Oiling hair is recommended as a blanket solution for everything from lifeless tresses, damaged ends to stress relief. You’ve probably received this bit of hair advice from a ton of people – mothers, grandmothers, relatives, friends, doctors, maybe even a stranger or two. With Moroccanoil becoming a beauty rage and Dove introducing a new hair oil called Dove Elixir, we asked the experts – does oiling hair still have all the tremendous benefits that grandmothers promised, or does it do more harm than good?
“The way in which oil acts is multi-favourable” – Dr. Rohini Wadhwani
Oiling hair has “a multi-dimensional effect”, says Dr. Rohini Wadhwani of Skin Essentials, “It helps by increasing the tensile strength of the hair, reducing the frizziness and preventing breakage.”
The oil, by coating the hair, forms a protective layer for the hair shaft. Especially useful “when people blow-dry their hair and other procedures are done to the hair, it becomes very brittle and fragile,” says Dr. Wadhwani.
Beyond the product itself, the massaging technique used when applying oil also has a litany of benefits. “It increases or stimulates of the circulation of blood to the scalp, helps to bring the nutrients to the scalp, which then works by nourishing the hair,” she explains. “And it also acts like a stress buster which is also one of the causes of hair fall.”
“I would never recommend putting natural oil directly on hair” – Rod Anker
The scalp has a natural pH level that is regulated by the body’s natural production of oil. The reason why he doesn’t advocate hair oiling is because when you put oil directly on the scalp “it blocks the follicles and reduces the pH level”. “Hair loss is directly linked to the Ph level of your scalp,” says Anker, “So if your hair is dry or overly oily, you’ll experience more hair loss.”
Adding extra oil to the scalp also messes with the natural oil/water balance on the scalp. “If you put extra oil on it your body will stop producing natural oil.”
“Natural oils are not water soluble,” he says, so when you wash them off they still tend to leave a residue. And when you step out in the sun with that coating of oil, “the sun heats the oil layer, which in turn heats up the internal structure of the hair and then all the moisture is gone”. “You’ve fried it internally,” he says, “It may look shiny on the outside but when you feel it, it’ll feel like sandpaper.” Instead he recommends something like the linseed oil treatment Monsoon Salon offers, which is about 60% natural, is water soluble and washes off.
He doesn’t dismiss time-honored advice though; he just recommends you consider the context. In a time when hair wasn’t subjected to many external factors like pollution, preservatives-laced food, chemicals and treatments, using oil made sense.
Image credit: Anushka Menon
-Jerusha Ratnam Chande
You may also like: