Hair Oils: Human beings have different hair types, from silver-blonde, flaming red to jet black. Physical properties of hair are also important as it imparts beauty to the hair. The texture and sensories of hair, i.e. the way hair appears and feels, are dependent on the health of hair and its physical properties. Regular application of oil is known to increase the strength of hair and prevent its breakage. Coconut-based hair oils also help in aligning the cuticles of the hair.
Aligned hair cuticles make hair look healthy and add to hair shine. While combing force is applied to detangle hair. This often leads to hair breakage. The application of oil lubricates hair and reduces the force required to comb thereby preventing its breakage.
Hair behaves differently in different seasons. In summer the heat saps out vital moisture from the hair making it dry and brittle. The application of oil prevents loss of moisture and keeps hair soft and supple. In monsoons, hair tends to absorb a lot of moisture from the atmosphere due to high humidity. Hair may also frequently get wet when it rains. When hair is wet, water enters into the hair shaft and when hair dries the water is released out. If this cycle of absorption and release of water is repeated very frequently, it leads to hygral fatigue which makes hair weak. Application of oil forms a protective covering on hair and prevents this absorption and loss of water and reduces hygral fatigue, thereby maintaining the strength of hair.
Different hair styling techniques such as coloring, straightening, and perming are commonly used. The chemicals, blow dryers or hot irons used for these treatments may cause severe damage to the hair shaft. But regular oiling of hair can prevent the further enhancement of this damage. It has been proved that regular hair oiling prevents the loss of protein from the chemically treated hair and also helps in maintaining the strength of hair even after chemical treatment. Massage with oil is also believed to increase blood circulation in the scalp ensuring hair gets all the vital nourishment. Using coconut-based hair oils also helps in hair growth and prevents hair fall.
Classification of Hair Oils
Hair oils come under the category of hair tonics used for hair disorders such as dandruff, hair fall, and dryness of hair. Regular application of hair oil provides resistance to breakage with no split ends, provides the luster and shine to hair, and moisturizes the scalp. Hair oils also act as a medium to supply essential nutrients to the root of the hair for their proper growth. The base oils have to be a non-sticky oil and the choice may be one of the following. Usually, three types of hair oils are manufactured and marketed by small-scale industries. These include:
- Type 1: Contains vegetable oil or oils as base oil.
- Type 2: Contains only mineral oil as base oil
- Type 3: Contains a mixture of vegetable oil and mineral oil.
1. Vegetable Hair Oils:
(i) Castor Hair Oil: Castor oil is rich in vitamin E, proteins, minerals. It is very viscous oil and is hard to wash off the hair. Castor oil has antimicrobial properties that help to get rid of dandruff and other scalp issues. Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid which treats scalp inflammations and diseases. Castor oil moisturizes and softens hair, maintaining the moisture level in the hair. Castor oil aids in blood circulation and therefore results in faster hair growth. Since it is moisturizing in nature, it can be used to treat dry scalp. To use, apply it well on the scalp and run through the hair, leave overnight, and wash it with a mild shampoo the next day. Regular use of castor oil gives healthy, thick, shiny, and moisturized hair.
(ii) Olive Oil: Olive oil is a highly moisturizing hair oil, rich in vitamin E which is very important for hair growth. Olive oil has a high concentration of antioxidants which is good for both hair and skin. Olive oil is lightweight and contains oleic acid which easily penetrates the hair shaft and locks in the moisture. Olive oil is the best natural conditioner available and gives touchably soft and smooth hair with regular use. Since this oil has anti-inflammatory properties, it helps in treating dandruff thereby reducing hair fall and aiding in subsequent hair growth.
(iii) Sesame Oil: Sesame oil is used as a base oil in many ayurvedic preparations for hair growth, for example, bhringraj oil. Since sesame oil is antimicrobial, it treats a lot of scalp infections and fungal infections. Sesame is best when used as a hot oil treatment. It conditions hair, nourishes the scalp, and gets rid of dandruff and the vitamin E in the oil boosts hair growth.
