Even though the idea of applying oil to your hair may seem like a surefire way to end up with a case of the “greasies,” in many cultures, oil has been long used to preserve and improve hair quality. More and more women are adopting hair oil as a miracle worker that tames frizz and adds shine. Oil can also improve scalp and overall skin quality as well. Certain oils can even help combat excess oil production.
The best hair oils are multi-tasking products that function as styler, conditioner, treatment, shine spray, and—in the case of essential oils—aromatherapy, all in one. Many salons also use oils in their specialized hair treatments such as hot oil treatments to help dry hair receive extra moisture and help soothe dry and flaky scalps.
The key to using hair oils to is to apply it mid-shaft in your hair and work to the ends, and use sparingly. You can always add more as needed, but it is difficult to get rid of excess oil without piling on more product (or hitting the showers.) Certain oils can be beneficial if massaged into the scalp, but for the most part, try not to apply oils to the roots so as to avoid the greasy look.
Carrier oils vs. essential oils
Carrier oils are so named because they literally “carry” the essential oil onto the skin. Some essential oils are too volatile or too expensive to use in an undiluted form; carrier oils help improve absorption and usability of many essential oils by making it more accessible. Carrier oils can also nourish, moisturize and strengthen hair on their own.
Carrier oils are usually derived from seeds or nuts. When looking for carrier oils, look for ones that have the least amount of processing. Cold-pressed oils are ideal.
Essential Oils are oils that are usually extracted from the non-seed portions of the plant and contain the scent as well as healing properties of the plant. Many essential oils are excellent for treating scalp conditions, encourage hair growth, and resolve dry or itchy scalp issues.
Combine carrier and essential oils for a moisturizing hair and scalp treatment for shinier, healthier, and stronger hair.
Suggested carrier oils
- Argan oil: Currently experiencing a major surge in popularity, this oil has long been used in Morocco for beauty treatments and for cooking. Ideal for coarse, dry, or chemically-processed hair, this carrier oil nourishes damaged strands and reduces split ends. Lightweight enough to use during the day, Argan oil can be used to both treat and style hair. Rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, Argan oil is not only great for nourishing your hair and scalp, but it also can be used as everything from a daily moisturizer to cuticle softener.
- Jojoba oil: Jojoba oil has fantastic detangling properties and is considered by some the king of carrier oils. This carrier oil is better to use at night as a treatment for hair and scalp. Jojoba penetrates down into the scalp and hair shaft, dissolving build-up of sebum that clogs hair follicles, which can lead to a number of scalp-related issues, or in extreme cases, hair loss. It also helps reduce excess oil production as it mimics the scalp’s natural oils. Jojoba is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and has been used to control dandruff. As jojoba is hypoallergenic and does not feel greasy, this oil can also be a great moisturizer for the skin.
- Sweet almond oil: A Vitamin E rich treatment oil, sweet almond oil improves circulation in the scalp which improves hair follicles health, assisting with hair growth. This oil rejuvenates and helps reduce inflammation. Because it is easily spread and not greasy, sweet almond oil is an excellent carrier oil, and is better used as a treatment oil at night than as a styling product during the day.
Popular essential oils
- Rosemary: Both fragrant and effective, rosemary oil helps treat dandruff and other itchy, flaky scalp issues. By stimulating the hair follicles, hair can grow longer and stronger.
- Tea Tree: A great moisturizer, tea tree oil is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral. These properties make tea tree oil an excellent treatment for dandruff. This essential oil also helps dissolve a build up of sebum on the scalp and skin, which helps clear away impurities. Due to its anti-bacterial nature and ability to sweep away excess sebum, tea tree oil is also great for resolving acne issues on the scalp and skin.
- Peppermint: Refreshing and stimulating, peppermint essential oil improves blood flow in the scalp, which in turn, helps the hair follicle receive proper nourishment. Healthy hair follicles are needed for hair growth.
- Chamomile: Soothing and protecting, chamomile essential oil can help calm inflammation and help with itchy scalps or dandruff. Chamomile helps protect hair from the harsh external environment. This essential oil can have a lightening effect and can be used as a replacement for harsh chemicals like bleach (over an extended period of time.)
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area. She writes on everything from marketing to travel, but one of her greatest interests lies in health & wellness, particularly organic, alternative, and holistic care.
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