It’s no secret that the use of plant oils has achieved a great deal of popularity in the hair care community, and for good reason. Aside from adding a tremendous amount of moisture while enhancing shine and softness, many plant oils are absolutely loaded with nutrient compounds that can provide enormous benefits to your hair and scalp. For instance, rosehip seed oil is a potent source of vitamin a, which helps to increase cellular turnover and improve hair production. Additionally, oils such as sunflower seed oil and safflower oil contain high amounts of linoleic acid, a fatty acid that has been proven to enhance ceramide synthesis and improve skin and scalp barrier function. With all these incredible all-natural benefits, its no wonder why people have begun to flock towards plant oils for their hair care needs!
Of all these oils, however, perhaps the most popular plant oil for hair care has been flaxseed oil. Also known as linseed oil, flaxseed is one of the richest sources of the incredibly rare fatty acid called ALA, otherwise known as alpha-linolenic acid. ALA has become an incredibly popular nutrient in the past several decades, with its uses spanning the worlds of hair care, skin care, and physical health and nutrition. With flaxseed being one of the richest sources of ALA, millions have flocked to this superfood, with countless reports of its benefits when used topically or ingested. Read below to learn more about this incredible ingredient and see if it’s right for you!
What is Flaxseed Oil?
Flax, also known as linseed, is one of the most widely grown crops in the world. Flax has been cultivated for thousands of years, largely for the purpose of using it as a textile to create linen sheets and clothing. As for the oil, flaxseed oil is obtained by pressing the flaxseed via an oil extraction process. This oil has a multitude of industrial uses, such as in the creation of a wood varnish or a hardener in putty. When it comes to dietary usage, the oil is ingested due to the many benefits offered by its potent ALA content, such as a potential ability to help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health. Flaxseed oil can either be ingested directly, mixed with a shake, or ingested via a gel capsule form in order to obtain its full medicinal benefits.
All About the ALA
Flaxseed oil is a highly prized plant oil due to its nutrient-rich chemical composition. By far its most noteworthy nutrient is the fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid. ALA is what is known as an “essential” fatty acid, meaning that it cannot be created by the body alone and must be obtained from our diet. While this fatty acid is prominently found in flax, nuts, and fish, typical Western diets may be light on these foods, causing a deficiency in ALA. Thankfully, supplementation with an ALA-rich oil such as flaxseed oil is an easy and efficient way of feeding your body with this essential fatty acid without having to completely overhaul your diet!
In addition to ALA, flaxseed oil also contains:
· Linoleic acid: Another essential fatty acid, this polyunsaturated omega-6 acid is one of the primary nutrients when it comes to maintaining the health of our skin barrier.
· Oleic acid: This monosaturated fatty acid is extremely rich and indulgent, helping to provide the skin and hair with a tremendous amount of moisture.
· Amino acids: Parts of the building blocks of protein, these help the body carry out essential functions while promoting optimal health levels.
What Can Flaxseed Oil Do for Your Hair?
With this impressive nutrient profile, it’s not surprising that flaxseed oil has some amazing benefits for your hair and scalp, whether applied topically or ingested as a supplement.
Scalp Soothing and Healing
By far the most noteworthy effect of ALA is its potent anti-inflammatory action to the skin. ALA is a soothing, reparative fatty acid, and the supplementation of ALA can help to dramatically soothe and heal an irritated scalp. Conditions like eczema and dermatitis can cause severe scalp inflammation and supplementing with flaxseed oil can allow the ALA to work its magic and reduce inflammation.
Improve Hair Growth
We’ve mentioned this time and time again, but it bears repeating: the number one cause of hair loss is scalp inflammation! An inflamed scalp has a reduced ability to properly produce hair due to a weakened hair follicle, leading to stunted hair growth and even loss of hair. By adding an ALA-rich oil like flaxseed oil, you can easily treat scalp inflammation to allow for proper hair growth to occur and rejuvenate your weakened follicles.
Flaxseed oil is a nicely moisturizing oil, but its unique fatty acid composition allows for a more balanced delivery of moisture to the skin. Oleic acid in the oil provides a thick, occlusive layer that helps to seal moisture in the scalp and hair, while the linoleic acid in the oil provides a lighter, drier skin feel that is more penetrative and emollient. This makes flaxseed oil an excellent plant oil option for all hair types!
With its composition of amino acids and proteins, flaxseed oil helps to repair damaged hair bonds while improving the structural integrity of the hair strand. These nutrients can be a miracle worker on hair that is broken or damaged from chemical treatments or excessive styling, and they can allow the new hair to grow out stronger and more resilient in the future.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, flaxseed oil is an exceptional all-around ingredient that anyone can add to their hair care routine. While the most common form is via ingestion as a nutritional supplement, many have also seen benefits from adding directly to their scalp or by mixing with their favorite hair care products! For best results, look for a hair care product specifically formulated with flaxseed oil as its hero ingredient.