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Did you know sesame oil can be found in soaps, shampoos, skin moisturizers, cosmetics, and medicines? Many people use sesame oil itself directly on their hair and scalp.

We look at the different hair-related uses people pull out the sesame oil for, what benefits it has, and how to use it.

Sesame oil is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are considered essential fats that your body needs to get from your diet.

A 2017 study noted that being deficient in these fatty acids could impact hair loss, and that while more and rigorous research needed to be done, getting more of these essential fats could improve hair growth for some people.

Sesame seeds might be good, too

In addition, whole sesame seeds have many nutrients, some of which have been connected with improving hair growth.

Some types of hair loss and hair thinning can happen if you don’t get the right nutrition. This happens because without the right building blocks, hair may fall out, become thinner or grow more slowly.

Adding nutrients can help prevent or reduce hair loss and hair thinning. Types of nutrients found in sesame seeds include:

  • vitamin B-1
  • calcium
  • copper
  • phosphorus
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • zinc

Sesame oil is an emollient, meaning it can help to soften your skin and make the strands of your hair look smoother. Those same fatty acids in sesame oil that make it good with foods, also make it good for topically combating dry hair and scalp.

Sesame oil contains the same kinds of healthy fatty acids that are added to shampoos, skin creams, and makeup. These include:

  • palmitic acid
  • linoleic acid
  • linolenic acid
  • oleic acid
  • stearic acid

The fatty acids in sesame oil help it to get deep into the skin. Inflammation and irritation on the scalp and around the hair roots can cause hair to fall out or thin in patches. Fatty acids help to soothe and heal the scalp and roots. Sesame oil may improve small, bald patches, or areas of thinning hair.

Sesame oil may also help carry other nutrients into the skin. A 2010 study on mice found that sesame oil helped to carry ozone (oxygen) into the skin. If it has a similar effect with people, this may help speed up healing in cuts or scratches in the skin.

Sesame seeds and sesame oil have antibacterial and antifungal properties. This may help prevent or reduce common skin infections on the scalp. Using sesame oil on your scalp and hair may help reduce dandruff, which is often caused by a fungus or bacteria.

Sesame oil has some occlusive properties, so if applied to a clean scalp, might help the skin stay moisturized. This can help to prevent and treat scalp dryness, flaking, and itching.

Using sesame oil as a hair mask may help make your hair stronger. It may help to prevent hair breakage and split ends. Those emollient and occlusive properties mean sesame oil fills in gaps and forms a protective seal on the hair.

A sesame oil treatment can help reduce how much water each hair strand absorbs when you shower. Too much water inside a strand of hair makes it swell. This weakens and damages it. Sesame oil can help to make your hair longer, stronger, and look shinier.

Use sesame oil as a hair mask before showering. This helps to moisturize and treat your hair and scalp, without leaving an oily residue and sesame scent.

Treat your hair and scalp with a pure sesame oil mask:

  1. Pour a small amount of sesame oil into a glass bowl — about 2 to 3 tablespoons.
  2. Use cold or warm the oil very slightly in the microwave — for about 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Use your fingers to gently massage the oil into your scalp — begin at your hairline and continue to the back of your scalp.
  4. Cover your hair with the remainder of the oil — especially the ends of the hair that may be drier.
  5. Cover your hair with a towel or shower cap.
  6. Let the sesame oil mask stay in your hair for at least 1 hour.
  7. Wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner as normal.

Add sesame oil to your usual hair masks:

Buy pure sesame oil from a specialty hair and cosmetics store. Or look for this oil at your local Middle Eastern or Indian grocer. You can also shop for sesame oil online.

Look for pure raw sesame oil and cold-pressed sesame oil.

Toasted sesame oil has a different flavor and smell. Nutritional benefits may differ between raw and toasted sesame seed oils.

Types of sesame seeds

There are two main kinds of sesame seeds: black and white. Oil is made from either of these. According to a 2010 study, white sesame seeds had higher protein, fat, and moisture content than black seeds. Yet in a 2016 study, black seeds had higher antioxidant activity.

Some commercial hair products contain added sesame oil. Sesame oil may be listed by other names on shampoos, conditioners, and hair treatments. Look for:

  • sesamum indicum
  • hydrogentated sesame seed oil
  • sodium sesameseedate
  • sesame oil unsaponifiables

Like any kind of oil, sesame oil can block pores. This can irritate your scalp and skin. Clogged pores can also cause hair follicles to fall out. Avoid this by leaving pure sesame oil on your scalp and hair for only a short period of time.

Also ensure that all sesame oil is washed out from your scalp and hair. Use shampoo and warm water after a sesame oil hair treatment. Massage your scalp gently in the shower to ensure it is cleansed of all oil.

Warming sesame oil slightly might make it more comfortable to apply. Make sure the oil is not heated too much. Test the temperature with a tiny drop on the inside of your wrist before applying. Hot oil can cause scalp burns and damage your hair.

Sesame oil, also called sesame seed oil and gingelly oil, is pressed from sesame seeds, which come from plants grown in warmer areas of the world. The seeds are composed of about 50 percent oil.

Sesame oil is rich in a number of the nutrients your body and hair needs. So adding sesame oil or seeds to meals can benefit your hair health.

Using this oil on your hair and scalp may help your hair to grow, be stronger, and look shinier.

Hair loss and hair changes can happen for a range of reasons. Several medical and genetic conditions can cause balding, patchy hair loss, or dry, brittle hair. Hair loss is also connected to hormone changes and some medications. See your doctor if you are experiencing any kind of hair loss. You may need medical treatment.