The Best Hair Oils To Nourish and Revitalize Your Hair
When you think about hair and then the word “oil,” your immediate reaction is probably, “Yuck, that is something I want to stay far, far away from.”
But you do want oil in your hair. In fact, you need oil in your hair, or else it gets all dry and fragile. And when your hair gets dry and fragile, it is prone to breakage and hard to get it to grow long.
Oil is not the same thing as greasiness. Greasy hair is something you want to stay away from. Greasy hair happens either when you do not wash often enough, or when the sebum production on your scalp is not balanced (sebum is the natural oil which your scalp produces).
Sometimes it also happens when you use a shampoo that contains sulfates which dry out your hair, and then you skip a few days between washings. Your scalp tries to overcompensate for the dryness, and then you wind up with grease.
Too little oil on your scalp and hair is just as bad as having too much. Again, when your hair is dry, it is weak and tends to break. Plus, it generally has an unpleasant texture which is far from pleasing to the eye or to the touch. Dry hair has no shine or body to it. I should know; I had extremely dry, brittle hair for most of my life.
There are Two Types of Hair Oils …
A discussion about hair oil is complicated by the fact that technically we could be talking about either of two things. Firstly, there are natural oils like olive oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil which you can put in your hair directly. Secondly, there are “hair oils” you can buy at the store. These are formulated commercial products with an oily consistency to them. Many contain natural oils like those listed above, but they may do so in conjunction with a number of other ingredients. Some formulas are beneficial, while others may have additives you would like to avoid.
Too little oil on your scalp and hair is just as bad as having too much.
Do You Need Hair Oil?
A lot of people report that adding oil to their hair care regimen was a game-changer, so it is definitely something you want to think about! That said, I think your first step should always be to try to balance out sebum production on your own. Depending on what you are doing now that is drying out your hair (or causing periodic greasiness), you may not actually need oil (it could be overkill).
Check the back of the shampoo bottle you are using. Look under the ingredients list for anything ending with “sulfate.” Sulfates are ludicrously common ingredients in shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and other personal care products. They dry out your hair and your scalp. Naturally the companies that sell you shampoos with sulfates also tend to sell conditioners and hair oils which are meant to reverse the damage caused by the sulfates in their shampoos.
Escape this cycle and let your scalp get back to balanced oil production on its own if possible. For some people, this is enough to solve the problem of dry hair all on its own! Others still may benefit from hair oil.
In my case, I have found that getting rid of sulfate shampoo and switching to a schedule of washing my hair two to three times a week has solved most of my dry hair problem. Another big improvement has come from only shampooing the top part of my hair. The ends dry out really easily, so if I just wash them with water and nothing else, they do better.
But they still need a little extra hydration sometimes—and that is where hair oil comes in handy.
Benefits of Hair Oil:
- Hydrate your scalp and your locks
- Some oils include nutrients which can strengthen your hair
- Add a beautiful shine to your hair
- Make hair softer and more manageable
- Some oils also have anti-microbial qualities and can fight infections
- Some oils for hair have anti-inflammatory properties
That means the right oil for your hair can improve the texture and appearance of your hair while also fighting infections that cause dandruff and hair loss. They may soothe an inflamed scalp and counteract itching and irritation.
So now let’s talk about different types of oil you can use on your hair. I am going to start by giving you an overview of natural 100% pure oils which you can buy and use. I will then tell you about some of the most popular and highly rated commercial hair oils that you can buy on Amazon.com.
Argan oil is 100% natural oil derived from the kernels of the argan tree (Argania spinosa L.) which grows in Morocco. Argan oil has become a huge export in recent years. In 2007 there were only two products on the market in the US listing argan oil as an ingredient for hair—now there are more than one hundred!
Argan oil has played an important role in traditional beauty regimes in Morocco for hundreds of years. It works well as a moisturizer, and also can balance the production of sebum in your scalp (exactly what you need to accomplish to leave dry or greasy hair behind forever)! Do you dye your hair? That can make your hair damaged and scraggly after a while. Argan oil can protect your hair during future colorings.
How to Use It:
There are numerous ways you can use argan oil for your hair. Some of the easiest methods include:
- Adding a few drops of argan oil to your favorite shampoo.
