Oil has been used as a moisturizing and sealing agent for skin and hair for centuries. In earlier times, ancient Egyptians often used castor oil on their hair to soothe itchy scalps, seal in moisture, and add shine and health back to the hair. Oil has a special place in the beauty cabinet of black women and always has.
Most people in our culture remember the days of mama oiling their scalp, or using Jamaican black castor oil for daily maintenance. For many of us, it has become such an essential part of our everyday routines that we do not even realize there are a multitude of ways to use it! One of the most common yet least discussed ways to use oil in your hair care regimen is through hot oil treatments.
What is a Hot Oil Treatment?
A hot oil treatment is a hair conditioning technique that involves using warmed oil to saturate the hair from root to tip. The warmed oil has an easier time penetrating the shaft of the hair, delivering deeper levels of moisture and softness to any hair type.
The procedure for the treatment is simple and involves choosing and blending oils and heating the oil to the correct specifications.Hot oil treatments come from a variety of sources, but many of the best and most economical oils are found in the kitchen cabinets of most homes.
Hot oil treatments have been a common practice in the black hair industry for years, but with the growth in popularity of natural hair care and oils there has been a resurgence of interest in how to perform them and whom they can benefit.
What Are The Benefits Of Hot Oil Treatments?
Hot oil treatments can help the hair in a myriad of ways. The most basic benefit is moisture and sealing. Hot oil is healthy for the hair because it infuses moisture directly into the scalp hair roots and strands. This can eliminate issues with dry scalp and dandruff, as well as revive brittle strands with shine and vitality. The warmth of the oil helps blood to circulate freely through the scalp which helps with hair growth and thickness. Not to mention, the gorgeous shine that comes from hot oil!
Which Oil Should I Choose for My Hair Treatment?
The way in which the hot oil treatment will help your hair is heavily dependent on which oil you choose for the hot oil treatment. The first thing to decide is: What would I like to accomplish through this treatment?
To help infuse moisture into dry and brittle manes, you should choose an oil that will intensely penetrate the hair. These oils will deliver nourishment deep into the shaft and ensure your hair is in top shape:
Coconut oil– Coconut oil is a staple in many African cultures due to its high availability and easy penetration into the kinky and coarse textures commonly associated with black hair. The oil helps to strengthen the hair as well as reduce damage from common salon treatments such as relaxers, color treatments, curling and flat irons. It seals moisture into the shaft of the hair while acting as a humectant and drawing moisture from the air keeping your hair soft and healthy throughout the day.
Olive Oil– Olive oil is rich in vitamins A and E. This helps protect the hair from keratin loss as well as locking in moisture. Olive oil also helps to add strength and shine to dull hair while protecting from split ends and breakage that black hair is prone to in the drier winter months. This oil is also incredible for promoting scalp health and hair growth by improving the blood flow and circulation which encourages stronger thicker hair.
Avocado Oil– Avocado oil is a lighter oil that provides the hair with antioxidants that controls the build-up of dirt and sebum on the scalp. This allows the scalp to breathe and create stronger growth directly from the root. These antioxidants also help fight frizz, and is perfect to use for straight hair styling or humid weather when maintaining locks may be an issue. Avocado oil is packed with vitamin-E and biotin, both of which stimulate hair growth and provide moisture and conditioning directly to the hair shaft.
For those with more porous hair, the focus is on covering the cuticle and sealing in moisture. These oils will help ensure that any products or oils used on the hair will remain locked into the cuticle throughout the day.
Jojoba oil– Jojoba oil is fantastic for hot oil treatments because it so closely mimics the natural sebum that is produced by the scalp. Your body and hair absorb this oil more readily because of how close it is to what the body already produces. It is terrific for scalp health due to its antibacterial properties. By keeping the scalp free of dirt and debris, the scalp is better able to breathe and foster new hair growth quickly.
