View Poll Results: Do oils that are said to penetrate provide moisture?
Yes 3 60.00%
No 1 20.00%
Other. Please explain. 1 20.00%
Voters: 5. You may not vote on this poll

Oils: Penetration and Moisture

Sorry, if this is a stupid question but I've just been wondering. I read that coconut, olive, and avocado oil are able to penetrate hair. But what does that exactly mean? Just because something penetrates hair, does that mean it also moisturizes? When I think of moisture, I think of hydration (water) and others say that water it the best and only true moisturizer. Because oil is hydrophobic, people use it as a sealant to waterproof the hair. How does it work if it's inside the hair's cortex?

The big picture is, just because it penetrates, does it also provide moisture? Relaxers and other chemical processes also penetrate the hair, but they definitely don't moisturize.

I think oils nourish, soften, and add slip to hair, but not exactly moisturize. Does that mean, hot oil treatments don't work to provide moisture? Which would be more effective, HOTS or conditioner? Actually, what ingredients in conditioner actually provide moisture? Some conditioners just contain oils and emulsifiers.. I'm not talking about sealants, but one of the penetrative oils. What's the big deal if it penetrates hair? What does it do when it's inside? I just think that it'd be a pain in the butt to get back out. Sorry if I'm ranting. I want something to give my hair moisture, not something I'm gonna wash right out. I'm just trying to figure out if what I'm doing is useless.

Last edited by Keihs; 11-12-2012 at 10:36 PM.
No/other because oil is not moisturizing. Water is moisturizing. The mythos on the interwebz is that if you slather you hair in oil it will be silky soft and uber amazing and perfect and wonderful. Applying oil can help to seal in moisture that is already there but it doesn't actually moisturize.
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No/other because oil is not moisturizing. Water is moisturizing. The mythos on the interwebz is that if you slather you hair in oil it will be silky soft and uber amazing and perfect and wonderful. Applying oil can help to seal in moisture that is already there but it doesn't actually moisturize.
Originally Posted by SaraNoH
Interesting, Sarah...I was wondering the same thing today, about whether or not they actually moisturize. I gather that coconut oil does, though, because it is one of the few oils that actually penetrate into the hair shaft...? I got that info here on NC, I will have to go try and find the article...
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@Knotty_Maddy

Not to sound rude, but.. So what? Once it's inside, what does it do?
I not a hair science wiz, but I do think that some oils help your hair to get actual moisture; and even if the oil just nourishes thats still beneficial.

I think you could ask the same question about water -
Once it's inside the strand what does it do? Just sit until released? Probably, and depending on your porosity and whether you seal or not (with an oil or butter) that could be a in a little while or longer while. I'm pretty sure that every conditioner's goal is basically for the cuticle to be full of moisture (water) and to lay flat.

I think that oil can be as beneficial as any other ingredient we find in hair products. Basically all that a hair conditioner can do is help the hair absorb and keep moisture - oils included.

The hair strand has layers an I'm guessing that when any ingredient "enters" the hair strand it's only entering into the first layer to plump it up, protect the inner layer, and close the surface. I could be completely wrong about that part, but my curiosity is piqued and I'm going to research.
~ Dense, fine, low porosity ~
Here is a short article from The Natural Haven Bloom that might help. It answers questions about Coconut Oil (the most/maybe only hair-penetrating oil) and also the question "are oils moisturizing." It's a science-y website, and answers lots of hair-science questions. I'd suggest giving it a look.

The Natural Haven: Coconut Oil and Protein

From things I've read though: oils don't moisturize, they seal in moisture. Oils that can penetrate the hair shaft help keep the hair from being damaged by losing protein (when you brush and manipulate the hair.) They also help prevent something known as "hydral fatigue" (if you type it in on the site, it'll come up)

ETA: Also, here is another article that explains what exactly coconut oil does when it penetrates into the hair shaft--maybe a little easier to read. Clutch Magazine: Benefits of Using Coconut Oil
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Last edited by Oats22; 11-13-2012 at 01:57 AM. Reason: Added another link

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