In previous articles, I discussed the options for 100% natural shampoo and conditioner treatments based on possible efficacy from a scientific perspective. This week is the turn of pre shampoo treatments, specifically oils and butters:
1. Coconut oil
This is probably a very old and repeated story for regular readers so I will make it short and sweet. Coconut oil applied to dry hair is scientifically known to be able to penetrate hair and reduce hair breakage during subsequent shampooing and wet combing (Journal of Cosmetic Science pg 327–339,1999, Journal of Cosmetic Science pg 169–184,2001). If you are looking for the gold standard then coconut oil is it. If you do not like coconut oil on your hair in general, using it as a pre shampoo treatment will not be an issue as your shampoo will carry away most of the oil on the surface.
Before you roll your eyes, yes, I do mean butter of the put on your toast variety and it actually has some strong similarities in composition to the gold standard coconut oil. It is rich in saturated fat and importantly, it can contain some of the smaller sized saturated fats that can penetrate hair. I actually researched it after reading another blogger’s (Alice of Alice in Nappyland) account of how effective natural butter was as a preshampoo treatment when she was in Ethiopia. Scientifically, saturated fats especially when they are small are thought to be better able to contort themselves better and slip under the cuticle (Journal of Cosmetic Science, pg 169–184, 2001). The fresher and less processed your butter is, the better (i.e let it be a nice deep yellow butter, possibly from a farmer’s market and definitely not the low fat variety).
3. Corn Oil and Palm Kernel Oil
Once more if you are after oil penetrating hair and preventing some amount of breakage, then corn oil and palm kernel oil could also help. As with coconut oil and butter, they both have some of the smaller saturated fats which help to do this job.
4. Any other oil coatings
Olive oil, sunflower oil and castor oil are quite popular in the natural world. But they do not have the ideal profile of small saturated fats and largely contain unsaturated fats which do not behave in the same way as a penetrating oil such as coconut oil would. Equally, avocado butter, shea butter and cocoa butter contain saturated fats but they are dominated by the larger variety which makes them again less ideal to penetrate hair. However, any type oil on the surface of hair prior to shampooing can help towards reducing the dry feeling after shampooing. Therefore, if you like any of these oils, feel free to use them for that purpose.
Ladies, have you used any of these ingredients for a pre-shampoo treatment? Share your experiences.