Oils – Penetrating vs Coating

In India, we do only one thing right for curls. Oiling our hair! So what does oil do to our hair and which ones are the best for hair?
There are two types of oils. One that penetrates the hair and the other that do not penetrate and just form a layer or coating on hair. For curly hair, we should include both types in our hair care regime. Penetrating oils provide the moisture to hair and the oils which form the film, help in retaining the moisture inside the hair shaft.



All oils consist of molecules called fatty acids. There are two ways we can classify different fatty acids. One is based on the saturation level, Saturated fatty acids, Monounsaturated fatty acids and Polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Other classification method is based on the size of fatty acids. Short chain, Medium chain and long chain fatty acids.

So, the penetration level of a oil will depend on these two classifications. The shorter chain the oil, the lower its molecular weight and better it penetrates. The other factor is the saturation level of the fatty acid. Higher level of saturation (saturated, monounsaturated) are more likely to penetrate the hair shaft as opposed to the lower level of saturation (polyunsaturated).


Penetrating oils 

Here is the list of oils that penetrate the hair
Coconut oil
Palm kernel oil
Olive Oil
Avocado Oil
Sweet Almond Oil
Shea Butter
Coco Butter
Mustard Oil
Argan Oil
Camellia Oil
Castor Oil
Coating/film forming Oils
We should include these oils also in our hair care regime. As they helps in retaining the moisture inside the hair and also provide nourishment to the scalp.Jojoba oil
Sesame Oil
Grapeseed oil

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