View Full Version : Is too much oil bad for your hair?

June 16th, 2016, 08:24 PM
Was talking to my hairdresser friend the other day and she told me not to use leave in oils too often because it causes breakage.... I'm not too sure I believe this. I currently use both Argan and coconut oils. Is there a point where there really is too many vitamins in your hair? If you guys use leave in oils, how often do you use them?

June 16th, 2016, 08:30 PM
I'm not an expert, but I guess if you put enough oil on your hair everyday and never clarify the effect can be the same as using too much cones and never clarifying. The hair shaft could be so coated that moisture could no longer penetrate. I could be completely wrong though. I've also heard that coconut oil can over saturate your hair. I use a very small amount of oil every day and a larger amount whenever I do deep treatments.

June 16th, 2016, 10:12 PM
The breakage part doesn't make much sense to me, because most oils act as an emollient and don't do anything inside your hair. I know coconut oil can make some people's ends "crunchy;" maybe that's what she's referring to. Overall though, yes, there's almost always such thing as too much of a good thing, but many oils are pretty safe.

I do know that some oils are drying; maybe meteor has an article about that. Not all oils are good for hair all the time.

June 16th, 2016, 10:40 PM
Some oils are drying oils and you can definitely go overboard with those. And some people (like me) have problems with coconut oil. Otherwise, it's not just cones that build up, oils can too (and cones are a type of oil). But that can be dealt with, that's what clarifying is for. You mostly need to pay attention to your hair.
I don't think it's a matter of vitamins, by the way. And I don't think vitamins in oil are responsible for that much of the benefits; the hair shaft isn't living.

June 16th, 2016, 11:06 PM
I do heavy coconut oilings pre-shampoo, and when I was in school my mom would make me oil my hair every day so that I could have sleek braids (school uniform rules). It didn't damage my hair or anything, I used to have VERY thick (iii+) and long hair at that time! Now, leaving oil in for too long might lead to scalp issues for people with SD. Otherwise i think it should be okay :)

June 17th, 2016, 05:17 AM
I typically use my serum ever since finding a good one (Kyrell, from Aldi). But when I use an oil, I use only a few drops, spread through palms and scrunched in. About 4/5 drops of a natural oil (long time ago), and 1/2/3 drops of a mineral oil (J&J baby oil).

The only thing you'll have when putting in too much oil is oily hair. ;)

I still can't believe at how uninformed some hairdressers are. :no:

June 17th, 2016, 07:13 AM
Probably depends on the person. If a certain oil makes your hair get crunchy, don't use it. If oils make your hair not absorb enough water and it starts getting fragile, back off.

June 17th, 2016, 07:56 AM
...what? :ponder: I doubt it. Where do hairdressers get this "exclusive knowledge" from anyway? I know a few hairdressers with their own weird set of dos and don'ts, it's very odd.

I mean, we all have different oils that work for us, and if you over-use one that doesn't work for you (not sure why someone would do that), then I can see it causing an issue... but that is like saying that cones damage your hair, which is not true for those whose hair thrives on them. It only becomes an issue of build-up where you have to rinse the protective layer off and re-apply.

June 17th, 2016, 08:35 AM
That being said, I can't use coconut oil, because it leaves my hair crunchy, for some reason. It keeps protein in your hair, I think, but doesn't actually have protein. If you use a lot of protein conditioners and then use coconut oil on top of it. It might be brittle & even break... but I somehow think you'd have to pile on the protein for it to do that.

June 17th, 2016, 12:32 PM
I think it's pretty easy to over-oil hair, which can make it coated with build-up, etc, but I don't see this leading to breakage automatically. Of course, if the hair becomes so sticky with oils that it adds more "drag" while detangling or styling or otherwise manipulating hair, then it could lead to some breakage potentially.
But in and of itself, I don't really see how oil can cause breakage. At least, I've never seen any studies on this.

I have, however, seen a study that showed (among other things) how thick butters can reduce hair's combability (which could potentially add to breakage if one is not very careful with detangling, I would imagine):
Brazilian oils and butters: the effect of different fatty acid chain composition on human hair physiochemical properties: http://journal.scconline.org/pdf/cc2009/cc060n02/p00273-p00280.pdf, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19450426


"Oil treatments rendered about a 60% reduction of combing force at wet conditions. The reduction of combing forces is a combination of water wetting and the lubricant effects of the oil on the fibers. Butters, however, increased the combing force giving negative values for the reduction of combing force percentage. As expected, butters in raw state are not as fluid as oils and do not spread easily along hair tresses. The Brazilian nut, passion fruit seed, palm olein, buriti and mineral oils (control) produced a combing force reduction statistically different from the reference (hair tress before treatment)."

