Hair oils - do they help for damaged hair

Hair Oils play an important role in protecting hair from damage.

Some oils can penetrate the hair and reduce the amount of water absorbed in the hair, leading to a lowering of swelling.

The main physical property of vegetable oils is the hydrophobicity of the oil. Saturated and monosaturated oils diffuse into the hair much better than polyunsaturated oils.

Oils play an important role in protecting hair from damage.

Some oils can penetrate the hair and reduce the amount of water absorbed in the hair, leading to a lowering of swelling.This can result in lower hygral fatigue (repeated swelling and drying), a factor that can damage hair. The oil can fill the gap between the cuticle cells and prevent the penetration of the aggressive substances such as surfactants into the follicle.

Applying oil on a regular basis can enhance lubrication of the shaft and help prevent hair breakage.

Rele and Mohile in 2003, studied the properties of mineral oil, coconut oil and sunflower oil on hair. Among three oils, coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a prewash and postwash grooming product.

Both sunflower and mineral oils do not help in reducing the protein loss from hair. This difference in results could arise from the composition of each of these oils. 

Mineral oil, a hydrocarbon, does not penetrate. Sunflower oil is a triglyceride of linoleic acid with a bulky structure and double bonds and has limited penetration to the fiber, not reaching the cortex. 

Keis et al. in 2005 studied the effect of coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil and mineral oil on the hair. Except for mineral oil, heat decreased the capillary adhesion of the other oils, resulting from the penetration into the hair fiber by diffusion, leaving a thin film on the surface. It is preferred to reapply oils that leave a thin layer on the surface and are well absorbed by the fiber.

Treatments using oils reduced the formation of split ends in the hair.

In 2009, the Brazilian oils and butters were studied by Fregonesi et al. Oil treatment reduced the combing force percentage for wet conditions. However, the hair treated with butters showed poor combing. Treatments using oils reduced the formation of split ends in the hair. 

In 2007 Keis et al. studied the effect of oil films on moisture vapor on human hair to analyze the capability of oils to reduce the moisture pick up. Although coconut oil penetrates, the fiber and mineral oil does not, there is the equivalent reduction on water sorption for both oils. Increasing the thickness of the oil layer on the fiber surface increased hair moisture regain. The oil that remains in the cuticle layer and not the oil that penetrates the cortex is the one responsible for the decrease in the water pick up.

Main conclution: Hair Oils protect hair from damage. Applying hair oil on a regular basis can enhance lubrication of the shaft and help prevent hair breakage. Treatments using oils reduced the formation of split ends in the hair.

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