If like myself you take your hair journey quite seriously, you’ve most likely explored pre-pooing. The act of coating your strands with oils [or a store bought pre-poo product] prior to washing, to help reduce the stripping effects of shampoo. I get very excited whenever I come across new studies which support some of the hair care practices that I swear by, and pre-pooing is one of them!
This study in particular, shines light on just how powerful the pre-poo session can be for our hair, especially if done using Coconut Oil.
In the study three oils [Mineral Oil, Sunflower Oil & Coconut Oil], were tested on various hair types for their ability to help prevent hair damage when used as a pre-poo. Protein loss and water absorption were the key focus areas of the study, and today it’s protein loss we’ll be looking at in more detail.
When we wash our hair there’s a lot of action that takes place unknown to the naked eye. The very minute our hair comes into contact with water, the cuticle has a tendency to swell, this then results in a raising of the cuticle surface. Now if we consider a raised cuticle alongside the different forms of manipulation that take place during the shampoo and conditioning phase alone, e.g combing, scrubbing, twisting etc, then we are left with chipped strands and more often than not protein loss.
Sidenote: The vast majority of our hair is made up of proteins, more specifically a protein called Keratin. The more we manipulate our hair the more we are prone to protein loss, and in return weaker and more damaged strands.
To test for protein loss various hair types [bleached hair, uv-treated hair, undamaged hair, curly hair, straight hair etc], were coated in coconut oil for 14 hours [I can see all of my over night coconut oil pre-pooers smiling!]. After 14 hours each bundle of hair was wet with tap water and then washed and rinsed. After rinsing a fine tooth comb was used to comb each bundle of hair vigorously, after which the hair would be immersed at given intervals into a 50ml beaker of water. It was in this beaker of water that any damaged and dislodged protein cells, as a result of the manipulation, would be collected and tested on.
Now for the best part!
After a series of tests the results were in. Of all three oils used coconut oil was the most superior in its ability to prevent damage on all hair types. This was concluded to be a result of the fact that coconut oil can penetrate into the hair cuticle and cortex thanks to its low molecular weight [which the other oils cannot]. The coconut oil coating also reduced the amount of water that could penetrate the hair, thus reducing the swelling and raising of the cuticle. This of course means that less hair was chipped and therefore less protein was lost.
So let me conclude by stating the obvious, we could all do with some coconut oil in our lives! I’ll be revisiting overnight pre-pooing and treating myself to a few extra jars of coconut oil whilst my local health store is on sale.