5 Ingredients to Increase Moisture Retention this Fall

by Toia B of Luvtobnatural.com

We’ve been talking much about how protective styles in conjunction with moisturizing and sealing can be most beneficial for your hair this fall. To keep the theme going, I thought I’d run down a few of the oils and butters I like to use to keep my hair in the best shape possible as the temps continue to drop.

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Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO)

This rather heavy oil helps to thicken hair, making it strong from the inside out. It’s been known to increase blood flow to the scalp sending nutrients to hair follicles which, in turn, boosts hair growth. The smell isn’t the greatest so I like to put in a few drops of peppermint and tea tree essential oils. Not only do they help make the scent of the JBCO a little more bearable but they are both great for scalp health.

JBCO, an unrefined form of regular castor oil, can be used directly on the scalp but is also fabulous as a sealant, especially in the cooler months.

Coconut Oil

Penetrates the hair follicle, contains Vitamin E and helps strengthen the hair by building protein. For me, coconut oil has been really effective for finger detangling while pre-pooing and it also gives the hair a great shine. As it gets cooler, depending on where you store it, your coconut oil will begin to solidify. Scoop a little bit out with your finger and rub it between your palms to warm it up for easy application. Virgin coconut oil usually has a pretty long shelf life (over a year) but, in any case, take note of the expiration date on the jar.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Affectionately known as EVOO in the natural hair world, this natural emollient also penetrates the hair shaft and promotes scalp health, fighting off fungi and bacteria. It’s full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, helps prevent hair loss and retains the moisture in your hair. I like using EVOO alone or mixed with commercial hair masques for deep conditioning. Adding some scalp-stimulating essential oils like rosemary, peppermint or tea tree to your EVOO makes for a good scalp massage oil or hot oil treatment.

Avocado Oil

This one has been known to “heal” dry, brittle strands and easily penetrates the hair and scalp. It’s high in monounsaturated fatty acid and contains high levels of antioxidant Vitamin E, both of which prove to be super beneficial for overall hair and scalp health. Being a bit heavier than grapeseed oil, I like to swap one for the other when it gets cooler, using avocado oil as my heat protectant of choice for blow-outs. You can also mix avocado oil with conditioners to add some more slip.

Shea Butter

Whipped or not, this is probably my favorite of all! A natural fat extracted from the Karite tree of West Africa, shea butter is widely used for its conditioning properties, helping to lock (or seal) in moisture which fights against breakage and split ends. It protects against harsh weather conditions and is rich in Vitamins A and E which assist in soothing a dry, irritated scalp. I like to use shea butter immediately after applying a leave-in to my freshly washed (and still fairly damp) hair. My strands are always super soft without being overly greasy.

Well, those are some of the products I’ll be keeping in rotation this season, what about you?!

Tell me, what are YOUR favorite oils or butters to use as the weather gets cooler?
 CN Says:
 Ever wonder what an 'emollient' is?  According to Tonya McKay-
"The term emollient is probably most appropriate for use in skin care applications, but it has been incorporated into the hair care vocabulary, which is often a source of confusion.   An emollient skin care ingredient is one that has good spreadability onto the skin, where it forms an evenly distributed film that softens and smoothes the surface without feeling greasy or tacky. So, if we extrapolate those properties to hair care, we can assert that an emollient for hair should easily form a smooth, even film on the surface of the hair, should soften the hair, and should not yield an unpleasant sticky or greasy texture.

More specifically, emollients for hair are usually hydrophobic oils that form films on the surface of the hair, where they often act as anti-humectants or sealers.  They are lubricants and provide increased slip (decreased drag) between adjacent hair strands, which makes detangling much easier.  They also reduce tangling in general by smoothing and flattening the cuticle surface, which can also add shine and gloss to the hair.  The best ones impart a soft, silky feel to tresses, while lesser ones may weigh it down or make it feel greasy.  Some can penetrate the interior structures of the hair and act as plasticizers, improving elasticity, toughness, and suppleness.

Common emollient ingredients include silicones (dimethicone, amodimethicone, cyclomethicone, etc.), fatty alcohols, fruit and vegetable-derived oils and butters, proteins and hydrolyzed proteins, mineral oil, petrolatum, and polyquaterniums (cationic polymers).  Many of these are entirely hydrophobic, but hydrolyzed proteins and fruit and vegetable oils are typically smaller molecules with fatty acid components that are hydrophilic.  This can enable these to act as both emollients and as mild humectants. Some of these can also penetrate through the cuticle layer into the cortex and significantly improve the mechanical properties of the hair (although for some people, this can weigh the hair down and disrupt curly pattern or swell the hair strand and raise the cuticle, creating frizz).  In extreme humidity, films comprised of these oils can become sticky and dull-looking due to inclusion of water molecules.

Most anti-frizz and anti-humectant serums are comprised of extremely hydrophobic, synthetic emollients such as silicones, emollient esters, and mineral oil or petrolatum.  These typically sit directly on the surface of the hair and act as occlusive agents, barriers which prevent moisture from escaping from the cortex or getting into it from a humid environment.  People who do not use shampoo or use only mild shampoos should be extremely cautious about these types of ingredients and products."

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