The women of Kerala, in southern India, are renowned the world over for their long, thick, shiny locks. I think in general most people know, or consider, East Indian women as having the most beautiful hair in the world.
Genetics? Maybe. It’s certainly true that nature does seem to have endowed them with naturally long, thick, abundant hair.
But I think a great part of their secret is what they choose to DO to make the most of and ENHANCE what nature had already given them.
And among all their haircare routines, HAIR OILING is what most stands out.
If you don’t believe me, let me show you a photo of what MY hair looks like since I started a practice of REGULAR HAIR OILING:
I certainly don’t have Indian hair. And I do agree, I also don’t have kinky locks that curl inwards very tightly, so I realize that at least to a certain extent, genetics do play a part in the kind of hair you have.
But regardless of what type of hair nature decided to give you, I feel that EVERYONE can achieve the most beautiful locks and make the most of whatever you DO have naturally, with hair oiling.
Hair Oiling Basics
So, this is how I oil my hair.
I do it twice a week. You can do it just once a week, or more often if you like. The women of Kerala oil their hair absolutely every single day. They even walk around with their hair sleek with oil the whole day long, and go out on the streets with oiled hair. It’s a normal practice in their society, and if you go out with oiled hair no one is going to come up to you and say, Ew, what greasy hair you have!
Of course here in the West you can’t go out on the streets with oiled hair, or people will come up to you and say, Ew, what greasy hair you have!
But you can most certainly walk around your home with oiled hair.
Benefits of Hair Oiling
- Oiling your hair will make your hair MUCH STRONGER and more resistant to breakage, keeping it from becoming fragile.
- Oiling your hair will prevent split ends.
- It will make your hair MUCH softer and shinier and bouncier.
- It will protect your hair from damaging elements and the heat of hair styling.
- It will encourage hair growth and prevent baldness.
- It will help your hair grow long, since it won’t break off or fall off as much, and because you won’t have to trim it as much since you won’t have so many split ends.
- It can repair your hair if you’ve already damaged it (and most people have damaged hair, what with chemical hair dyes, hair dryers, flat irons and hot curlers and the like……).
- Although I don’t know if it’s true, the women of Kerala claim that oiling your hair regularly will also prevent white hair.
As I said, I do hair oiling twice a week. I always use either pure coconut oil or pure olive oil. I’ve also prepared a mixture of castor oil with olive oil which I use for the roots, as it’s supposed to encourage hair growth and prevent hair from falling.
I dunno but I do seem to find a LOT less hair shedding since I started this routine.
Steps For Oiling Your Hair
I always follow the same steps. It works, at least for me.
I begin with dry hair. I apply hair to the roots first, from the middle of the part downwards on both sides. I simply dip my fingers into the oil and rub them in the hair. I do this until all the roots are covered, and then I give myself a relaxing, soothing massage.
Next, I divide the hair into two on each side. I cover both palms with oil and stroke (or rather, pour, as I’m a bit wild haha) the oil all the way down the hair to the tips.
I do this several times until all the hair is saturated with oil.
After that, I dip just the tips of my fingers into the oil and finger comb the hair to get rid of all the tangles. I have coarse, curly hair that naturally just LOVES to tangle, so I usually have tangled hair. And I have found that this step makes a HUGE difference in the way the hair looks afterwards!
One final stroke of oil all the way through from crown to tip, and it’s done!
Your hair should look somewhat like this when it’s finished:
After this, you can put your hair in a shower cap or wrap it up in a towel if you like. I find that very uncomfortable, and prefer to put my hair up in a plait. You can make one or two plaits.
Most people get satisfactory results keeping the oil on just one hour. I always keep it a minimum of two hours and longer if possible. That simply gives the oil more time to penetrate into the core of the hair shafts, which is where it works its magic.
The deeper the oil penetrates into the hair shaft, the more it is working in there, strengthening the hair and moisturizing it.
When you wash the hair later on, the oil will be stripped from the outside of the hair shaft. But if you’ve left it on long enough, there will still be oil INSIDE the hair shaft, where it will continue moisturizing your hair and providing it with flexibility and strength. Hence that glorious soft sensation after you’ve been oiling your hair.
Some people like to sleep with oil in their hair overnight and wash it out in the morning in the shower. I like to take a shower at night, so I put the oil on in the evening and keep it on until it’s time to take a shower.
If you’re going to sleep with oil in your hair, you can just cover your pillows with towels.
Washing It Out
When I get into the shower, I wash the oil out with shampoo and condition as usual, or use a hair masque.
I find one washing more than enough for the length, but I do need a second washing for the roots, which are oilier.
I used to use normal shampoo but I’ve switched to natural soap (either solid or liquid) and bar shampoo, because I want to be as natural as possible, and avoid toxic chemical detergents.
I do need conditioner or a masque at the end. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, washing the hair removes the oil on the outside of the shaft, so you still need something to smooth down the hair cuticles and make the hair soft, manageable and easy to comb. And that is what conditioner does.
The second reason is because, with the Medusa locks that I was naturally gifted with, that were programmed to tangle right from the start, the only way I can possibly get a comb through my hair is with gobs and gobs of conditioner on top!
If you have thick, coarse, curly hair like me, the best type of comb to use is a wide-toothed one. I never use a fine-toothed comb or a brush. A brush would just pull out all the natural ringlets.
But you should choose your comb or brush according to the type of hair you have and what works best for you. Straight hair seems to do very well with a vigorous brushing every day.
Dry, Dry, Dry My Hair
I always air dry my hair and shy away from dryers or irons. I really don’t understand people’s obsession with ironing away their gorgeous natural curls. Curly hair is, in my opinion, much more exciting than straight hair. And it’s also rarer, throughout the world, since the majority of people have straight hair. Which makes your curls more special, I say.
It’s true that perhaps in some countries, like Spain, curly hair is the norm. So if you live in Spain and you have curly hair, it might make you feel like your hair is ordinary and everyday and run-of-the-mill.
But really, if you look at people throughout the world, most people have straight hair and it is really straight hair that is more everyday and run-of-the-mill.
Sometimes, people with curls complain that their curls are frizzy, so they need to iron the frizz away.
Well, personally, I don’t feel like you have to grab the hair-damaging iron to get rid of the frizz. If you start oiling your hair, it should naturally become less frizzy just simply as a result of the hair oiling.
Then, if you still have frizz, there are products out there to get rid of frizz. And you don’t need to call upon the iron, which burns your precious locks.
In India hair oiling is a real pleasurable experience. People don’t have to oil their own hair there. In India people live with their extended families, so in most households there are many women. All the women get together to oil each other’s hair. So it is a very pleasurable activity. Women chat as they oil each other’s hair. Or the woman who is getting her hair oiled can do whatever she wants, watch TV, read a book, whatever, as long as she sits still, and other women oil her hair. Then she oils other women’s hair.
It’s also customary for all the women to gather together and sit down together and oil each other’s hair while they chit-chat. It’s like a quilting party, but instead of making quilts they oil each other’s hair.
Of all the things you can do to preserve the health of your hair, I feel that hair oiling is the king and the queen and reigns supreme on the list of good things you can do to your hair. If you try it and keep up a regular practice, I’m SURE you will soon notice the difference.
So, how about you? Have you tried oiling your hair? What results did you find? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment. I LURRRVE (positive, non-spammy) comments from readers!
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