Mineral Oil v. Coconut Oil

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Around this time last year, I watched a youtube video on CurlyNikki’s site about pre-poos with coconut oil. The YouTuber mentioned that coconut oil is the only oil with molecules small enough that it can actually penetrate the hair shaft and enter the cortex. She then indicated that this unique ability of coconut oil enables it to prevent hygral fatigue. Hygral fatigue? What is that you ask? Well I did too. In my search for more answers, I found the information below in an article on NaturallyCurly.com.  It not only explained the benefits of coconut oil, but dispells the misconception that mineral oil has absolutely no benefits and is all bad.

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Coconut oil and improved resistance to wash-wear

The presence of coconut oil inside the cortex of hair provides multiple benefits. 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.

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As I often see people asking about the benefits of coconut oil, pre-poos and swearing off mineral oil as the devil, I thought this would be a good article to share. It lead to the addition of pre-poos, coconut oil and/or Vatika oil to my regimen. One caveat, I don’t like coconut oil as a sealer because it makes my hair feels like straw the following day (I use JBCO to seal; LOVES it!!). But coconut oil as a pre-poo and/or added to my deep conditioner is *mwah mwah*!!!

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Later Today:
Senegalese Twists/Twist Out (Two-in-One!)
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8 responses »

  1. I LOVE coconut oil and I recommend it to everyone. I tell them how it can be used and how well it works but this will be very helpful in breaking down the process. Great article!

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    • Yeah, it’s great for me if used at the right time! I share this article all of the time because I think it has such great information, so glad you agree!

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  2. OK, so I’m a little late but just reading this. A few questions:

    1) What’s mineral got to do with anything? I thouht I read this thoroughly but didn’t see anything about using mineral oil

    2) So to prepoo, do you just take the coconut oil and massage through your hair before washing or do you add it to a conditioner and then run it through your hair before washing? How do you actually do it?

    3) You mentioned Vatika oil. I have a bottle but not sure what to do with it. I only bought it because i heard it was good LOL. Of course, it’s not doing me any good unless I use it so some instruction please! 🙂

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  3. Michelle,

    1) You have to click the link to the article to read the full article comparing the benefits of mineral oil to those of coconut oil. I just quoted the part that most interested me.

    2) and 3) Yes, you can take either coconut oil or Vatika oil (which is primarily composed of coconut oil) and melt it (in closed bottle) under hot water (I have a smaller cosmetic bottle that once I melt a big bottle of oil the first time, I’ll pour some into the smaller bottle so that it is easier to melt for future use). Then, you just pour it on your hands and smooth through your hair, lightly finger detangling from the ends to the roots as you apply. I then put a baggie on my hair and leave it in anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight and then shampoo as normal (scalp only). I think some people leave it in as little as 15 minutes. That’s it.

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    • Thanks Shelli. I made a mistake. It wasn’t Vatika oil I have. I have Brahmi oil. I did a little scalp massage with it and then massaged it on my hair (sitting with it now). i’m sleeping in it though. It’s almost 11pm lol

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  4. Great info…thanks for sharing. When I get home from Afghanistan, I’m going to the beauty supply store to try this method…again thanks…

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  5. You hit the nail on the head! I recently started using coconut oil on my hair and lately I’ve been noticing that my hair also feels like straw, but I never associated it with the coconut oil, but that’s the only thing that has changed in my hair routine. I used JCBO as a hot oil treatment before I co-wash, but I still haven’t found a great moisturizer that doesn’t leave my hair feeling heavy because my hair is fine.

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