Spring is the perfect time to give yourself a makeover and throw off the dullness of winter. A new hair colour is a great example, or maybe a perm or chemical straightening/rebonding treatment. It’s well known that these types of chemical treatments can be extremely damaging to the hair, but are you aware that there is a natural oil that can be applied before or during the chemical treatment to lessen the damaging effects on the hair by the harsh chemicals, in addition to offering protection against heat styling?
So, I hear you cry, what is this hair saviour? Known in its native Morocco as “liquid gold”, argan oil has been treasured since at least 600 BC for its healing, regenerative and protective properties, helping to protect the hair and skin against the harsh and damaging desert. Likewise, argan oil can help retain the health of your hair during colouring, bleaching, perming and chemical straightening, as well as protecting against heat styling.
Argan oil is a vital component in the hair beauty arsenal of anyone who longs for lustrous locks.
What Is Argan Oil?
Argan oil is a natural oil obtained by cold-pressing the kernels of the fruit from the argania spinosa tree, believed to be one of the oldest varieties of trees on earth, dating back over 80 million year. Whilst argan trees used to grow across the whole of North Africa, they are now endemic to a small strip of land between the Atlantic coast and the Atlas Mountains in southwest Morocco. They are a slow growing species which live for up to 250 years and begin to bear fruit after 5-8 years, with optimum production reached at 60 years, making this oil an extremely precious commodity. Argan oil should not be confused with Moroccan oil which, although sometimes incorrectly mentioned synonymously with argan oil, is not a 100% pure oil, but instead contains an array of ingredients in addition to argan oil, although it does still have benefits to the skin and hair.
What Makes Argan Oil Beneficial to the Hair?
An absolute powerhouse of nutrition for the hair and skin, this precious oil contains huge amounts of tocopherol (vitamin E), plus carotenoids (vitamin A), oleic and linoleic fatty acids (omega-9 and omega-6), palmitic acid, stearic acid, ferulic acid, polyphenols, phytosterols, and triterpenes including the powerful natural antioxidant squalene. By working together synergistically these components provide argan oil with its protective and regenerative properties.
How Can Argan Oil Benefit Chemical Treatments on the Hair?
Before using any chemical treatment in your hair, it is recommended to get the hair in the best possible condition first. Starting from at least 14 days before the procedure, stop heat styling and, if you are not already using argan oil in your hair care routine, start to apply it as a pre-shampoo treatment or as an overnight conditioning treatment if the hair is damaged or particularly dry.
Argan Oil Protects During the Hair Colouring Process
Applying argan oil to the hair the day or night before colouring (use a wide tooth comb to ensure even distribution and do not rinse out) allows the oil to reach the cortex of the hair (the middle layer) which is the part that provides the hair with colour and strength, and helps to add nourishment and repair previous damage. You can also add 4-5ml of argan oil to the colour mix or developer lotion. Using argan oil before or during the colouring process will allow the colour molecules to be more evenly distributed, thus resulting in a more vibrant, consistent and uniform colour. Your newly coloured hair will be shiny, healthy and full of life.
Argan Oil Protects During the Bleaching Process
Bleaching is an invasive procedure and can break down the hair’s protective barriers in addition to the melanin that gives the hair colour. The peroxide in bleach reacts to naturally-occurring copper and iron in the hair and this reaction can severely damage the hair. Applying argan oil the night before bleaching allows it to soak into the hair and scalp (do not rinse out), and can offer protection to the scalp against the harsh chemicals and prevent dryness and damage to the hair. Argan oil contains substances which bond on a molecular level with the copper and iron and isolate them, thus preventing a reaction with the peroxide. The oil does not interfere with the bleaching process and still allows the bleach to penetrate the hair shaft to break down the melanin to reach your desired result. Thus bleaching the hair does not need to equate to dry, damaged tresses.
