When it comes to treating hair dryness, few things are as effective as the application of a rich plant oil. While substances like silicones and squalene can certainly help moisturize and provide your hair with a protective coating, plant oils truly stand in a league of their own.
Plant-derived oils are loaded with all sorts of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, providing your hair with a massive burst of nutrition in addition to rich, long-lasting moisture.
Additionally, plant oils offer the benefit of organic, non-synthetic sourcing that makes them a perfect solution for anyone with chemical sensitivities.
However, before you run to your kitchen and slather your hair with a bottle of vegetable oil, it’s important to understand which specific oils work best for hair use. Because of the composition of the hair strand and the varying weights and sizes of different plant oils, it’s been demonstrated that some plant oils penetrate the hair much more effectively than others. For instance, a plant oil like sunflower oil can be exceptionally lightweight and “dry”, which is perfect for moisturizing an oily scalp, but is a poor choice for someone with dry hair that needs heavier, more penetrative moisture.
For those with dry, fragile hair, we’ve compiled a list of four oils that have earned their status as moisturizing superstars. Read through each below to find an oil that is best for you!
With a nickname like “liquid gold”, it’s clear that argan oil has earned quite a reputation for itself! Created by pressing oil from the kernel of the argan fruit, this oil is exclusively imported from Morocco, as it is the only place where the argan tree grows. While this oil is deeply penetrative and moisturizing, it somehow manages to be lightweight and without any sort of greasiness.
High Fatty Acid Content
Aside from its lightweight moisture, argan oil is packed with unsaturated fatty acids like oleic, linoleic, and palmitic acid. Oleic and palmitic acids have a large molecular weight, allowing them to imbue a sense of richness to your hair, while linoleic acid is smaller and helps to boost hair and scalp health.
Argan oil is loaded with vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant that helps prevent against UV rays and heat damage.
The oil of the argan fruit also contains a significant amount of unique plant sterols that help to calm inflammation and soothe an irritated scalp.
One of the most unique oils on this list, jojoba oil actually isn’t an oil at all! Jojoba oil is actually a wax ester, which makes it incredibly stable and longer lasting in comparison to other plant oils. This oil is derived from the seeds of the Simmondsia chinensis plant, a desert plant commonly found in North America.
What sets jojoba oil apart from other oils is that it not only is able to form a protective coating around the hair strand, but it also is able to deeply penetrate the hair follicle for an intense, multi-layered burst of moisture.
To add to jojoba oil’s impressive list of unique qualities, it is also the oil that is most similar to human sebum in chemical composition. Because of this, application of the oil may trick the scalp into producing less oil and balancing sebum production. Additionally, this composition may allow for the hair to more readily accept the penetration of jojoba oil into the shaft.
What list of hair oils would be complete without coconut oil? This oil is derived by pressing the kernels of the coconut seed, creating a more solid byproduct as opposed to a traditional liquid oil byproduct. Coconut oil is by far the richest oil on this list, and is basically the gold standard for treating severe hair dryness. If you need a rich, indulgent burst of moisture, look no further than coconut oil!
In terms of hair strand penetration, coconut oil is king. Because of its unique fatty acid composition and chemical structure, coconut oil molecules are able to directly penetrate the hair bonds in a manner that other plant oils are unable to, leading to deep, long-lasting moisture.
Sun protection isn’t just about your skin, as you also need to take into consideration the damaging effects that the sun’s UV rays can have on your hair. Thankfully, coconut oil has natural SPF qualities that help protect from radiation and prevent sun-induced dryness and damage.
Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Fungal
One of the main causes of dandruff and other scalp conditions is a fungal or bacterial infection of the scalp. Coconut oil exhibits potent antimicrobial effects, making it a perfect solution for both treating and preventing scalp issues.
Of all the oils on our list, this is the one that you most likely already own! Derived from the fruit of the olive tree, olive oil has long been prized as a food ingredient in Mediterranean and Italian cooking. Aside from being delicious, however, the oil also packs a fantastic punch in fighting hair dryness, as it is a uniquely moisturizing oil with many nutritional benefits.
Much like a suit of armor, oil is able to coat the outside of the hair strand, due to its large molecular weight that prevents it from penetrating the deeper levels of the hair strand. His helps to both protect the hair as well as prevent moisture loss.
One of the hottest oil products in the hair and skin world is squalene, which can be derived from either olives or sugar canes. The olive form of squalene is an incredibly lightweight byproduct that helps to balance sebum production of the scalp.
To add to its list of benefits, olive oil is jam-packed with a variety of antioxidants in the form of polyphenols, carotenoids, and vitamin-E. Together, these antioxidants provide protection from environmental damage and slow the effects of age-related hair damage.