Why Is Oil So Critical for Curlies?
Oil serves multiple purposes for all people in skin and hair care, but is really a critical element when constructing a care regimen for curly and coily haired children.
Oil mainly functions in curly care as a cleanser, emollient, protector, detangler, nutrient delivery system, hair growth aid and sealant. In addition to briefly describing how oil performs these functions, I shall also outline in two subsequent blogs, the ways in which oil can be incorporated, simply and efficiently, into your child's grooming routine, as well as the most popular oils and good sources to buy oil in bulk.
As a Cleanser
The skin is an organ that will actually clean itself, left to its own devices, with an oily, waxy substance called sebum. When oils compatible to the hair and skin are introduced, they actually help to clean skin, scalp and roots of hair by removing/ dissolving dirt and toxins. It seems counter-intuitive but actually works. Different kids will resonate with different oils, but generally the most cleansing oils I know of through experience and research are coconut, babassu, jojoba (which is most similar to our body's natural excreted oils) and olive.
In this case oils create softness, are soothing and moisturizing to the hair and scalp.
The processes of washing, and any subsequent manipulation of dry or wet hair roughs up the hair cuticle. The whole point of most curly hair grooming is an effort to get the cuticle to lie flat again. What does this mean visually and texturally? It means that hair goes from appearing, frizzy, tangled and dry to appearing shiny and moisturized, with defined, springy curls or coils. Oil also thus helps to flatten the cuticles, preventing damage between washes and helping with moisture and length retention - particularly on the ever susceptible ends of the hair.
Oils assist in reducing the friction that comes in the process of wet or dry combing. They can really help the detangling process by adding a little slip to the hair, helping your fingers or preferred detangling tool to undo any knotting with a little more ease.
Nutrient Delivery and Hair Growth
Many natural, cold processed oils come with their own stock of vitamins, minerals and critical essential fatty acids that deliver nutrients to the scalp and thus are healthy for the hair. Additionally, herbs and plants can impart their nutrients to oils through an infusion process. When such infused oils are then used in the hair regimen it can greatly accelerate growth, strengthen the hair shaft and repair hair or scalp imbalances. Look out for future posts on great herbs for hair, and how to infuse your own oils at home. For the DIY-averse, do not fear - I will give you links in those blogs to great places to purchase already infused oils.
Water is arguably the most critical ingredient for curly hair. It is easy to wet, dampen or mist the hair, but how do we keep the water in? Oil is the answer. A little bit of oil or butter rubbed over the hair shaft from close to the roots, right down to the ends goes a long way to keeping that hair moisturized. Even people with finer hair textures that easily get weighed down and prone to looking greasy, find that a little oil rubbed on the ends of their hair has an anti-frizzing and protective effect on their hair. By protecting your child's hair and or ends this way as often as needed, you can prevent damage, promote length retention and give his or her hair a little more lustre in its appearance.
Check out the next blog on how to easily incorporate these benefits of oil into your child's hair care program.