Oils have long gotten a bad rap, but, in recent years, we’ve seen the slick stuff reestablish itself as a skincare stalwart. Whether it’s for cleansing or moisturizing, it’s hard to imagine a time when face oils weren’t an integral part of our routines. While oils are now commonplace both above and below the neck (yes, body oils are also having a moment), hair oil is still a little less mainstream.
Much like the debate over face oil, many hair oil skeptics worry about clogging their follicles, adding grease, or weighing down their locks. There are, however, a variety of formulas to choose from, and it’s easy to avoid shiny strands when you pick the right product and apply it properly. Here, we talk to two mane experts to learn more about how to use hair oils to ensure you are best tressed.
Hair Oils 101
Adding yet another product to your beauty regimen can be daunting (and, frankly, exhausting), but a hair oil may be just what your hair care routine needs. “When applied correctly, hair oils can increase moisture, luster, and shine,” says Lee Stafford, a celebrity hairstylist and founder of his eponymous hair care line. “Once massaged into the scalp, the oil can penetrate deep inside and help promote healthy hair growth, preventing hair breakage and split ends.”
Scalp care is perhaps the most vital part of any hair care routine, and hair oils can help ensure the skin beneath your strands remains in tip-top shape. “If your scalp isn’t cleaned properly and still contains product build-up and grime, it’s harder for healthy hair to grow through,” Stafford shares. “Hair oils help to exfoliate the scalp, making way for strong and beautiful hair.”
But it’s not just about the scalp. A well-formulated hair oil is the ultimate multitasker — reviving tired tresses, too. “Oils increase the strength and elasticity of your hair,” explains Sarah Potempa, a celebrity hairstylist and inventor of the Beachwaver. “Essentially, they act like a barrier and fill damaged strands.” Most hair oils can be used on both your strands and your scalp, but, if you find any buildup, you should use a clarifying shampoo and dial back on the amount of oil you’re using.
The Best Candidates for Hair Oils
While hair oils can be used by a variety of hair types, both Stafford and Potempa agree that they most benefit people with compromised locks. That includes those with:
- Dry hair
- Damaged hair
- Color-treated hair
- Bleached hair
- Split ends
As for those who should stay away, Potempa recommends that “anyone who has really thin hair that produces a lot of oil at the scalp should avoid using hair oil.” Additionally, “anyone who has skin build-up already, like eczema or dandruff,” should also steer clear, she adds. If you have questions about the state of your scalp, consider consulting with your dermatologist before proceeding.
Stafford notes that those who struggle with volume don’t need to forgo hair oils — but they should be mindful of how they apply them. “If you have flat hair, I would stay away from applying oils at the roots because hair will feel heavy and a little lifeless,” he says.
How to Choose a Hair Oil
First things first: what’s your hair type? Examining your strands will allow you to get to know your mane’s strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll then be able to pick the right formula to complement it. “If you have very fine hair, it’s best to use a lightweight oil,” Potempa says. “If you have thick, dry, damaged hair, you may need heavier oil.”
At this point, you may be wondering if you should use a single oil or a product that combines multiple. Potempa says it’ll depend on your routine. “If using one oil, I suggest using a small amount and distributing it evenly,” she shares. “If you’re looking for shine and smoothness, a small amount of one oil is perfectly fine.”
While a pure oil works well as a once-in-a-while treatment for relatively healthy hair, those with damaged ’dos may want to consider a cocktail. “If your hair is really damaged, you might need oils that are mixed in products,” Potempa explains. She recommends the coconut oil-infused Beachwaver Good Vibes Shampoo because it’s lightweight and the perfect way to “slowly introduce oil into your everyday hair care routine.”
So, what are the best ingredients to look for? Stafford and Potempa break down some of the most popular hair oils like this:
1. Abyssinian Oil
- Ideal For: Thick hair
- Benefits: Full of omega-6 fatty acids, this rich oil enhances softness and hydration.
