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Should Your Oil Your Hair? A Cosmetic Chemist Explains
Did you know that ancient cultures used to have secret hair-oiling practices that kept their locks healthy and lustrous?
You can still incorporate these techniques in your hair care routine for amazing results!
The question of whether you should oil your hair is personal and dependent on a few factors:
Hair type (straight, wavy, curly, or kinky)
Frequency of washing
How your hair responds to oil
So there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Also, to be honest, I’m really more of a skincare person than I am a haircare person.
And in skincare, oils aren’t really enough for moisturizing because they’re fairly heavy and don’t actually hydrate the skin (you need water for that).
But there is precedence for oiling your hair across cultures throughout human history:
Indian, Chinese, Roman, Greek, and Indigenous cultures have all incorporated hair oiling to beauty routines.
Read on to learn about the history of hair oiling across the world, and how you can start oiling your hair too!
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In ancient India, women used to massage their hair and scalp with warm oils infused with herbs and spices like amla (gooseberry).
This helped to stimulate the hair follicles, prevent dandruff, and add shine.
In ancient China, people used to use oils like camellia and sesame to nourish and protect their hair.
They also believed that massaging the scalp with oils could improve blood circulation and prevent hair loss.
Rome and Greece
The ancient Romans and Greeks also used oils on their hair, often scented with rose, lavender, or mint.
They believed that the oils added fragrance and made their hair more manageable.
Native American cultures also had their own hair oiling traditions.
They used natural oils like jojoba, sweet almond, and rosehip to keep their hair healthy and glossy.
How You Can Oil Your Hair
Warm the oil, massage it in, then let it sit for at least 30 minutes before washing it out.
I usually let it sit for 4-8 hours or overnight.
If you’re going to leave it in overnight, I suggest sleeping in an old t-shirt and laying down a towel before sleeping so you don’t ruin your pillowcases or sheets.
There are no rules here!
Experiment with different oils and combinations to find what works best for your hair type and needs.
In my opinion, you're better off with:
If you are blonde, you may want to stay away from amla as it may deposit color.
Further, with rosemary or peppermint oil, you need to dilute it in a carrier oil, like castor oil.
If you’re serious about needing hair regrowth though, there is nothing more effective than 5% minoxidil.
Today, we know that oils like amla work by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase, thus downregulating DHT (think Finasteride).
Aaaaand we use caffeine to stimulate blood to the scalp!
Hair oiling is a simple and effective way to keep your hair healthy and beautiful, just like our ancestors did.
Tbh, the Earth has already given us everything we need.
We just continuously iterate on it.