Applying oil to your hair involves pouring oil into the hair and massaging it into the scalp to increase moisture, luster, and shine. Oiling hair can soften hair and provide vitamins and minerals that are washed away by frequent washing. This practice has been used in India for centuries and is recommended in Ayurvedic medicine.
There are specific techniques for applying oil to hair, as well as different types of oil you can use to achieve particular benefits. Although many South Asian women have the habit of oiling their hair as part of a cultural tradition, this practice is based on a good dose of science.
Whether it’s proven skin care, how often you wash your hair, or which cosmetics you care about, beauty is a personal matter.
Benefits of oil on hair
Oils play an important role in protecting hair against normal wear and tear. Oiling the hair regularly reduces water fatigue or dryness of the hair. The oils protect the follicle from surfactants by filling in the space between the cuticle cells. Additionally, when gently massaged into the scalp, the oil helps exfoliate and sometimes reduce hair loss. The oils contain fatty acids which help replace lipids in the hair. These are lost due to chemical treatments, styling or even pollution. Lipids play a very important role in the appearance and health of hair. They help maintain the shine and luster of the hair.
How to oil your hair
By massaging the scalp, the oil increases blood circulation, which can improve hair growth. Applying the oil to the scalp can also prevent dandruff.
Follow these steps to try oiling your hair:
1 Apply the oil to your scalp and massage in with your fingertips in circular motions.
2 Apply the oil left in your palms to your hair.
3 Cover with a towel or shower cap and leave on overnight.
4 The next day, shampoo dry hair. Rinse thoroughly.
5 Treat your hair as usual. You can also use coconut oil as a hair conditioner.
What oil to use?
The oil you use will depend on your hair needs. Different kinds of oils have different vitamins.
Oils used may include:
Virgin coconut oil is the most widely used hair oil, especially in South Asia. Its main fatty acid is lauric acid. It has a great affinity for hair proteins. Which means it binds to proteins and can easily penetrate inside the hair shaft. This makes it one of the best oils for reducing protein loss from damaged or undamaged hair. Having a low molecular weight, the oil is light and can easily penetrate the hair shaft. Coconut oil can provide natural protection and is generally a good choice for most hair types.
Sesame oil reduces frizz and can also prevent split ends. It is rich in vitamin B1, calcium, copper, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc. It also deeply conditions the scalp and smoothes the hair shaft. Its antibacterial and antifungal qualities can help prevent dandruff.
Almond oil is lighter than sesame oil, but slightly thicker than coconut. Almond oil contains vitamins B, K and E. Vitamin E can reduce oxidative stress. Vitamin B7 is also known as biotin. It may also help support hair growth, although research is limited, especially when it comes to topical application.
Argan oil is commonly referred to as Moroccan oil. It is rich in vitamins A, C, E, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. It acts as a natural conditioner and helps strengthen hair.
How often should you oil your hair?
You can oil hair almost every day as part of a daily routine, although this may not be realistic for everyone. At a minimum, oil your hair at least twice a week, ideally the day before you plan to wash your hair. If it is not possible to leave oil on overnight, you can oil your hair an hour before bathing and wrap your head in a warm towel. This will allow you to extract some of the nutrients from the oil in a short time.
Beoy LA, et al. (2010). Effects of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth in human volunteers.
Evangelista MTP, et al. (2014). The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: A randomized, double-blind, clinical trial.
Gavazzoni D. (2015). Hair cosmetics: An overview.
Patel DP, et al. (2017). A review of the use of biotin for hair loss.
Sawarkar S, et al. (2018). Clinical evaluation of cactus (Cereus Grandiflorus) enriched hair oil for hair fall disorders.