a cap if you like. In the morning I wash my hair making sure to thoroughly rid my hair of any oil residue, and this leaves my locks soft and smooth.
Do a coconut oil treatment once a week if you have fine, straight hair, and twice a week if you have dry hair or curly hair.
Argan oil is an excellent treatment for hair that is not very dry or dull but may have a little damage, such as split ends. A few drops of argan oil run through the ends of you hair will add moisture without adding much weight, especially when compared to other plant oils. Therefore, argan oil may be used as a pre-wash treatment by people with a more oily scalp that do not wish to make their hair too greasy, while people with dry hair and/or curly hair, may apply a few drops post-wash to add moisture and shine.
How to use it:
As a pre-wash treatment, rub a few drops of oil between the palms of your hands and apply to hair length and ends. Keep oil on your hair as long as possible, preferably overnight, and then proceed to wash with shampoo. Do this every time you plan on washing your hair as a pre-wash treatment to experience maximum benefits.
As a post-wash treatment, rub one-two drops of oil in between the palms of your hands and apply only on the ends of your hair to add shine and moisture.
Other oils that you may use in the same way are: avocado oil, jojoba oil and sweet almond oil. These are all excellent options for any hair type and are relatively inexpensive. For a more luxurious treatment you could try rosehip oil.
Here are some things to do in addition to oil treatments that can help with softening your hair:
2. Limit your use of heat-based tools like hair straighteners and curling wands, or completely avoid them (save them for special occasions, if possible).
3. Skip hair dyes, or use the most gentle on the market, like Naturtint.
4. Wash your hair only once or twice a week. If necessary, use a dry shampoo between washes, such as One Love Organics Healthy Locks Dry Shampoo Powder.
While people with very dry hair or curly hair may still need to use a conditioner post-wash, people with fine hair may be able to skip on conditioner, as the oil treatments work as a deep-conditioning treatment.
*Rele AS, Mohile RB. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. J Cosmet Sci . 2003 Mar-Apr;54(2):175-192
Photo Credits: Lilly Wallace
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