Lina says: I was very happy to read your post about coconut oil in Ojon penetrating hair. I have been using it for a while and feel my hair is stronger than it used to be. I’d like to keep using coconut oil 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? Thanks for all of your helpful information – you’ve kept me from wasting money on over-hyped products.
The Left Brain provides an oily update:
Thanks for your kind words, Lina. 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 (J. Cosmet.Sci 52, 169-184, 2001) 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. Kind of like Ryan Seacrest.
And to answer your question: 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. I won’t bore you with the details, but it has to do with mixed micelles. I’d start with a 50/50 mixture and see how that works for your hair.
Sara, one of our sharp-eyed readers, caught an error in this post that we want to bring to your attention. The J. Cosmetic Science article cited in this post is incorrect because it doesn’t refer to all the oils discussed in this post. When this post was written we had another reference that contained data on more types of oil. Therefore, without having that original reference, we would be poor scientists if we definitively said only these types of oil penetrate hair. Our intent was to make sure you understand that there are differences in how oils penetrate hair and that you should be careful not to be tricked into paying more for oil treatments that are based on oils that don’t really work. We apologize for any confusion this might have caused and we thank Sara for bringing it out our attention.