In the world of haircare, using oil on the hair has been a trending topic for quite some time. Everyone suggests using oil on the lengths of your hair as well as on the scalp, and some suggest leaving the oils on overnight. But it's not as easy as picking your cooking oil and slathering it on your hair because you may actually be doing your hair a disservice.
There are some gorgeous carrier oils that are used in hair formulations, yet they're not all the same, with each one providing a different benefit. So, you must know your hair type, what it needs, and why you are wanting to add oils to your haircare routine before you choose the right one for you.
We shared [THIS] blog post on the various hair types to get you started in determining yours. This is key because we're not all going to see the same results from the same oils, yes?
There's also this one [HERE] on whether an oil is penetrating or sealing because this is one of the best ways for you to close in on which oil to choose.
And there's [THIS] blog post on some gorgeous natural alternatives to silicone.
Let's help you figure it out a bit more:
What are you trying to accomplish?
If your hair is damaged, dry, from bleaching or overprocessing and over-styling, you may want to choose a penetrating oil. These carrier oils have shorter chains of fatty acids (part of its composition, with low molecular weight) that allow them to get right in there, inside the hair strand, infusing it with its beneficial nutrients.
On the other hand, if your hair is in relatively good shape and you're just looking for more shine or protection from the elements (like wind, or heat from styling, for example) then you'd choose a sealing oil. Sealing oils have longer chains of fatty acids) so they won't necessarily penetrate the hair strand but they'll sit on top, providing shine and protective benefits and providing moisture retention.
For some hair types, such as for those with coily type 4 hair, using a sealing oil or a combination of oils and butters, can provide much-needed protection for hygral fatigue which can cause hair swelling, dullness, and breakage. For this reason, people with textured hair can benefit from using an oil before washing their hair, so that not too much water penetrates the outer layer of the hair.
IS THERE AN OIL THAT IS BOTH PENETRATING AND SEALING?
The answer is both yes and no. This will again depend on your hair type as not all hair will react the same to a particular oil.
Let's take coconut oil as an example: It's gorgeous and it has the capability of both penetrating and sealing the hair strand. It truly is a miraculous oil that provides a lot of benefits to the hair and has been tested for centuries on different hair types, but not adored by everyone because it can be challenging to remove it from the hair (wash, rinse... wash, rinse...).
Coconut oil is one of those carrier oils that is best used sparingly or as part of a hair oil formulation that will contain "some" coconut oil but not more than 5%, for example. Any more than that and you may find that your hair is heavy, greasy, and can become "crunchy" to the touch, which some people may like but others may find it way too heavy and be disappointed when using it because the struggle to wash it off can be real! But it is gorgeous and its many nutrients can't be denied!
CAN I MIX AND MATCH BOTH TYPES OF OILS?
Sure, you could mix and match both penetrating and sealing oils into one concoction, as long as you know what you're doing for your specific hair type. This is what we are working on and the reason why we are launching some gorgeous hair oils (soon!). As long as you know what your hair needs, the best type of oil for the results you are looking for, and how to mix them properly, preventing them from oxidizing then hey, go for it! Just keep in mind that your hair will not always like the same oils for the rest of your life because hair needs do change....
SHOULD I HEAT THE OIL UP BEFORE USING IT?
This depends on the oil that you have chosen to try, as some will change molecular structure slightly when they are heated, causing a different reaction. It will also depend on the health of the hair itself, as some very damaged hair will benefit from warming up the oil slightly, since heating it will help to lift the hair cuticle slightly. It's not necessary, however, depending on whether you're using a penetrating or sealing oil.
WILL HEAT BURN MY OILED HAIR?
If you are using a blow dryer on the "hot" setting or sitting in the direct sun while you tan at the beach then oiling up your hair may not be the best thing. It's not necessarily true that "putting oil on your hair will burn it" as this will very much depend on the oil you have chosen to use. Grapeseed oil, for example, can withstand very high temperatures so even sitting in the sun with grapeseed oil on your hair will not "cook it dry".
