Saturday, March 30, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Oils good for our hair, what does "neat" mean, and how do we stop whipped butters from melting in the heat?

What's up with the Dish? I have no idea. If you know, please post something here! 

In this post on which oils might be good for hair, Nancy writes: I have dry dry hair that is fine and fragile. I am trying to give up the expensive salon products and have embarked on a mission to make my own with varying degrees of success. The shampoo I think I have figured out but conditioner is stumping me. I have spent hours and hours researching ingredients to moisturize my hair. Humectants ultimately do not help in the low humidity of winter. I am adding oils (they vary - sweet almond is the best so far) to the commercial conditioner but my goal is to go commercial free. Any suggestions for what to add to my concoctions that will super moisturize hair?? I just do not want to spend tons of $ on stuff that is not going to work. I am able to load my hair up with oil - anti humectant oils - and they soak right in, apparently, because I am not oily. My hair is virgin, graying and longish.

When it comes to adding ingredients to commercial products, my general suggestion is to not to do it. Commercial products will contain only as much preservative as necessary, so adding something to the product - even a small amount like 5% - can throw the preservation system out of whack. If you really must do this, remove a small amount from the bottle and add the oil to that and use it just the once.

If I need some extra moisturizing for my hair, my first choice is always coconut oil. It has been extensively studied (click here for a summary), and it has shown an affinity for the proteins in our hair. I like to use it neat - which is to say, I put it in a Pyrex jug and melt it down, then I slather it on my hair and let it sit for a bit before washing - but some people love putting it into a conditioner. (I don't see a point in putting it in a shampoo. You're washing it out, and it's a pain to get an oil to work well in a surfactant mix. Save it for your pre-wash oiling or conditioner!) I've linked to many many recipes for conditioner at the end of this part of the post, and I suggest you try one of those!

You can use other oils - click here for the emollients section of the blog - but none of them will work the way coconut oil will. And for price, you can't beat coconut oil! I think it's about $5 a pound or so, which is an amazing price, and you can generally get it in your local megamart!

Some will argue for argan oil for your hair. It seems like a nice oil, filled with oleic and linoleic acid, but there doesn't appear to be anything that makes it better for our hair compared to sunflower, olive oil, avocado, and so on. There aren't any studies out about its affinity for hair, and that Moroccan oil product everyone loves is filled with silicones, which we know are awesome for defrizzing and smoothing hair.

I have heard your repeated requests for me to try this oil, but remember that just about everything I use on the blog is purchased by me with my own money. I really can't justify spending $15 for 4 ounces at the moment when there are other ingredients to buy, like activated charcoal and neon soap colourants! Sorry! 

Related posts:
Coconut oil
Conditioners: Adding oils to leave in conditioners
Conditioners: Adding oils to rinse off conditioners
Conditioners: Adding butters to intense conditioners
Conditioner: Adding oils - coconut oil
Coconut oil and hair products
Coconut oil and hair products (earlier version)
Shampoo: Creating conditioning shampoo bars for dry hair

In this post on coconut oil, Leana asks: What is "neat"? I've seen it referred to in a couple of your posts, but I have no idea what it is.

"Neat" means undiluted. Some things can be used neat on our skin - our carrier oils, exotic oils, humectants, and so on - and some things can't be - essential oils, some extracts, cosmeceuticals. I try to indicate when something can be used neat on our skin - for instance, for the Newbie Tuesday series we're doing about the skin feel of carrier oils - and when they can't, usually when we're talking about essential oils.

In this post on coconut oil, Kari asks: I was just thinking the other day about ways to have a whipped butter without it melting in the summer. I'm in the southern part of the US, and during the summer it gets HOT. If I have the butter in my bag or car, it melts in minutes. Do you have any other suggestions of what combination or types of ingredients would help keep anhydrous butters from melting? Currently my anhydrous products have 60% butters, and 40% oils. I've tried 80% butters, 20% Oils and still melts quickly.

This is a tough question because it really is about experimenting with what works for you. Don't leave it in your car. If you have to do this for something like an outdoor market, keep it in a cooler or in a bag with some icea. And consider that some companies refuse to sell or transport whipped butters in the summer months because of this very problem.

