I'm always super excited whenever I learn something new in the world of healthy hair. Right now I'm just smitten about results of a study conducted by the University of Technology in Thailand in 2005. This study was on the effects of eucalyptus extract on the properties of the hair and scalp.
In the study, a lotion solution containing 3% eucalyptus extract was used twice a day, on the scalp, of test subjects, for several months. This was done to test the effects of consistent use of eucalyptus extract both on the hair and scalp. The study concluded that, with 3 months of consistent use, the amount of ceramide in the scalp increased. The skin on the scalp of the test subjects also improved form the use of the lotion. This was observed by increased moisture retention levels on the scalp.
But here's where the good stuff comes! By applying the eucalyptus lotion on the scalp consistently, the test subjects experienced noticeably healthier hair. The scientists measured this by first having beauticians analyze the subjects for visible signs of health such as gloss, luster, bounce, etc. Almost all of the women in the study were observed to have visibly healthier looking hair.
The hair was then measured for elasticity. After measuring elasticity levels, they determined that with consistent use of eucalyptus, elasticity and luster improved. Here's the kicker, the same amazing results did not occur when the lotion was applied to the length of the hair . Their theory is that since noticeable changes didn't occur when the solution was used on the hair, the change must be taking place in the composition of the hair (i.e when the hair is being formed). So they measured the new growth of the study participants to find that the ceramide levels in the hair increased by 120%. Lemme repeat this one more time.....after 3 months of use, the test subjects increased ceramide levels by 120%! The article concluded that "the eucalyptus extract drastically affected the hair fiber properties, improving bending elasticity and luster by a change in the hair metabolism." Hence, the "improvements in the hair properties by the eucalyptus extract were the results of some change in the hair formation process." So essentially, by adding eucalyptus extract to the scalp, you are literally impacting how healthy your hair grows in. How exciting is that?!
Last year was when I first discovered ceramides. For those of us who aren't familiar with ceramides allow me to help shed some light. Ceramides pretty much act like the "sealer" that helps keep the cuticle layer in tact. The cuticle layer is what protects our hair from potential damage. I can almost guarantee you that if you were to look at various strands damaged hair under a microscope, one thing they'd all have in common is the degradation of the cuticle. The cuticle layer protects and the cuticle layer helps preserve moisture. Without it, our hair is vulnerable.
So let's wrap this up by stating the obvious. First off, ceramides are essential and, secondly, we negatively impact ceramide levels if/when we use relaxers. I have this (unproven) theory that if we start off with the healthiest hair imaginable prior to relaxing, then give our hair a bit of an advantage to preserving the health once the process is completed. The test subjects in the study were Japanese so their natural hair already contained adequate amounts ceramides. With that said, they were still able to take it to the next level by doubling their natural ceramide amounts. My guess is that hair with twice as much ceramide protection may fare better during the touch-up process.
What does this all mean for you? I say, go quickly out into the world and pick up some eucalyptus oil--stat! Please note that the test subjects used a lotion with only 3% solution to be effective so I don't want you guys using this stuff straight on so you can avoid any possible scalp irritation. Learning about these results further supports my method of using $2.00 spray bottles for applying essential solution to the scalp. Those of you who are consistent scalp massagers, adding a little eucalyptus to your carrier oil kicks it up a notch!
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to mist my scalp with some eucalyptus.
Check out the details of the full study here.