“Learn

IMAGE BY humanmade VIA ISTOCK

Discuss a natural oil today and you'll discover another one tomorrow. It seems all we do is learn about a multitute of natural oils — but that's not a bad thing, right? Mother Nature supplies us with innumerable treasures that allow us to stay healthy and beautiful. One of her treasures that should be on your radar is rice bran oil. While it may be new to us in the States, it has been used and loved for years by women in Asia as an anti-aging ingredient.

Made from the bran — the hard outer shell — of the rice kernel, rice bran oil is a great choice for fine hair to give it softness without weight. And one of the best things about this oil is that it is thought to offer protection from the sun. It contains the chemical compound gamma oryzanol, which research has shown to be a UV blocker.

What is Rice Bran Oil?

Rice is one of the world’s most important food crops, and nearly half of the people in the world eat rice as the main part of their diets. According to Rice Knowledge Bank, “Rice provides 21% of global human per capita energy and 15% of per capita protein.” It also provides fiber, minerals, and vitamins. This high nutritive content provides a strong foundation for the oil that is extracted from it.

This golden yellow oil, also known as rice bran extract, is loved for its high smoke point and mild flavor. It is a natural antioxidant and the only place to find oryzanol, an antioxidant that is more effective at fighting off free radicals than vitamin E. Oryzanol is thought to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and liver, and doctors are finding uses for oryzanol in treating menopausal disorders in women. As if that were not enough reason to be impressed by this oil, rice bran oil is also rich in vitamin E, another natural antioxidant that is an important vitamin required for the proper functions of many organs in the body.

Benefits of Rice Bran Oil on Hair

In addition to protecting our hair from sun damage, the ferulic acid and esters present in rice bran oil stimulate hair growth and help to prevent skin aging, according to the Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research.

The oil's ample supply of vitamin E repairs and builds tissues, so when you apply it to your scalp, it can help reduce inflammation and repair damage to the hair follicles, which in turn can enable healthy hair growth. Vitamin E is also said to have anti-aging properties, and its antioxidants such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to nourish hair while combatting premature graying.

Celebrity hairstylist to the stars Corey Powell, of Sally Hershberger Los Angeles, swears by rice bran oil and what it can do for our hair. With its high concentration of vitamin E, rice bran oil creates a hard shell barrier around the hair cuticle so the hairs are stronger and less likely to break, she says. Powell also loves that it has barely any odor and is great for all hair types.

How to Use It

There are a few different ways to add this wonder oil to your hair. You can add some to your shampoo or conditioner or use it straight up to seal your ends.

One of the best ways to use rice bran oil is to create a hot oil treatment alone or with other oils to gain maximum benefits for your tresses. Depending upon what your hair needs, you can add some carrier oils and essential oils to the hot oil treatment.

Do your hot oil treatment on freshly washed hair. Combine your carrier oils and you can either stop there or add some essential oils for their therapeutic benefits or just for fragrance. To warm, put your mixtue in a glass container and add to a deep bowl of hot water to warm to desired heat but not too hot as to scald your hands or scalp. Part hair in sections and apply to scalp and hair liberally. Applicator bottles are perfect for this step. Cover hair with a plastic cap and either add a warm towel or sit under a hooded dryer to gain maximum benefit from the hot oil treatment for about 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse (but do not wash) your hair and style as normal.

Have you tried rice bran oil? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below. And if you'd like info about another great oil for hair, check out this article about using avocado oil on your hair.