Benefits of Ayurvedic oil in Hair Care - part 1

By - Kamath et al at MARCO Ind.

Coconut oil Penetration in hair:

Introduction Oiling hair is an age-old tradition in Asian and African countries. Vegetable oils are extensively used as hair dressings, and are known to reduce hair damage. Coconut based hair oils (CNO) are being used since time immemorial for this purpose. Although the external effect of these oils is essentially one of lubricating the hair surface it is also believed to play a role in improving the tensile strength of hair. In order to influence the strength and elasticity of hair, the oil must penetrate into the cortex or indirectly influence the state of the cortex.

An attempt has been made by Kamath et al to demonstrate the penetrability of coconut oil and mineral oil in human hair using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) in combination with a time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer whereas the hair follicular penetration of oil has been studied using confocal microscopy (unpublished data).

Materials and Methods:
Pure coconut hair oil and mineral oil were used for the study. The hair samples were obtained from individuals who did not use coconut hair oil or mineral oil as hair dressings. The oils were applied at the level of 0.2ml/2.5-3gm of hair tress. The hair tresses were allowed to stay overnight and were then washed with sodium laureth sulfate and then swatches were rinsed thoroughly, air-dried and stored at room temperature. Control samples were treated in a similar way, except for treatment with oils. The treated and untreated samples were cross-sectioned with a clean stainless steel blade and the mass spectra were acquired from the cross-sectioned hair fiber.

Confocal Microscopy:
Nile Red is an oil soluble dye which was used to check the penetration of oil up-to the hair follicle. Nile Red Dye was solubilized in oil. 0.5ml of the above oil was applied on a particular area on the scalp. The area was massaged for 1 minute. Hair were plucked from that area at desired time interval and were mounted on the slide and observed with Confocal Microscope.

Result and Discussion:
Characteristics ions formed by the pure components when bombarded with gallium ions have been identified by their mass/charge (m/z) values. The distribution of the ions, characteristic of the particular treatment, has been established in the cross sections of hair treated with coconut hair oil and mineral oils. The results show that coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft while mineral oil does not. The difference may be due to polarity of the coconut hair oil compared to non-polar nature of mineral oil. The affinity of the penetrant seems to be the cause of this difference in their behavior. This study also indicates that the swelling of hair is limited by the presence of oil. Since the process of swelling and de-swelling of hair is one of the causes of hair damage by the hygral fatigue, coconut hair oil which is better penetrant than mineral oil, may be better protection from damage by hygral fatigue. Follicular penetration of oil was checked by confocal microscopy. It was observed that coconut oil penetrates up to the follicle whereas mineral oil does not penetrate into the hair follicle. Hence we can say that coconut oil has a better penetration properties than mineral oil.


This article is based on the research work by Kamath et al at MARCO Industries Ltd.

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