Monday, March 5, 2012

Why coconut oil is a conditioner / sealant, not a moisturizer

Speaking with a friend on Skype, I was made known about a Black model named Wanakee Pugh. She has extremely long healthy relaxed hair. That was the spark that ignited my interest for information on how I could grow my own hair. Unfortunately, I came across lots of conflicting information on the web. No surprise there because let's face it, anyone can post anything on the web. Be that as it may, I was still in search for strictly the facts.

After getting my mind wrapped around the idea that water is good for my hair, I needed to find a way to seal that moisture into my hair shaft. I've tried a few options, some I still use, others I didn't really like, however when it came to the matter of coconut oil, there was lots of conflicting information that I came across. Some people believe that it's a moisturizer, others disagree. I just wanted the facts, so I took to Science and here's what I found.

Hair is comprised of different bonds. For simplicity sake, I will only discuss the Keratin Protein Bonds and Hydrogen Bonds as it is applicable.

Water (H20), has an affinity to the hydrogen bonds found in our hair. The hydrogen in water temporarily breaks the hydrogen bonds in hair making it elastic whenever water is applied. This makes sense as water contains 2 hydrogen molecules.

Coconut oil is high in fatty acids. These fatty acids have an affinity to the amino acids (protein) in our hair.

Subsequently, coconut oil and water respond differently within the hair shaft. Since coconut oil has the ability to penetrate the hair shaft, don't get confused with the idea that it is moisturizing your hair.

It's is true that coconut oil has the ability to condition your hair since its molecules are small enough to penetrate into your hair. When coconut oil has reached its capacity, meaning no more molecules are able to fit within the hair shaft, any remaining oil will sit outside the hair shaft thereby acting as a sealant.

You may have heard of the term "protein sensitive". When coconut oil is added to the hair of someone that is protein sensitive, the hair shaft becomes stiff and feels like hay. Why doesn't this occur when water is added to the same head of hair? It’s because different molecular reactions are taking place within the hair shaft. This makes sense because water and oil do not mix so I can't imagine them performing the same tasks within our hair shaft.

Water is the only moisturizer for hair. Commercial hair products that claim to be "moisturizing" can be deceptive. Only hair products that contain water as a main ingredient are moisturizing your hair. Some commercial products get around this by acting as a sealant to wet hair, thereby holding the water into the hair shaft, yet still marketing the "moisturizing" label. This can be misleading because without the hair being previously wet, the product is unable to seal in water that is not present.

Clever marketing can be very confusing if you don't understand how the ingredients function. This is the reason why I took it upon myself to find out the difference between H2O vs. Coconut oil as moisturizing agents. When you understand how these ingredients work, you can then apply them appropriately, aiding in a healthy hair journey.

I hope this helps clears up any confusion about water vs. coconut oil as a moisturizer.
The information presented in this post has been derived from my personal research and study. I read every single word of the books and/or journals listed below. Please feel free to do your own scientific based research.

— The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy
— The Journal of Cosmetic Science, Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage, Rele, Aartis and R.B. Mohile
— The influence of humidity on the viscoelastic behaviour of human hair, P. Zuidema, L.E. Govaert, F.P.T. Baaijens, P.A.J. Ackermans, and S. Asvadi 

1 comment :

  1. I'm still thinking about buying The Science of Black Hair.



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