Grapeseed oil– Grapeseed oil is a common choice for ladies looking for a lighter option that will still provide deep moisturization and nutrients to the hair shaft. It is fantastic for dandruff due in part to its high concentration of omega fats and vitamin E, and perfect for fine, brittle hair types that are prone to being weighed down but need strong moisturizing for daily maintenance.
Castor oil– Castor oil has been used in Caribbean cultures for years. It is known for its growth encouraging properties, but is also fantastic at conditioning the hair and combating weakness from heat styling and high manipulation. The oil provides a high amount protein, which strengthens and supports the keratin protein already present in the hair.
These are the primary oils traditionally used for hot oil treatments. However, the possibilities and combinations are endless! Oils have different properties and applications for the hair so it is important to research various oils and find the perfect combination to meet your hair’s individual needs. There are many recipes out there, be sure to research and try different blends. Each oil can be used individually or mixed with others. For those who would prefer to purchase pre-made oils, they are found in beauty supply stores, or anywhere hair oils are bought. Examine the ingredient list, research the oils blended in the treatment and match your needs with the benefits the oils provide.
If you prefer to take a more DIY approach, many of the oils discussed are easily purchased from health food and grocery stores. Blending oil treatments on your own gives you the ability to tailor the blends to your needs and make larger batches for future uses.
Should You Do Hot Oil Treatments Before Or After Shampoo?
Hot oil treatments make great options for shampoo pre-treatments in cases of dehydrated and unruly hair. However, the hair receives the most benefit from hot oil treatments when they are performed after shampooing onto clean hair.
The problem with using hot oil treatments as a pre-shampoo has to do with absorption of the oil. Before shampooing, the hair is already dirty. There is a buildup of product, dirt, environmental pollution, everyday oil and sebum production throughout the hair and scalp.
This can inhibit penetration of the oil and make it less efficient at sealing and delivering moisture. To receive full conditioning benefits, apply the treatment right after washing and before deep conditioning,
How To Use A Hot Oil Treatment On Your Hair
There are many ways to do hot oil treatments because of the variety of uses and applications that they have for the hair. Knowing what results you would like will help you decide on key options that will create a unique treatment that will fit your goals.
To complete your hot oil treatment you will need your oil blend, hot water, a shower cap to soak the oil into the hair and a towel to trap heat and keep things clean and dry. Make the process even more luxurious by lighting some candles and playing music. There is nothing more relaxing than feeling warm oil soak gently into your tired scalp!
Heat the Oil
The next thing to do is heat the oil. Whether you chose the prepackaged option or blending oils on your own, the main component of hot oil treatments is oil and HEAT. The first rule of hot oil treatments is to test the oil for safety. The scalp is much more tender than the skin. While dipping your finger in the oil after heating will help, I always recommend dripping a couple of tiny drops directly on the scalp to test the temperature. Pouring oil that is too hot onto the scalp can become a nightmare of a situation for your hair and scalp health. The method and time for heating are essential and should be approached with caution.
If using a prepackaged oil treatment, directions on heating and use are provided. When blending your own, I always recommend the hot water method over microwaving, which can often leave oil dangerously hot with an uneven temperature, opening you up to potential burns. Hot water is used to gently raise the temperature of the oil over a short period. Boil water, pour it into a mug and submerge a glass container containing the oil in it until the oil is at a warm but comfortable temperature. Do not heat the oil over direct heat! not only will heating oil over direct heat kill many properties of the oil, but it takes an incredibly long time to cool and almost always results in an oil that is too hot or too damaged to apply to the scalp.
Apply Oil to Hair
Next, you will apply the oil to the hair. The first area to apply the oil treatment is to the scalp. Divide your hair into four quadrants, and gently pour the oil directly on the scalp and root. Rub in circular motions to spread the oil throughout the scalp and stimulate blood flow. This scalp massage will help the oil to absorb into the scalp and dislodge shedding hairs making room for new hair to grow. Not to mention, it feels incredible and leaves your hands just as soft as your hair. Do this for 30 seconds on each quadrant, then apply the oil down the shaft of the hair. Be careful not to use too much oil. This will not damage the hair. However, it will make the washing process a bit more difficult as well as slippery. Keep in mind; chances are you are using the treatment after shampooing. You will not have anything but water to remove the oil from the hair so tread lightly!
