Petroleum derivatives, like mineral oil and liquid paraffin, are another controversial topic in the world of hair care – particularly in natural hair communities! On the surface petroleum derivatives seem like a workable solution to fighting frizz and dryness. After all they’re occlusive, have the ability to enhance curl formation, and are wallet friendly. Unfortunately, there’s a darker side of petroleum derivatives. They’re easy to quickly ‘overdo’ because they’re often high in the ingredient list, difficult to remove from the hair, and offer no nourishing or restorative benefits. Apart from lacking nutritive properties, they create tacky buildup that attracts dirt and dust, dulling the hair as well as blocking nutrients from penetrating. Additionally, petroleum derived ingredients are a nonrenewable resource. Because we’re committed to using green, sustainable practices whenever possible that’s quite a large drawback.
The use of petroleum derivatives creates a cycle of dependency that encourages and exacerbates dryness. Because of their tendency to create build up, petroleum derivatives require more frequent washing which can lead to moisture-induced stress (aka hygral fatigue). This causes loss of protein, natural and artificial color fading, split ends, and breakage. In turn, this creates more frizz driving the need for more frizz fighting.
Essentially petroleum derivatives create a very temporary fix for frizz while offering none of the nourishing benefits that plant derived oils do. Correctly used silicones as well as botanically derived oils are a much better choice of occlusives as they not only create a barrier around the hair shaft but do so in a way that is easy to remove. The added plus of botanically derived oils are the many beneficial components they contain like antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids – all essential for maintaining healthy hair.
Although there are some small benefits to petroleum derived ingredients the drawbacks render those benefits negligible. If you’re interested in healthy, frizz free hair petroleum derivatives are not for you. Plant derived oils, and products that contain them, give you wonderful frizz fighting power while also feeding your hair with the good things it needs.