- Buy a shampoo which lists argan oil as a key ingredient.
- Mixing argan oil with other oils for hair, essential oils, herbs, or foods to create a hair mask or leave-in conditioner.
I will talk a little bit more about recipes for hair oils later. For now, let’s get on to talking about the next popular oil for hair!
Chances are good that olive oil is something that you already have in your kitchen. This is a topic I have actually delved into in-depth in this post. What is so great about olive oil for hair? It is anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. It works incredibly well as a moisturizer.
How to Use It:
How can you use olive oil in your hair? The methods are the exact same as they are with argan oil:
- Just add a few drops of olive oil to the same shampoo or conditioner that you are using now.
- Purchase a shampoo or conditioner which contains olive oil.
- Use olive oil in a hair mask or a leave-in conditioning treatment. If you wish, you can mix it with other hair oils or essential oils
Olive oil is one of the best all-around choices when it comes to hair oil. Its benefits are backed up by a lot more scientific evidence than some other popular oils (including argan oil). If you purchase it in bulk, you can also get it at reasonably low prices.
Coconut oil is another oil which is commonly used in hair care, and swiftly growing in popularity, just like argan oil. This is another ingredient which may already be in your pantry. Coconut oil is good for your hair because it is a triglyceride of lauric acid. This gives it a high affinity for the proteins already in your hair. It also has a straight linear chains structure and a low molecular weight. All of this makes it easy for coconut oil to penetrate the hair shaft. You can read about it in this study.
Coconut oil does a wonderful job taming frizz and flyaway hairs, and can give your hair a smooth, silky texture with plenty of shine. I find it works beautifully on the dry ends of my hair. I have actually written in-depth about this oil as well. Find the post here.
How to Use It:
This one needs a little extra discussion. When you buy coconut oil for the first time, you may be a little puzzled. “Why is this stuff solid? Why is it in a jar?”
Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature, but you can heat it up into a liquid state in the microwave. Be sure when you are shopping for coconut oil that you buy the unrefined stuff. Refined coconut oil has some of the nutrition removed, and you want to give your hair the fully healthy dose of all the benefits that coconut oil has to offer.
As with other oils, hair masks using coconut oil are very popular. It also works well as a leave-in conditioner. I would like to caution you though—if you use this stuff as a leave-in conditioner, just use a tiny smidgen! It is so easy to go overboard. A tiny bit of coconut oil is really all you need. I have very long hair (down past my waist), so I know what I am talking about.
Jojoba oil comes from the seed of the Jojoba plant (Simmondsia chinensis) which is native to the Southwestern United States as well as Mexico and Africa. Jojoba contains essential fatty acids, vitamin B, vitamin E, chromium, copper, and zinc, all of which are great for both your hair and skin. As it evaporates slowly, it makes a wonderful, long-lasting moisturizer.
Jojoba oil has been used in successful natural hair growth treatments. You can read about one of them here. Take note however that this treatment included a number of essential oils: rosemary, lavender, thyme, and cedarwood. These essential oils were probably the only active ingredient here; the jojoba oil was simply used as a base. Nonetheless, it did function as an effective one.
How to Use It:
Jojoba oil is an ingredient in numerous shampoos and conditioners. Buy one that contains it, or make your own by adding a few drops directly into the product you are using now. Alternately, create a hair mask or leave-in treatment. As just mentioned, one which includes essential oil can help to combat hair loss and promote healthy growth.
Avocado oil has an omega fatty acid profile which is much like that of olive oil. It contains an astounding amount of omega-9 fatty monounsaturated acid along with plenty of omega-3. Along with that, you are getting a healthy dose of potassium, magnesium, and other micronutrients which are good for your hair. Avocados also contain antioxidants which fight free radicals. Avocado oil is great for fighting inflammation and also for providing protection for sun-damaged skin.
If you are suffering from inflammation on your scalp, avocado oil can counteract it, soothing itching and irritation. It also works wonders as a moisturizer, and may even help remove dandruff and detangle hair.
How to Use It:
You can purchase avocado oil in a bottled form for cooking or personal care. That means that you can add it to your shampoo or conditioner—or you can just buy a shampoo or conditioner which already contains it.