Let Oil Absorb
Now it is time to let the oil soak. Cover your hair with a shower cap, then wrap a hot towel around your hair for extra penetration. Use the towel temperature to determine when it is time to remove. Once the towel completely cools, remove the towel and soak in the oil for 30 minutes to overnight.
Finally, give the hair a good wash. Hop in the shower and carefully rinse the hair. The key to getting rid of oil without shampoo is using hot water. For this, you will want to use the hottest water your scalp can tolerate. This opens up the hair shaft for more penetration as well as warming the oil for easy removal. At this point, some people perform a quick shampoo of residual oil, but for those of us who have kinkier textures that will quickly absorb the oil, it is safe to stick with multiple water rinses until the oil level is to your liking.
How Often Should You Do A Hot Oil Treatment For The Best Benefits?
How often you should use a hot oil treatment depends on the previous treatments that have been used on the hair. If the hot oil treatment is being used to moisturize and condition dry hair, it is recommended that the treatment be performed once a week for twenty to thirty minutes (or overnight for a more intense penetration). This treatment is best paired with a deep conditioner afterwards.
If the treatment is used for color treated hair, it should be applied once every 2 weeks. The thing about color treated hair is the potential for bleeding and color fading. Oils and conditioners can potentially strip the color from the hair causing color treatments to appear duller. Because of this, it is recommended that hot oil treatments be used every two weeks, and are used in conjunction with color saving shampoos and deep conditioners that will reinvigorate the bright color of freshly dyed hair.
For oily hair, hot oil treatments seem like a no go. It is a misunderstanding that oiling the hair causes oil buildup. In reality, greasy hair is caused by hormones and stripping of the hair by the environment and everyday product usage. When the natural sebum is removed from the hair through those means, it causes the scalp to overproduce oil to compensate for the lack thereof. By using light oils such as sweet almond and grapeseed for hot oil treatments, the balance of oil is maintained and supported keeping the overproduction of oil at bay. It is not recommended to leave hot oil treatments with oily hair beyond an hour. Going beyond that time runs the risk of weighing the hair down.
For normal hair, hot oil treatments may not be a necessity. However, using a hot oil treatment once a month will keep the scalp balanced and hair moisturized. Weekly use is optional, but there is more freedom to use treatments on an as needed basis with this hair type.
Can I Use Hot Oil Treatment For Relaxed Or Damaged Hair?
Hot oil treatments are perfect for damaged and relaxed black hair because they infuse protein into the hair shaft which helps with strength and length retention. Relaxers work to loosen the hair texture of black hair, by breaking down the keratin structures within the hair shaft. This leaves the hair smoother and straighter, but also more porous with trouble holding on to moisture as well as a lack of strength and elasticity. Hot oil treatments help to restore the balance and strength to chemically or environmentally damaged hair and are gentle enough to do so without worry or damage from over moisturizing.
Can Hot Oil Treatments Help with Hair Growth?
The heat and moisture from hot oil treatments stimulate the scalp for growth and retention. Even though the growth rate is important, the key to actually growing hair is retaining the length. The conditioning and nourishment that comes from hot oil treatment prevent split ends, which helps hair to maintain its length through the duration of its growth. Many people report great success in using hot oil in conjunction with oil massages, or essential oil blends including tea tree or rosemary.
How To Do A Hot Oil Treatment, What The Benefits Will Be Conclusion
Hot oil treatments are an easy way to keep hair healthy and conditioned without adding any harmful chemicals or strong products to the hair. They are great for fine and sensitive locks, but still provide a soft, bouncy flow to previously brittle hair. Have you ever tried a hot oil treatment? Let us know how it went in the comment section below. Be sure to check out this post for some leave-in conditioners that would pair perfectly with your hot oil!