Commonly used to hydrate and style, hair oil has made a name for itself thanks to the endless benefits it provides for any hair type and texture.
Whether you currently use a hair oil in your routine or have only seen them in stores, we’re going to pull back the curtain and take a look at the benefits of using hair oil and what type works best for your hair. Oils might seem intimidating, but once you are familiar with how to use them, this small change is likely to make a big impact on your overall hair health and texture.
WHAT IS HAIR OIL?
Hair oils are hydrating oils that work to smooth, style, hydrate, repair damage, and more. We know that our hair already produces oil so why do we need another, separate oil? Jasmine Merinsky, a Toronto-based hairstylist, explained to HuffPost that, “similar to skin, we need oil to have healthy, strong hair. Oil lubricates the outer cuticle and strengthens the inner core by providing moisture to help keep the bonds strong.” Essentially, the good oils for hair replicate oil our body already produces.
Celebrity Stylist Mark Townsend told Forbes, “the benefit in most of the oils is all the fatty acids, which replace the lipids in your hair when it starts to get really fine. Right before it splits, that means there’s nothing holding it together, and all those lipids are gone so you need to replace them.” Hair oils can also offer heat protection which is extremely important for protecting your hair from damage and frizz. So if you find yourself wondering “why is my hair so frizzy?” hair oil may just be part of the solution you need.
THE BEST NATURAL HAIR OILS FOR HEALTHIER HAIR
1. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is known for being similar to the sebum oils our body already produces. It’s so similar in fact, that when using jojoba oil for hair, our body can’t tell the difference, so it absorbs more easily. You might have heard about jojoba oil in skincare products or cuticle oils, but its other talent is being especially great for your hair. Jojoba is a humectant which means it helps your hair retain and preserve moisture. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals that nourish hair, including vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin E, copper, and zinc. Jojoba oil contains a natural form of vitamin E which is an antioxidant. In addition to moisture and hydration, jojoba oil can help strengthen hair and prevent breakage.
2. Coconut Oil
It seems like coconut oil has found its way into every type of personal care product over the past few years. It's largely because of its massive versatility, but hair products are definitely one of the most popular uses. Coconut oil is used in many Pinterest DIY hair treatments and masks and that’s due to its ability to penetrate deeply into the hair shaft. Healthline reports that “coconut oil is predominantly made up of a medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid. This gives coconut oil a long, straight structure, which is more easily absorbed deep into the hair shaft.” Just remember, because it penetrates so deeply, it might take a few washes to completely remove from your hair. It depends on your hair porosity and texture.
Another great benefit is that coconut oil can help moisturize and hydrate hair while also preventing protein loss. According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition," coconut oil products may also be useful in preventing hair damage due to protein loss during grooming processes and ultraviolet (UV) exposure; however, more studies are needed to confirm this effect."
3. Castor Oil
You might have heard of Castor oil as a miracle hair growth elixir. It’s often included in lash and brow growth serums and other hair care products to stimulate the growth of hair. The benefits don’t stop at hair growth, however, with beneficial properties including hair hydration, dandruff prevention, and of course, it leaves your hair looking smooth and shiny. Castor oil is a long-chain fatty acid, that, like jojoba oil, helps provide essential proteins and nutrients to hair follicles, and also prevents hair follicle inflammation. While there are technically no existing studies that show castor oil can increase hair growth, it’s likely that its chemical makeup helps to protect the integrity of the hair follicle, giving way to healthy, growing hair.
It’s important to keep in mind that castor oil is much heavier than others and often needs to be diluted with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oils. Its dense composition makes it hard to completely remove from hair if it’s not diluted. For the best results and quality, be sure to look for cold-pressed castor oil.
4. Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil and “regular” almond oil are actually two different oils. According to Maple Holistics, “ Sweet almond oil is a fixed oil, a carrier oil which does not evaporate. Bitter almond oil (regular almond oil) is an essential oil, which is a volatile oil that does evaporate.”
When it comes to hair care, sweet almond oil is rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and vitamins like A, B, D, E, giving way to sweet almond oils claim to fame; helping dull hair become shinier and stronger. This oil is lighter so it's able to be easily absorbed into the hair cuticle to lock in hydration and ideal for fine hair. It’s moisturizing properties are also good for the scalp and can help prevent dandruff.
5. Tea Tree Oil
If castor oil is known as the hair growth elixir, tea tree oil is the scalp savior. It’s characterized by a pungent, medicinal smell and is often used in scalp and dandruff treatments. Tea tree oil is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antifungal. These properties make it ideal for hair detox treatments, with benefits surrounding issues like dandruff, psoriasis, product build-up, itchiness, and inflammation. For those reasons, tea tree oil is a powerful ingredient found in some all-natural hair cleansers.
