With so many types of hair oils on the market it can be challenging to know which one is best for your hair type. There are oils naturally derived from plants that can be penetrating or sealing, giving them different purposes in your hair routine. There are also synthetic hair oils and that may not be ideal if you are naturally curly. With many options to choose from, how do you decide which hair oil is best? We’re going to cover the various types of oils, hair porosity, texture, and more characteristics that will help you choose the right one for you.
How Hair Oils Work
All oils are emollients, meaning they soften and nourish the hair. Contrary to popular belief, oils help seal moisture into the hair, they do not add it. Oils cannot moisturize the hair alone, as they do not have hydrating properties. They work by creating a barrier on the hair shaft that locks moisture in and prevents it from evaporating for longer. It is still important to use conditioners, leave-ins, and creams that contain water and humectant ingredients before oils to hydrate the hair. Oils provide the best results when the hair is properly moisturized first.
Natural hair oils vs. synthetic options
Most oils found in hair products are plant-derived, such as coconut or jojoba oil. There are also synthetic options such as mineral oil. Mineral oil is not ideal for naturally curly hair because it can create a water-resistant barrier that may be hard to remove with gentle cleansers and it can weigh down the hair. Many hair serum products also contain synthetic silicones that can accumulate on curly hair if not properly cleansed. There are a plethora of natural hair oils that have better benefits for your hair at various steps of your routine.
The 3 Types of Hair Oil
There are three classifications of oils that refer to how well the oil can be absorbed by the hair. Some oils are small enough to penetrate through the hair’s cuticle layer and are absorbed by the hair; others are larger, so they sit on the surface of the hair, coating it and helping to seal the cuticle.
- Coconut oil
- Sunflower oil
- Babassu oil
Penetrating and sealing oils:
- Castor oil
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Argan oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Macadamia oil
- Rice bran oil
- Jojoba oil
Which oil is best for your hair type?
Fortunately, most oils will work well with all hair types, regardless whether you have a straight, wavy, curly or coily pattern. There are 2 things to consider when selecting the right oils for your hair: your hair thickness and porosity.
How to choose an oil-based on your hair thickness and texture
Many hair serums contain a blend of penetrating and sealing oils for multi-purpose use and to be suitable for all hair types. One thing to keep in mind is that not all oils that are known to be “heavy” in their raw form keep their weight in the final formula. On the contrary, they are often formulated in hair products to be more lightweight so they can still be used by fine hair types.
Oils that are heavy, such as pure coconut oil and castor oil, can weigh down fine or thin hair. If that’s your hair type, you should opt for very lightweight oils that have been formulated not to weigh the hair down. The Curlsmith Bonding Oil is a great option, as it contains PlantSilk™, a unique next-generation blend of plant-derived esters specifically designed to outperform silicones while being lighter than raw oils. This lightweight formula won’t weigh down the hair or cause build-up.
Heavier oils and butters, on the other hand, are better suited for very coarse, thick hair. The Curlsmith Treatment Serum for example is a solid multi-purpose butter that melts into your hands to become oil. It contains a blend of penetrating oils such as sunflower oil, shea butter, avocado oil, and olive oil, together with sealing jojoba esters. Use as a pre-shampoo treatment, overnight or as the last step of your routine as a finisher and to tame flyaways.
How to choose hair oil based on your porosity
Depending on what your goal is with the oil, you should keep its penetration ability in mind. Low porosity hair has a tightly bound cuticle layer and doesn’t easily absorb water or products. In this case, a highly penetrating oil is more beneficial as it is more likely to absorb. If you’re looking for the oil to seal and lock in your style, opt for a partially penetrating or a sealing oil.
In contrast, high porosity hair has a raised cuticle that easily lets moisture out. In this case, a sealing oil can be especially beneficial to lock in moisture and reduce friction by smoothing the cuticle. High porosity hair can also benefit from partially penetrating oils to nourish the strands and make the hair glossy. This hair type would particularly benefit from the Bonding Oil too, as this product is enriched with vegan plant proteins that high porosity hair craves. Opt for a hair serum instead of using raw, natural oils because hair serums are formulated to be much more lightweight and suitable for all hair types.
Why should you use a hair oil?
Hair oils have several benefits and can be used at different steps of your routine to achieve specific goals. Understanding how to use hair oils is key to make sure you are applying them at the correct point. Based on when you use them, hair oils and serums can help with the following:
- Detangle & Strengthen hair
- Moisture Retention
- Shine & Softness
- Humidity protection & frizz control
- Hair growth & scalp health
- Scrunch out gel cast
The key to choosing the right hair oil
Understanding your hair’s porosity, texture and thickness is beneficial when selecting the right oils for your hair to maximize their benefits, whether that be softening the hair, preventing breakage, or sealing and adding shine. Fortunately, most natural plant oils are suitable for all types of curly hair, but knowing the various properties of oils will help you determine when to use them in your routine.