Balms Away!


Two natural oils that make your hair shiny and strong

Shannon says: I have been using coconut oil for a while and I feel my hair is stronger than it used to be. I’d like to keep using it and I want to add olive oil to make my hair shiny, but I’m worried that mixing the two oils will stop the coconut oil from penetrating. Is it OK to mix two oils on my hair?

Yes, studies have shown that coconut oil actually penetrates the hair to help make it stronger. And as it turns out, olive oil also has penetrating properties. Scientists at the Textile Research Institute tested olive oil, avocado oil, meadowfoam seed oil, sunflower oil and jojoba oil. Their results showed that straight-chain glycerides like olive oil easily penetrate into the hair. Polyunsaturated oils, like jojoba oil, are more open in their structure so they don’t pass through the layers of cuticles very well.

What does that mean in plain English? Olive and avocado oils penetrate all the way into the hair shaft. Meadowfoam seed oil partially penetrates, and jojoba and sunflower oils don’t penetrate at all. They’re very superficial and don’t really provide any practical benefit.

The Bottom Line

Mixing coconut and olive oils shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, it’s possible that the olive/coconut oil combination might even penetrate hair better. We won’t bore you with the details, but it has to do with mixed micelles. We’d start with a 50/50 mixture and see how that works for your hair.

Cosmetic companies make quite a few claims about their products -most of which are regulated by the beauty industry- and the science-minded information hounds at debunk, demystify and declare the truth about a lot of them in the new book Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm? The authors compile questions from consumers and answer them scientifically, but they also break it down in a way in which you can understand and thus make wiser, informed and cost-effective purchase choices. It’s a valuable resource if you take beauty products as seriously as a tax bill. We just wish they looked that the claims made by specific products.

Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm covers everything from curling shampoos to the pore strips that are often likened to tape, and everything in between. It’s a terrific general overview of face, hair, skin and color products.

The scientists explain the science behind Smashbox’s O Glow (one of the few specific products looked at), tubing mascaras, appetite suppressants in lip gloss and the ever-popular lip plumpers. They assess the question, analyze the claims, explain the chemistry and offer suggestions on whether or not to use the product and alternatives.

Makeup mavens can find out how mascara works, the pros and cons of parabens and get the skinny on what products and procedures are good, bad and ugly by cutting through the fat of information. They present useful knowledge in lay woman’s about the science of beauty in digestible, understandable form, explaining why some toxins in a product are okay.

The one question I had about products was actually answered in the book. Did you ever wonder what happens when there are two layers in that tube of lip gloss at the bottom of your handbag or bottle of nail polish that’s been languishing on your dressing table? The separation of ingredients means the product has gone bad and you should probably toss it, since remixing it doesn’t always solve the problem. The active ingredient may no longer work properly anymore, either, rendering the product useless and tossable.

Oh, and to answer their own question in the book’s title. You can’t get hooked on balm for a chemical perspective. You can, however, train your body to rely on it, initiating a cycle both physical and mental where you need to re-apply balm repeatedly. Makes total sense, since we’re balm fiends here at Beauty News!

You have to buy the book to find out the answers to burning beauty questions, but here are a few nuggets of knowledge to inspire you to nab to book, which is available here and other fine book retailers.

*Nail polish fumes are not dangerous enough to kill you if you get a manicure once a week, but make sure to inhale some fresh air afterwards.

*Mass market products are often tested more expansively, given the bigger budgets of major cosmetic companies as opposed to niche, specialized or boutique brands.

Want to know more? Pick up the book.

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