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The good hair oils

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

If your hair is dry and prone to flyaways, and even the salon quality leave-in conditioners have little to no effect, then it might be time to go back to nature and try oiling your hair. Using hair oils is a beauty secret originating from India that has been steadily increasing in popularity in Western society. If you've ever seen an Indian woman with extra long and thick, yet incredibly shiny hair, now you know why: chances are, she oils it rather than using a chemical-laden, store bought conditioner. There are several different oils to choose from; the right one for you will depend on your hair's texture and overall condition.
For hair that is dry and fine, the best oils to use are those that are light, and will leave your hair shiny without weighing it down. I personally use jojoba oil, which is very similar in composition to the hair's natural oil (sebum). Other oils that work beautifully for fine hair include apricot kernel oil, coconut oil, and emu oil. Most of these will be available in health food stores, otherwise you can order them online.

If your hair is coarse, curly or chemically damaged, you'll find that heavier oils like olive oil or sweet almond oil will be most beneficial. Another option is cocoa butter in its melted form: it's rich in moisture, and will make your hair smell simply divine. There are also a variety of commercial oils available which have been specifically designed for girls with coarse hair, however you needn't go beyond the basic oils to find one that suits you perfectly.
When it comes to the application of the oil, technique really is everything! To begin, wash and towel-dry your hair, then take a dime-sized amount of your chosen oil and rub it between your hands. Then, starting from about ear level, gently smooth it down the length of your hair, then run your fingers through it to distribute it evenly. Comb it through with a wide-toothed comb, taking care not to get the oil near the roots of your hair, and repeat if you see no effect the first time.

An important caveat: don't try this for the first time just before you leave the house, because often you'll be too liberal in applying the oil - like many other beauty techniques, the correct application requires a skill that only comes with practice. You'll know, after a few tries, which amount is right for your hair, but be prepared to alter this amount depending on how moisturised your hair becomes in the coming weeks. Very dry hair will absorb much more oil than moisturised hair, and once hair oiling becomes a part of your beauty routine you'll probably find that you need less of it as time goes by.
Using oils as a leave-in conditioning treatment is ideal for long haired ladies but it's certainly not for everyone. If your hair is short, then it's likely that the oils will make your hair greasy, as they'll find their way to your scalp much faster than they would if your hair was long. This is not to say that you can't still benefit from oiling in other ways, however.

Some women use hair oils as an overnight deep conditioning treatment, while others - myself included - use them while having a relaxing, DIY scalp massage. Here, I typically mix a few drops of rosemary oil (which is renowned for its ability to stimulate hair growth) with a liberal amount of jojoba oil, and spent a few minutes massaging it into my scalp. I leave it in for a few hours, then shampoo it out, with the result being extra-shiny, conditioned hair that often still has a lingering scent of invigorating rosemary.
So if the products available in stores are no longer working for your hair, or if you simply want to embrace the natural way (and why wouldn't you?) then give hair oiling a go! It's time-tested, it won't break the bank, and you may just find that it beats every other conditioner you've tried by a mile.

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