Let's Talk About Hair Oiling!
Updated: May 10
Hair oiling has a very long history in Ayurveda, an ancient form of medicine from India. And there is some scientific evidence to support its benefits.
Ayurveda uses natural treatments to maintain and promote health, and hair oiling is considered an important part of Ayurvedic tradition. By massaging natural oils and herbs into the scalp and hair, it can help nourish and strengthen the hair, improve circulation, and promote overall well-being. Oil massages have been part of my entire life. My mother started olive oil massages as soon as I was born. And then the coconut oil massages, which was left on and kept every single hair in place while we were in school in India. Now, my rotation of oils changes weekly based off what I have at the moment. I love almond, olive, amla, neem, rosemary, coconut, and castor oils. More on the oils later.
Let’s start with the How!
How often you should hair oil depends on your hair type, texture, and condition of your scalp. Generally, once a week is enough to see the benefits. BUT, as with everything applied on the body, proceed with caution, and know that every product carries a risk or irritation, allergy, or contact dermatitis. It's also important to note that different hair types and conditions may respond differently to hair oiling, so what works for one person may not work for another.
Use just enough to cover the scalp and hair and let it sit for at least an hour to let it absorb into the scalp and hair. If you’re new to hair oiling, you can start by leaving the oil in for 30 minutes and gradually increase the time as you see how your hair responds. Combine your oils into a container of choice and use your fingers to apply first to the scalp.
Did you know that massaging your scalp during oiling has major benefits?!
First - Massaging the scalp increases blood flow to the hair follicles and this can help get essential nutrients and oxygen to the hair roots, which may promote hair growth and improve overall hair health. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology examined the effects of a scalp massage device on hair thickness and density. They found that using the device for 24 weeks resulted in a significant increase in hair thickness and density, as well as an improvement in scalp health.
Second – Massaging improves lymphatic drainage. Your lymphatic system is responsible for getting rid of waste and toxins from your body.
And the Third and probably most obvious – Relaxation. Massage is a relaxing and stress-relieving activity. And we all know stress is a common cause of hair loss and damage. So taking some time to relax and de-stress can help improve the health of your hair.
Remember to use gentle, circular motions. You can use your fingers, a massaging comb, or a scalp brush. 5 minutes is more than enough.
You may not consider this last step an important part of the hair oiling process – it is! We want to make sure we’re cleansing properly, in most cases you can double cleanse (shampoo twice), to avoid buildup from the use of too much oiling, residue from styling products, and your natural oils and sweat.
Now choose your oils!
Here are some of my favorites that can help nourish and strengthen your hair:
Coconut oil: rich in fatty acids, this oil is popular in Ayurveda due to its ability to penetrate the hair shaft and provide deep conditioning to the hair.
Amla oil: Made from the Indian gooseberry, amla oil is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.
Neem oil: This oil is made from the neem tree and is known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Neem oil is often used in Ayurveda to help treat scalp infections and promote overall scalp health. * Neem oil is very potent and can be strong on its own, so diluting it with a carrier oil will help reduce the risk of skin irritation.
Rosemary oil: Known for its ability to improve circulation, rosemary oil is often used in Ayurveda to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. *Rosemary essential oil should always be diluted with a carrier oil to reduce the risk of skin irritation.
Olive oil: Rich in antioxidants and vitamin E.
Almond oil: This oil is rich in vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for the hair, including vitamin E, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Castor oil: rich in fatty acids and vitamin E. It is also believed to help prevent hair breakage and split ends.
Jojoba oil: actually a liquid wax ester is not an Ayurvedic oil but is a great option as a carrier oil. It mimics the oils your skin naturally produces, is highly stable and resistant to oxidation.
** In addition to the studies, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence from people who have experienced the benefits of scalp massage and hair oiling firsthand, like the generations of Indians practicing Ayurveda. However, it's important to note that everyone's hair and scalp are unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.
I hope you found this post helpful and informative! If you have any questions about hair oiling, or if you'd like to share your own experience, please leave a comment and let's chat!
REMEMBER, every product carries a risk of irritation, take everything with a grain of salt, do your research, sometimes it's just genetics, and you're doing the best you can!
My favorite Amla oil is from Henna Sooq
You can find the rest of the oils from Amazon, or your local Indian grocery stores.
Kwon TR, Mun SK, Lee YW, et al. Efficacy of a Scalp Massage Device on Hair Growth and Scalp Health. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020;19(12):3292-3297. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13620
Rele AS, Mohile RB. Effect of coconut oil on prevention of hair damage: An in vitro study. Int J Trichology. 2020;12(5):206-215. doi: 10.4103/ijt.ijt_97_19
Patel M, Patel S, Purohit S, Gamit K. Formulation and evaluation of hair oil containing olive oil, almond oil and methyl salicylate for hair growth promoting activity. J Cosmet Sci. 2018;69(5):321-332.