Hair has a built-in system which protects the hair from everyday damages such us heat, winds, and cold. A big part of that protection lies near the root of the hair in the sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands produce oil (sebum) into the hair follicles to coat and protect the hair. The sebum is composed of fat, cellular debris and keratin. This lubrication helps us to keep our hair from drying out and becoming susceptible to breakage. When oil penetrates the hair and reaches the cortex it makes the hair proteins more hydrophobic (water repelling), as healthy hair is naturally hydrophobic.
Because of the hair structure of natural hair, frequent hydration and sealing is required.
Think of a straight hair strand, now think of a coily strand. If we pour oil at the top of the strand (the root), on the natural strand it will travel easily from root to end. However with the cold strand, because of its bends and curves little to no oil will reach the end. This is the reason why we help our hair by adding moisture and sealing it with oils and creams.
It important to balance water and oil in order to avoid breakage due to over saturation or under saturation.
Oil will both hydrate and protect the hair. Indeed it will hydrate the hair by penetrating the cortex and sealing in the moisture after cooling. This is why it is important to rub your hands together to heat the oil before applying it to your hair.
Some oils penetrate better than others here are a few basic oils to help you decide which would work best for your hair needs.
- Avocado oil: moisturize, strengthens, add shine to the hair
- Babassu oil : nourish, repair, soften hair
- Coconut oil: the coconut is both a moisturizer and sealing oil as it nourishes the hair and protected it at the same time. So depending on your hair type it may act differently.
- Olive oil: moisturize and add shine to the hair
The list below contains oils that are best suited for sealing. They will create a permeable lining on the outer shaft of your hair to lock up the moisture into the hair after you have washed conditioned and moisturized your hair. The secret to a longer lasting seal is a thick oil or butter. Hair butter is thick and semi-solid and protects exceptionally well against moisture loss through evaporation.
- Jamaican Black castor oil: Promote hair growth, strengthens, prevent hair breakage
- Shea butter : moisturizes and fortify hair strands,
- Jojoba oil : restore the PH in the hair, moisturizes, treat dry scalp.