When it comes to natural hair, oils are all the buzz. We are always on the prowl to seek out the latest and greatest, most cost effective, and amazing oils to take our coils and curls to the next level. Sometimes we seek out the standard — like coconut or olive oil. Other times, we want the exotic and expensive.
On a recent excursion to Vitamin Shoppe, I spent some time poring over their available spread of oils. I usually spend my time checking out supplements, or keeping a narrow focus on certain oils like Castor or Sweet Almond. Checking out what else they keep in stock was definitely a new experience for me. While trying to decide how to spend my $10 rewards certificate, I came across a huge bottle of Apricot Oil for $12.99. Although it’s not super exotic, expensive or rare, it’s not one that gets a lot of shine (no pun intended). After some in-store research and at-home use, I think I have a new favorite. Let me share why.
Apricot Oil (Prunus armeniaca) is pressed from the kernels of the Apricot fruit, and is light yellow in color. It is slightly nutty, and similar in viscosity to sweet almond oil. Apricot oil is high in oleic and linoleic fatty acids, which have all sorts of wonderful benefits for hair, scalp, and body.
Oleic acid is commonly known as an omega-9 fatty acid with wonderful emollient properties. Emollients are ingredients that when applied, make hair and skin softer and more pliable. While emollients do not truly moisturize (meaning they do not penetrate the hair), they do increase the hydration level of hair and skin by preventing evaporation. Lineoleic acid is the fun stuff, and definitely the star of the show. Lineolic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid with a laundry list of benefits internally and externally. According to a study at the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-6 fatty acids can stimulate hair growth. Also an emollient, lineolic acid helps control hair hydration by controlling water loss.
Altogether, the fatty acids in Apricot Oil come together to serve three wonderful functions at the molecular level:
- –Cement: They shape the substance that seal scales of the hair cuticle, in the same way that cement keeps together the bricks in a wall. Because the scales are “cemented” together, they make for a smooth surface, which enables the hair to protect itself against external aggressions, and to reflect light (shiny hair).
- –Barrier: Also known as sealing. They prevent the water that was absorbed by the hair from evaporating.
- –Sponge: Fatty acids are also mild humectants. They are able to absorb small amounts of water from the air’s humidity in order to help maintain hair hydration.
Apricot Oil is also rich in Vitamins A & E. Vitamin A supports skin health and repair, a wonderful property for those suffering from dry scalp, psoriasis, dandruff, or eczema. Additionally, it can help soothe irritated scalp, and soften fine lines in the skin. Vitamin E supports healthy hair growth, and is believed to prevent hair loss. When combined with fatty acids, Vitamin E acts as a preservative preventing free radicals from eliminating their effectiveness. It also prevents UV damage, which is just in time for Spring and Summer!
To sum this thing up, Apricot Oil will make for a great pre-poo, as well as a mix-in for your conditioner, shampoo, deep conditioner, and leave in. It helps promote hair growth, as well as length retention. You can even use it on your skin to help soften and retain moisture. If you are suffering from dry or flaky scalp, or dull and dry hair, Apricot Oil may be just the thing you need to restore moisture and balance.
As with all oils you intend to use on your hair, scalp, or skin, you will reap the most benefit from those that are:
- –Virgin or Pure: Meaning that the oil was obtained by mechanical processes, without industrial refinement or chemical additives.
- –Cold Pressed: Meaning that the seeds, nuts, or kernels are pressed to release their oils without heat. Cold pressed oils best retain the nutrients, vitamins, and fatty acids that provide the benefits you seek. Heat diminishes their presence and effectiveness.
- –Organic: Which guarantees that there is has been no fertilizer, no herbicides or chemical pesticides in the environment where the product source is cultivated. Because those elements are soluble in greasy substances, they end up in the raw product (unrefined/cold pressed). Only industrial refinement can then eliminate the impurities…then the oil itself loses its effectiveness. Talk about a vicious cycle.
Happy Apricot Oiling!