In reality, you would actually have to heat up these oils to a very high temperature in order for there to be long-term damage to the hair, but if you are planning on going to the beach or sitting under the dryer for 20 minutes, then it may be best to use a protective leave-in conditioner on the hair instead, as it will provide added moisture to protect it from drying out since heat causes water to evaporate.
CAN I LEAVE OIL ON MY HAIR OVERNIGHT?
If you're using oils on the length of your hair then sure, you could leave them on overnight as long as they are not too close to the scalp. If you are using oils on the scalp, for their benefits, then we would not recommend leaving them on overnight because oils can be occlusive and could block pores and aggravate the scalp's delicate microbiome (more on the topic of microbiome [HERE]).
Penetrating oils will only take 10-15 minutes to completely enter the hair strand and gain all the benefits of their nutrients, so it's not necessary to leave the on overnight but if you want to, go ahead (just use a towel over your pillow to avoid staining).
WHAT ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS ON THE HAIR?
OOMPH... This is a whole complicated topic on its own! The short shtik on this is that essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that need to be carefully studied and intricately learned before you even venture into putting one anywhere near your scalp.
On your hair length, sure you can, as long as:
It's properly diluted
It's not overused
The proper dermal limits are followed for each essential oil
It's not anywhere near the scalp, unless you know what you are doing. Remember: oils in general can travel down the hair, but also up the hair toward the scalp. Be cautious.
You can learn more about essential oils and their proper usage and cautions [HERE], through the Tisserand Institute.
We don't recommend using essential oils on the scalp (even in combination with carrier oils like grapeseed or jojoba, for example) unless you know exactly what you are doing and have learned about the scalp microbiome [HERE] and how fragile it can be when it comes to highly potent ingredients such as essential oils. There is a reason why Aromatherapy is a career, and aromatherapists study for years to learn about essential oils. Essential oils are much more than just "pretty smelling oils".
We don't believe essential oils should even be sold at supermarkets where they can easily be misused, causing toxicity to the body and sometimes even irreversible long-term damage. If you are pregnant or lactating, or a child under 3 years old, essential oils should never be used!
"OIL DOESN'T WORK FOR MY HAIR"
Using oil on the hair is not for everyone. Some people find that using oil will result in horrible hair that is lank, draggy, super greasy, and difficult to wash out. OF COURSE! Because not everyone's hair type is the same, not everyone uses the same products to wash and style with, and not everyone washes their hair exactly at the same frequency. Even different hairstyles can affect how your hair reacts to using oil on it – whether it's pulled up in a tight bun, braids, protective styles or left alone to fall loosely.
If you find using oil on your hair "doesn't work for you" then we would recommend:
Trying lighter, more "dry" oils such as rice bran oil or a light ester such as hemisqualane, and putting it on your hair sparingly and only on the lengths of your hair, before bedtime.
Try combining a bit of oil with your shampoo and see how that feels.
Try using a hair oil as a "pre-poo" (before washing it), on dry hair, and then washing it as usual. this works wonderfully for some people as the oil can be "just enough" to prevent the hair from absorbing too much water.
ALTERNATIVES TO USING OIL ON THE HAIR
If you've tried using an oil on your hair or you just get grossed out at the thought of using an oil on your hair, no worries! You're not alone, and oils are not the only thing you can add to your hair for achieving shine and healthier hair. You can also try using a light leave-in conditioner or using the "pre-poo" method suggested previously. Just because oils work on your friend or sibling, doesn't mean they will work for you and what you want to achieve. We love using a water-based ingredient like bamboo bioferment, for example, for its nourishing benefits to the hair with that gorgeous shine it provides!
The best way to truly know how your hair will react to using oils is to try them out, one oil at a time and see how it feels and looks. Check out our [SHOP] and sign-up for our newsletter to be notified when we release our new products in 2023. Happy hair days!
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