Author(s): S B Ruetsch
An attempt has been made to show the difference in the penetrability of coconut oil and mineral oil in human hair. We have used secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) in combination with a time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer. Characteristic ions formed by the pure components when bombarded with gallium ions have been identified with their m/z values. The distribution of the ion, characteristic of the particular treatment, has been established in the cross sections of hair treated with coconut and mineral oils. The results show that coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft while mineral oil does not. The difference may be due to the polarity of the coconut oil compared to the nonpolar nature of the mineral oil. The affinity of the penetrant to the protein seems to be the cause for this difference in their behavior. This study also indicates that the swelling of hair is limited by the presence oil. Since the process of swelling and deswelling of hair is one of the causes of hair damage by hygral fatigue, coconut oil, which is a better penetrant than mineral oil, may provide better protection from damage by hygral fatigue.