(iv) Argan Oil: It is an excellent oil for healthy hair. It hydrates and moisturizes hair, penetrates hair shafts, and nourishes deeply. Argan oil is rich in anti-oxidants and repairs damaged hair. The high vitamin E and vitamin F content repairs damaged hair and makes the hair lustrous. Argan oil also treats split ends. It is known as “liquid gold” for its wonderful properties on hair and is great for hair damaged from heat styling.
(v) Jojoba Oil: Jojoba oil is highly beneficial for both hair and skin because of its moisturizing and healing properties. Regular use of the oil makes hair lustrous and frizz-free. Jojoba oil aids in hair growth by helping in the growth of new hair cells. It acts against dandruff and thus reduces hair fall.
(vi) Coconut Oil: It is the best hair oil that gives healthy, soft, and lustrous hair. Coconut oil is a natural conditioner rich in vitamin E and antioxidants which repair damaged hair. Coconut oil is known to penetrate hair follicles and stimulate hair growth and moisturize dry hair. Coconut oil makes hair softer and prevents hair breakage and split ends. Also, when herbs like bring, Brahmi, curry leaves, and other ayurvedic ingredients are added to coconut oil, it becomes a miracle oil that cures all hair issues and makes hair grow faster in a short time.
2. Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is an industrially produced derivative of crude oil. The crude oil undergoes a process of purification until it is refined into a slippery fluid, used in a variety of cosmetics. The problem with this process is that crude oil contains many toxins and carcinogenic materials. If properly distilled, these should be removed from mineral oil. However, poorly manufactured mineral oil can retain some of these toxins. This mineral oil cannot be claimed as a natural product as it is a processed product that goes through a series of industrial steps to reach the supermarket shelf. The benefits of using mineral oils on hair are extremely limited.
Benefits of Using Mineral Oil
1. Ability to hold moisture: This is because it creates barriers over the cuticles, thus preventing the moisture from evaporating. Mineral oils also prevent any moisture from penetrating the hair strand. Thus the hair should be well hydrated before applying mineral oils. Mineral oil is better in moisturizing hair when compared to other vegetable oils.
2. Scalp condition: Mineral oil loosens dry scales on the scalp and generally reduces the overall inflammation. It may be useful in the case of dandruff, scalp psoriasis, and cradle cap.
3. Curl formation: It enhances the curl formation. This is because mineral oil enhances the clamping of adjacent hair strands. For instance, African American hair is more fragile compared to that of other hair types. This is because it has less moisture. When mineral oil is used on such hair, it increases curl formation.
4. Non-stickiness: When compared to other hair care products, mineral oil is less greasy when applied and does not lead to the hair looking stringy. This is because mineral oil is light and non-greasy. However, it should be used sparingly for when overused it might leave the hair oily.
5. It works with both conditioned and unconditioned hair: Mineral oil effectively works on both types of hair. Care must be observed not to use mineral oil on hair with a lot of conditioner for it might reduce its effectiveness.
6. Affordability: When compared to other plant-based oils, which serve the same purpose, it is inexpensive.
Mineral oil has been linked to carcinogenicity. While it is true that some petroleum derivatives include carcinogenic components (like some polycyclic aromatic compounds) the mineral oil found in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry is highly refined and purified. It is controlled by the US FDA and other global regulatory agencies. There is simply no proof that cosmetic-grade mineral oil causes cancer. Although mineral oil is unlikely to stop hair growth completely, some studies suggest that its disruptive effect on the skin could impact healthy hair growth.
Indian Standards for Oil
Under Schedule S (Rule 150-A) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, hair oils must conform to the specifications laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The hair oils are tested as per IS7123:1993 (IInd revision) specifications for their properties as hair oil. A cross-section of tests has been detailed in Table.1.
Packing of Hair Oils
As per the Indian Standard, the hair oil should be packed in eco-friendly suitable well-closed containers, not exceeding pack size of 1 kg or 1 liter, and the container should not have a deleterious effect on the product.
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