Why hair oil is the secret ingredient your haircare routine is missing

Hair oil – you’ve probably either used it before, or picked up a bottle in the haircare ais lane wondered what on earth you’re supposed to do with it.

The haircare market is so saturated that we can feel like we’re putting way too many products in our hair, overloading it with serums, oils, leave-in conditioners, heat protectants – it can all get very confusing and damaging for our hair very quickly.

black and silver office rolling chair beside mirror

Hair oil is one of those products that us greasy-scalped gals look at with suspicion. Why on earth would we want to put more oil in our hair when it’s already greasy a day or two after wash day?

Truthfully, hair oils aren’t so much about hydrating the hair as they are about nourishing the scalp and locking in hydration. But with so much conflicting information out there, we thought we’d break it down into the different uses for you and your hair so you can have your glossiest, more breakage-free hair yet!

Why should you use hair oil?

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Hair oils come with many different functions for many different hair types, but some of the things they can do for your hair – depending on your hair type – is promote growth, increase shine, improve hair’s texture, reduce hair fall or eliminate dandruff.

It’s capable of working as a styling product or a nourishing treatment, depending on your hair and scalp’s needs at the time.

What does hair oil do for different types of hair?

woman with curly hair

This will depend on your hair type and what your oil needs to do for it’s needs.

Hair oil particularly useful for curly, dry hair types. It can work to smooth flyaways and hair generally from root to tip for particularly coily hair by lubricating the outer cuticle and locking in moisture. The Redken All Soft Argan-6 Oil is specifically infused with Keratin Enrich Complex which restores hair's protein comprised of keratin for renewed elasticity and intense softness. As any curly girl knows, this will be a lifesaver for coily, difficult to manage hair, for its conditioning, increased manageability, suppleness and a long lasting shine.

Anyone with curly hair knows that to brush their hair is to invite frizz. Because of this, they brush their hair less often, meaning that the oils that secrete from the scalp and follicle don’t tend to reach the ends and length of hair where that oil is needed to nourish and hydrate the hair. This is why curly-haired people need more oils to supplement to scalp oil that doesn’t meet their hair’s needs.

woman holding spray bottle

People with finer or straight hair don’t need as much oil as often, as they’re able to brush their natural oil secretion through their length and ends more often – but they can still put hair oil to good use for shiny finish to their hair or to nourish a dry scalp and promote growth. Sisley Precious Hair Care Oil Glossiness and Nutrition is perfect for fine hair because it’s all about radiance and softness. The light texture will not weigh hair down and is designed to enhance, rather than provide heavy-duty nutrition.

How can you use hair oil?

person holding amber glass bottle

An oil massage can be a great option for anyone hoping to have longer, stronger hair, as it stimulates blood circulation in the scalp and hair follicle, bringing nutrients to the root. Try to do the oil massage the night before, or if not possible, at least an hour before your shower. Massage the oil into the scalp and leave it to rest and soak in, before washing it out with a gentle shampoo. Do a double-shampoo if you have a particularly greasy scalp naturally.

Oil massages are a great option for all hair types, as the oil is washed out, leaving no grease, just lots of healthy, soft hair. If you don’t have time for an oil massage pre-shower, you can add a little oil to your post-wash routine. The oil forms a protective seal over the hair to keep in moisture that you just applied with your shampoo or conditioner, a particularly good trick for anyone with coloured hair that’s experiencing frizziness or damage.

Woman Wearing White Long-sleeved Shirt

After washing, allow hair to dry naturally if you can and apply a small amount of oil, rubbing it evenly around your palms first to ensure even distribution. Apply the oil through the length and ends of your hair, avoiding the roots if you have fine or non-curly hair and then brush through, starting detangling at the tips and working your way up to the root. This way, your hair gets the moisture where it needs it most without weighing down the root and saturating it. Liz Earle Botanical Shine™ Nourishing Hair Oil is a great natural oil for this purpose, designed for smoothing and shine and reduce the appearance of split ends. Apply it on dry or on damp hair to speed up blow-dry time and protect against heat damage caused.

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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