What causes your hair to become damaged? The answer isn't so simple. Chemical processes, like bleaching or keratin straightening, can obviously turn your strands from soft and supple to straw-like and fried. But there are other, more routine issues that lead to damage, too. Heat styling, a lack of humidity, and even brushing your hair while its wet can cause damage. Luckily, with the help of some of the best hair oils for dry, damaged hair, you can revive your locks and get them back to a healthy state.
Pure oils, or products that only have one type of oil in them, are particularly great choices for reversing damage because they mimic the oils our scalp naturally produces to protect hair on its own. There are, however, certain oils that work better than others — and the best of the bunch are listed below, with options for every hair type and concern. They're each a little different, so make sure to pay attention to what might work best for you.
One important note, though: since most of these oils are plant- and/or nut-based, they can cause a scalp reaction if you're allergic to their primary ingredient. As such, always do a spot test first, and never buy an oil that's sourced from something you're allergic too, e.g. coconuts.
As far as usage goes, you can apply your oil to wet hair and let it air dry, or saturate your strands and use one as an overnight mask. Either way, these hair oils for dry, damaged hair are the best you can use.
1. Best Avocado Oil: A Lighter-Weight Leave-In For All Hair Types
Avocado oil, like this one from Maple Holistics, is also full of fatty acids and good-for-your-hair minerals. But the main draw for folks looking strengthen and cure dry, damaged hair is biotin. Biotin, which is naturally occurring in avocado oil, is one of the best proteins you can add to your hair care routine. It moisturizes while also promoting new, healthy hair growth. Avocado oil also contains vitamin E, which helps prevent breakage by strengthening the hair cuticle. And since it's lighter than olive oil, you can put a drop or two in your hair and use it as a leave-in. Another great way to add avocado oil to your hair is to spike your regular conditioner with about a tablespoon. Leave it on for a few minutes, rinse it out, and you'll be shocked by how healthy your hair feels.
2. Best Argan Oil: A Multi-Purpose Treatment For Light-Colored And/Or Finely-Textured Hair
True story: I went from brunette to platinum blonde for a summer, and Moroccanoil's Treatment Light was the only thing that kept my hair from looking like a fried, dried-out mess. Moroccanoil was one of the first brands that introduced argan oil to the masses, and Treatment Light has won awards from Harper's Bazaar New Beauty, Essence, and more. This particular formulation relies on mostly 100 percent argan oil, as well as linseed extract, to nourish, hydrate, and detangle hair. It leaves hair feeling soft and looking shiny, and also helps speed up air- or blow-drying time. Argan oil is also a natural UV protectant, so it'll help prevent further damage from heat styling and the sun.
It's important to note that this formula was specifically made for fine and/or light-colored hair, so if you're looking for something a bit richer, try the original version instead. Both treatments work fabulously as a leave-in or deep-conditioning mask, so play around until you find the method that works best for you.
3. Best Coconut Oil: For A Pre-Poo Treatment Or Leave-On Mask
You know how they say that coconut can cure just about anything? You can add "damaged hair" to that list — especially if you're using Shea Moisture's 100 Percent Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Rich in fatty acids and vitamin E, coconut oil works to strengthen, soften, and moisturize dried-out hair. That means it'll become shinier and easier to detangle — and it's helpful for if you have coarse curls or coils, you'll probably be able to tolerate this stuff as a leave-in, but otherwise, it's best used as a hair mask or pre-shampoo treatment.
Pro tip: warm the coconut oil up in your hands before you apply it, as that helps to open the hair cuticle, which allows the molecules to deeply penetrate instead of just sitting on top of the shaft.
4. Best Jojoba Oil: For A Certified-Organic Pre-Poo Treatment Or Leave-On Mask
Consider Cliganic's 100 Percent Pure & Natural Jojoba Oil like human growth hormone for your hair. It's an incredibly nourishing oil, thanks in large part to the bevy of vitamins and minerals present in its makeup. Vitamins C, B, and E, as well as copper and zinc, mean that this oil is seriously strengthening and hydrating. It isn't a great leave-in, though, because it's a bit on the heavy side. So, like with coconut oil, use it as a mask. Warm it up, leave it on for 20 minutes (or overnight) from root to tip, and then shampoo. As a bonus, this formula is certified-organic by the USDA, which is always a huge plus.
5. Best Macadamia Oil: A Majorly Nourishing Treatment That's Ideal For Coarse, Curly Hair
Curly hair types tend to be the driest, since curly patterns make it harder for your scalp's sebum to travel down the shaft and hydrate it. That's why macadamia oil, which is found in this treatment, is so beneficial for replenishing dehydrated coils and curls. Macadamia oil is one of the highest sources of essential fatty acids, which are the building blocks of a healthy head of hair. It adds shine and strength to the hair shaft while also nourishing the follicles, and can also help prevent hair loss, which is a less-than-desirable side effect of damage. Curly-haired girls might see the most benefit from macadamia oil when it's used as part of a hot oil treatment.
6. Best Olive Oil: For Softer Hair On A Budget
Olive oil isn't just great for cooking, as proven by Palmer's Olive Oil Formula Gro Therapy. Olive oil is packed with natural emollients — like palmitic acid, oleic acid, squalene, and terpenes — that soften and strengthen dry, damaged hair. But olive oil doesn't just just soften on contact — it also helps heal damage. That's thanks to the fatty acids and vitamin E, which condition your hair and help strengthen it over time. And while you shouldn't ingest this olive oil, it's actually great to incorporate more olive oil into your diet for stronger hair, too. Eating fatty acids ensures that new hair growth is strong and supple, so be sure to douse your salads in EVOO at any chance you get.
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