top of page

OILS FOR ALL HAIR TYPES: WHICH IS BEST FOR YOU?

Starting a natural hair care journey can be as exciting as finding a twenty-dollar bill under the couch! As a Trichologist in training and the visionary behind the OBLOOM brand, I'm here to spill the tea on the top carrier oils best suited for different hair types. I assure you: whether you have fine hair, a lot of thick hair or tight coils, there is an oil perfect for you!


women and different hair oils
What's your hair like? Find out which oil is best for your unique type.

When I first learned that you could use oil on your hair to both protect it and enhance shine, I felt a bit skeptical because oil has a bad rap on hair – if you have ever slathered coconut oil on your hair and tried to wash it off, you know exactly what I’m talking about!


I should mention that here I'll share about carrier oils or plant-based oils, not about essential oils. Essential oils are another topic altogether and we’ll leave that big topic for another day.


So let’s get right into it and share some info about oils for different hair types, why they’re chosen, and how they work:


HAIR OILS FOR VARIOUS HAIR TYPES


1. Straight Hair: Easy does it


why is straight hair shinier?
Straight hair can look shinier than its wavy and curly counterpart – but it can also get oily faster.

Straight hair, known for its incredible sheen, benefits from lightweight oils (side note: the shine straight hair exudes is due to the capacity it has for light to bounce off of it, easier than on curly or coily hair). This hair type can also tend to get oily very quickly at the scalp because the oil will slip down the hair easier – and back up to the scalp as well. Think of how much faster you can slip down a straight slide rather than a curved one, right? So you can apply oil on your hair too, but it will creep up into your scalp as well – which is also why your hair may look oilier when you use oil serums on your face or if you tend to play with your hair a lot (fingers are naturally oily).


Choose oils that are very light and feel almost “dry” – like hemp seed oil (also helps to balance sebum/oil production), rice bran oil (highly antioxidant, good for UV protection), and broccoli seed oil (also called a good “silicone alternative”, as it seals on top of the hair helping to increase shine). Hemisqualane is one of our favourites too – it's super-super light and protective too! Jojoba is a good option for you as well, and gorgeous for the hair – but go easy and only use one or two drops, spreading well between your hands before applying.  


Skip the thicker-type oils like coconut oil* and avocado – these are too heavy for you and even a couple of drops will make your hair look too oily and feel lank – unless you want to try them before a wash. See our instructions below to learn the best method for applying hair oil.


In Canada, you can buy cosmetic-grade hemp seed oil HERE, hemisqualane oil HERE, rice brain oil HERE, and broccoli seed oil HERE.


2. Wavy Hair: Oil love! But STILL choose lighter ones


woman with wavy hair using oils
Wavy hair is characterized by fairly straight hair that has a few waves – not curls.

Wavy hair likes moisture and definition, but oils that are too heavy can weigh down your waves and make them look stringy. Good choices for you include olive squalane with a bit of jojoba (both of which help strengthen the hair). Olive squalane can penetrate deeper while jojoba will seal on top to provide shine), which is closest to our natural scalp oils. Camellia seed oil is also a good one for you, as it's light, yet quite nourishing. Camellia oil is gorgeous and can be harder to source (and pricey!) but worth the investment as a little will go a long way to help protect your hair and give it that light-bouncing lustre you’re seeking. 


In Canada, buy the best, cosmetic-grade olive squalane for hair HERE and HERE, jojoba oil HERE and camellia seed oil HERE. Also feel free to use super light hemisqualane, as mentioned above for straight hair types.


3. Curly Hair: Moisture or hydration? You need both


child with curly hair oil
Many children have curly hair when they're younger and their hair straightens as they grow up. This is quite common, as their hair follicles change as they develop. It's perfectly safe to use hair oil on children.

Curls cry for moisture – and hydration. What’s the difference? Moisture generally refers to water content in the hair (there is a slight amount in there – about 10% actually: hair is made up of keratinized cells that need water to form), while hydration involves retaining that moisture. Oils are fantastic at providing hydration by forming a protective barrier to prevent loss from within the hair shaft. So they don’t add water (moisture) directly but help lock in the moisture already present. Makes sense?

