While hair oiling may have become the hottest trend of the season after Kate so lovingly massaged younger sister Edwina’s hair in Bridgerton, the ancient Ayurvedic practise actually goes back more than 5,000 years.
And there’s a reason why it has prevailed for so long and so consistently: With benefits ranging from conditioning and adding shine to treating dandruff and stimulating growth, hair oil is like liquid gold for our tresses.
And forget all those drippy, sloppy, sticky after-effects: The big beauty players are creating a completely new generation of oils for the hair. They’ve swapped sachets for sleek pumps, heavy textures for featherweight silkiness and potent blends that do a zillion things at the same time.
In fact, I would contend that hair oil is the new hair serum.
Benefits of hair oiling
While it creates a glossy, swishy shine, the humble hair oil also provides protection and nourishment for your strands.
And where serums simply coat tresses with silicone, oils add shine in a far more hair-friendly manner by calling on essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants that penetrate the follicles to treat and condition simultaneously.
And that’s not all: The correct oil tames frizz and leaves strands manageable, while also protecting against the harshness of heat styling.
Plus, it speeds up drying time as the oil reacts with heat to repel water from the hair.
And the best ones even create a barrier against the environment: Slip some on to protect your hair from sun, strong winds, salt water, and chlorine. Or use it as a mini-shield against the effects of pollution.
How to choose the best hair oil
However, remember that as with most good thing, there is no one size suits all for hair oiling.
So, before you dive in, it’s vital to know exactly which oil will work for YOUR strands.
Because there is definitely a hair oil for all textures and types – including the most baby-fine heads of hair. You just need to pinpoint your best fit!
Oil for coarse, dry or chemically processed hair
Hair becomes coarse and dry when it’s damaged, hence you need nourishing oils to repair its structure. One of the top hair oil choices here is virgin coconut oil, which penetrates the hair shaft to patch and protect it from the inside-out. Besides this, it is also lightweight, non-greasy (making it great for fine hair) and helps prevent dandruff.
Then there is avocado oil, which is rich in proteins and amino acids, along with high levels of vitamins A, D and E. All these are vital for hair’s health: For instance, proteins help fill in the cracks in the cuticle, so each strand becomes stronger. However, since avocado is a heavier oil, it works best on medium to thick hair.
Argan oil is loaded with vitamin E, omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids that provide rich nutrition for your hair. It also contains linoleic and oleic acid to moisturise the strands. Plus, argan oil’s small molecular structure allows it to penetrate the hair shaft, repair damaged hair follicles and restore lost moisture.
Using organ oil for hair puts back lost lustre from straightening and other chemical treatments, helps keep colour vibrant, prevents dryness and acts as a shield against harmful UV rays and environmental pollution.
The best oil for thick hair
Argan fragrant oil is more suited to thicker heads of hair. That’s because it is sticky and can be hard to get out of fine hair — you’ll need to shampoo two or three times to fully rinse it out, or else you’ll get build-up. Yet for richer locks, argan oil can strike the perfect balance of shine, scent and manageability.
Oil for fine hair
Thin or fine strands get weighed down very easily, so look for a light oil that can give them some texture. The structure of jojoba oil is closest to that of our scalp’s natural oils. This allows it to absorb immediately, making it the lightest and most non-sticky of all hair oils.
Yet it also packs a hefty nutrient punch with anti-bacterial properties to keep the scalp healthy, stimulate hair growth and moisturise the strands.
The best oil for hair loss
Extra virgin olive oil is rich in high levels of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are terrific for moisturising, protecting and nourishing the hair. It also has B vitamins (niacin and biotin), vitamin D and vitamin E to help banish bald patches.
If that’s not enough, olive oil helps in battling dandruff, which can be one of the reasons for hair loss. Other benefits include deep conditioning, sealing split ends and strengthening hair from the inside out. However, because of its heavier texture, olive oil is more suited to thicker hair.
Another great option: Coconut oil. It’s made up of saturated fatty acids that soothe the scalp and keep it hydrated. A hydrated scalp promotes hair growth because there are no dead or dry skin cells to clog the hair follicle. Coconut oil also helps reduce hair breakage by strengthening the hair shaft.
Or try out rosemary essential oil. It contains over a dozen antioxidants, vitamin B, iron and calcium, so its application works to strengthen brittle hair and treat scalp problems that hinder hair growth. At the same time, it easily penetrates follicles and delivers the essential nutrients, thereby making hair grow faster and thicker.
Oil for dull hair
Sweet almond oil has high amounts of vitamins A, B, and E. As a hair oil, it heals split ends, improves scalp circulation and adds shine to dull hair. The fatty acids provide UV protection by reflecting harmful rays, while vitamin E makes strands grow longer and stronger.
Or try pomegranate seed oil, which contains punicic acid to revitalise dull strands and increase flexibility. It also safeguards your tresses against environmental pollutants, thereby helping keep them in optimal condition.
Hair oil for dandruff & itchy scalp
Thyme essential oil is antimicrobial, so its usage as a hair oil can help treat itchy scalps plagued by bacteria and fungus. It is best used with grape seed oil as a carrier, since the former also contains Vitamin E and linoleic acid to nourish the scalp and help prevent dandruff.
The oil for ALL hair types
Still a bit puzzled? You won’t go wrong with rice bran and hemp seed oils, which suit all types of hair. Rice bran contains vitamin E and creates a harder shell around the cuticle so your strands suffer less breakage; while hemp seed oil is packed with amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, proteins and minerals that make hair stronger and healthier.
Mix-and-match your hair oils
You can also custom-blend various hair oils according to your needs. For example, if you have coarse hair that’s also afflicted with dandruff, mix coconut oil and thyme essential oil. Similarly, you can use a nourishing oil for scalp and a light oil for hair strands.
So, use your own experience of your hair and create a personalised oil blend for yourself. Or pick a blend off the store shelves – just read the ingredient list to know whether it suits your strands.
Do you use a hair oil? Which one? And will you be making any changes after reading this post?