Argan Oil Protects During a Perming Treatment
Hair perming is a chemical treatment to change the natural texture of your hair to make it curlier. The hair is made up of disulfide bonds, and it’s the number of these which determine how curly the hair is, the fewer the curlier. Perming the hair weakens the disulfide bonds in the hair using a thiol compound, usually ammonium thioglycolate, and allows the polypeptide chains to adapt to a new shape and using curling rods/rollers a curl is created which is then set using a neutralizer, generally hydrogen peroxide or sodium bromate. The neutralisation stage, the process of oxidation, adds oxygen to reform the broken disulphide bonds and fix the hair in the new shape. Perming the hair is notoriously damaging to the hair, it opens and swells the cuticles and changes the protein bonds in the hair, destroying much of the natural moisture in the hair, making the hair more prone to breakage and most people opt to have their ends trims to eliminate the split ends it inevitably causes. Applying argan oil for a few weeks before a perm reduces damage by ensuring that the hair is in great condition to start with and provides the hair with elasticity to prevent breakage or stress to the hair when it is stretched around the roller, resulting in soft silky curls with no frizz. Adding a few drops to the ends of the wet hair before beginning the perming treatment can prevent damage to them and forego having to have them trimmed.
Argan Oil Protects During a Chemical Straightening/Rebonding Treatment
Like with a perm the straightening/rebonding process penetrates the cortex to influence the disulfide bonds, in this case breaking them down and then rebonding them in a straight position by applying a heated flat iron. Using strong chemicals and heat can be a disaster for the health of the hair and inevitably leads to severely dehydrated hair which is prone to brittleness, breakage and frizz, particularly as people often make the mistake of treating the entire hair rather than just the new growth in follow-up sessions. As with a perm, applying argan oil for a few weeks before the treatment ensures that the hair is better equipped to withstand the chemicals, and applying a few drops before the actual treatment to the length of the hair protects the previously treated hair and helps to minimise damage and prevent over-processed hair, as well as reducing heat damage. After treatment apply a little oil to the treated hair and gently distribute through the hair using a wide-tooth comb to gently coat each strand and ensure even coverage.
Argan Oil for the Aftercare of Chemically-Treated Hair
Using argan oil as part of your hair care regime can give your new hair some much-needed hydration, plus nourish the roots, repair and strengthen the strands and provide soft, silky, healthy, frizz-free and controllable hair. A 2022 study previously published in the journal Fashion and Textiles confirmed that argan oil was able to strengthen bleached hair within just 21 days.
A further unique benefit of using argan oil on coloured hair is it ability to help retain the hair’s natural colour and reduce fading and discolouration of dyed or bleached hair by protecting against environmental factors and ageing.
Argan Oil Offers Protection against Heat Styling
Argan oil is able to withstand high temperatures, it has a smoke point of 420°F, which makes it perfectly suited to act as a thermal shield against heat styling, ensuring that you don’t fry your hair when using straighteners, curling tongs or a hairdryer. By coating each strand and providing extra slip it makes detangling a thing of the past and eliminates the inevitable breakage associated with detangling the hair.
Argan Oil General Benefits for the Hair
Argan oil deeply nourishes the scalp and roots, balances sebum production and restores the pH level of the hair. It has antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties to promote a healthy scalp and protect against conditions like dandruff and dermatitis. As a natural moisturiser, argan oil will penetrate the cortex and nourish the hair shaft, helping to repair damage from within, regenerating the cells, strengthening the hair and promoting elasticity. It provides a protective layer around each strand and helps to flatten the cuticle layer of the hair to guard against brittleness, breakage and split ends. It also offers protection against sun, sea and chlorine damage. Regular use of argan oil in your hair care regime will accelerate the production of keratin, stimulating hair growth and protecting against hair fall and loss. Argan oil is extremely lightweight and easily absorbed and is suitable for all hair types and is ideal for problematic curly, textured hair, ensuring the hair is soft, smooth, shiny and manageable. It may be used as a leave-in conditioner before heat styling and as a styling product to define curls and keep frizz to a minimum, leaving your hair soft, strong and glossy.
If you haven’t introduced argan oil into your haircare regime yet, now is the time to add some. Don’t even think about having a chemical hair treatment without the added protection of argan oil! With this oil in your armoury, chemical and heat treatments no longer need to be synonymous with dry, brittle and damaged hair. Look good and feel good with strong, glossy and healthy hair.