While we recommend washing hair without shampoo, for dandruff treatment, Healthline recommends using a wash with 5% tea tree oil to your scalp. And for healthy hair, dilute tea tree oil (1 to 10 ratio) with a carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil and use the mixture every day to get the best results. If you’re not using a styling oil that is pre-mixed, be sure to dilute this oil because it can be irritating and hard to remove from hair if used by itself.
6. Argan Oil
Argan oil is a popular ingredient in skin and hair care products because it’s full of fatty acids that support hydration. Argan oil is also rich in vitamin E which can help prevent dryness and frizz. It contains linoleic acid (omega-9) and oleic acid (omega-6) which has been shown to “stimulate hair growth, maintain a healthy scalp condition and control water loss in your hair.” (Sister Scientist) These acids also “protect the hair from breakage during styling with heat tools. Oil treatment was also shown to reduce the formation of split ends, which can result in thicker, healthier-looking hair.”(Healthline)
Argan oil can be used as a hair mask, styling treatment, and more, on top of becoming a common ingredient in hair products like shampoos and conditioners. Because it is so light, this is an oil that can be used on its own or can be combined with other nourishing oils like coconut or castor.
All hair health starts at the scalp, and to support scalp health, argan oil has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which can help prevent or reduce conditions like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. For application, Argan oil can be applied to the scalp for 20-30 minutes to absorb the benefits.
WHICH HAIR TYPE ARE OILS GOOD FOR?
All hair types can benefit from hair oils. It ultimately comes down to the type of benefit you’re looking for and your hair texture. For example, if you have fine, straight hair with breakage you may want a lightweight oil that will address that issue versus a heavy oil. Many hair oils are universal and have similar benefits such as moisture-locking and shine enhancement. The key of course is finding the right oil or combination of oils that work for your hair needs.
CURLY HAIR OILS: WHICH OILS WORK BEST FOR CURLY HAIR?
When it comes to taking care of curly hair, the key is keeping it hydrated. According to Refiner29, “There are two main types of oils: sealing and moisturizing. Sealing oils (think jojoba) seal in moisture, meaning that you'll need to apply water or conditioner to your hair beforehand for them to really work. Moisturizing oils (we're talking coconut, olive, or avocado) are heavier than sealing oils and can be used alone to moisturize the hair.” Curly hair that’s dry is more prone to frizz, breakage, dullness, and undefined curls.
Moisturizing oils that work for curly hair include, but are definitely not limited to:
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
They can be used as a deep conditioning treatment or as a leave-in treatment.
The best sealing oils for curly hair include:
- Castor oil
- Jojoba oil
- Argan oil
Both sealing and moisturizing oils work to restore curly hair to its best state, keeping it shiny, hydrated, and strong.
DRY HAIR OILS: WHICH OILS WORK BEST FOR DRY HAIR?
For dry hair, there are definitely oils that overlap with oils that work for curly hair. When putting creating an oiling routine for dry hair, the determining factor of what type of oil to use should be based on the texture of your hair. If your hair is on the finer side, be sure to opt for a more lightweight oil so that your hair doesn’t get weighed down or worse; greasy. If you have curly or coarse hair, you can withstand a heavier oil.
No matter your hair type, you may want to experiment with different methods of application to find what works best for your hair. Moisturizing oils work great on dry hair, just be aware of how much and if using as a deep conditioning treatment, how long you’re keeping the oil in your hair. Again, if your hair is on the finer side it may take a couple of washes to completely remove a heavier oil from your hair.
Sealing oils for dry hair include:
- Olive oil
- Jojoba oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Sunflower seed oil
Hair oil is a total game-changer, no matter your hair type. It has numerous benefits that include strengthening, hydrating, moisture-locking, heat protection, and fostering a healthy scalp. At this point, you’re savvy with the different types of hair oils available, so which oil or blend you choose should be based on the benefits you’re looking for with respect to the type of hair you’re working with. Hair oils are a simple addition to your hair routine that can make a huge difference in the texture and appearance of your hair.
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Purdie, Jennifer. “What to Know About Using Tea Tree Oil on Your Hair.” Healthline, 11 April 2017. URL.
“Oleic & Linoleic Acid: The Reason You Love Oils So Much.” Sister Scientist.URL
Santos-Longhurst, Adrienne. “Does Argan Oil Help Protect Against Hair Loss?.” Healthline, 22 February 2019. URL.
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