Styling, coloring, straightening, and using heat on hair can leave it damaged and dry. Dry hair is more likely to look frizzy, break, and develop split ends— things that nobody wants. The good news is that a simple hot oil treatment can restore moisture to over-worked hair, restoring its softness and smoothness.
While there are a range of hot oil treatments available for purchase, it’s also easy to make one at home, using a few kitchen ingredients.
There are a number of natural oils that are suitable for hot oil treatments, each with their own benefits:
- Coconut — ideal for all hair types, it provides shine and softness. It’s high in vitamins E and K, which can help reduce flaky skin and dandruff.
- Jojoba — best suited for oily hair, as its molecular structure is similar to sebum, the oil that the scalp produces naturally. While it doesn’t weigh hair down, it can add volume to your hair strands, making hair look thicker and more luxuriant.
- Avocado — for those with very dry, frizzy hair, the high quality, monounsaturated fats in avocados make it particularly moisturizing, while the vitamins A, B, D, and E are both nourishing and good for growth. It also contains a natural SPF.
- Sweet almond — like avocado oil, it contains a high level of monounsaturated fats, but is denser in composition. It’s believed that the high levels of zinc, magnesium and calcium in sweet almond oil can help prevent hair loss.
- Olive — a common oil that you probably have on hand. It’s an antioxidant, and its emollient properties allow it to penetrate the hair shaft easily in order to improve shine and elasticity.
- Castor — its drying properties make it the most suitable for oily hair. It’s one of the thickest oils, which means that it helps to strengthen your hair and keep your hair frizz free.
Essential Oils and Herbs
Many people like to add essential oils or herbal infusions to the oil when creating their hot oil treatment. As well as providing a delicious perfume, certain essential oils and herbs have additional benefits. These herbs and their benefits are:
- To enhance color. Brunette hair — nettle, black tea, rosemary, sage. Blonde hair – chamomile, calendula, clove. Red hair — hibiscus, red clover, chamomile.
- For stronger hair — chamomile, nettle, arnica, burdock
- For better moisturized hair — calendula, chamomile, lavender, catmint, aloe
- Increased hair growth — peppermint, parsley, sage, chamomile, ginger, cinnamon
If using herbs, they can be added to the oil before heating it gently over a bain marie (double boiler) and leaving it to infuse for around thirty minutes before straining and using. If using essential oils, just add two or three drops and start stirring.
Making the Hot Oil Treatment
When making the treatment, two or more oils can be mixed together, depending on the individual’s hair type, and their needs at the time of the treatment. When using an oil mixture, it’s best to use equal amounts. The longer the hair that is to be treated, the greater the quantity of oil that will be needed.
The oil treatment can be heated in a microwave, or by heating up a larger bowl of very hot water for around two minutes. The oil should be warm but not uncomfortably hot. If using a microwave, then around ten seconds on high should be sufficient to heat. Before applying, the temperature can be checked by dropping a small amount onto your wrist.
Applying The Oil
Once the oil is ready, it is best to put a towel around your shoulders to protect clothes from any drips or spills. Alternatively, you can apply the treatment while in the shower. Ensure that your hair is thoroughly detangled before application.
The oil should be massaged into the scalp first. This massage helps to remove any loose hair or dead skin, and will stimulate blood flow to the area, which encourages hair growth. It also helps the oil penetrate the hair shaft and roots, and sink into the skin, leaving it moisturized and healthy. This massage should last between three and five minutes. Once completed, the remaining oil can be applied to the length of the hair, coating it thoroughly, but not to the extent that the hair is dripping.
Once completed, a shower cap or plastic food wrap should be put over your hair for the best results. This will hold in the heat, which opens up the hair follicles and makes it easier for the oil to penetrate the hair shafts. The oil should be left on for at least thirty minutes although some people prefer to leave it on for up to two hours.
Washing Out the Oil
Washing out the oil can take a little time, and it can be easier to do it in the shower. Using a suitable shampoo, begin to wash it out using warm water. It may take two shampoo cycles to remove it all, and turning the water temperature down to lukewarm at the end of the shampooing process makes it easier to remove the last of the oil.
Even after this deep oil treatment, your hair may still need conditioning. If it does, apply as normal to the full length of your hair and then do a rinse. After all that effort, it’s best if possible, to allow your hair to dry naturally in the air rather than using heat.