Olive oil is a popular ingredient in food preparation due to its numerous health benefits. But its benefits extend beyond the kitchen. In fact, olive oil has been used to moisturize and nourish hair for thousands of years.

Although there isn’t a lot of research to support the use of olive oil for hair care, some research does show that it has a moisturizing effect.

One of the best ways to take advantage of olive oil’s moisturizing capabilities is by using it in a hair mask.

A hair mask is a conditioning treatment you leave in for an extended period, usually around 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the hair mask ingredients, your hair type, and the degree of conditioning you need.

This article will look at the benefits of using an olive oil hair mask and how to make one and apply it to your hair.

Little research specifically looks at the way olive oil may benefit hair, so evidence that supports possible benefits is limited.

However, there is research that mineral and vegetable oils can protect hair from damage and breakage and have a moisturizing effect.

Although this particular study didn’t focus specifically on olive oil, the review did state that monounsaturated oils and saturated oils may penetrate the hair shaft more fully than polyunsaturated oils.

In other words, using an ingredient like olive oil on your hair may provide more benefits than a polyunsaturated oil such as sunflower or safflower oil.

According to a 2017 review of studies on the health benefits of olive oil, a compound called squalene, found in virgin olive oil, has the ability to act as a moisturizer in various cosmetics.

Virgin olive oil contains vitamins E and other antioxidants. A 2010 study suggests that a nutrient in the vitamin E family may help promote hair growth.

Summary

Although research is limited, many people, including some experts, often use olive oil as a hair care ingredient. Suggested anecdotal benefits of olive oil for your hair include:

  • reduced damage and breakage
  • more moisture
  • shine
  • softness
  • increased hair growth
  • stronger hair shaft
  • fewer split ends
  • less dandruff
Healthline

According to those that use olive oil on their hair, an olive oil hair mask tends to work best for the following hair types:

  • coarse
  • thick
  • dry
  • processed, chemically treated, or damaged

Use olive oil hair masks sparingly if you have:

  • thin hair
  • fine hair
  • oily hair or scalp

If you’d like to try an olive oil hair mask, you can make your own at home. Starting with extra virgin olive oil, check how it affects your hair before adding other ingredients to your recipe.

Follow these steps to make a basic olive oil hair mask:

  1. Begin with high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Check the ingredient list to make sure other oils haven’t been added.
  2. Use between 2 tablespoons and 1/4 cup of olive oil. This will make a mask that covers all your hair. If you just want to do a split end treatment, you may only need 1 tablespoon. If your hair is long or thick, you may need more.
  3. Try warming your oil. Be careful not to let the oil get too hot. Warm it in 10-second increments in the microwave. Stir the oil with a spoon, then see if the spoon is warm to the touch. Depending on your microwave and the amount of oil you use, 10 to 30 seconds should warm the oil. Once you’ve heated it, stir to ensure an even temperature throughout the mixture. Be sure it’s cool enough before you apply.

Once you have your hair mask ready, it’s time to apply it. To reduce any messiness, you can use an applicator bottle and styling gloves. You can find applicator bottles and gloves at a beauty supply store or drugstore.

  1. Pour the hair mask into the applicator bottle, if you’re using one.
  2. Wear an old T-shirt or put a towel over your shoulders to protect your clothes from the oil.
  3. Apply the oil to dry hair in sections. Massage the oil into your hair from the root down to the ends. If your hair tends to be oily, focus mostly on the ends. You can clip back completed sections as you work.
  4. When finished, cover your hair with a shower cap.
  5. Leave the hair mask on for at least 15 minutes. If this is the first time you’ve used an olive oil hair mask, you may want to rinse the mask out after 15 minutes. If you’ve used olive oil on your hair before and know that it won’t leave your hair greasy, you can leave the mask on for 30 minutes or longer. Leaving the mask on for more than an hour generally won’t provide any added benefits.
  6. Run a wide-toothed comb through your hair.
  7. Shampoo and rinse your hair.

If your hair is dry and damaged, you can use an olive oil hair mask twice a week. If your hair tends to be oilier, use every couple of weeks. You may also want to ask your stylist for their recommendation on how often you should use an olive oil hair mask.

If you have acne-prone skin, be sure to remove excess oil and wash your skin or face after you’ve applied the hair mask.

You can include other ingredients in your hair mask. Anecdotally speaking, some of these ingredients have been said to promote healthy hair, but they’re not backed by current scientific evidence.

Some popular hair mask ingredients include:

Since the FDA doesn’t regulate the purity or quality of essential oils, talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and use caution when choosing a quality brand. You should also always do a test patch before using and be sure they’re properly diluted.

If you aren’t sure what kind of treatment you want, try one of these simple recipes.

Egg, honey, and olive oil hair mask

Using both the yolk and the white of the egg can provide your hair with a boost and help with damage control.

According to research, vitamins A and E, biotin, and folate — all found in eggs — have been linked to hair growth and healthy hair. However, these studies are more related to nutritional intake.

If you have dry hair, honey may be a good addition as it can help trap moisture in your hair.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

To make the mask:

  1. Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk it thoroughly.
  2. Add honey and olive oil. You can warm these ingredients gently for a smoother consistency, if you like.
  3. Whisk all ingredients until combined.

Alternatively, you can add all ingredients to a blender and blend until they’re well mixed.

Avocado and olive oil hair mask

The vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids in avocado may help moisturize your hair. Also, research has shown that minerals like those found in avocado may help seal cuticles, which can prevent hair breakage.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

To make this mask:

  1. Chop the avocado into chunks and add to a blender.
  2. Add olive oil.
  3. Blend until combined.

If you don’t have a blender, simply mash the avocado with a spoon until smooth, then stir in the olive oil until thoroughly mixed.

Tea tree and olive oil hair mask

If you have dandruff or other scalp irritation, tea tree oil may help provide relief. A 2002 study found evidence to suggest that using tea tree oil may be linked to less dandruff.

Ingredients

  • 2–4 tbsp. olive oil, depending on hair length and thickness
  • 2–4 drops tea tree oil

To make this mask, simply stir the olive oil and tea tree oil until combined.

Unless you’re allergic to olives, there’s very low risk associated with an olive oil hair mask.

It could leave your hair greasy, especially if your hair is fine or oily, but you’ll probably notice this effect right away. Washing and conditioning your hair as usual should remove any extra greasiness.

If you warm the oil in the microwave first, make sure it doesn’t get too hot. Avoid using your finger to directly test the temperature of oil. If you don’t want to heat the oil in the microwave, another option is to place the container of oil in a bowl of hot water.

Many people use olive oil to help improve the strength, shine, and health of their hair.

If your hair is coarse, dry, or damaged, an olive oil hair mask may work well for you. Other ingredients like egg, avocado, and honey may offer even more benefits.