Effect of oil films on moisture vapor absorption on human hair

J Cosmet Sci. 2007 Mar-Apr;58(2):135-45.


In this paper sorption and desorption of water vapor on hair fibers treated with various oils is investigated, using a dynamic vapor sorption (DVS) apparatus. Results show lower "equilibrium" sorption of moisture for various oil-treated samples compared to the untreated sample. Coconut oil-treated hair had a higher regain than mineral oil-treated hair. Although treating the hair samples with oil reduced moisture pickup, a considerable amount of moisture vapor was still able to penetrate into hair fibers. Calculated hysteresis plots show that the samples treated with different oils have slightly higher moisture retention at low relative humidities compared to that of the untreated sample, which suggests a beneficial effect. The calculated moisture diffusion coefficients for oil-treated samples were much lower compared to the untreated hair fibers, suggesting that surface oil films and penetrated oil molecules form a diffusion barrier. A moisture diffusion model is discussed in terms of the possible role of fiber swelling on restrictive narrowing of the cell membrane complexes (CMCs), which form the diffusion pathways in the fiber. The effect of film thickness on moisture absorption and the reverting of the sorption isotherm to that of the untreated hair after removal of the oil film shows that oil film is the main resistance to moisture diffusion. The lowering of the diffusion coefficient of water vapor by oil films will slow the loss of moisture, an effect similar to "moisturization" of hair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Coconut Oil
  • Hair / metabolism*
  • Hair Preparations / pharmacology*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Mineral Oil / administration & dosage
  • Mineral Oil / pharmacology*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Water / metabolism*


  • Hair Preparations
  • Plant Oils
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Water
  • Mineral Oil
  • Coconut Oil