Finding a hair care routine that works for you can be a lengthy process of trial and error. Not only can your hair and scalp change over time, but most big-name shampoo and conditioners don't work on all hair types.
If you have coarse or curly hair or a dry scalp, the traditional shampoos and conditioners you find at the supermarket can put your hair through a grueling cycle of swelling and drying that causes hygral fatigue. As a result, your hair may appear dull, frizzy, dry, and brittle.
But not all hope is lost. You can bring back shine and bounce to your curls by utilizing specific oils and adopting an ayurvedic hair care regime.
What Does Ayurvedic Mean?
Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words "ayur" and "veda" which mean "life" and "knowledge," respectively. It originally referred to a system of medicine pioneered in India over 3,000 years ago. Ayurvedic medicine is popular in the Eastern world and focuses on natural remedies and therapies.
In terms of hair care, an ayurvedic routine is a holistic approach that only uses all-natural products and treatments. You won’t find synthetic chemicals, dyes, or fragrances in an ayurvedic regime. Combining clean haircare products and an ayurvedic approach can be greatly beneficial for your hair and scalp health.
Ayurvedic Hair Care Regimes
Women in India and other southeastern countries have been using ayurvedic practices to nourish and strengthen their hair for centuries. Opt for shampoos and conditioners that use more natural materials rather than sulfates that strip your hair of its natural oils.
A central part of any ayurvedic regime is regular scalp massages with oil. There are dozens of hair and scalp oils on the market today, but if you're fresh on the scene, it can all feel very overwhelming. That's why today, we're breaking down everything you need to know about oils for your hair and scalp, their benefits, and the various application methods.
Benefits of Oil for Hair and Scalp
If oiling your hair and scalp had no intrinsic benefit, it wouldn't be so massively popular among people with textured hair, dry hair or scalp issues. Below are the four main benefits of using certain oils on your hair and scalp.
Hydrate and Moisturize
Oil for your hair and scalp does a fantastic job of hydrating and moisturizing, which leaves your hair looking and feeling significantly softer and stronger.
Many people use the terms hydrate and moisturize interchangeably in haircare, but there's actually an important distinction between the two.
When we talk about hydration in terms of hair, we’re referring to your hair's ability to attract and soak up water, whereas moisture refers to your hair's ability to retain water and not dry out quickly. Hydration occurs in the inner layers of your hair, known as the medulla and cortex, while moisturizing happens in the outer layer, known as the cuticle.
The right blend of oils will penetrate deep into the inner layers of each strand to hydrate and then moisturize the cuticle to seal in all that water and quench your thirsty hair.
Stimulate Blood Circulation
When you massage oil into your scalp, you are stimulating blood circulation. An increase in blood circulation brings more nutrients to your scalp, which feeds your hair follicles and promotes hair growth. Increased blood circulation to the scalp can also extend the life of hair follicles and prevent excessive hair fall.
Help Control Dandruff
Dandruff can be exacerbated by a dry scalp. Oiling your scalp regularly is an easy way to deliver moisture directly to your scalp to prevent flaking and combat dandruff.
Nourish and Strengthen Hair
Oils for your hair and scalp nourish and strengthen your hair in a few different ways. In addition to the influx of nutrients brought with increased blood circulation, oils can nourish and strengthen your hair by delivering vitamins your hair is lacking and filling in the gaps between cuticle cells to fight the effects of hygral fatigue.
Penetrating vs. Sealing Oils
Although there are dozens of different oils you can apply to your hair and scalp, all oils fall somewhere on the spectrum between highly penetrating and highly sealing.
Penetrating oils are those that are good at getting through the outer cuticle layer of your hair and hydrating the inner layers, such as coconut and olive oil. On the other hand, sealing oils, like jojoba oil, are typically larger and heavier on a molecular scale and cannot penetrate your hair. Instead, they create a protective seal on the outer layer to prevent moisture loss.
You can't have adequate moisturization without adequate hydration first. That's why these two types of oils go hand in hand in ayurvedic hair care. However, most carrier oils have a combination of penetrating and sealing properties. This means they can partially penetrate the hair shaft, but not all of the way to the innermost layer, while also providing moisture and protection to the cuticle.
