Sunday, 16 March 2014

The green guide to using plant oils on your hair and scalp

 
    By far one of my most popular posts is about using coconut oil as a hair and scalp treatment, but it isn't the only oil that has benefits for hair and there are lot's of other options, so today I thought I would I would talk about the main oils that I use, the benefits and how to get the most out of them. The idea of using natural oils on the hair for some is more than a little scary, the first question people ask is will they make my hair greasy. Using natural oils (By natural I am referring to plant based oils with no added ingredients such as silicones which are added to commercial oil based styling products on the market) is very different to using styling products in the traditional way, all of these oils I use as an intensive mask and I always use them on hair that is due to be washed, so think of these as a treatment rather than a styling product, if I ever use pure oils for styling I use them in very small amounts only on the ends of the hair. Using pure oils should result in softer smoother hair with less damage, alter the amount of oil you use depending on your hair type, thicker hair can use a lot more than thin hair which is easily weighed down. 

    For most of these oils application is very similar, the only exception to that is perhaps coconut oil as it is solid and does require warming either in hot water or with the heat of your hands to apply it. I personally like to do this at the weekend, when I have a bit more time, I will often blend up some oils and apply to hair whilst popping on a face-mask and doing some blogging, my point is that the more time you have the better to let the oil really absorb, natural oils are not a quick fix but the benefits for the hair and scalp really are worth the effort. This kind of intensive treatment works wonders on a dry scalp and colour treated or heat styled hair, if your scalp is not dry then you can just add the oil to the ends of the hair or the areas that you feel need it.

    I start by giving my dry hair a really good brush to make sure there are no knots, I then take the oil of my choice, sometimes it is a single oil and sometimes it is blend depending on how I am feeling. I start at the scalp and work my way down to the ends taking the hair in sections and really taking the time to give my hair a good massage to stimulate blood flow. I love to use my Tangle Teezer to make sure I distribute the oil throughout the hair as it is easy wash but any plastic comb will do. What I do next depends on the weather, in the winter and if I am using coconut oil I will always cover my hair with either a shower cap or warm towel or both (warm towel over shower cap) as coconut oil will solidify on the hair in the colder weather and can become difficult to wash out, covering hair also aids the absorption so is best to do this if you are short of time. I do sometimes keep the mask on overnight being sure to cover my pillowcase well with towels but to be honest I prefer to do this in the daytime and wash out before bed. Leave the oils on for as long as you can, coconut oil is thicker and I find needs longer to work than others such as Olive oil or Avocado oil, the only way to find what works best for you is to experiment. Here are some that I use: 

Coconut oil Is one of the most widely recommended oils for the hair and scalp it is rich in Lauric Acid, Vitamin E and some research has found that it can help to restore damaged hair (study link), whilst the science bit is generally not what I am good at coconut oil seems to generally accepted as being beneficial and my personal experience with it is good. What I will say about coconut oil is that whilst I love the effects it has particularly on my very dry and tight scalp, there are no cutting corners whilst using it, I find for best results I have to keep it on for 12 hours + so it is more of a time commitment than other oils. I found it to be the best for me in getting rid of an itchy scalp and use it more or less depending on the state of my hair and scalp. I like Virgin unrefined coconut oil, it is widely available and the price is reasonable, some good brands include Akamuti and Viridian but there are many more. It is harder to wash out than other oils especially if you have not had it on for very long or you have used too much but I generally find that an extra shampoo will do the trick, also go easy on the conditioner after using as your hair should not need too much at all. If solid coconut oil is too heavy or you want to mix it with other oils you can use fractionated coconut oil which comes in a liquid state. 

Avocado oil Is my oil of choice especially in the week when I don't have time to commit to a coconut oil treatment. Avocado oil boasts a high level of vitamins and fatty acids and really is a great product for skin and hair. I love it as a body oil and after sun and can even be used on the face. It has a deep green colour and a light smell. Unlike coconut oil this comes in a liquid form, I choose brands with a pump or decant it in to a pump dispenser to make it really easy to apply to the hair, it is wonderful for the scalp and is very hydrating but is lighter and easier to work with compared to coconut oil. I leave this on for as long as possible but I find that when pressed for time it still works well, some days I only have 30 minutes to an hour but I still see benefits from using it. If you want avocado with added benefits you can use a pre-blended product such as Yarok's Feed your Youth serum which contains Yarrow oil which is balancing for the scalp, this kind of product does work out a little more pricey than using pure avocado oil or blending your own, but it works really well especially if you are in a hurry. The brand of Avocado oil I use is Eden they sent me a bottle to try and I have since repurchased several times. 