You also have the option of using avocados! Just buy some from the store and mash them up, and then use them in conjunction with other healthy hair care ingredients to create a hair mask. Washing it out can be a little tricky, but if you do a good job blending it, it will not be too hard. Once you do, you will find that your hair comes out looking shiny and beautiful.
Usually when you think about castor oil, you probably think about that time when you had to use it to relieve constipation … not a happy memory. In any case, it is actually becoming quite a popular beauty treatment! While castor oil is thick and heavy and not the easiest oil to apply or wash out, it is high in many nutrients which are good for your hair, including vitamin E, Omega fatty acids, and proteins.
Because it has antifungal properties, castor oil can fight dandruff and other infections of the scalp, including folliculitis (which causes hair loss). It is also believed that castor oil can balance the pH of your scalp, which may help a dry or greasy scalp. Some people who use castor oil swear it helps their hair grow faster.
How to Use It:
You can purchase a castor oil hair product which you can apply directly to your scalp and hair, or you can just go with the castor oil that you find in the pharmacy. I would not personally add this to a shampoo or conditioner, since it has such a heavy texture and it is such a pain to rinse out. You can use it to make a hair mask, but I would never consider adding this as an ingredient to any leave-in conditioner.
Odds are if there is one oil on this list you haven’t heard of, it may well be this one. Babassu oil is not nearly as famous as argan oil or coconut oil, but it is still used as an ingredient in many cosmetic products for the hair and skin. It is also known as “cusi oil.” Derived from the seeds of the Babassu palm tree (Attalea speciosa) of South America, it has properties which are comparable to those of coconut oil. Sometimes it is even used as a coconut oil substitute.
Intriguing, Babassu oil is a solid which melts at a temperature close to that of the human body. That means that it can be placed on the skin as a solid, at which point it will instantly melt. This provides a cool, soothing sensation.
Babassu oil has a number of other beneficial properties as well. Dr. Patricia K. Farris describes it as follows:
Babassu oil comes from a palm tree in the Brazilian rain forest. It contains 70 percent fatty acids, and it has a unique property in that it absorbs very quickly into the skin, drawing out heat and leaving a cooling feeling. It’s a great hydrator, and very good for barrier repair. Like maracuja oil, it also has some anti-inflammatory activity. So it’s no surprise that babassu has been touted to improve eczema
Two other nice things about babassu oil are that it doesn’t clog scalp pores, and it can also be mixed with shea butter or other natural hair and skincare ingredients to boost its efficacy.
So in summary, babassu oil can help you in the following ways:
- Treat eczema and dandruff
- Soothe scalps which are itchy, dry, or inflamed
- Moisturize the skin and hair
- Reduce inflammation
In short, this is one of the most underrated hair oils in existence. It is less expensive than coconut oil and it feels less greasy and heavy when you put it on, which are both awesome pluses!
How to Use It:
Buy a shampoo or conditioner which contains babassu oil, or add some babassu oil into an existing treatment that you use. You also can prepare a hair mask out of babassu. As mentioned before, it works even better if you whip it together with a bit of shea butter.
This is another hair oil which you may not be all that familiar with. It is extracted from a nut which comes from the marula fruit of Namibia. In Namibia, it has long been part of traditional cosmetics, and only now is it beginning to gain ground around the world. Marula oil has many benefits for your hair and skin:
- It has a light texture, much like babassu oil
- It can be absorbed very quickly into your scalp and hair
- It is powerfully hydrating
- It contains a ton of antioxidants
- It can protect your hair from damage from the sun or heat
- It adds a shine to your hair and fights frizz and flyways
How to Use It:
Marula oil products are finally starting to make their way onto the global market. You can either buy a shampoo or conditioner which contains marula oil, or you can make your own by adding a few drops to a product of your choice. Marula works well as a scalp oil, so consider rubbing it into your scalp and hair as a mask, waiting for half an hour, and then washing it out. You can also use it as part of a leave-in conditioner in small amounts. It works particularly well for this because it is extra-light and unlikely to make your hair greasy.
Other Hair Oils
There are a few other oils you can try using on your hair as well safflower oil, lanolin oil, cupuacu butter, and aloe butter. None of these are quite as popular as those listed above, but each of them has its own unique benefits. Here is a link which sums them up nicely.