Should I Apply Oil to Wet or Dry Hair?
Generally speaking, it's best to apply oil when your hair is slightly damp because this is when your hair is most absorbent. Of course, there are exceptions and times when you may want to add a dash of oil to dry hair.
For example, to smooth down flyaway hairs and create an extra sleek and shiny ponytail. However, if you have an oily scalp, avoid applying oils to your roots while your hair is dry. You can apply oil to the roots as a pre-shampoo treatment.
How Often Should I Oil My Hair?You should aim to oil your hair at least once or twice a week, but the more often, the better. Some people worry that if they oil their hair too frequently, it will cause buildup on their scalp.
What Are the Best Oils for Your Hair and Scalp?
Below are several common types of oil you can find in ayurvedic hair products.Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a highly penetrative oil and one of the most commonly used oils in hair worldwide. It's great at penetrating deep into the hair shaft to deeply condition and prevent protein loss, making it a good choice for most hair types.
For your scalp, coconut oil is great at gently removing product buildup and soothing an irritated or dry scalp.Olive Oil
Olive oil is packed full of healthy fats and vitamins that nourish your hair. It's known for making hair extra soft and shiny and is a valuable ingredient in any oil blend.Sunflower Seed Oil
Sunflower seed oil is another oil with an extremely low molecular weight, making it superb at penetrating the hair shaft. However, it also has a very high linoleic acid content, which helps secure the cuticle to the shaft to make your hair smoother and more manageable.
Thanks to its high smoke point, sunflower seed oil is also great at protecting your hair against heat damage during styling.Shea Oil
Shea oil is a great moisturizer that also has impressive anti-inflammatory properties. This means it works to make your hair soft while also soothing irritation and dryness on your scalp.Olive Squalene
This oil is known for being highly effective. It has a lower molecular weight than regular olive oil and can therefore penetrate and moisturize even deeper, leaving you with soft and shiny locks.Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil delivers a cocktail of vitamins and minerals to your hair to nourish, strengthen, and protect the cuticle. Although not technically an oil, this wax ester is extremely similar to human sebum in structure and is packed with various B vitamins, vitamins C, E, A, and D, as well as zinc and Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids.Abyssinian Oil
This oil is a great sealing oil that strengthens the cuticle to prevent breakage and maximize shine.Grapeseed Oil
This is another oil that is high in linoleic acid that helps smooth down your hair, but it also delivers a healthy dose of antioxidants to protect your hair.
How to Apply Hair and Scalp Oil
Applying oil to your hair and scalp is simple. Just follow these steps.
- Ensure your hair is clean
- Remove excess moisture from your hair with a microfiber towel
- Squirt a palmful of oil into your hand
- Rub your hands together and gently work the oil into your roots
- Slowly move down your hair until you reach the ends
Once the oil is distributed throughout your hair, go back and massage it into your scalp for five to ten minutes. This helps exfoliate and moisturize your scalp and stimulates blood circulation.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Applying Oil to Hair?
The advantages of hair and scalp oil are so heavily touted that you rarely hear about the drawbacks, but there are a few.
Applying oil directly to your hair can weigh it down and make it look greasy. Additionally, if you use oils as a leave-in conditioner rather than a pre-shampoo treatment, they can attract dirt and other pollutants that build up on your scalp, causing flaking and irritation.
Furthermore, applying the wrong oils at the wrong time can result in the opposite of your desired outcome. Since oils repel water, if your hair isn't properly hydrated, instead of locking in moisture, the oils can actually prevent your hair from absorbing the moisture it desperately craves.
For these reasons, many people find it more beneficial to use a conditioner that is formulated with hair-friendly oils, instead of applying oil directly to hair.
Oil-Infused Conditioners as an Alternative
Ayurvedic conditioners that are formulated with natural oils provide an easy solution to the greasy finish that pure oil mixtures tend to leave behind.
