Beat Dry Hair Woes with Sunflower Oil This Winter

One of the first crops grown in the Americas, sunflowers have always been a staple in my kitchen. Though sunflowers looked quite differently back then, we can attribute the reform of the sunflower's health benefits to Peter the Great. That's right, the Czar of Russia wasn't just known for reforming the Russian army — he also fell in love with the sunflower. In the 18th century, though the sunflower is native to America, Peter the Great separated the cultivation of the seed for consumption and oil production and growing a whopping two million acres of flowers annually. By 1830, the sunflower made a comeback to the Americas... and when I say comeback, I'm talkin' like when Mariah fell off the contemporary hits chart and came back with those sick R&B beats. Yes, it was that serious.

The sunflower we know today has everything you could ever want for healthy skin, hair, and eyes. Since I've found sunflower oil to be significantly cheaper than olive oil, I've used it for almost all of my cooking. I've also been using sunflower oil in my hair for years to seal in moisture not just because I find the light scent more pleasant than EVOO, but also because sunflower oil is a strong emollient that my hair needs to stay moisturized.

Sunflower oil is rich in vitamins A, D, and C, which makes for a powerful skincare ingredient. That vitamin E content though? That's the business. Since sunflower oil is so rich in vitamin E, it has amazing anti-aging properties while fighting off free radicals that we know are harmful to a healthy, toned complexion.

Let's also talk linoleic acid for a moment. This essential fatty acid has gotten a reputation for being one of the most effective ingredients to treat skin disorders like acne, eczema, and premature aging. This beautiful flower is not just a healthy snack to hold you over until dinner, it's an equally healthy treat for your skin too!

Here are just a few of my favorite ways to use sunflower oil to keep my hair game tight and my skin smooth and touchable.

1. Lotion

True story: My skin feels like a newborn baby and I attribute most ofl those compliments on the softness of my bod to sunflower oil. I use 75 percent shea butter and 25 percent combined of sunflower and coconut oil as the base for my lotion, first heating at a low temperature to mix the oils together. Then I add some healthy, lovely smelling essential oils for a nice scent, plus extra skin benefits like reducing scars. After removing the oils from the stove, add a few drops of frankincense and lemon essential oil to your mixture after before it cools, mixing well. The shea butter will go back to its natural form once it becomes room temperature, creating a great texture for lotion. Rub your new body moisturizer on right after you shower, patting any excess dry if you need.

2. Hair Mist

My usual hair mist needed some modifications now that the wind and cold temperatures are here. I use 75 percent homemade lavender water, a few drops of lavender essential oil, and then add 25 percent sunflower oil and spritz my hair before bed each night. This helps stimulate hair growth, seal in moisture, and doesn't smell up my pillows. Use your mist daily for best results.

3. Hot Oil Treatment

A great hot oil treatment for curly girls AND transitioning babes needs to be moisturizing while not weighing those locks down. Hot oil treatments are great in between deep conditions or washes to restore moisture or for a serious detangling session. Use equal parts sunflower, coconut, and apricot seed oils and heat at a low temperature. Massage from the ends to the root and use a heat styling cap and/or a hot towel in lieu of a hair dryer.

Image: Vishwas Krishna, Vlademar Fishmen/Flickr; Kristin Collins Jackson