What's the Best Oil to Use on My Hair?


Hair Liberty's Nicole Harmon,

Q: What’s the best oil to use on my hair? How should I use it?


A: There’s really no wrong way to use vegetable oils, but just like any other product, when you find the right oil for your hair, everything from detangling to styling will be easier.

Oils for Conditioning
  • Best Choices: Coconut, Olive, Avocado, and Castor Oil
  • These oils are high in saturated or monounsaturated fat. Oils in this category are easily absorbed through the cuticle layer into the inner cortex of the hair. Once the oil is inside it can give the strands a bit more strength against breakage.
  • Best Use: Apply generously to dry hair an hour or more before shampooing. For a faster treatment, cover with a plastic cap and sit under a bonnet dryer for 20 minutes on low.
  • These oils should not be applied to wet hair because water will only prevent the oil from absorbing (remember water and oil don’t mix).
  • Coconut, Olive, Avocado, and Castor Oil are considered medium to heavy oils. If you have fine natural hair, don’t use these to style or your hair may turn out stiff and piecey looking.
Oils for Sealing
  • Best Choices: Almond , Grapeseed, Flaxseed, and Sunflower Oil
  • These oils that are high in polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fats stay on the surface of the strand instead of absorbing inside. When the goal is to seal moisture into your hair, you need oils that stay on the top cuticle layers.
  • Best Use: Make your own finishing spray by putting one of these oils in a mister or spray bottle. Spray on damp or dry hair to seal in moisture or add shine to a wet set or blow out.
  • These oils can also be used as pre-shampoo oil treatments when you don’t have time to wait for the benefits of a conditioning oil.
  • Almond, Grapeseed, Flaxseed, and Sunflower Oil are light enough to be used on fine strands without making them look weighed down and greasy.
None of the oils mentioned here last longer than 1 year once opened. Expired oils make your hair more prone to sun damage, so they are not worth using. Maximize the shelf life of your oils by keeping them away from heat and light. Store them in a cool, dry place like a kitchen pantry or a closet instead of the bathroom cabinet.

Hair Liberty (def): The freedom to rock whatever style you want, whenever you want. Curly, straight, natural, relaxed, whatever! Free yourself! For more info, visit www.hairliberty.org

27 Weigh in!:
Aurélie Ariel said...

I have a mixture of castor, avocado and hemp seed oil that I keep in a dark bottle away from light, sometimes it's all I use on my hair after co-washing and leaves my hair super soft (coconut oil never ever does that lol) I also love grapeseed oil, it is ammmazing but I have been known to be so heavy-handed that I started oil dripping. I like castor oil for sealing as well because I've found that my hair remains soft for almost 3days until I have to re-moisturise and seal again plus it gives a shine to my hair.

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FYI........

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•Buy 16 oz Curl Defining Cream, get Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner FREE
•Buy Nourish & Shine, get Natural Hold Spray Gel FREE
•Buy Twist & Lock, get Natural Hold Locking Spray FREE
•Buy Hair Nourishing Cream, get Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner FREE

MissJoiful said...

Oh I LOOOVE castor oil!! I use it to seal my ends and to do hot oil treatments. Hair feels super soft and has shine for days whenever I use it. Olive oil is another fave. I've made my own little 'oil cocktail' that includes a little castor oil, EVOO, grapeseed oil, a little bit of coconut oil, jojoba oil with essential oils of grapefruit, orange, rosemary and geranium. Smells awesome and my hair LOVES this combo!! Does anyone else have issues with coconut oil though? Would love to use it more often but whenever I use it on it's own it seems to make my hair feel coarse and hard :/ I have to mix it with other oils.

Aurélie Ariel said...

@MissJoiful omg I have the same issue with coconut oil, I keep on forcing it on my hair but it isn't accepting lol I've just decided to stop using it on my hair but I do mix it with my brown sugar for my scalp rub but on my hair, it leaves it harrrrd and bone dry!

Anonymous said...

I keep trying to use coconut oil because of all the good things I hear about it on this page, but it makes my hair very hard and it just feels very strange. I like it on my body, but not on my hair. I guess I'll stop trying to force the issue, but everyone raves so much about it I feel like I'm missing something or doing something wrong.

Bridget said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bridget said...

My hair loves castor oil, EVOO, avocado and grapeseed oils, but seems to despise coconut oil when used alone. When I use coconut oil on its own, it leaves my hair dry and hard. However, I have been using Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Enhancing Smoothie with success even though coconut oil is the third listed ingredient. So apparently I can do coconut oil when mixed with other ingredients but not solo.

mangomadness said...

