Trichologist reveals which hair oils are good or bad for your scalp

Do you use any of these oils?

woman putting hair oil on
(Image credit: zest_marina / Adobe Stock)

Prioritising hair care should always been an important part of any self care routine, especially in the colder weather. If you're not sure where to start, hair oils can be very beneficial, particularly for those looking to grow their hair, add thickness or repair any damage from chemical treatments or colouring. However, applying the wrong oils can make hair greasy or irritate the scalp, making it important to know what you're doing. 

To get to the bottom of this, we spoke to Dr. Faisal Ahmed Hammadi, resident trichologist at PowerYourCurls. Dr. Hammadi took us through the main hair oils used in hair care routines, sharing his advice on how effective they can be. He also shared the kind of oils that can damage the scalp, and it's this advice that we wanted to share with you. 

Before you find out, have you read our advice on how to create the best hair care routine for your hair type

Castor oil

Castor oil is made from pressed oil produced from castor beans. Its benefits range from hair growth and anti-inflammatory properties, to reducing dandruff.

"Castor oil can increase hair growth five times than the natural rate and can also moisturise a dry scalp. Its hair growth benefits can also help boost growth for eyebrows and eyelashes" said Dr. Hammadi.

Dr. Hammadi said the first way to use castor oil is to prevent stains by wearing a shirt you wouldn't mind getting stained. Then, section your hair and wear gloves when applying the oil to your scalp. You can use your hands but you can also use an applicator brush. Massage the oil into your scalp for a few minutes. After this, apply castor oil to the rest of your hair and use a comb to ensure it is applied evenly.

Dr. Hammadi also advised avoiding the overapplication of castor oil on hair.

"You don't need to soak the hair with oil. To check if the application is even, your hair should be moist" Dr. Hammadi stated.

"If you douse it with oil, it will clog the hair follicles, which can increase the risk for dandruff and hair fall. It may even be difficult to rinse the oil out" he added.

Rosemary oil

The oil of a rosemary plant does wonders for hair and the scalp. It is found to have properties that can promote hair growth and thickness, which can be achieved by improving blood flow to the scalp and lessening inflammation. 

"Those who have balding patches on the crown can apply rosemary oil as an effective way to promote hair follicle growth and strengthen existing ones. It can also protect someone from worsened hair loss as its properties can help stimulate the scalp and improve blood flow to the hair follicles" said Dr. Hammadi.

Dr. Hammadi advised that rosemary oil should be combined with a few drops of oil with coconut oil or jojoba as a carrier oil. Once combined, massage it into the scalp.

"You need to mix it with a carrier oil because too much rosemary has high potency and may likely irritate your skin" Dr. Hammadi pointed out.

The amount of droplets may differ in terms of hair thickness but make sure the oil is evenly coated on the hair. After this, leave it on for at least half an hour before rinsing your hair.

"Use the rosemary oil mixture on your scalp once or twice a week. Results could vary but there may be improvements in hair growth and thickness after using it for several weeks or months" Dr. Hammadi commented.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is ideal for reviving damaged hair because it softens, hydrates, and strengthens broken and brittle hair. It also boosts hair cuticles and protects it from environmental impact.

"Coconut oil also helps soften and condition the hair. It helps reduce protein loss in all hair types. It is also rich in lauric acid and can penetrate the hair shaft and can act as a daily conditioner" Dr. Hammadi explained.

Dr. Hammadi explained that coconut oil can be applied in four different ways. First, it can be applied before you shampoo your hair. This allows the hair to soak up excess water, which can prevent damage and dryness. You can leave it on for about 15 to 30 minutes before washing your hair. Apply more on the midsection and ends of the strands.

The second way is using it as a conditioner, which helps the coconut oil to strengthen the oil as an alternative to standard conditioners. You can add a few drops of the oil in your conditioner to improve its smoothing effect.

The third way is adding it whilst styling your hair to tame the frizz. Apply it whilst the hair is still damp to easily absorb its nutrients and can also help style the hair.

The fourth and last measure is massaging a teaspoon or two of the oil through the hair. After this, wash the hair after a few hours or apply it overnight if your hair is very damaged. 

Dr. Hammadi also advised to use the oil at night and shampoo twice to reduce the slickness.

Which oils are not scalp friendly?

Despite the benefits that the hair gets from oils, some hair oils, if applied too much, may harm the scalp. Dr. Hammadi said argan oil works like magic on the scalp but he warned that there could be risks for those with oily hair, especially as it can increase the risk of dandruff. 

Dr. Hammadi also flagged the use of olive oil for scalp massaging. It may be beneficial for the hair shaft, but it could make the locks look dull and greasy. It also tends to block the pores so it can buildup dirt and irritate the scalp.

The third oil to avoid is Lemon oil, especially as it encourages hair fall instead of preventing it. It will also make hair look more dull. 

Interested in more? Check out these 5 natural remedies that will help reverse hair loss. 

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.