Depending on who you are, and how textured your hair is- oil is either that aunt you wish would stop visiting or your favorite rich uncle that never does.
So there’s a lot of information on scalp oil out there that seems to be conflicting but for kinky coily curly textured hair – sebum is rich uncle Phil. And we love rich uncle Phil.
Today, we learn about sebum.
Sebum is a thick waxy oil that is created in your sebaceous glands that actually starts coating your hair long before it comes out of your scalp. When sebum reaches your scalp it mixes with sweat to form a protective layer called an acid mantle. This waxy acidic oil’s purpose is to condition the skin and act as a protective barrier for your hair and skin to prevent internal moisture loss. The acid mantle is a very effective barrier against invading microorganisms, viruses and bacteria and disruption or change in this layer can cause dandruff – because dandruff is actually the result of fungal overgrowth on the scalp – but that’s a topic for another day.
Sebum is made up of a variety of fatty lipids that are similar to those found in most conditioners like cholesterol, wax esters, squalene, and fatty acids. In fact, a well-formulated hair product contains compounds that mimic the natural composition of our hair and scalp.
As part of this protecting function, sebum slides down the hair shaft coating each strand, however in the case of coily, kinky, and highly textured hair, all those bends curls slow down this flow. To make matters more challenging, textured hair kinks, making our cuticles are more susceptible to damage. This golden formulation protects your hair as well as seals in natural moisture.
Usually, life for someone with textured hair involves many deep conditioning sessions. We use heat to help our cuticles lift so moisture can penetrate enough to last for a couple of days. So as you can imagine we are constantly disturbing our cuticles to maintain some level of moisture in our hair.
Full sebum coverage means we wouldn’t need as much product at all because moisture retention is stabilized. I‘m not saying that you won’t need a deep conditioning session once in a while but with complete Sebum coverage, you will definitely need them less often.
So now you’re thinking- sebum sounds great! How do I make sure I have an extra supply?
Sebum production is linked to healthy hair production, so everything you love doing for your health like, exercise, drinking lots of water, eating all your veggies: all those fun things lead to healthy amounts of sebum production.
You may find information on the water-only method for total or complete sebum coverage, but there are so many tricks and tips to this method – that it would require an entire chapter on its own.
But suppose you have the opposite problem – your sebum works overtime and is causing oily scalp and even oilier hair.
Oily scalp is caused by a number of reasons, such as the weather, what you wear on your head, Stress, poor diet, hormonal fluctuations. It could also just be hereditary or taking certain medications; the point is overproduction of sebum is caused by a lot of reasons – but it is a problem largely and I mean largely affected by people with straight hair – so don’t knock the sebum just yet!
If however, you do have an excessively oily scalp – there are tests that you can do to ‘verify’ but if you think it’s too oily, it probably is. (okrr)
You can either combat the issue in the long term for prevention , or in the short term for relief but it’s probably best to tackle it from both sides. For regular, or short term remedy, use raw undiluted ACV that contains mother because it is a rich source of probiotics and apply it directly onto the scalp, and wash after about 4 hours. For long term prevention and relief it is recommended the consistent use of pure tea tree essential oil. With its astringent properties it helps to reduce oily discharge of the scalp by regulating the production of Sebum. 4 drops can be added to 60 mls or 2 tbsp of shampoo every time you wash your hair. You can also add 8-10 drops to 120mls of aloe vera juice and use it as a daily spritz to your hair and scalp. This will help prevent oil production and improve the appearance of flat and oily hair.