I have a full-on skin-care wardrobe, so the leftover real estate in my bathroom is pretty precious. It’s like the rest of my personal care products play the hunger games against each other to win a spot on my shelf or shower caddy, which is why I’m all about things that multi-task and feed two birds with one scone. While everyone turns to multi-tasking makeup essentials (my fave) and things like SPF-moisturizer combos, another little-known product that works in more than one way is hair oil.
Certain hair oils can work as a styling product, hair mask, and scalp treatment all in one invigorating elixir—which is particularly great because, as we’ve learned, a healthy scalp is the foundation to healthy, shiny hair. “There are many natural oils that are great for the scalp and hair including baobab, ylang ylang, jojoba, rosemary, and lavender oils,” says Dominic Burg, PhD, trichologist and chief scientist at Evolis Professional. “These all work to increase hydration of the strands and moisturize the scalp.”
Hair oils are particularly helpful for those with curly and coily textures, whose hair tends to be drier than those with straight strands. “Hair oils can enhance or replace the natural oils produced by our scalps, adding extra shine and moisture. These may be useful if you have use a shampoo that strips out your natural oils.” If your hair’s on the thinner or more on oily side though, hair oils are probably not your best bet, as they will “weigh the hair down,” says Dr. Burg, adding that they can make things greasy in that case.
Fran Miller, founder of F. Miller skin care, concocted her own multi-tasking hair oil for shiny, healthy hair. “It pretty much does it all and is ideal for hair anywhere,” she tells me. “You can use it daily on damp ends or facial hair to promote healthy strands or as a weekly hair mask to soothe your scalp.”
If you’re going to use a hair oil for a number of steps in your hair health regimen, just be sure to choose one with these ingredients, and abide by the philosophy of less is more. “Be careful not to apply too much hair oil to the scalp, and if you do, ensure you cleanse with a non-drying, sulfate-free cleanser to avoid build up,” says Dr. Burg. To score one of these hair essentials for yourself, keep scrolling for five star examples.
F. Miller Hair Oil, $55
Miller’s multi-functional elixir works fabulously as a scalp treatment–she recommends sleeping with it on, then rinsing in the a.m., or massaging it into your scalp for an hour to reveal super-shiny strands. Or, ya know, you can dab a bit onto your ends for smooth, frizz-free, hydrated hair.
This luxe blend of curated Indian oils works to nourish and hydrate your scalp with rose, moringa, and cherry oils, and protects your hair with stimulating coriander seed, pepper, ginger, and basil, which all work together to revive each strand for true shine that lasts (and smells really good).
Ouai Hair Oil, $28
Though this blend of ama oil (for damage), borage oil (for frizz), baobab (for color protection) is really light, it works to boost shine and smooth strands for a silky, soft finish. And you can slather it on for an overnight mask treatment if your hair’s extra thirsty.
Your hair’s color will be protected as your strands get reparative moisture via camelia flower, which does the multi-tasking job—use it for styling, de-frizzing, or a mask, depending on what your hair needs.
Rahua Elixir, $175
With oils (sustainably) plucked from the Amazon rainforest, this concoction with rahua and palo santo oils moisturize your hair, and can be used for styling, as a pre-shampoo hair and scalp repair treatment, or an overnight mask for even more TLC.
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