 

For curls, a balance between penetrating and sealing oils works well to protect them, while adding that extra layer of shine and preventing frizz between washes.

 

Penetrating oils that are good for curly hair include macadamia oil (great for protecting against weather damage), Abyssinian oil (highly antioxidant and nutritive, with vitamin E and minerals), and argan oil (light and penetrating without a greasy after-feel – yet not as 'dry' feeling as hemp or rice bran oils).


In Canada, buy your macadamia oil HERE, Abyssinian oil HERE, and argan oil HERE. As previously mentioned, you can also make wonderful combinations of these oils by adding on some olive squalane, which is very light and has a wonderful slippery slip feel!


4. Coily Hair: Intense moisture oils


woman with coily hair using hair oil
Coily hair - also known as textured or Afro hair - craves intense hydration. Shea butter, babassu and castor oil works great as a Pre-Poo treatment.

With its tight coils, coily/Afro/textured hair craves intense hydration. This hair type is very fragile and can easily struggle with weakness and breakage due to hygral fatigue: the repeated swelling and shrinking of hair due to water penetrating it. 


Coily hair loves a “pre-poo” (pre-shampoo) oil treatment (where you put oil on it before washing it, helping to protect it from excess water penetration), and benefits from oils such as coconut* and olive, and even castor oil – although we think castor oil is best when combined with other oils so it doesn’t “float” on top of the hair making it feel and look oily.


Shea butter is another incredible moisture-retaining option for coily hair and is often applied before washing, although caution must be taken as it can easily build up on the hair. 


In Canada, I think the best quality, fair-trade shea butter can be purchased HERE, although you can also buy it HERE and HERE. A softer version of shea butter to try is Nilotica butter, from East Africa (also called Muyao) - it's lovely! Find it HERE.

Baraka Impact, in British Columbia, has such a lovely collection of coconut oils to try out HERE. Have fun playing with these by also adding some olive squalane for its shine-enhancing properties (links above under straight and wavy hair).



What makes oil penetrate or seal on the hair? 
What about oil’s composition makes them 
feel light vs. heavy on the hair? 

To best understand what makes an oil best for some hair types you need to understand a bit of the chemical structure each oil has. We have a whole blog post on just this topic – it’s super interesting and we’ve made it very easy to understand in this blog post [HERE]: 



Can you use oil on your hair even if it's greasy?

Yes, you can! And here's why:

Your hair doesn't produce oil – your scalp does. These oils are precious, yet some people's hair is too oily because their scalp is dry, causing it to produce more oils to protect itself from pathogens and prevent scalp issues. Looking after the scalp to cleanse it in a more gentle way, is what will fix that issue for you once and for all (we have a whole blog post for you with advice [HERE].


In the meantime, you are still able to use oil on your hair (that is, the length of your hair, not the scalp), by using a small amount of more "dry" oils, just like the ones we share for straight hair. It all depends on how much of the oils you use. In general, use a pea-sized amount of oil and rub it well between your palms before gently gliding it through the lengths of your hair.

You need very little – and it IS worth it because oils provide great protective properties to your hair, and help make hair shinier and less frizzy!


How to apply oil to your hair

  1. Separate your hair in sections if it’s longer. 

  2. Apply 1 to 2 drops of hair at a time onto your hands. You can add more later if you feel you need to depending on your hair density and porosity. 

  3. Heat the oil slightly between your hands. Heating oil will help it “thin out” making it more spreadable, similar to what happens when you heat oil on a pan before cooking. This is easily achieved by rubbing the oil between your hands and causing some friction (friction = heat).

  4. Start with one quick “swoop” over the whole length of your hair, then work your way into detail to more dry areas, or by separating into smaller sections.

  5. You can also turn your head upside down if necessary, to reach the top layers without touching your scalp

  6. Don’t forget to scrunch the tips of your hair last, with a slight bit of oil you have left over on your hands. 




Honourable mention about coconut oil

Coconut oil deserves special mention here, as it’s one of the most researched oils for use on the hair. It really is wonderful, so don't dismiss it too quickly!


coconut oil for hair
Coconut oil is wonderful for the hair – yet you must apply it gently so it doesn't form a thick waxy coating on the hair, making it difficult to wash off.

