Red Palm Oil is a Game Changer for Anyone with a Dry Scalp


Red palm oil is an oil that comes from the fruit of the tropical oil palm (Elaeis Guineensis), which grows in parts of Africa and the rainforests of Asia.

Red palm oil has many potential health benefits for the body and hair—it's rich in vitamin E, an excellent source of antioxidants, and full of saturated fats and lipids. It gets its red shade from the same carotenes as sweet potatoes and carrots: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene.

It's important to make sure your red palm oil is ethically sourced, as some producers of palm oil destroy rainforests, contribute to environmental degradation, and an extreme multitude of other issues for the Earth. Green Palm Sustainability advises purchasing certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) to decrease potential environmental damage.

Meet the Expert

  • Jason Emer is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in cosmetic, laser, and procedural dermatology.
  • Lacy Fields is a trichologist and the founder of Therapeutique Salon & Spa.

Red Palm Oil for Hair

Type of ingredient Antioxidant.

Potential benefits: Reduces inflammation, builds the skin barrier, increases skin's luminosity and radiance, restores natural oil production.

Who should use it: Anyone who wants stronger hair with less chance of breakage or those with irritated, dry scalp would benefit from red palm oil. Those with oily or acne-prone scalps or clogged pores on the skin should avoid this oil topically.

How often can you use it: Daily.

Works well with: Pretty much everything—It's great as a leave-in conditioner and moisturizer.

Don’t use with: if you have light-colored hair, you might want to test leaving it on a section of your hair first to make sure it doesn’t leave a tint. (Unless you like it, then go off!)

Hair Type Considerations

Anyone who wants stronger hair with less chance of breakage or those with irritated, dry scalps might benefit from red palm oil. Red palm oil may be especially great for those who experience a lot of frizz. But for our blonde friends or those with light-colored sheets, proceed carefully: "The oil is very red in color and can take up to two weeks to be removed from natural or peeling red blondes," Fields explains. She also wants to emphasize that the oil can also be too heavy for some hair types and to make sure you're not over-saturating your hair with the oil.

How to Use Red Palm Oil for Hair

Red palm oil can be used daily, but a few times a week should suffice. Emer recommends using it as a lovely, luxurious pre-shower treatment mask. Before a shower, you can take a small amount into your hands and apply it from the ends of your hair up to just below your roots. Let it sit on your hair for 10-15 minutes, then take a shower and wash your hair like normal.

It may also make a great leave-in conditioner and split-end protector. Take a small amount—about the size of a dime—and rub it into the ends of your hair. If you're looking for products that feature red palm oil, Shea Moisture makes an entire line using red palm oil and cocoa butter for prime nourishment.

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