But according to hair oiling fans, treating your hair like a well-oiled machine can work for all hair types. Is it legit? Hair’s the deal.
What is hair oiling?
Hair oiling is an ancient practice that involves pouring oil directly onto your hair and massaging it in, with the goal of boosting moisture, luster, shine, and overall hair health.
Folks in India have been using this method for centuries, and it’s even recommended as a part of Ayurvedic medicine (a type of traditional Indian healthcare).
Hair oiling is supposed to soften hair and nourish it with vitamins and minerals, and it may even help prevent hair loss.
Typically, you’ll apply oil once or twice a week and let it soak in overnight.
3 benefits of hair oiling
Face oils are super popular these days. But is it time for hair oils to shine?
Your skin and hair need vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and moisture to stay looking and feeling their best. Certain oils can help deliver a healthy dose of these compounds.
Here are some potential benefits of oiling up.
1. Makes locks more vibrant
What’s the secret to the silky, waterfall-like hair in those shampoo commercials? Hydration. (Oh, and a giant dose of professional styling and lighting.)
Oils play a vital role in keeping hair well moisturized, strong, and healthy. According to research from 2015, oils help prevent hygral fatigue (repeated swelling and drying that can damage hair).
Basically, the oils can help protect your hair follicles from external damage by filling in the spaces between cuticle cells. #win
2. Improves scalp health
Vibrant hair usually means healthy hair. And healthy hair typically indicates a healthy scalp.
But that’s not always the case. Sometimes products (especially ones with silicone) can make hair appear healthy even when product buildup or other probs are keeping your scalp from being its best.
According to recent research, using coconut oil in particular may enrich the scalp microbiome. That’s because it can deliver essential vitamins and amino acids your head needs to grow healthy hair. This may also prevent dandruff. Yes, please.
3. Might promote hair growth
Studies suggest that rosemary oil, peppermint oil, and red ginseng oil in particular may support hair growth and combat hair loss.
And according to research from 2016 and 2019, even scalp massage can result in increased hair thickness. Pantene commercial, here you come.
How to oil up like a pro
Massaging oil into your scalp will boost blood flow and just might come with a host of other benefits.
Here’s how to do it:
- Apply anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of oil (enough to coat your hair) to your scalp and massage with your fingertips in a circular motion.
- Your palms should be really oily at this point. Take all the excess oil and rub it down the rest of your strands.
- Wrap up your hair with a towel or shower cap. Leave it on overnight.
- The next day, shampoo your hair while it’s still dry. (This should help remove the oil.) Then rinse like you mean it.
- Condition as usual.
How to choose the right hair oil for you
Much like mascara brands or ice cream flavors, your fave hair oil is a personal choice!
Before you turn your whole head into an oil slick, do a quick patch test to make sure you don’t have an allergy to that type of oil.
Here’s the lowdown on just a few of the many oils to choose from. (Pro tip: You can also combine oils until you find your perfect concoction.)
Used as a home remedy for everything from dark circles to cellulite, coconut oil is also a key player in the hair care game.
People in India and across South Asia frequently use it to rejuvenate locks, and it just may be one of the most commonly used hair oils out there.
It contains lots of lauric acid, a fatty acid that bonds easily to hair protein. This helps it penetrate into the strand’s shaft and potentially repair existing damage.
And according to a 2014 study, coconut oil may help relieve symptoms of atopic dermatitis (aka eczema) in children when applied to the skin, including the scalp.
It’s a pretty solid choice for all hair types.
Hair that’s prone dryness, frizziness, flakiness, dandruff, or breakage may benefit from sesame oil.
It contains lots of vitamin B1, calcium, phosphorus, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc — nutrients that may help replenish your scalp.
Sesame oil also has antibacterial and antifungal properties that may combat pesky dandruff.
A lighter-weight option than sesame oil or coconut oil, almond oil might be a good pick if you have super oily hair.
It contains vitamins B, K, and E. Why is that so exciting? Research from 2010 suggests that vitamin E may reduce oxidative stress on your locks and promote hair growth.
Biotin (one of the B vitamins) is another key hair care supplement. According to a 2017 review, it may boost hair health and growth, but studies on topical use are pretty limited.
Red ginseng oil
A 2021 study concluded that red ginseng oil promotes hair growth (plus, it protects the skin from UV damage). Scientists believe the oil can stimulate early hair follicle progression to promote growth.
It’s packed with vitamins and minerals (B1, B2, B12, and C are just a few), and studies show it can also benefit hair as a supplement or extract.
If you’re experiencing hair thinning or hair loss, this might be a good pick to add to your mix.
Some research supports a link between rosemary oil application and hair growth.
In a 2015 study, researchers compared rosemary oil to minoxidil (a common over- the-counter hair regrowth treatment) and found that both treatments resulted in significant hair regrowth in participants after 6 months.
A 2013 study conducted on mice with testosterone-related hair loss (yes, even rodents can experience male-pattern baldness!) also found that rosemary could regrow the hair.
And according to a 2017 study, rosemary oil can kill fungi and bacteria that can lead to an otherwise unhealthy scalp.
So if you’ve experienced hair loss, rosemary oil def might be worth rubbing into your noggin.
If you want your hair to look and smell fresh, peppermint oil might be for you. According to a 2014 study, the minty oil may promote hair growth.
In the study, peppermint oil outperformed saline, jojoba oil, and minoxidil in terms of hair thickness, growth, and density over 4 weeks.
Since peppermint is a vasodilator (that means it opens blood vessels), it may stimulate new follicle growth.
Peppermint oil is good for all hair types but may be especially beneficial for folks who experience excessive hair shedding or hair loss.
Hair oiling alternatives
Not into oiling up every week but still want healthy hair? We’ve got you covered. You can try one of these other methods to improve hair health, luster, and growth instead:
- Hair masks. You can find a hair mask or deep conditioning treatment at any beauty supply store. Most brands recommend leaving them on for 20 to 30 mins, but be sure to read the instructions on the product.
- Conditioning with oil. If you’re not up for leaving the oil on overnight, consider adding a little coconut oil (or your fave oil) to your conditioner a few times a week.
- The no-poo method. The no-poo method involves skipping shampoo to retain hair health and add moisture. Try it before you poo-poo it!
- Salon treatment. A salon-grade scalp treatment or deep conditioning treatment can help nourish your hair without all the at-home work.
- Rice water. Though the research on this is limited, adding a little rice water to your shampoo and conditioner routine might help strengthen your locks.
- Scalp massages. Scalp massages may help promote hair health and growth. Whether you go to a pro or try it yourself, why not get the blood flowing?
Hair oiling, a practice that dates back to ancient India, may promote hair growth and shine.
Oils like coconut, red ginseng, peppermint, and rosemary may be very beneficial for restoring scalp and hair health.
To try it yourself, coat your scalp and hair in oil once a week, cover with a shower cap or scarf, leave on overnight, and wash out thoroughly in the morning.
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