If the hair shaft and mineral oil and coconut oil were to have a conversation, what would it look like?
Hair shaft: So you like me hah?! I am not easy you know….I don’t let just anyone in here!
Mineral Oil: you sure ma… I got what you need shortie
Coconut Oil: Pshhhh.. she don’t want you… she wants me (pushes past mineral Oil and enters hair shaft)
Hair Shaft: Sorry mineral boo, U gotta stay outside, but I love me some coconut.. you can come in anytime!
Mineral Oil: Aright!.. I will chill right out here till you done with him
So I was wondering, since oils like coconut oil and Olive oil are attracted to the proteins in our hair (put simply) and they can freely move into the hair shaft what do they do when they actually get in there? Why do we want them to penetrate in the first place?
NaturallyCurly had an article written by Tonya Mckay who holds a M.S in Polymer Science that looked at the difference between mineral oil and coconut oil. But what I was concerned with was what does the oil do when it gets withinn the shaft. She explains it beautifully below:
-It acts as a plasticizer to soften the hair and provide more flexibility and toughness. Coconut oil also increases retention of keratin molecules within the hair shaft, which reduces protein erosion that normally occurs during wash cycles. Continuous loss of protein over time from routine washing damages hair and can result in color fading, split ends, and breakage, so anything that can moderate this phenomenon is beneficial.
-An additional advantage to coconut oil inside the hair shaft is that it decreases the amount of swelling of the hair shaft that normally occurs when immersed in water. Normally, when hair is saturated with water during the washing process, it absorbs up to 30% or more of its weight in water. This causes each strand to swell considerably, which can lead to several undesirable effects. Increasing the diameter of the hair shaft causes the outer covering of cuticle scales to lift and separate, which increases tangling and breakage. But, perhaps more subtle, is the damage done over time from many cycles of expansion and contraction.
-Hair is a highly complex biomaterial composed of layers of differing materials, ranging from varying types of keratin structures to pigment molecules to fatty acids. When it is saturated with water and swells and then subsequently dries via natural or thermal means, it undergoes what is known as differential drying and differential deformation (because each separate type of molecule within the overall structure dries and deforms at differing rates). This leads to moisture-induced stress on the hair, which can lead to delamination (cuticle layer stripping off), breakage, fiber fatigue, and rupture (split ends). This whole phenomenon is referred to as hygral fatigue. So, anything that reduces hygral fatigue is great for the health of your hair in the long term.
We don’t like hygral fatigue