Argan oil Is the oil that started the hair oil trend and is an ingredient is many of the hair oil treatments available, for me pure Argan oil is a wonderful ingredient and I love to mix it with Avocado oil and other oils. One of the more exotic oils it is sourced from the Argania Spinosa tree which is mainly grown in Morocco, the tree nuts are pressed to make the oil. When dealing with Argan oil it is worth pointing out that quality does vary between brands, I am still exploring different ones and trying to find one I will repurchase, it is worth looking out for organic and fair-trade and checking the label to ensure it is not blended with any other oils. It is not a cheap oil and it should be packaged in dark glass or a container that will keep out the light ideally. I currently am using this one from the Argan company but would prefer one which is an opaque container for next time. 

Olive Oil Is in many ways overlooked in skincare I think but everyone has some at home, it is inexpensive and readily available. I personally use food grade extra virgin olive oil the same kind I pop on my salads, as I tend to mix it with other oils I don't see the point in buying some purely for cosmetic use. Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet and is high in anti-oxidants and healthy fats it is incredibly nourishing and has been used for centuries as a moisturiser. I like to combine this with other oils and use it warm as a hot oil treatment, it mixes really well with oils such as sweet almond, avocado and Argan oil. 

    There are plenty more oils that you can use to make your own hot oil treatments and masks, once you start to experiment you will find out what your hair likes best. My favourite combination at the moment is equal amounts of Olive oil, Avocado oil and Argan oil with a dash of sweet almond oil and a few drops of rosemary essential oil which can help to increase circulation and adds a lovely herbal scent to the mixture. If you use oils on your hair I would love to hear how they work for you and which ones you prefer. 


Ana x 

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16 comments

  1. I might just give this a go tonight. I've done a coconut oil mask before but can never get it to wash out completely. I like the idea of mixing a few oils and heating them up; sounds like a very luxe treat but still super affordable. I know I definitely have some argan and olive oil knocking around!

    Mayah x

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    1. I bet you will make an amazing treatment, it really is so simple, I am not a big DIY person but I always blend my own oils for my hair, I like to be able to customise it depending on how my hair feels Xx

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  2. I love using Coconut and Argan oils but haven't tried the other ones before (always forget about Olive Oil!). Great post :) x

    Evelyn @ We Were Raised By Wolves

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    1. Thanks Evelyn, coconut gets a lot of love but some people find it too heavy you would love Avocado oil it is brilliant :) Xx

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  3. Thanks for the inspiration Ana. I used to be much better at using coconut oil on my hair and scalp but have fallen out of the habit recently. And I've never tried avocado oil - I think I'll give this a go next weekend! Faye x

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    1. Glad to be of help, lot's of people want to use Coconut but find it a little difficult, I find Avocado much easier and just as nourishing, let me know how you get on with it :) Xx

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    1. Thank you Lisa, really nice of you to comment :) Xx

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  5. Really great post! I don't know how I ever lived without oils!<3 xx

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    1. Ha ha I know, I feel exactly the same way! :) Xx

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  6. Nice. I too use coconut oil as a hair treatement. Currently experimenting with hemp oil & neem oil for my scalp & also oil cleansing.

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    1. Hemp and neem are two I haven't tried yet so I am looking forward to hearing how you get on :) Xx

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  7. I've been following your blog and think it's great, just wanted to let you know i've nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger award http://2ndnaturebeauty.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/very-inspiring-blogger-award.html xxx

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    1. Thank you so much for the nomination I have been over and followed your blog, it's great! :) Xx

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  8. Great post Ana! I can't believe I only just tried using coconut oil on my hair a few days ago! It made my hair so smooth and kept it straight all day! I also love using Argan oil on my hair too!

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    1. Thanks Amber, it does make the hair really smooth! :) Xx

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