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The October edition of InStyle tells us that Charlize Theron's top must haves include emu oil. Yes, she regularly rubs the fat from a large flightless bird into her hair. I am known to do the same and I need a replacement for my near finished bottle from Skin Biology. I have already decided that I am not going to buy the Skin Biology oil again. It really does look like melted fat and it smells like a farmyard.

Happily, my research for a better class of emu oil took me to Uniquely Emu, which sells a triple refined, odorless and completely clear oil called Clearly Emu ($26 in TIA store). An oil worthy of Charlize's coif. But what's with emu oil anyway?

Emu oil is actually very close to human sebum and, hence, our skins will easily absorb and process its goodness. It contains essential fatty acids: linolenic, linoleic, oleic, and palmitic. Linolenic (omega-3 EFA) and linoleic (omega-6 EFA).  Oleic is a known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Specifically, topical applications of emu oil may result in the growth of thicker hair….. both a thickening of existing hair shafts (which shrink in diameter with age) and a “re-awakening” of the dormant (sleeping) hair shafts (which increase as a percentage of total hair shafts with age).

In fact, a Dr. Michael Holick at Boston University School of Medicine conducted a study on mice which was designed to quantify the effect of emu oil on hair growth and hair regrowth. The Holick team saw 20% increase in DNA synthesis, which means that there was a 20% increase in the proliferation activity, or the growth activity of the skin in the animals that received emu oil, compared to the animals that received corn oil.

Also amazing 80% of hair follicles that had been asleep were woken up and began growing hair. Overly simplified, normal hair follicles alternate between a resting phase and a growth phase, and topical applications of Emu oil were a wake up call for these snoozing hair follicles….in mice.

Balding men take note: emu oil may inhibit 5 alpha reductase – a body chemical that is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into DHT. It is known that DHT is strongly implicated in the onset and progression of male-pattern baldness. When Emu oil is applied onto balding parts of the scalp, it works to de sterilize the DHT-producing components of hair follicles.

Emu oil can be used on its own, or with a hair growth treatment such as Folligen. Experiment with a daily rub into the scalp and a once a week all-over hair mask.