Estimated Read Time: 5.5 minutes
Summary: In this blog we detail and explore whether using oil on your hair is necessary and/or beneficial. We’ll discuss the benefits of different oils on hair, why oil is used in the first place, and the reasons behind it’s popularity in the hair care world. Read on to discover what the best oil for hair is as well as the different types of oils, how to use them, how often and when!
Eva Proudman MIT IAT is a much sought after independent trichologist and hair loss specialist with an excess of 18 years’ experience in her field. She’s Cel’s Consultant Trichologist and has answered some questions for Cel in this blog!
Eva is regarded by both the hairdressing industry's elite and by high profile global brands as the go-to expert for everything related to hair loss and trichology. Eva is also a Board Member for the Institute of Trichologists responsible for continued professional development and education.
So, let’s get to it. Can you use oil on hair, and more importantly, should you…?
Eva says: “The hair doesn’t particularly need oil and the reason it doesn’t need oil is [because] we have our own oil producing sebum glands on the scalp. We’ve got sebaceous glands all over the skin and they produce this waxy, oily substance that moisturizes the skin and is slightly antimicrobial. We’ve got the largest concentration on the scalp; they produce sebum and the sebum balances the scalp, moisturizes it, but also flows along the hair shaft and moisturizes that as well.
“Where we need to add additional oils in is where we’ve damaged the hair from styling. So, that’s where hair oils can penetrate, they can give the hair a smoothness, a fullness and some of them have proteins and things that are actually absorbed through the follicle. So, there is some science in there but I would still go back to what the hair needs more than anything: moisture.”
Eva says: “An oil treatment once a week is really good but doing a moisturizing treatment is even better.
"Oils are greasy, so imagine, when you put oil [regularly] on the hair it sits over it… The hair needs to breathe and if you keep building that oil up, it goes the other way. [Shampoos that contain silicon] get stuck in the hair, [which are difficult to wash out properly] and it then sends the hair dull. So, oil is good… But less is more!”
Eva says: “What we’re trying to do to encourage hair growth is to stimulate the root, so one of the best ways to do that is with scalp massage. So, by using a hair oil with stimulating ingredients in there (like ginseng, chilli, caffeine) they will work to stimulate the microcirculation in the scalp, bring blood flow to the surface and then encourage those hair follicles to grow. That’s what we’re looking to do when we’re looking at challenging better hair growth.”
When it comes to choosing an oil for your hair, it’s down to trial and error and working out which one works for you. This will depend on what you’re looking to gain: hair growth, scalp health, hair hydration or shine!
The main fatty acid in Castor Oil is ricinoleic acid, which has powerful inflammatory properties (so, great for sensitive skin irritated by dandruff). Castor Oil increases circulation to the scalp when massaged in, and locks in strand and scalp moisture. It attracts dirt and oil which actually helps to cleanse the hair follicles by drawing dirt and excess oil away, and increases the absorption of other products and their ingredients!
You can use 100% Castor Oil once a week (as explained by Eva above; less is more!) by simply massaging a dime-size amount into your scalp and letting it soak in. You can leave it anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours before washing it out.
If you have the time and want a super special weekly treatment, you could coat your entire scalp and hair all over with your Castor Oil, then wrap your hair in a shower cap or towel and sleep in it. You just have to shampoo and condition the hair thoroughly the next day… This should leave your hair looking and feeling fabulous!
Argan oil can boost the hydration of the scalp which reduces dryness. It can also diminish the effects of dandruff, and prevent it from developing. It’s also popularly used for taming frizz, and treating dry hair and/or split ends, as the fatty acid content of Argan oil can help strengthen and smooth the hair strands.
Some sources claim that the high Vitamin E content in Argan Oil can positively influence the growth rate and strength of hair. It is thought the antioxidant properties of Argan oil when massaged into the scalp can boost hair follicle activity, promote cell regeneration and thus encourage hair growth and help build a stronger, healthier mane too.
Coconut oil can work wonders for dry, damaged, and/or frizzy hair. You can massage it into your scalp and cover your hair strands from root to tip. Keep the hair wrapped in a towel for 15 minutes, or leave it in as you sleep overnight for an even deeper condition. Then, wash the hair with a gentle sulfate and paraben-free shampoo and conditioner.
If you suffer from dandruff, you can massage a light amount of coconut oil into the scalp and sleep in it before washing thoroughly the next morning. The massage will also help stimulate the hair follicles (where the root of your hair grows from) and this massaging technique can also help promote new hair growth!
As detailed above, any oil can be used to help stimulate the hair follicles via massage. As mentioned, argan oil is a popular one for growth, as is olive because it’s touted to strengthen the hair follicle which may prevent shedding and thus increasing the life span of each hair strand. Eva suggests ginseng, chilli and caffeine based oils. Chilli has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is thought to help promote blood flow to the scalp.
But to reiterate, what’s important is stimulating the hair follicle via massage and combine this with complementary, high quality hair care products and a healthy lifestyle.
Eva says: “Look at your diet. “We are what we eat” has never been more true than when we talk about our hair and scalp.
The hair itself - the hair follicle - is the second fastest dividing cell in the body and as such a busy, dividing, active cell, it needs a lot of nutrition. It needs 25% of your daily protein intake and a high level of vitamins and minerals.
So, if the basics of a good diet aren’t right, the hair and scalp aren’t going to be right. And then once we’ve got the nutrition right, we need to get our lifestyle right. We need a good balance of sleep, plenty of water, and good products to look after [our hair] with.”