Friday, 19 February 2010

Readers Questions: Moisture issue so far

I am currently trying to unconfuse (I know its not a word but it should be!) myself regarding glycerin. I have found two papers one saying glycerin doesn't penetrate hair and the other saying it does. I have to sit down and digest this research a little more before I post it up.

Therefore, I'll start answering some of your questions so far instead on something I actually understand..........coconut oil!

Marie Grâce asks, does coconut oil have moisturising properties? Nneka asks, if coconut oil fully penetrates the shaft then is it appropriate to use it as a sealant?

I'll answer these questions with a diagram. Moisturising in cosmetic research is not about adding water to hair but rather increasing or maintaining the hold of water. Water needs companions to be upgraded to a moisturiser (Now Beyonce's song is in my head...let me upgrade you).

Here is the deal with coconut oil

1. It does penetrate the hair but this does not stop it from coating the outside of the cuticle which it does. The amount of oil that can enter the hair is limited, so naturally most of the oil will sit on the surface. J Cosmet Sci,52(3):169-84 (2001).

2. Coconut oil has been used as a prewash treatment in half head tests where half the head is treated with oil and the other half isn't. The hair was combed post wash and there was significantly less damage/breakage on the coconut oil treated section (meaning much much less protein was collected from the comb). J Cosmet Sci., 50, 327-339 (1999)

So the debate will always rage on about whether oils are moisturising or not. I think that coconut oil is unique because much like water it can penetrate the hair. It's moisturising properties arise because it is an oil and therefore can help the hair hold on to the water. I don't think that coconut oil can be used on its own though, I think it needs some companions water.

I thought I might answer another question on which oil would be best to seal but this post is getting long, my brain is shutting down and I am beginning to sing some more Beyonce songs. I'll leave it here for today......Happy Friday all!


  1. oh merci JC d'avoir répondu à ma question!
    i was so happy to see my name in this post ;o)
    Well, the coconut oil i use contains vitamin E and my hair loves it.
    Thank you again and happy friday!

  2. De rien Marie et merci bien pour le question :)

  3. Thanks JC..couldn't ask for a better explanation!

  4. Wonderful information as always.

    Singing Beyonce songs huh? lol

    Some of hers and the Destiny child song make me happy. lol. I love to blast them in the SUV some days. lol

  5. If I moisturize my hair with water and seal the moisture in with an oil every day would the oil I used to seal on the previous day prevent the water from reaching and moisturizing my hair the next day?

  6. DJ, there is no oil that can fully obstruct water from getting into hair. This includes mineral oil and silicone. Water will still get through.

  7. I find it amazing that majority of the South Pacific islanders use coconut oil in their hair and have long, healthy hair. I understand the curl pattern differs, and the climate does too, but I would attribute the majority of their growth to low manipulation and coconut oil.

    I grew up in the islands and didn't know much about hair, moved to the US and became hair obsessed. Just recently moved back to the islands (and I am surrounded by women with hair past their knees...) and haven't seen a woman with hair shorter than her armpits, not even the little girls.

    Something about the raw coconut oil. It's cheap too. Maybe I can come back looking like Rapunzel!


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