Coconut oil has been used for centuries – the “holy grail” of hair oils – with its capacity to penetrate deeper into the hair strand and nourish it from within. In fact, over 50% of its structure is derived from its lauric saturated fatty acid component, which is what makes it absorb quickly into the hair to provide moisture – which helps tame frizz and protect from breakage. 


But why is it so difficult to wash out coconut oil from the hair? The problem is that since it’s highly penetrating on the hair, it will act like wax on a freshly cleaned car, forming a coating that needs more cleansers to remove it. The more coconut oil you use, the more it coats on top of itself, forming a thick water-resistant film. This thick film can be an issue because the whole point of using an oil on your hair is to protect it, not to use an oil to remove it by using more harsh cleansers on it. Only a tiny amount is needed to reap the rewards coconut oil has to offer!


If you love coconut oil but find it too heavy, you can also combine it with other oils or try using fractionated coconut oil, which is its lighter version – and already permanently liquified by its high-heat processing method (although not as beneficial as its natural counterpart).


Alternatively, you may want to combine coconut oil with other carrier oils, like the ones mentioned above, at a ratio of 1-10 coconut oil to other carrier oil (heat slightly - below 40°C - in a small pot to dilute and combine well before using on the hair). 


Plant oils provide many benefits to the hair


rosemary oil concoction
The oils derived from the rosemary herb have been used for centuries – both for its hair growth and hair shine benefits.

Rosmarinic acid (from rosemary oil) - antimicrobial, protects hair from external agents due to its antioxidant properties. 

Shea butter - its oleic acid compound softens and conditions the hair and its stearic acid compound increases moisture retention.

Squalane oil - it’s very light and silicone-like, and its squalene compound protects against UV light exposure.

Jojoba - it’s actually a liquid wax and for that reason, it’s appreciated on the hair for its light coating and protective properties.

Castor oil - its ricinoleic acid compound has humectant properties that help moisturize the hair.


As you can see, not all oils are the same and will not all react the same on everyone's hair, since this will depend a lot on your hair thickness, density, porosity, curl-factor, length, and so much more. Some carrier oils can be lighter on the hair and coat it, while others can penetrate deeper. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hair since we're all so different, and many of us even have combinations of hair types on our heads (me included!) so experimenting with oils and oil combinations is best!


What about oils for the scalp?

Using oils on your scalp is done for a totally different reason than on the hair strand itself. Typically, oil will be used on the scalp to:

  • promote circulation and blood flow on the scalp

  • to help moisturize a dry scalp and to prevent water from being released from the scalp (as mentioned above under "curly hair")

  • to provide antioxidant benefits to the scalp

  • to soothe an itchy scalp due to dryness

  • to help dissolve hard flakes on the scalp, such as with a baby's Cradle Cap

  • to help prevent hair loss and re-boost dormant hair follicles

  • to help provide "glide" for a scalp massage

  • for hair growth


As you see, there are many different reasons, for using oils on the scalp and we will break down this topic in a separate blog as it's quite in-depth. Just keep in mind that in this article we're specifically talking about oil for the hair strands themselves, not the scalp. Some oils you use on the hair will not be beneficial for the scalp itself, so if you're looking for scalp oils: stay tuned to learn more about highly nourishing oils, essential oils, CO2 extracts and oil infusions... it's a great topic!


Are you looking for the perfect hair oil combination?

We've done all the hard work for you, and created our very own OBLOOM Hair Elixir Oil, which uses a combination of oils that both penetrate and seal the hair, soften and condition and improve shine instantly while smelling fantastic! Plus, it's excellent for all hair types – Check it out and let us know what you think!



What do you think about using oil on your hair? Are you curious to try your hand at using one or many of these oils to create your own? Let us know in the comments below:

Wishing you healthy and shiny hair days ahead!

~Suzanne

Founder, OBLOOM.