There are so many kinds of vegetable oils to choose from, like mustard, hibiscus, and avocado, that finding the right one becomes a difficult task. They are all softening, nourishing, strengthening and protective…Sometimes, we rely on other people’s recommendations but end up realizing that the oil that works wonders for our friend’s hair is not necessarily good for our own.So how can you know which oils are good for your hair type? This complete guide will help you choose the right vegetable oils.
Vegetable oils properties
Vegetable oils are created through pressure or extraction from fatty fruits (oil, avocado) or grains (nuts, corn, sesame).
They are hydrophobic, film-forming emollients, meaning that they are water-proof and will create a film around your hair. They can:
- soften your hair
- reduce moisture loss
- limit water vapor absorption
- lubricate the hair, which will reduce friction and facilitate handling
Vegetable oils are mainly composed of fatty acids triglycerides, which is what gives them their softening properties.
You should only use vegetable oils on hair length and ends, not on the scalp.
Note: Applying vegetable oil on your hair length and ends will not increase hair growth (the same applies to essential oils).
How to choose the right vegetable oil?
Use the following criteria:
- Penetrating or non-penetrating (coating) properties
- Your hair sensitivity to oil
A relatively expensive ‘exotic’ oil will not necessarily be better for your hair than sunflower oil, for example, which you can buy in a department store.
I suggest that you try out oils such as sunflower, olive, grape seed, avocado, coconut and macadamia, which you can easily buy in department stores, before you venture out to purchase the most expensive oils available online. And I am sure you will find a few gems in your kitchen cupboards.
Penetrating oil or coating oil?
Your choice of oil will depend on your hair type and oil application:
- Is your hair damaged? Are you looking for an oil for your hot oil treatment? Go for a penetrating oil like coconut or babassu, which will protect your hair during washes and strengthen it.
- Are you looking for a sealing oil? Choose a non-penetrating oil, like jojoba oil, which will create a film around your hair and lock in moisture.
To find out more about penetrating or non-penetrating oils, click here.
Test your hair sensitivity to vegetable oils
Every hair type reacts differently to products and oils. Your friend’s or favorite YouTuber’s oil will not always fit your hair type and needs.
That is why I suggest you do a sensitivity test beforehand, in order to find out which vegetable oils your hair can handle.
Apply the oil on a section of dry hair. How does it react? I also recommend you do a test on damp hair, because oils sometimes react differently on dry and damp hair.
Some suppliers offers small 10ml vegetable oil samples, more economical when it comes to testing out your hair sensitivity to different oils.
- vegetable oils that work for your hair: they will make your hair softer, shinier and sometimes easier to untangle.
- vegetable oils you should avoid: they make your hair tangled, harder, dull, coarse, dry or frizzy.
What to do if your afro hair is sensitive to a vegetable oil?
Diminish the frequency of its usage.
Reduce the usage of this particular oil and of hair products that contain it. If you are using this oil for its penetrating or sealing properties, replace it with another one, with the same properties. For example, if your hair does not do well with coconut oil, try babassu oil.
Dilute this oil into another vegetable oil.
For example, instead of using pure coconut oil, dilute it into sunflower oil.
Avoid this vegetable oil.
If you have reduced the frequency of its usage or have tried diluting it and your hair is still not tolerating it, simply avoid it. For example, in my case, my hair does not tolerate coconut oil, even in a small amounts.
Change the way you apply the oil.
If you are applying the oil on dry hair, try using it on damp hair, or mixed in with your hair treatment.
Since your hair health changes over time (porosity can increase), I recommend you test your hair sensitivity from time to time.
What hair types are more sensitive to vegetable oils?
Low porosity hair and thick hair tend to be more sensitive to vegetable oils. Certain oils can penetrate hair and strengthen it from within; this will make your hair harder. Other oils will create a film around your hair, which will also strengthen and harden thick, low porosity hair.
Porous and damaged hair will generally react well to vegetable oils, which will strengthen it.
Which oils work wonders on your hair and which ones don’t? Share in the comment section below.
To learn more about afro hair styling, click here.