Tea Tree Oil (and other Essential Oils)
Tea tree oil belongs in a separate category from the other oils I have discussed here, but it is worth mentioning since if I don’t, you will probably be wondering, “Whatever happened to tea tree oil?”
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is extracted from the leaves of the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), native to Southeast Queensland and New South Wales. Tea tree oil is an essential oil, which means that it is highly concentrated. The other oils listed here are carrier oils. They are not as highly concentrated nor as potent, and you can use them safely without diluting them. Tea tree oil and other essential oils must be diluted in order for you to use them safely.
Tea tree oil can help you in the following ways:
I have written an in-depth blog post on tea tree oil here.
How to Use It:
If you plan to use tea tree oil or other essential oils, you have the usual options of purchasing a product which already contains them or adding them to your favorite shampoo or conditioner.
If you are going to add tea tree oil (or any essential oil) to your own shampoo, or if you plan to use it in a hair mask or leave-in conditioner, you must dilute it! Otherwise you risk causing severe irritation and other side effects you don’t want. You should only use a few drops as part of any preparation that you are making.
What is great is you are now familiar with a number of carrier oils which work well in your hair—olive oil, coconut oil, babassu oil, and so on! Just prepare a hair mask or conditioner using one of those oils as the base, and then sprinkle in a few drops of tea tree oil or another essential oil of your choice to enjoy some extra benefits.
Popular Products to Try
If you are looking for hair oils to try, here are some highly rated products on Amazon.com that you can consider:
- Majestic Pure Coconut Oil Hair Mask
- Aria Starr Beauty Organic Argan Oil
- Leven Rose Organic 100% Pure Cold Pressed Unrefined Jojoba Oil
- Moroccan Oil Hair Treatment
- Hair Growth Botanical Renovation Anti-Hair Loss Scalp Treatment Oil
Those are just a few examples. If you search on Amazon, you will find a lot of other popular products as well. Note that some hair oils are 100% pure products containing a single oil. Others contain a combination of ingredients—including artificial ingredients in certain cases. So always look carefully at what you are about to buy and decide if it is what you want.
How to Make Hair Masks
I have mentioned hair masks a number of times in this article. In case you are new to making them, I want to briefly talk about what they are and how you can prepare one.
A hair mask is a heavy treatment which you rub into your hair and scalp beginning at the roots and working your way down to the ends. You do it before you shampoo your hair in the shower.
The idea is to prepare the mask, work it into your hair in a substantial amount, and then cover your hair to let it soak in and really nourish your hair and scalp. Some people leave a hair mask in for 10-15 minutes, others for 30 minutes to an hour, and still others do it overnight. If you wish, you can also apply heat. Many people find this very soothing and feel that it increases the effect. The longer you wait, the greater the benefits will be. Once you are done, you just wash it out with shampoo in the shower and rinse thoroughly.
A simple hair mask might be a 5% tea tree oil preparation in a 1:1 combination of olive oil and babassu oil. There are a ton of hair mask recipes online, and if you read through my other blog posts, you will find them everywhere.
How to Make Leave-In Conditioners
I have also talked a lot about leave-in conditioners. Whereas a hair mask is a heavy treatment that you need to wash out as soon as you are done with it, a leave-in conditioner is just the opposite. It is an extremely light treatment that you can keep in your hair all day.
You can apply a leave-in conditioner either by rubbing a very small amount of it into your hair by hand, or you can spray it on.
While you can buy leave-in conditioners, you can make them yourself as well. Here is an example of one recipe that you can use:
- 2 ounces of avocado oil
- 3 ounces of olive oil
- 1 ounce of castor oil
- 1 ounce of coconut oil
- Several drops of essential oils of your choice
You can add these to a spray bottle, or keep them in another bottle or jar and just apply them by hand. You can also consider a product like an olive oil mister.
Conclusion: Hair Oil Delivers!
When it comes to getting results from natural hair care, few treatments are going to give you as many benefits as hair oil. As you can see, there are numerous different oils you can try, and different ways you can combine them and apply them based on your needs. I recommend that you experiment with a few different types of oil to see what works best for your hair and scalp type. You will probably come up with a lot of great hair masks and conditioners. Enjoy!