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Beauty-savvy ladies often aren't afraid to think a little outside the box when it comes to using different products, especially ones designed for their hair. Some ladies swear lotion is the best thing for keeping locks soft and manageable, but others insist lotion is a recipe for disaster. Who is right or wrong depends on the hair you put the lotion on, as well as exactly how the lotion is formulated.
Oil and Water
Whether lotion is good or bad for your hair depends a lot on whether it is water- or oil-based. Most lotions are oil-based and are designed to moisturize. This means they form a protective layer to keep water from getting out. These types of lotions do not actually put water back into the hair, but they do play a role in moisture regulation.
Why Lotions Are Spiffy
If your lotion is water-based, the water in the lotion actually can penetrate the hair strand. With just the right amount of water in your hair, it won't be as brittle and shouldn't break as much. If the lotion is oil-based, it will smooth and protect the cuticle. The cuticle is the outermost layer of your hair; it is made up of little scales of a protein called keratin. The scales in the cuticle normally overlap each other and sit fairly flat, forming a layer that protects the inner parts of the hair strand and regulates moisture absorption and loss. Smoothing the cuticle with lotion helps keeps your hair hydrated and makes it reflect light better, which the eye translates as shine. Oil-based lotions can help keep your strands soft, as well.
Why Lotions Are Iffy
Water is necessary for flexible, healthy hair, but if you get too much water in, the hair strands will swell too much; your hair will either frizz or fall flat because of the weight of the moisture, depending on your hair type. Water cannot protect the strands from the outside the way oil can; it simply evaporates or comes off too easily. On the other hand, if your lotion contains oil, it can coat your hair to the point of making it look greasy and weighing the strands down. Oil can hold in dirt, and it takes a good cleanser to get it off.
If You Plan to Use One
There really is no rule that says you can't use lotion on your tresses. However, you do have to pay attention to your hair type, and the ingredients have to be safe for your hair. Coarser hair can take slightly heavier products because the cuticles are more open; it takes a little more oomph to restore moisture and get the cuticle to sit properly. If your hair is fine, you're going to need the absolute lightest lotion you can possibly get. Otherwise, your hair will end up lifeless and pulled down. No matter what your hair type, stick to all-natural lotions formulated to be noncomedogenic (won't cause acne) so your scalp doesn't become irritated and chemicals don't damage your hair. Only use a teeny amount of lotion, concentrating on the tips where damage and dryness tend to be worst. Take your hygiene routine into consideration, too. If you wash your hair every day, you strip away oil more often and won't get lotion buildup, but if you go every other day or more, skip the lotion step or your tresses will look greasy.