So, after a long hiatus, G and I are back with our latest discovery--coconut oil! I attended a natural hair care workshop sponsored by a children's organization I'm in, and the facilitator stressed that natural oils are best on children's hair. Now, I've been using everything but, and really had no issues, so I wasn't convinced that this was necessary, and just kind of took her comments with a grain of salt. In researching some products for my own hair, I discovered that there are only a few oils whose oil molecules are small enough to enter the hair shaft, among them palm oil, and coconut. This made me reconsider the use of natural oils on baby hair. I should point out that my "baby" is going to be two this week, but she has a little brother on the way, so I am still very much in the baby hair care game!
Now, back to oil: I use Ojon on my own hair, which is a highly-marketed, heavily scented palm oil that frankly costs too much and smells like burnt coffee grinds. So, I dug in the back of our junk closet, and found some extra virgin coconut oil samples my husband and I brought back from our honeymoon in Fiji. The coconut oils we have are all scented (which I would not use on a newborn or small infant) but since G is almost 2 and hasn't reacted to the fragrance in many products, I felt it would be o.k. to try on her hair.
Well, I have to say, I was more than pleasantly surprised. Georgia's hair had been getting a little more fro-ish and a little less "ringlet-ish." It wasn't so much the texture as it was the dryness. We had been using a combination of the Curly Q's products (which are good) and the It's a Curl products (both from Curlz.biz), but were finding that by the end of a day, G's hair was still a little dry. Overnight, it would dry out even more and morning comb-out was a challenge. The first time I used the coconut oil on G's hair, we used it as a pre-shampoo treatment. We are still using It's a Curl Peekaboo shampoo because the Curly Q's shampoo is not tearless and my poor little Georgia still doesn't "get" that she needs to tilt her head back to keep the soap from getting in her eyes. As I said in my review however, the shampoo is a little drying, so it's good to have a pre-shampoo treatment now that her hair has less natural oil. I noticed a difference in her hair right away in terms of being less dry and more manageable. After the wash, we (her dad does her hair sometimes) put the oil in her wet hair and braided it up overnight (no elastics). The next day, G's hair was soft and silky, and not the least bit greasy.
We still use other products on her hair, but whenever her hair feels a little dry we use a little (or a lot of) coconut oil on the ends of her hair and on her scalp. I really think this treatment is "saving" her hair. It stays soft, and her curls are better defined and there is much less frizz factor.
Now, the oils we use are still our samples from Fiji, but you don't need to go that far to find "virgin coconut oil." Several retailers (Vitamin Shoppe, Amazon) carry various brands of coconut oil at varying prices. Just make sure whatever product you get is 100% coconut oil, and not just "coconut-flavored" or just "contain coconut oil" since a lot of products containing coconut oil junk it up with things like petrolatum and mineral oil. From what I can see, there is not difference between coconut oil used for cooking and cosmetics. It does appear that oils marketed as cosmetics cost a lot more, without appearing to be markedly different. Coconut oil often has no scent if extracted with a chemical technique. The more natural oils retain that "coconut smell." As far as using "virgin coconut oil," it doesn't appear that (non-virgin oil) is bad or harmful. Apparently, the difference between "virgin coconut oil" and regular coconut oil has to do with the extraction process and whether it is chemically extracted or expressed by some other mechanic or natural means. For the use on the hair, I'm not sure how much difference it makes, since at the end of the day, the properties are the same.
Our oil was unscented to begin with, and then the fragrance was added. When I have to buy some more, I would probably get an unscented version, especially for use on the newborn on the way. The other thing to know is: this stuff lasts forever. Coconut oil tends to solidify at lower temperatures--which can be as high as 70 some odd degress. It liquifies immediately with the slightest amount of body heat and is completely clear, but untouched is basically a white solid. A little goes a very long way, but it is still very light, so it doesn't weigh down the hair or gunk it up.
So, I must say, in terms of the use of natural oil on children's hair: I stand corrected! I strongly recommend the use of coconut oil to combat dryness and frizzies on your fro-baby! Happy fro-ing!