As far as haircare ingredients go, there’s likely nothing older—or more widely used—than oils. Hair oiling has been a practice since ancient times, with practitioners believing that applying oil to the scalp and hair could help boost volume, add shine, and soften the strands. Today, we know that these ancient beliefs are largely rooted in truth: Many oils can help promote healthy-looking hair. Still, not all hair oils are created equally. The best oils for hair are those that moisturize and soften without weighing down your strands (or making your hair look greasy).
Because everyone’s haircare needs are different, there isn’t one oil that can be definitively hailed as the best oil for hair. However, there are several oils studies have shown to be beneficial when applied to the scalp and strands. Here, we’ll introduce you to some of them and give you the run-down on what, exactly, they can do for your mane. You’ll also discover our favorite products featuring these nourishing hair oils and learn how to use them in your haircare routine. Keep reading for the Kiehl’s guide to the best oils for hair.
Meet Our Best Oil For Hair: Magic Elixir Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment
Hair oiling generally refers to the practice of putting oil directly onto your scalp and strands and massaging it in to distribute the oil evenly throughout your hair. Rather than do this with any old oil in your kitchen, we suggest reaching for an oil specifically designed for this purpose, like Magic Elixir Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment. Made with a powerful blend of avocado, safflower, rosemary, and sweet almond oils, this nourishing treatment for all hair types helps promote a healthy scalp environment. Our hair oil immediately leaves the scalp and hair feeling moisturized while boosting softness, adding shine, and improving manageability.
Using this luxurious oil is straightforward, too. Starting with dry hair, massage a small amount directly onto your scalp and roots. Wait approximately ten minutes to allow the formula to absorb, then hop in the shower and rinse or wash it out with shampoo. Then, condition, dry, and style your hair as usual. We recommend applying this oil to hair regularly to help maintain healthy-looking strands, but how often is up to you. Listen to your hair and find a schedule that suits your needs.
What Are Some Other Good Oils For Hair?
While hair oiling has its benefits, it’s not the only way to use oils in your haircare routine. Products formulated with oils can be equally beneficial. Keep reading to learn about four oils with proven hair benefits; plus, discover the Kiehl’s products that contain them.
Coconut oil is a nutrient-rich lipid extracted from the dried flesh of the Cocus nucifera, or coconut fruit. This popular beauty ingredient is a solid at room temperature with a buttery, almost waxy texture. At higher temperatures, it quickly melts to become liquid oil.
What It Does:
Browse any haircare aisle, and you’re almost guaranteed to find a product with coconut oil in it—it’s an incredibly popular hair care ingredient. Like other plant oils, coconut oil helps smooth and soften the hair. Studies have also shown that it may help reduce and prevent hair damage—something that not every oil can do.I As such, coconut oil is often considered to be one of the best hair oils for those looking to maintain strong, resilient strands.
Find It In:
Coconut oil is one of the key ingredients in our Amino Acid Shampoo and Amino Acid Conditioner. The shampoo gently cleanses and softens the hair while helping to add volume, and the lightweight conditioner boosts hydration to help maintain hair’s natural moisture balance. Both of these customer favorites are suitable for all hair types and can be used daily for manageable, healthy-looking hair.
The emollient properties of coconut oil also make it one of the best oils for dry scalp concerns. To help keep your scalp feeling hydrated and nourished, we suggest adding Amino Acid Moisture-Restoring Dry Scalp Treatment to your weekly routine. Starring fairly-traded coconut oil and a trio of amino acids, this unique scalp mask replenishes moisture while helping to protect your scalp and strands from the damaging effects of stressors like heat and hard water. We recommend using the nourishing treatment once weekly—just massage the rich formula onto your scalp and strands after shampooing, let it sit for up to 15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.
Used around the world as cooking oil, olive oil hardly needs an introduction. The rich, golden-hued oil, which is extracted from fresh olives, is a staple of the Mediterranean diet and has been used since antiquity to help soften, nourish, and hydrate dry skin and hair. (It was allegedly referred to as “liquid gold” by ancient Greeks).
What It Does:
Like coconut oil, olive oil possesses emollient properties and can help moisturize dry hair. It may also be useful for addressing damage: Some studies suggest that regularly treating the hair and scalp with olive oil can help protect against damage caused by chemical or heat processing (like bleaching or straightening).
Find It In:
Nourishing Olive Fruit Oil Shampoo
If you’re interested in incorporating olive oil into your haircare routine, don’t raid your pantry. Instead, reach for hair products that contain olive oil, such as our Nourishing Olive Fruit Oil Shampoo and Nourishing Olive Fruit Oil Conditioner. Formulated for dry, under-nourished hair, this duo cleanses and instantly moisturizes hair, improving manageability and restoring your mane’s healthy appearance. The conditioner also helps detangle unruly strands—and despite its nourishing properties, it boasts a lightweight texture that rinses out easily.
Obtained from the kernels of the Moroccan argan tree, argan oil is an incredibly popular and versatile beauty ingredient. It’s been used in North Africa for centuries to help moisturize, brighten, and soften the skin. In recent years, it’s also become a popular haircare ingredient worldwide—in fact, due to its cosmetic use (and a relatively small area of cultivation), it’s now the single most expensive edible oil in the world.
What It Does:
Argan oil can penetrate the hair fiber and help give damaged strands a fuller, shinier (and overall healthier) appearance. It has an especially high water-holding capacity, making it one of the best oils for dry hair. Lastly, some evidence suggests that argan oil can improve hair’s elasticity, thereby making it less susceptible to breakage.
Find It In:
Smoothing Oil-Infused Leave-In Concentrate
Fairly-traded argan oil stars in our Smoothing Oil-Infused Leave-In Concentrate, a styling aid formulated for frizzy, unmanageable hair. The leave-in treatment nourishes and smooths frizzy, dry hair without weighing it down, leaving it softer and shinier. Apply it to damp or dry hair after shampooing and conditioning for smooth, nourished strands.
Coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil—these are all relatively well-known in the beauty world. Pracaxi oil is decidedly less so. Derived from the seeds of the Amazonian Pentaclethra macroloba tree, this unique oil contains a high concentration of behenic acid, as well as various other saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.
What It Does:
Thanks to its unique composition, pracaxi seed oil is often considered one of the best moisturizing oils for hair. You can find it in a wide array of haircare products, including shampoos and conditioners for natural hair—alone or paired with other plant oils.
Find It In:
Pracaxi oil is one of the key ingredients in our Grooming Solutions collection for men. To reap the benefits of this unique plant oil, we recommend adding Grooming Solutions Nourishing Shampoo + Conditioner to your cart. This two-in-one formula gently removes buildup to thoroughly cleanse the hair and beard, leaving both full and healthy-looking. Plus, the hydrating formula is packed with fragrant essential oils that leave your hair with a clean, woodsy aroma.
I. Gavazzoni Dias, Maria Fernanda Reis. “Hair cosmetics: an overview.” International journal of trichology vol. 7,1 (2015): 2-15.
II. Kaliyadan, Feroze et al. “Scanning Electron Microscopy Study of Hair Shaft Damage Secondary to Cosmetic Treatments of the Hair.” International journal of trichology vol. 8,2 (2016): 94-8.
III. Mysore, Venkataram, and Arpita Arghya. “Hair Oils: Indigenous Knowledge Revisited.” International journal of trichology vol. 14,3 (2022): 84-90.