By Jc of The Natural Haven
How long does it take for an oil to penetrate hair?
In scientific studies, the method used was a copy of the traditional Indian women’s technique where coconut oil is applied to hair the night before the wash (Journal of Cosmetic Science pg 169-184,2001). This overnight time period is useful as oils do require much more time than water to penetrate hair. Water is very small in size and can therefore easily pass under or even through the cuticle. Oils on the other hand need to twist and bend (the scientific term is reptate) in order to slide underneath the cuticle.
Which oils penetrate hair?
The only oil proven to penetrate hair so far is coconut oil. Scientists do suggest that due to its composition, olive oil may also penetrate hair but there are currently no studies that fully confirm that. Many more oils and butters may also penetrate hair (Journal of Cosmetic Science, pg 169-184, 2001). The suggestion is that saturated and monounsaturated oils are more compact in size and therefore can maneuver around and through the cuticle (for example avocado oil, castor oil, shea butter and even ordinary edible milk fat butter). However oils rich in polyunsaturated oils tend to be larger and therefore cannot manoeuvre around or through the cuticle easily (for example sunflower oil, soybean oil and corn oil).
How can you remove a penetrating oil from hair?
If you used coconut oil or a similar penetrating oil and did not like it, how can you get rid of it? There are no studies on this but logic implies that the same path that the oil used to get into hair is the same path that it can use to get out. If you want to get rid of a penetrating oil, simply stop using it and wash your hair as normal using shampoo or soap which can dissolve the oil on the surface. The amount of oil that can be taken up by the hair is very little so I would guess that you will be close to 99% free of the oil within 2-3 washes.