Alex from Germany asks…It’s widely known that cocnut oil can reduce the swelling of the hair shaft when applied before washing. Does your own sebum provide the same protection against ‘hygral fatigue’ as coconut oil does?
The Beauty Brains respond:
Hi Alex. Very interesting question! I’ve never seen data on sebum in this regard since it’s not typically applied to hair as an ingredient. However, I doubt it works as well as coconut oil for these reasons:
Sebum doesn’t have the same composition as coconut oil
Sebum is composed of a variety of fatty acids including lauric acid which is the main fatty acid (~50%) in coconut oil. However, lauric acid is “a relatively minor sebaceous fatty acid.” That means sebum doesn’t contain as much of the “goodies” as coconut oil.
It’s hard to get the right dose of sebum
Your scalp produces a relatively small amount of sebum and it has to “wick” its way along all your hair fibers to be uniformly distributed. That means the ends of the hair (which are most damaged and need the most conditioning) will get the least sebum. Therefore sebum won’t be as effective as a high dose of coconut oil that you can apply uniformly through your hair.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
To get enough sebum to treat your hair you’ll probably have to harvest massive quantities of it from friends and family as they sleep and then you’ll have to fractionally separate out the lauric acid. It might be easier just to buy a jar of coconut oil.
PS I love the term “hygral fatigue.”