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.

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