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Baby oil is a human-made mineral oil. Like petroleum jelly, baby oil is made from a byproduct that’s leftover when oil is refined. Baby oil is further refined until it’s safe for skin care and other beauty uses.

According to Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of a brand of baby oil, this mineral oil is dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic. This means that it’s made to be a mild formula that won’t cause an allergic skin reaction in most people.

Additionally, baby oil doesn’t contain harmful chemicals like parabens, phthalates, dyes, and scents. It’s clinically proven to be safe for use on babies. So, if you want to apply it to your hair, it’s safe to do so.

Unlike natural plant oils, there isn’t yet medical research on the benefits of baby oil for your hair. However, it may have some similar benefits.

1. Moisturizes hair

Johnson & Johnson claims that baby oil adds up to “10 times more moisture on wet skin.”

Baby oil makes a barrier on the skin. This prevents moisture loss by evaporation. Similarly, using baby oil on your hair seals each cuticle.

This locks in natural moisture when you’re drying and styling your hair. It also helps to protect moisture loss from your hair due to wind and sun damage.

2. Soothes a dry scalp

A dry scalp can be flaky and lead to dandruff. This can damage hair roots and slow hair growth. A healthy scalp helps give you stronger, smoother, and healthier-looking hair.

Moisturizing the scalp helps to prevent dryness and flakes. Oils stay on the skin longer than other moisturizers. If you want to try this, condition your scalp and hair roots with a baby oil treatment before washing your hair.

3. Treats scalp problems

Baby oil and other mineral oils may be a good options to treat scalp problems in babies, like cradle cap. This scalp irritation is similar to dandruff.

Massage baby oil into your baby’s scalp to help loosen and remove dry, scaly skin. Similarly, baby oil may help prevent and get rid of dandruff in children and adults.

4. Makes stronger hair

Hair is porous — it has lots of tiny holes in it. This means hair can absorb a lot of water. This makes each hair strand swell and leads to weaker, damaged hair.

Stretching or pulling the hair and using chemical treatments like hair dye also damages hair.

Using baby oil as a pretreatment before shampooing your hair can help make it less porous. This means that hair will absorb less water, making the hair stronger and preventing it from breaking, tangling, and frizzing.

5. Smoothes hair

Use a small amount of baby oil on your freshly washed hair to help keep hair smoother. The baby oil closes each hair cuticle. This helps to prevent heat damage from blow-drying or other styling tools.

Using baby oil as a post-shower hair treatment helps hair look smoother, shinier, and less frizzy.

6. Protects hair

Apply baby oil on your hair before going for a swim in a pool or using a hot tub. The oil protects your hair and scalp from chemicals like chlorine in the water.

7. Helps you style hair

Use a small amount of baby oil to help style and hold hair in place. Unlike hair gel and hairspray, baby oil won’t make hair hard or leave a crust.

8. Gets rid of lice

Baby oil can help treat head lice in adults and children. Cover the scalp and hair from roots to tips with baby oil. Leave on for at least 8 hours before washing out.

Baby oil helps to get rid of lice and lice eggs. It’s most effective when combined with a chemical specific for treatment of head lice.

Try a hot baby oil hair mask for dry, damaged hair. You can leave the baby oil on overnight for an intense treatment.

How to

  1. Pour about 2 to 4 tbsp. of baby oil into a glass bowl.
  2. Slightly warm the oil in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds only.
  3. Gently massage the baby oil into your scalp with your fingers. Begin at your hairline and continue to the back of your neck.
  4. Cover the ends of the hair with the remainder of the oil. Focus on areas of the hair that are more dry or damaged.
  5. Cover your head and hair with a towel or shower cap.
  6. Leave the baby oil mask in your hair overnight, or for a few hours.
  7. Wash your hair carefully with shampoo. Make sure all the baby oil is removed.
  8. Condition and style your hair as usual.

Like any kind of oil, baby oil can block your skin pores. This may irritate your scalp. It can also lead to acne if the oil gets onto your hairline or forehead. Using too much baby oil can also make your hair look and feel greasy.

Wash baby oil out of your hair carefully. Use warm water and plenty of shampoo. Massage your scalp and hair gently to make sure the baby oil is removed. You may need to shampoo twice if you have naturally oily hair.

If you’re using baby oil as a leave-in shine hair treatment, apply just a few drops.

Allergies

Baby oil can cause an allergic skin reaction in some people. Do a test patch before using baby oil on your skin. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin.

Apply a small amount of baby oil to the inside of your elbow and leave on for 24 hours. Check for any redness, itching, or skin irritation.

Baby oil may irritate your eyes. Avoid using it on your eyebrows and eyelashes. Wash your hands carefully before touching your face or eyes.

There are plenty of natural plant oils that have been studied for their hair benefits. Note that most natural oils are also processed and may cause side effects on the skin.

Try these alternatives to baby oil on your hair and skin:

Baby oil is a mineral oil that’s made from petroleum. This product is widely sold and has been tested extensively by the manufacturers. Baby oil is safe to use as directed for babies, children, and adults.

There isn’t yet medical research on the benefits of baby oil for hair. However, it’s a moisturizing oil and may help make your hair look and feel shinier and stronger.