How to Choose the Right Hair Oil

Green beauty lover Jacalyn Beales helps you find the best 100% natural hair oil.

Much like facial oils, hair oils can impart a number of benefits to the hair and often work hard to improve its health. But not every hair oil is alike, and many “over the counter” hair oils from your local drugstore contain a plethora of artificial ingredients or weird preservatives your hair will not benefit from. Choosing the right hair oil is crucial and can become a regular—perhaps even daily—part of your natural beauty routine.

Having tried a few hair oils in my day, I’ve experienced many a pro and con of using them. Greasy hair from too much oil, overly-scented locks from oils littered with artificial fragrances…I’ve had plenty of negative experiences with hair oils! So maybe my tips and tricks for choosing and using hair oils will help you if you’re pondering the idea of adding one to your beauty regimen.

First of all…what are hair oils?

Just like facial oils, hair oils are concentrated mixtures of different types of oils extracted from botanicals and natural ingredients, such as florals and herbs. Some hair oils may contain only one specific ingredient. For instance, red raspberry seed oil can be used as a hair oil on its own. The most common hair oils, however, are made using multiple oils, such as a hair oil made with a combination of rosemary, lavender, and avocado oils. Not to be confused with hair serums, products typically reserved for styling the hair as opposed to “healing” it, hair oils are meant to be absorbed by your hair, penetrating the roots and strands to impart reparative properties that help heal, nourish and protect the hair. However …I’ve found that some brands label their natural hair oils as “serums,” despite the fact that they are not first and foremost meant to be used as a “styling” product. Brands will, nevertheless, instruct you on what their oils/serums should be used for, and how to use them.

What type of hair oil is right for me?

There exist an insane amount of articles seeking to answer this question, and I’m sure many of them offer valuable information for hair treatment purposes and such. However, I personally believe the answer here is simple: everyone’s hair is different. Coconut oil may work well for my hair, but not for yours; the same can be said for many natural oils. Hair oils, however, are often a mixture of various botanical oils and it may take some trial and error to find an oil that works perfectly for your hair. My rule of thumb is that less is more; so, if you are going to use a hair oil, be aware that just like facial oils, hair oils are made with concentrated ingredients and you need only a few drops to do the trick. This is especially true for those with fine and/or thin hair.

How do I choose the right hair oil?

Again, the number of articles that exist to answer this question is tantamount, but my own advice is to go with an oil (or oils) that contains completely natural ingredients free from artificial perfumes, fragrances, and preservatives. Such false ingredients do nothing to contribute to the health of your hair, and natural oils often possess their own scents, making the addition of artificial perfumes unnecessary. It’s also wise to avoid palm oil and palm derivatives, but even if you are not entirely concerned about the presence of these types of ingredients, a natural hair oil will be far more beneficial regardless. When looking for a hair oil, keep an eye on the ingredient lists, looking out specifically for artificial ingredients.

How should I use my hair oil?

Hair oils are extremely simple to use, but depending on your hair, you may find you benefit most from using the oil throughout your entire head of hair, or just specific portions. For example, if you have fine hair and would like to improve hair density at your roots, utilizing a hair oil with ingredients targeted an encouraging growth might instruct you to apply the oil to your whole head of hair with emphasis on massaging the oil into your roots. Some hair oils are meant specifically to add shine and luster to your hair whilst taming frizz and flyaways, while others may work to add hydration and moisture to thirsty tresses. But remember: less is more. You will often only need a few drops warmed between your hands to do the trick. I typically let my hair dry naturally, so I concentrate on adding my hair oil to the ends of my hair to keep them looking healthy, but when styling my hair, I’ll massage an oil throughout my hair entirely. How you use your oil should be based completely on what works best for you.

It’s worth mentioning that the time of day during which you use a hair oil is a matter of preference; some benefit from utilizing hair oils for styling, but you may find your hair drinks up the oil better at night. My tip is to try using hair oils at different times of the day – for example, in the morning during your styling routine, or at night after a shower, right before bed – to discover what works best for your hair.

What ingredients should I look for?

The ingredients you should keep an eye out for depend on the hair issue you’re looking to rectify. Rosemary, for example, is often expounded as aiding in hair growth, along with pine, nettle, and hemp oil. Chamomile, lavender, rose and other floral extracts add shine, softness and nourish the hair. Most brands will denote in the descriptions of their hair oils the benefits their oils impart and what they should be used for, so it’s important to read through an oil’s ingredient list and description prior to purchasing it. You may also find that an oil which works on your scalp doesn’t work on the rest of your hair, so you may have to multi-oil – meaning, use one type of oil on your roots and another on your ends, for instance.

Take my hair oil routine: I apply a few drops of red raspberry seed oil to my roots and a couple drops of The Innate Life’s Rose Hair Elixir to my ends.

What are the Benefits?

Everyone’s hair will react differently to hair oils, but many use these oils to nourish their hair, add hydration and moisture, or to heal their hair after too much styling. Personally, I find my hair is softer, shinier and easier to manage when I use hair oils, as my hair is naturally curly and gets tangled quite easily. You may notice your hair becomes healthier, shinier or simply easier to style in the mornings. A common benefit to using hair oils is that they allow you to scale back on the frequency with which you condition your hair, as hair oils are often meant to be left in the hair and not simply rinsed out like a conditioner; this means your hair actually absorbs the oil, as opposed to having the product sit on top of the strands. Some use hair oils purely for the lovely, natural scents they give off, sort of like a nourishing hair perfume.


A dedicated wildlife advocate, Jacalyn Beales writes on the issues and conflicts threatening the world’s wildlife and advocates for the conservation of Africa’s lions. Read more of her work at

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