- Usage: Consider it the ultimate detangler
2. Argan Oil
- Ideal For: Dry hair
- Benefits: This moisturizing oil hydrates both the stands and the scalp, protecting hair from everyday damage and adding shine.
- Usage: Ripe for regular use
3. Avocado Oil
- Ideal For: Damaged hair
- Benefits: Rich in monounsaturated fats and vitamin B, it deeply penetrates the hair shaft to moisturize, strengthen, and repair locks.
- Usage: Can be easily mixed with other oils
4. Castor Oil
- Ideal For: Dry, itchy scalps
- Benefits: This guy is rich in nourishing omega-9 fatty acids and ricinoleic acid, which is antifungal and antibacterial.
- Usage: Works well as a scalp treatment
5. Coconut Oil
- Ideal For: Most hair types
- Benefits: The “holy grail” contains vitamins E and K to nourish the strands and scalp.
- Usage: Good for daily use
It should be noted that some of these products may be closer to you than you think. Your local grocery store or health and wellness outpost likely carries some or all of these oils, and Potempa even suggests using an actual avocado as a hair mask instead of shelling out for a pricier product.
The Best Hair Oils to Add to Your Routine
If you are ready to add a hair oil to your routine and looking to take the guesswork out of the cocktailing process, there are plenty of products on the market to choose from. Below are nine that deserve a spot in your routine:
Lee Stafford Coco Loco Hair Oil
Want to smell like you’re on a tropical vacation and treat your hair at the same time? This coconut oil-infused formula is light enough for daily use, great for most hair types, and still packs a seriously moisturizing punch. $13, leestaffordhair.com
The Beachwaver Co. Be Confident Co-Wash
Designed with dry, wavy, curly and coily hair textures in mind, this co-wash (read: conditioner-only) combines the powers of abyssinian oil, coconut oil, and shea butter to boost shine and hydration. $18, beachwaver.com
Gisou Honey Infused Leave In Conditioner
Lightweight enough for all hair types (even you fine-haired gals!), this leave-in conditioning mist combines the nourishing powers of Mirsalehi honey with strengthening baobab extract, moisturizing panthenol, and, yes, smoothing argan oil. Use it as a hydrator, detangler, heat and UV protector, frizz-fighter, or shine booster — the options are endless. $34, sephora.com
Aquage SeaExtend Silkening Oil Treatment
Looking for silky smooth, frizz-free results? Apply this ultra-lightweight oil on damp hair and then style. Marine botanicals, argan oil, and sweet almond oil seal in color, replenish moisture, and add shine. $36, ulta.com
Trader Joe’s Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
The ultimate multitasker, this 100 percent pure coconut oil delivers serious bang for your buck. It can be used as a hair treatment, body moisturizer, makeup remover, and/or cuticle oil — there’s nothing it doesn’t do. $19, walmart.com
Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil
This brand is known for bringing dry, damaged locks back from the dead, and this highly concentrated formula does not disappoint. It provides heat, color, and UV protection, in addition to fighting frizz and strengthening strands thanks to a blend of nourishing grape seed and fermented green tea oils and reparative bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate. $28, sephora.com
TWIST Curl Reign Multi-Use Miracle Oil
Specifically formulated with curly hair types in mind, this budget-friendly formula features six oils (including castor, coconut, and grapeseed) that deliver hydration, protection, and shine. Use on wet or dry hair as a conditioner, treatment, or styler depending on what your locks are looking for. $10, twisthair.com
Lee Stafford Argan Oil Nourishing Miracle Oil
The best part about this non-greasy argan oil? There is no wrong way to use it. Apply it to wet hair to detangle or add it to dry tresses for a silky sheen. $16, leestaffordhair.com
Cuvée Beauty Hair & Body Glow
Whether you are seeking for a super sleek look or lived-in waves, this lightweight oil spray adds a hint of shimmer and includes natural oils, like sunflower, apricot and evening primrose, to support healthy strands and scalp. Oh, and you can use it on your body, too. $24, cuveebeauty.com
All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.
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