If you’re thinking about using mustard oil in your hair, or, already have been and want to learn more about it, here are seven things to know.

Mustard oil comes from the seeds of the mustard plant. This spicy oil is popular in Indian and Nepalese cooking. And some people use the oil for hair care.

There are several kinds you might come across from black mustard, brown mustard, and white mustard plants.

You may also see mustard oil spelled sarson ka thail, sarson ke tel, or sarson ka tail.

In the United States, expressed mustard oil is not approved for ingesting by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because it may contain up to 40 percent erucic acid, which has been linked to health risks in animal studies.

Mustard oil is available in the United States as a hair and massage oil.

Patch test

Do a patch test on your skin before using mustard oil on your hair and scalp. Place a tiny drop of oil on the inside of your forearm. Rub it in and wait 24 hours. Look for any sign of an allergic reaction such as redness, swelling, itching or a skin rash.

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Mustard oil is rich in natural fats, making it a good conditioner for hair. In 100 grams of mustard oil there are about:

  • 59 grams of monounsaturated fat
  • 21 grams of polyunsaturated fats
  • 12 grams of saturated fat

Add moisture to your hair by applying mustard oil as a hair mask (see recipe below). The natural fats help to coat and seal each hair strand. This can help make your hair shinier and smoother. And it may help prevent:

  • dry hair
  • dry, flaky scalp
  • frizziness
  • split ends
  • hair breakage
  • heat damage
  • water damage

When rubbed on the skin, mustard oil has a warming effect. It’s long been used as a home remedy to soothe muscle aches.

Research shows that mustard oil has similar properties to capsacin, the plant compound in chili peppers. Capsacin has been studied and noted for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. In addition, mustard oil

For this reason, mustard oil may also help soothe some scalp and hair conditions, like:

Research has shown mustard oil also to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Using it on your scalp might help prevent or reduce scalp conditions like:

Mustard oil has naturally occurring compounds like capsaicin, erucic acid, and a sulfur called allyl thiocyanate, which can be mildly irritating to skin or even harmful to some people:

Lichen planus

Mustard oil that’s eaten or put on the skin may cause a skin rash called lichen planus in some people. This kind of rash causes purple lesions or white blisters.

Skin and eye irritation

Avoid using too much mustard oil on your hair or scalp. The natural chemicals in it may cause skin or eye irritation and stinging.

Clogged pores

Like other oils, it can clog pores if it’s left on the skin. Wash your hair completely after using mustard oil. Make sure to remove all the oil to avoid hair greasiness, blocked scalp pores, and the pungent mustard oil smell.

Not good for children

Do not use mustard oil on babies and small children. The chemicals in this oil that give it a spicy taste and strong smell can irritate sensitive skin.

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Make a mustard oil hair mask

You can use a tablespoon of mustard oil on its own or try a mix of oils. Consider mixing together:

  1. Slightly warm the oil in the microwave for up to 10 seconds.
  2. Apply the mustard oil mask onto your hair from roots to ends.
  3. Leave on for at least 30 minutes before washing out. Thoroughly rinse the oil from your hair with warm water.

Use once a month.

Don’t waste a drop

So that you’re not left with excess bottles of oil, remember that sweet almond oil and jojoba oil are often used by themselves as massage and moisturizing body oils. They are also popular carrier oils for a variety of essential oils.

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Use mustard oil as a scalp treatment

Coat your fingertips with a very small amount of oil, then gently massage the oil into your scalp. Leave on for up to an hour. Wash out and shampoo your hair as usual.

Remember to do a patch test first. Signs of redness, itching, tingling, or discomfort mean you should rinse and stop use of it.

Use mustard oil as a quick pre-shampoo treatment

Pour a small amount into the palm of your hand. Apply the oil all over your hair or only on the ends. Leave on for about 10 minutes. Shampoo and condition your hair as normal.

There are some research studies on the medicinal properties of mustard oil. Most of the research is on general health effects and not on mustard oil effects on the hair. However, many of the qualities that make mustard oil beneficial for body health also make it good for the scalp and hair.

Mustard oil is high in fats including omega-3 fatty acids. This may help it reduce inflammation on your skin and scalp. Using mustard oil as a scalp treatment may help protect or improve hair root health for stronger, thicker hair.

A 2016 study on mice found that mustard oil helped to block some pain receptors in the body. This means that may help to relieve muscle aches and other kinds of pain in the body. More research is needed to find out if mustard oil has the same pain-relieving effect on people.

Another 2016 study that tested mustard oil in a lab showed that it has antibacterial and antifungal properties. This means that may help stop germs from growing and prevent skin, scalp, and body infections.

Mustard oil has some proven health and cosmetic benefits. More research is needed on its hair benefits and other qualities. Most people can safely use mustard oil on the hair and skin.

Mustard oil can add moisture to your hair and scalp. It may also help reduce scalp inflammation or irritation.

As with other natural oils you may be sampling for the first time, do a patch test before you use mustard oil as a hair or scalp treatment.

Talk to your doctor if you have hair loss or thinning. Also see your doctor if you have a scalp rash or irritation like eczema or psoriasis. This can be a symptom of an underlying health issue. Mustard oil and other hair treatments may not work for your hair or scalp if you need medical attention.