The key is to increase the melting point of your product. This will require some experimenting on your part because you'll have to see how each ingredient alters the skin feel of the product. Adding a stiffer butter means the product might be harder to remove from the container, might not melt on contact with your skin, and might feel a bit more draggy.

Step one is to remove any oils or butters with low melting points. Coconut oil is right out as it melts around 76˚F (24˚C), so you'll have pools of oil in your car or home the moment the weather turns summer-y. Cocoa butter melts around 38˚C (100˚F), so that's not a bad choice, mango butter starts to melt around 34˚C to 38˚C, and shea butter varies depending on the level of refinement, but generally it's in the same range, from 34˚C to 38˚C. There are some exotic butters you could use as well, but I'd make sure you are in the 34˚C to 40˚C range.

The second thing is to introduce an ingredient that might make the product harder to melt. You can include beeswax - maybe up to 10%, although that might be a bit much? - or another wax. Or perhaps one of the fatty alcohols might be a good idea here. I did some experimenting a while ago, and I can suggest up to 10% cetyl alcohol might be a good inclusion. I found cetearyl alcohol to be a bit waxy feeling, but it would also be a great choice. Stearic acid is not a great choice - it's too draggy!

There are a few other ingredients that might help increase the melting point, but remember that each one will alter the skin feel of your product. Maybe cera bellina, which is a modified beeswax, or Lipidthix? These are just a few thoughts!

As an aside, I would never make a whipped butter with coconut oil. It melts far too easily and it won't keep its shape for long. I see people all over the 'net making whipped butters with coconut oil - please stop now. 

Related posts:
Question: The melting points of butters?
Back to basics: An aside on melting butters
Experiments in the workshop: Shea butter without butter - cetyl alcohol
Lipidthix - making a butter! 

Have a Weekend Wondering? Hop on over to this post and add your question to the list!


Zenobiah said...

For upping the melting point, use a few percent (up to 5 is what I use) of Cera Bellina from The Herbarie.

It ups the melting point AND gets rid of graininess.

preciousgold said...

I love that..
I like to use because I think it's a good combination with my Oro Gold cosmetics

VickiPS said...

Being an incurable pedant, I have to add, in response to Leana's question, that "neat" also appears in neatsfoot oil, an oil rendered from the shins and feet of cattle. It is used as a leather dressing but has also been used medicinally to treat dry cracked skin. Neat is an old word for cattle.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Kudos, preciousgold. Your wish came true! You got free advertising on my blog. I encourage you to look at it here - OroGold wants promotion!.

Monique said...

Thank you for this post. Do you know how to tweek it for African American hair

Mychelle said...

Hey Susan! The Dish is down for maintenance. We were getting virus warnings and such. I hope it comes back soon!!

Alexis said...

So I'm one of the few people that absolutely hates coconut oil for my hair. I used it in a well tested formula where it was the only ingredient swop, and it made my hair more dry, frizzy and brittle than normal. pH was not the issue, and I used organic coconut oil from a reputable source. That was the only product I made that I threw out after a few uses!

I'm also not so keen on having oil neat on my hair - weighs the finer hairs down too much and even the tiniest drop on my hair seems to make my face oily. I came to this conclusion after many months of using oils on my hair and thinking that I liked it. Then I started to get acne on my lower cheeks, a place I normally didn't get acne and also a place where my hair touches frequently.

Just so you know, I have what I call "thyroid" hair, meaning it tends to be dry, brittle, frizzy and extra-super curly if not conditioned properly and if my thyroid meds are too low or too high - the best of both worlds....yeah..T_T Otherwise my hair is a mix of natural dishwater blonde with white hair cleverly disguised by highlights.

I've found 1%-2% Super Sterol Liquid is nice in a hair conditioner because it doesn't weigh it down too much. I also use 0.5% of sunflower polyglycerides, product name is viamerine 2500. Beat extract seems to make my hair less brittle and I have fewer split ends. I use the powdered version. Lately I'm loving pea peptide and lycopene bioferment. The last three ingredients are not oils or esters, but in my opinion they have given my crazy hair a certain softness I've not found with other proteins and my hair seems more like it did before my immune system decided it hated my thyroid. And of course I use panthenol, powdered version but I've also used the liquid versions. Any one works well.