olive oil hair care treatments

There seems to be no end to the kitchen products they say can be good for your hair: Apple cider vinegar rinses for shine; honey, mayonnaise, and avocado for conditioning; beer for… well, maybe it’s best to save the beer for drinking.

People have used olive oil for haircare for thousands of years. Advocates claim that it adds shine, body, softness, and resilience. This is because its primary chemical elements are oleic acid, palmitic acid, and squalene. These are all emollients, which means they have softening qualities. In fact, many shampoos, conditioners, and pomades contain lab-made versions of emollients.

Emolli-What?
  • Emollients are lubricants that have softening, moisturizing qualities.
  • Olive oil contains the emollients oleic acid, palmitic acid, and squalene.
  • You can find lab-made versions of these in conditioners, shampoos, and pomades.

There is very little scientific evidence to support olive oil’s popularity in haircare. However, some research on the effect of oils — coconut oil, in particular — show that they can have a major moisturizing effect. Olive oil could add softness and strengthen hair by penetrating the hair shaft and retaining moisture. Shine attributed to olive oil may be due to the oil smoothing the outer cuticle of the hair.

How to Use Olive Oil as a Conditioner

1. Measure

If you’ve never experimented with olive oil as a hair product before, use just a tablespoon or two for your first treatment.

First-Timer Tips
  • Heat the olive oil until it’s just warm to make it easier to apply.
  • Comb your hair with a wide-toothed comb before you shampoo the oil out. This will make combing and styling afterwards easier.
  • How much olive oil you should use depends on how deeply you want to moisturize and where. The ends won’t require more than a tablespoon. If you’re treating your entire head, you’ll need at least a quarter cup.

2. Massage

Massage the oil deeply into your hair for a few minutes. You can also massage it on to your scalp if you have dry scalp. For the most effective conditioning, wrap your hair in a shower cap and let the oil soak in for 15 minutes or more.

3. Rinse

Shampoo rigorously and dry your hair to see results. You might need to shampoo twice, depending on how much you’ve applied.

There’s nothing harmful about conditioning with olive oil. Unless your hair is dry enough to require a moisturizing treatment every day, use it once a week or less often for the best results.

Who Should Use Olive Oil?

Thick Hair

Olive oil is most beneficial for dry, thick hair. Advocates say it can keep hair moist and strong. Olive oil tends to weigh down thinner hair. Oily hair and scalps simply don’t need the conditioning.

Processed Hair

Heavily processed hair — like hair that’s been treated with relaxers, perms, or bleach — especially benefit from extra moisture. Always wait at least 72 hours after the initial treatment before you apply olive oil. If you’re using olive oil on bleached hair, test a strand to make sure the oil doesn’t leave a trace of its green shade behind.

The Coconut Route
  • Research shows that using coconut oil for either pre-wash or post-wash grooming can prevent hair damage.
  • Learn more about how coconut oil can prevent hair loss here!

Split Ends

Olive oil can help smooth the broken or burned ends of your hair. Apply to the last two inches of the strands that are damaged. Even though you’re just treating the ends, keep your hair pinned up so the olive oil doesn’t get on your clothes. To condition your hair all over, start at the scalp and massage the oil through to the ends.

Beyond Conditioning

Lice

Olive oil can assist in removing head lice, but it isn’t any more effective than other oil or conditioning treatments. It’s critical to use the proper comb and making sure you get out all the live lice and their nits.

Get more helpful tips here »

Dandruff

If you’re trying to treat dandruff, bear in mind it has many causes, including fungus. As far as we know, there’s no cure for dandruff, though using olive oil will reduce your flakes. Massage olive oil into your dry scalp and comb out dandruff flakes. Leave olive oil in your hair and cover with a shower cap for extra conditioning.

Discover more dandruff remedies »