Hair Liberty’s Nicole Harmon, our Resident Cosmetic Chemist, is answering your most urgent hair questions. Got one for her? Email me at email@example.com using “Hair Liberty” in the subject line and she may answer your question right here on the blog.
CN asks: I’m seeing this oat flour thickening conditioner recipe all over the interwebs. Does it really work?
Nicole answers: Oat flour usually contains around 20% protein, which is twice the amount of protein in all-purpose flour. Hair is made of keratin protein so many conditioning treatments contain small pieces of keratin and other types of protein to reinforce the hair. Oat protein has a relatively high molecular weight which means its particles are usually too big to penetrate through the hair’s outer cuticle layers to give it strength. Instead, oat proteins form a coating on the outside of the strand to make your hair look and feel thicker.
So, oat protein thickens the hair and oat flour contains 20% protein…we have a winner, right? Well, not exactly. Here’s what happens: You make a special oat flour conditioning mixture, put it on your hair, leave it for some amount of time, and then rinse. No matter how long you left the treatment on (even if you sat under the dryer), the oat flour and all of its protein will rinse down the drain. The scientific measurement for how well something can stick to your hair or skin is called “keratin substantivity”. You can’t get the thickening benefits of oat protein from an oat flour treatment because the protein in oat flour has low keratin substantivity. In contrast, henna for example is highly substantive to keratin. Have you ever had orange nails and fingers for days after your henna treatment? The henna’s naturally high substantivity makes it stick to your skin and hair during the rinse phase and for many washes after that.
To experience the natural thickening power of oat protein, you need help from science to increase its substantivity to be more like henna. Look for products that contain “hydrolyzed oat flour”, “hydrolyzed oat protein” or “avena sativa”. Also seek out products that contain panthenol because it thickens the hair similarly to hydrolyzed oat protein. Check out this slideshow from the Good House Keeping Research Institute to see how popular thickening products performed in tests where individual hair strands were measured using lab equipment.
Dayum! Figures. Deep in my heart, in my soul, I knew. So now what…
Besides henna, have you had success with any ‘thickening’ leave-in treatments?
Thanks ladies. I'm excited to get started and see what type of results I get.
I wanted this to work too! On to the next one
Get off those PJ bandwagons, you're always bemoaning them but then you start another one up Nikki! Be glad you still have hair, fine or otherwise.
I apply Jamaican black castor oil (JBCO) along my hairline and in my scalp nightly before bed and have also been using it on my face before bed. Over the past month my roots have gotten much thicker and my hairline has thickened back up from wearing puffs and buns all summer. My skin is also clearer and much smoother. Based on my results I have added JBCO to my conditioners because just a little goes a long way. Tried it as a hot oil treatment too but it was just way too thick for me.
Purchased the Sunny Isle brand from my local BSS but you can also purchase it at jamaicanblackcastoroil.com and Nik sent out an email with coupon code "curly15" for 15% off.
I've purschased JBCO from www.sams247.com their called Sam's Caribbean Marketplace. They have it a good price and their are different sizes/flavors to choice from as well. Hope this helps and the shipping is quick.
Here's the link for the page of their items:
What is JBCO? I need help for thickening my hair bad!!
Fine hair checking in! Loving these tips!
Ok ladies I'm sold JBCO here I come :).
For the ladies that use JBCO how often do you use it? Do you apply it to your roots only? Where can it be purchased?
@Drea all for one and one for all #teamfinehair
I've had luck with castor oil in thickening edges. But I don't really consider that a "treatment"
I have heard that EO products are great. I haven't tried them yet, (but I plan to this weekend), but there is a fellow fine-haired curly YouTuber named Curlmebella who swears by their conditioner. The ingredients would make any natural hair lover swoon with joy and the prices aren't bad either! You might give them a looksee! HTH!
Man I did think we had a winner here LOL! Its okay we FINE girls just have to stick together LOL
So I need to look for products with oat flour in them?
The information I found (because I was starting to research this b/c of you Nik! LOL!) was that it's the lipids in oat flour that thicken hair, not the protein. I found this info on LiveStrong, but had only started my preliminary research. Could there b any truth to this thickening claim based on the presence of lipids vs. protein? Thank you!
(p.s. I love JBCO for sealing and tried using it for thickening the hair at my nape. But using it on my scalp made it itch. Some say that's a good sign as it means irritation causing additional blood flow to the scalp. But, there are others who say irritation can lead to hair loss. So I erred on the side of caution and discontinued the use of it on my scalp. Just an FYI.)
I'm with Pecancurls…JBCO!
I, too, have been on the quest for hair thickening and nothing seemed to work. Though I love henna after over a year using it I didn't see any thickening but my hair was definitely stronger. Last month I finally jumped on the JBCO bandwagon oiling my scalp and edges with it nightly. Let me tell you, my roots are so thick now it looks like I'm transitioning and it's only been a month!
Give it a try Nik, let the inner PJ out!
This might be a dumb question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Is it safe to put a protein treatment on my hair if I have henna in it? I henna my hair once a month, but it doesn't seem to be making a difference when it comes to the strengthening or thickening my hair. Some of my strands are so thin, you can barely see them. I know I'm not supposed to use a protein conditioner after I henna my hair, but is it fair game between washes? I'm starting to think I should try the Aphogee treatment.
JBCO has given me a little bit of thickness and helped to fill in my edges..
@Annabel, ooh, I think I'd have to pass on that onion/onion juice option. I don't think there are enough aromatic oils that could mask the smell of onions in your hair. 🙂
I read once that onion/onion juice thickens hair and speeds up growth. I think this theory is based on Ayurvedic practices. I've also heard a lot of naturals rave about the thickening properties of castor oil. I have yet to try either, so am not sure how much truth they hold.
Last winter I didn't know that oat flour was a protein. I overproteined my hair with the hydrolyzed oat flour in the Curl Junkie Hibiscus & Banana Deep Fix. i was using this every week. No wonder my hair was breaking. Lesson learned.
I clicked on the link to go to Hairliberty.org but instead it takes me to hairliberty.com
I'm with Nikki. I really wanted this to be the answers. ladies please help!!!!