The beauty and wellness industry is one of the fastest growing industries in Asia, specifically in India. In 2005, the personal care product market in India was worth more than US $950 million, and it is growing at more than 15–20% per year.1 In recent years, the demand for organic, natural and nature-identical products has rejuvenated the importance of plant-based raw materials for personal care products rather than fossil fuel-based materials, which have received bad press.
Vegetable oils and their derivatives occupy a large share of these plant-based raw materials and a large quantity of them in their natural form are used in hair care. In India specifically, hair oils are popular products and one of the leaders on the market is coconut oil. In fact, the branded virgin coconut oil market alone in India accounts for better than US $260 million.2
The application of hair oil is an Indian tradition passed down through generations and spread nationwide. For 6,000 years, the country’s indigenous medicinal system of Ayurveda has instructed women to maintain their long tresses by heating various herbs in coconut or vegetable oils and massaging the mixture vigorously into the hair. This exercise, if conducted daily as a pre-wash conditioning step, has been said to lower the incidence of scalp conditions ranging from simple dryness, flakiness and itchiness to Tinea capitis and psoriasis.3 This exercise is also said to help keep the hair shaft soft and supple, thus reducing hair loss from combing or brushing.4 A typical hair oil used is shown in Formula 1.