October 6, 2015

The Benefits of Olive Oil for Natural Hair

olive oil for hair benefits 
Photo by Mayo5 -- Getty Images

Olive oil and its production have been with humankind since ancient times and the olive tree has played an integral part in the life of the people of the Mediterranean basin since about the time of the third millennium B. C. Olive oil is the fat obtained from the fruit of the olive tree or Olea europaea. The tree has a life span of around 300 to 400 years. The method of producing olive oil has not changed in thousands of years. The olives are ground into a paste and then the oil is extracted through centrifugal motion with stainless steel. The first extraction creates extra virgin olive oil, where the oil retains the flavor, color, and nutritional value of the original fruit with the exclusion of chemicals and heat.

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What’s the difference in olive oils?

There is a real science to how olive oils are graded by their extraction process and the acidity of the pressed oil, according to Dr. Timothy Harlan, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Tulane University states in an article by Gina Shaw on WebMD. Extra-virgin (EVOO), virgin, pure, and light are different olive oil grades that do not legally affect residents of the United States, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not a member of the International Olive Council. However, in October 2010 the U.S. Standard for Grades of Olive Oil and Olivek-Pomace Oil went into effect and the USDA grading of olive oil is now based on flavor, odor, absence of defects, and acidity.
Grades of Olive Oil
These are the U.S. Standards for Grades of Olive Oil, according to Medical News Today:
  • U.S. extra virgin olive oil has an excellent flavor, odor, and a free fatty acid content of ≤ 0.8g per 100g (0.8%).
  • U.S. virgin olive oil has a reasonably good flavor, odor, and a free fatty acid content of ≤ 2g per 100g (2%).
  • U.S. virgin olive oil not fit for human consumption without further processing is a virgin oil of poor flavor and odor.
  • U.S. olive oil is an oil mix of both virgin and refined oils.
  • U.S. refined olive oil is an oil made from refined oils with some restrictions on the processing.

Which types of olive oils are best for hair?

EVOO and refined olive oil retain their nutritional value. Lighter formulas typically have chemical additives that can dry the hair out where as the pure olive oil is thick, provides intense moisture and shine. If you have dry or damaged hair, steering clear of the chemically altered olive oils is a must.

What are the benefits of olive oil on hair?

There are three main reasons to use EVOO on your strands: it will nourish the scalp, condition the hair, and improve the elasticity of the hair. Olive oil is the dream oil for dry and or damaged strands. It is ideal for coarse hair and for damaged, porous strands due to chemical processing. EVOO can actually penetrate the hair shaft and retain hair’s moisture because the richness of the oil is able to reach the cortex and moisturize the hair from within. This heavy oil is optimal for controlling frizz and should be used sparingly as too much can weigh the hair down and even makes it greasy.

It is perfect for the winter months where, as the hair is more prone to dryness. Olive oil will not repair split ends, but it helps smooth them and can decrease their rate at which they occur after a trim. Its primary chemical elements are oleic acid, palmitic acid, and squalene. All are emollients and have softening qualities.

How to use olive oil on hair

Here are a couple of DIY recipes to try for optimal moisture and a few products in case you prefer OTC for your olive oil boost.
EVOO + Honey Hair Massage
  • 4 Tbsp. EVOO
  • ½ tsp. raw honey
  • 2 bowls (one smaller than the other)
Fill the larger bowl with boiling water. Place the mixture in the smaller bowl and place in the larger bowl to warm the mixture; this method does not destroy the benefits of the oil from direct heat. Allow to warm before applying to scalp in circular motions. Allow to sit on the scalp for 20 min. before washing and styling as usual.
EVOO Pre-Poo Dandruff Fighter
  • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp. pure lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. water
Mix ingredients together before massaging into scalp. Leave on for 20 min. before rinsing and shampooing. Style as usual. This mixture can be used weekly to free up the flakes and moisturize the new, exfoliated layer of skin underneath.

Products with olive oil

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