The following pertains to individual oils. If you are not looking to mix your own, try Jamacian Mango and Lime’s Black Caster Oil from Sally’s Beauty Supply.
The use of oils for hair, scalp, and skin is not a new thing. Seemingly counter intuitive, oils can alleviate flakiness and greasiness that occur because of dry conditions that cause the over-production of oils (see The Mantle). They can clean, they can nourish, they can be astringent or pore clogging. They can be heavy or light, whatever you need and/or prefer.
Before conducting oil treatments (see Home Treatments), it is important to understand that making changes to your skin and hair care routine will cause a reaction, whether it is your body producing more or less oil, whether a condition you suffer from will improve or grow irritated, etc. There is an extensive array of variables that can affect every individual, making one’s experience with an oil different than another. This is oil theory, not fact. Approach with caution. For instance, if you have a sensitivity to avocados, but you like the function of the oil, put a little on the inside of your arm before applying it to your scalp. If it turns red, find a different oil.
Our skin excretes oils to create the mantle, which protect us from the hazards of erosion and sun. These oils deliver relief and/or nourishment. They draw moisture to us or from us. Soaps and sulfates strip the mantle (see Shampoo), and conditioners can in stabilizing its reproduction; however, this depends on what is in the conditioner (does it coat or feed or buildup?). Using oils may help restore or “balance” the mantle before it over-compensates (becomes greasy and heavy) or dries out (which can result in flaking or itchiness). In talking about balance, please be aware that this is a vague term!
How oils are used on the skin can provide some insight into the benefits of oils, but hair is different than skin. Hair absorbs oil. It absorbs so much oil, there are companies out there that pay salons for hair-clippings to help clean up oil spills in our oceans and gulfs. Keep this in mind when considering the use of oil on the hair versus the skin.
Many people are using the oil cleansing method to wash their face, which theorizes that clean oils remove dirty oils. Science says this is so. Massaging for a minute or so infuses the clean oil with the dirty oil, diluting it. Here’s the deal, though; put oil on oil and leave it there, all that old dirt and oil is still sitting on the skin. Wiping oils with a warm, damp towel after massaging in the clean oil will help pull away the loosened dirt. Sandalwood is a great sponge and mild exfoliate, but to use it for this, the fine dust must be mixed dry with the oil into your palm at the time of use. Even with sandalwood, wiping with a damp towel is still advised. Depending on the oils used, the resulting feel of the skin can be tight and dry, shiny and slick, or somewhere between. Hair should respond in a similar way, but it may be that the hair at the scalp and the hair on the ends disagree. There are so many oils and butters out there, and their functions differ.
Important note: when water is introduced to oils for long-standing periods, it can grow bacteria, yeasts and molds in the absence of preservatives (a single preservative is not enough to cover the spectrum of potential dangers with emulsions, which is why beauty and cosmetic products contain two or more). So, keep them separated until the time of use. To be extra cautious, avoid all contact with the oils until the moment of use with pump containers.
The follow list is only a handful of oils and their various functions:
- Castor Oil: A humectant and astringent. As well as tightening the hair shaft, it also draws moisture from the immediate surroundings. If the air is humid, that is the moisture it draws. If the air is dry, it draws moisture from your hair. It will clog pores a little. Most often, this is used as 1/6 or less of a mixture with other oils. For example, one ounce Castor Oil to six ounces of Grape Seed Oil.
- Hemp Seed Oil: A nourishing oil that delivers vitamins and moisture to the hair without clogging pores.
- Avocado Oil: A skin and hair conditioning oil with fats and vitamins that soften and expand the hair shaft. This moderately clogs pores. It also does not absorb fully like hemp seed oil or castor oil
- Coconut Oil: Highly pore clogging. This oil’s molecules are said to be small enough to enter hair to its cortex, but can also cause acne, blackheads or whiteheads on the skin and scalp. It can alter the hair to a soft and fluffy feel, planting seeds of moisture for the hair to draw from for a longer period of time, but again, it can have adverse effects on the skin, filling pores and choking out air and vitamin/nourishment delivery. It also does not fully absorb.
This list is not extensive. The chart at the end of this page is a strong starting point when researching oils. Check out Jojoba oil, Vitamin E oil, Argon oil, and Shea Butter. These are fantastic, too.
Take the time to consider your ingredients. The Skin Deep Database at EWG.org is a great resource if you want to learn more about oils or any other ingredients in your skin/hair care products.
This chart on comedogenic ratings (the pore-clogging factor) is from Beneficial Botanicals.
|Comedogenic Ratings |
This list of ingredients has been derived and compiled from various sources including the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. For more information that includes an irritant rating go to http://www.acne.org0 – Will Not Clog Pores
1 – Low
Oils & Butters
Almond Oil – 2
WaxesBeeswax – 2
Candelilla Wax – 1
BotanicalsAlgae Extract – 5
Aloe Vera Gel – 0
|Vitamins & Herbs |
Ascorbic Acid – 0
AntioxidantsBeta Carotene – 1
BHA – 2
MineralsAlgin – 4
Colloidal Sulfur – 3
Thickeners, Emulsifiers, DetergentsCarbomer 940 – 1
Hydroxypropyl Cellulose -1
Kaolin – 0
Alcohol, Esters, Ethers, & Sugars Polysorbate 20 – 0