"In dry condition combing analysis, the reduction of combing force percentage is around 19% and statistically different after treatments with Brazilian nut, passion fruit seed and mineral oil. Once again, butters rendered negative values of reduction of combing force percentage. This results point that the lubricating effect of oils is less pronounced to dry tresses."

Somebody asked about the drying capacity of oils (http://www.tis-gdv.de/tis_e/misc/trocknun.htm), so I'll just re-post what I wrote about it here, if it's OK:

Drying capacity of oils: BACK TO INDEX

How drying capacity of oils can relate to hair: (blog) http://ktanihairsense.blogspot.com/2011/12/understanding-drying-capacity-of-oils.html

Organic Analysis: A Manual of the Descriptive and Analytical Chemistry of Certain Carbon Compounds in Common Use (pp. 282 - 284)

List of common hair/skin oils and their iodine values: http://thesoapdish.com/oil-properties-chart.htm
Alternatively: http://soapcalc.net/calc/OilList.asp (Click on "Iodine Value" and "download" if you want to get it in Excel file.)
Iodine value < 100 : Non-drying oil (Contact with oxygen does not cause any appreciable drying.)
Iodine value 100 - 130 : Semi-drying oil
Iodine value 130 - 190+ : Drying oil (They dry, oxidize, polymerize fairly rapidly on contact with atmospheric oxygen and can leave resinous build-up if used very heavily.)

The iodine value is a measure of the amount of unsaturated fatty acids in the oil. A fatty acid that is missing any hydrogen atoms is classified as unsaturated. The higher the iodine value, the greater the amount of "unsaturation" and the less stable the oil is and the more vulnerable it is to oxidation and free radical production with time and heat. Oils rich in polyunsaturated fats tend to have higher iodine value.

The same polymerization phenomenon that makes drying oils so wonderful for painting is what might make it problematic for hair length, I think? :hmm: I'm not sure about this, because I haven't seen any studies on this and how it relates to hair.
But personally, I experienced some sort of "resinous" build-up from using grapeseed oil exclusively for a few months. Clarifying didn't actually help right away, I had to lay off that oil completely for a few months while continuing with clarifying for the residue to be completely gone. I do like many drying oils, but I am more careful with amounts and frequency of use now.
Still, I don't think they cause any breakage, just somewhat resistant build-up maybe. :hmm:

As for coconut oil:
I'm under the impression that the reason there is quite a bit of confusion on coconut oil & protein connection is because of misinterpreting this study: Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage - http://journal.scconline.org/pdf/cc2003/cc054n02/p00175-p00192.pdf (full study in open access)

In this study, the usefulness of coconut oil for preventing hair damage from washing and post-wash combing was measured by how much coconut oil reduced protein loss (in ug/g) in hair (as well as by how much coconut oil reduced water retention % index). Hair losing its own weight in protein is a symptom of hair damage, and coconut oil reduces loss of hair's own protein. This has nothing to do with any external proteins, products, "protein in coconut oil" (uncontaminated oil is 100% fat, and has no protein in it), etc...

But coconut oil can certainly make hair crunchy - just let a heavy coat of CO solidify in hair to see this. But that's a completely different issue from "protein overdose". And, by the way, over-oiling can make hair feel crunchy, too (and not just with coconut oil), as well as lank and stringy. My guess is crunchy hair can be easier to break, if one isn't very careful with detangling and manipulating hair. That's why I try not to use too much coconut oil in cool temperatures, at least.

In a nutshell, I think over-oiling (without clarifying) could potentially cause some problems, but not directly, rather with adding drag while detangling, attracting lint/dust, which could become tangle-starters later. The less slip the hair has, the easier it is to break it while manipulating it, I would imagine, so I'd be careful not to over-oil or cause too much of any other type of coating build-up.

Is there a point where there really is too many vitamins in your hair?
I wouldn't worry about it. :) Hair is dead organic matter. There is no way for it to utilize vitamins applied topically. I'd save vitamins for internal use (in healthy doses) and some vitamins (with appropriate delivery system) can work to some extent topically on skin, but not on hair.

June 17th, 2016, 04:50 PM
Thanks, meteor! That was very informative.