Conditioners allow you to get all of the benefits of the individual oils without running the risk of overdoing it. Rather than applying a large amount of oil directly onto your hair, well formulated conditioners deliver a small but effective dose of oils to the entire length of your hair.
Conditioners tend to be a gentler, more convenient, and more balanced approach to addressing problems with your hair. They contain both oil-soluble and water-soluble ingredients to deliver the proper levels of moisture and hydration to your hair and seal them in.
How to Pick the Right Conditioner?
When it comes to conditioners, the proper oils are just part of the bigger picture. The right conditioner will also be packed full of humectants and conditioning agents to attract water into the hair shaft, decrease tangling and friction when combing, and make your hair as soft as possible.
Of course, you'll also want to ensure the conditioner contains a good blend of penetrating and sealing oils. If a conditioner relies solely on one oil, even if it's a semi-penetrating oil, it probably won't be able to provide your hair with the proper hydration and various vitamins it requires.
The Best Natural Conditioner
The Kavella Balanced Conditioner checks off all of the boxes of what an all-natural conditioner should be. This deep-penetrating conditioner is formulated to penetrate deep into every level of the hair shaft while providing superior hydration and moisture, without being too heavy on the hair.
The Kavella Balanced Conditioner boasts aloe vera extract as the first ingredient, so you know it's going to soothe even the angriest and most irritated scalps. Many people don't know that aloe vera is also packed full of hair-strengthening vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, B, C, and E, and fatty acids.
However, this conditioner gets some of the best properties from its powerful oil trio of organic coconut oil, organic argan oil, and organic rosehip oil.
The argan oil is intended to reduce frizziness and give your hair a shiny finish, while the rosehip oil penetrates deep to hydrate and nourish your hair from within.
Coconut oil is used not only to moisturize and soften your hair but also to prevent protein loss. This is especially useful in this specific Kavella Balanced Conditioner because it also features a healthy dose of hydrolyzed quinoa protein to boost its ability to repair, protect, and condition your hair.
Should I Oil My Scalp Every Day?
If you have time to oil your scalp every day, that's fantastic. But unfortunately, most people do not. You should aim to oil your scalp at least two times a week to see consistent results. Once you apply the oil, according to the steps mentioned above, make sure to rinse it out to avoid buildup and irritation.
Which Oil Is Best for Hair Growth and Thickness?
If you're searching for an oil that delivers great results and only has to be used once or twice a week, look no further than the Kavella Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment. This multi-purpose oil does an excellent job of soothing your scalp while also softening your hair and stimulating hair growth.
The unique blend of more than ten essential and carrier oils gives this scalp and hair oil tons of attractive benefits. For example, olive oil is already known for its supreme moisturizing abilities, but the olive oil and pumpkin seed oil utilized in this blend may also inhibit dihydrotestosterone (DHT) production. DHT has been shown in clinical trials to shrink hair follicles and encourage hair loss.
The antioxidants found in hazelnut oil are known to be astringents, meaning they can tighten skin pores and reduce the amount of sebum your scalp produces and builds up. But this isn't the only source of antioxidants; sweet almond oil is also rich in them.
The essential oils used in this scalp and hair oil do a lot more than impart a pleasant, natural scent. The rosemary, lavender, cedarwood, and thyme oils have shown promising results that they may stimulate hair growth, and they have antifungal properties that may help control dandruff. At the same time, the peppermint oil soothes your scalp and gives you those good tingles with none of the burning that other products cause.
And to finish off this oil blend, jojoba oil is included to coat each strand of hair and lock in all of that valuable moisture.
The sheer number of oils packed into this blend is impressive, but what makes it stand out from other products is that each oil was carefully chosen for a specific purpose. Some oil blends feel like they were thrown together haphazardly to just sound good, but you can actually see the purpose of each oil in this blend from Kavella.
Perhaps the best part of this oil is, unlike some other scalp oils, this one can be applied directly to the ends of dry hair to lock in moisture without making your hair look greasy or heavy.
And like all of Kavella's products, this hair and scalp oil is completely vegan, so anybody with a head of hair can use it.