I love coconut oil for finger-detangling and pre-poo'ing--It's penetrates strands, softens, and smells great. Grapeseed oil is awesome for tension blow-outs--It's a natural heat protectant and adds awesome shine. Castor oil mixed with aloe vera gel makes a super moisturizing pre-poo.

Olive oil makes my hair feel weird and smells too strong. :(

Jami said...

Hi Hair Liberty: Is the fridge ok for storage? My apt. is in an old building, i don't control the heat in winter and my apt gets HOT! Any thoughts on jojoba oil?

Thanks for the article! Peace.

Hershe_82 said...

Very helpful information! I have extremely dry hair and I find that I've been struggling with keeping moisture of any sort locked in. Experimentation time for me. Thanks again for this info

Tamika said...

I use coconut oil year round, and have fine natural hair. Maybe in the light it only lasts a year, but out of the light it can last two or more.

Anonymous said...

I've been using coconut oil, but only on damp hair...any other way makes it feel weird. I use it as a detangler on wet hair before i wash, and again immediately after conditioning. Then I slap on some shea butter. I've tried a bunch of other stuff, but they simply don't work for me. And yes, I do this before using ANY styling product. And no, I do not drip or leak any oil, nor do I have oil stains on my pillowcase:) The oil that felt horrible? Olive and Avocado oils.

honeybrown1976 said...

I use olive, coconut, and avocado oils for conditioning and sealing. They work best for me after using a moisturizer or leave-in.

SH said...

Great advice. I have always wondered if I was using olive oil properly especially for my fine texture. This really helped answer my questions.

Launie said...

This was very helpful. I mostly use EVOO , Jojoba Oil and Cocunut Oil. I haven't used avocado oil or gradpeseed oil before. I'm going to try those as well! Thank you!

Nancy M said...

Thanks so much for this advice from everyone. I use several oils, but after reading these comments, I will definitely try others.

Argan Oil - on wet hair for roller sets or on dry hair for shine. LOVE the smell.

Coconut Oil - on wet and dry hair for conditioning. I also use it daily for conditioning. It makes my hair super soft and it smells like baked goods. :)

Olive Oil - to mix into things like shampoo, conditioner, henna, etc.

Almond or Apricot - for sealing. Although I like almond oil better. I think I'll try grapeseed or sunflower oil once I run out.

Castor Oil - I really don't like how this feels in my hair, but it's great for my dry skin!

Sorry for the long post. I get so into this stuff, it's scary! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Great info....

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. It's incredibly helpful. I wish that all of this information was available years ago when I first went natural. Technology has changed black hair care fr the better.

Ashley Jane said...

I use SAFFLOWER OIL.... it works like a dream. I don't see or hear of many naturals using that oil but it's really inexpensive and loaded with fatty acids.... I add it to my leave-in, henna,and deep conditioners. Yall might wanna try it.

Annie L. said...

@Ashley Jane

I've been wanting to try safflower oil based on reports of high ceramide content in it. Thx for reminding me!

Anonymous said...

I use Safflower oil as well and I love it.. My hair doesn't like EVOO or Jojoba and Coconut oil only as a pre-poo..

Anonymous said...

I love meadowfoam seed oil, argan oil, and coconut oil. My hair is soft and amazing whenever I add meadowfoam seed oil to anything.

I store my oils in the fridge.

Anonymous said...

I have been using cold pressed castor oil for sealing and twisting and my hair has felt smooth and stretched.

For the last few weeks my scalp has been crazy itchy - I think it's the castor oil! My daughter checked my scalp and there is no dandruff, redness, or crusting.

Man, do I hate to give up the softness - but the scratching has gotten embarrassing.

Has anyone else experienced scalp pruritis (itching) with castor oil or Kimmaytube leave in?

Thanks!

edotsey said...

@Anonymous 11/23: Oil actually attracts oil, especially castor, so it could be stripping your natural oils. I have scalp issues, including dandruff, when the weather gets colder, so what I do is put a mix of olive oil and coconut oil on my scalp as a pre poo. It knocks those issues out like a light for me! You may want to just try keeping the castor oil off your scalp, focusing it more on the roots.

Best of luck, and thanks so much for the article!! Very informative :)

Anonymous said...

100 % Wheat Germ Oil is the best !....have to keep i the fridge. Try it.

Anonymous said...

Love this article on oils and all the great advice and comments. I have been using olive oil, argan oil, jojoba oil,grapeseed oil,and vitamine E oil in my own little concocktion and my hair is so much stronger and is growing like a little weed which I am so happy about! its been 2mths since my BC and now my hair is on its way to a healthy recovery! Thanks for all the wonderful advice.

Nikita said...

Hi Nikki! What do you think about sealing moisture with argan oil? Thank you in advance :)

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