Both dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis are fueled by a fungus genus known as Malassezia (m. globosa, primarily). This lovely little fungus (thank you, Wiki and the World Wide Web!) not only eats the fatty acids in oils (namely, oleic acid), but it also expels a slightly mutated version of these acids back onto the scalp. Too much oleic acid can cause multiple problems for someone trying to grow thick, healthy hair:
- Excess oil, along with the body’s natural oils, clogs the follicles, thinning and even causing hair to fall out.
- Oleic acid is still an acid, too much and will damage the regeneration of the scalp cells, speeding up the normal process and causing that severe itching and flaking we so know and love.
So, what does this mean for my hair regimen?
Simple: I cannot focus any oils onto my scalp. If I do, that oil had better be low in oleic acid.
I’m ashamed to say that my original list of oils were not the best candidates for low-oleic properties. Add that to the fact that I had a lot of them, and…well…just bad decisions all around.
After much research and a wonderful chart of chemistry, I have revamped my list of oils and am determined to keep that list within 5 products. The following is my original list of items and how I’ve swapped them out. Notice the difference in the percentages of oleic acid:
Old Oil Regimen
New Oil Regimen
As you can see, none of my new oils exceed an oleic content of 25%. I have worked for years with all of these oils (except jojoba and cranberry seed oil), and so far, their isolated applications have caused me none of the dreadful itching and flaking fits that, say, neem oil (49 – 62%) and olive oil (65 – 80%!!!) have.
As for jojoba and cranberry seed, I’ve been hearing for years how much people love jojoba oil and only avoided it due to its price. Cranberry seed is chock full of vitamins E and A and so naturally assists in extending product shelf life and—reportedly—UV protection.
I’m a bit bummed that I am so sensitive to oleic acid, as there were a lot of oils that I wanted to test out: baobab, babassu, tamanu, and argan oil, to name a few. Reducing the quantity of oils I purchase at once saves me money for more expensive options, but I can no longer deny what my body just doesn’t like. So, all four are out:
- Baobab: 30 – 40%
- Babassu: 10 – 18%
- Tamanu: ~40 – 45%
- Argan: 40 – 50%
Wait. Hold up.
Looks like Boabab is still a contender.
I might have to keep that in mind. J
One final note: Many oils out there are reputed to work for the very conditions that it aggravates in me. So please don’t cut out any staples that have worked for you and your hair health.
And so the hair journey continues!