Is olive oil good for people's hair? Before a person replaces their normal conditioners with olive oil, they should read on to learn more about the possible benefits of putting olive oil on the hair.
Using olive oil may help protect hair from damage.
Most people use both shampoo and conditioner for their hair.
While scientists would not consider olive oil a cleansing hair care ingredient or shampoo, they group oils as one of five conditioning agents that help decrease friction on hair, detangle the hair, and minimize frizz.
While there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence to suggest that olive oil is good for a person's hair, scientists have conducted limited studies on various oils in hair care.
A 2015 review of studies states that oils may play an important role in protecting hair from damage. This is because some oils can penetrate the hair and reduce the amount of water the hair absorbs, which reduces the amount of swelling the hair shaft undergoes.
If the hair does not swell as much, it will not shrink as much either, so reducing the stress the hair sustains. Reducing this stress, in turn, reduces damage.
The same review suggests that hair absorbs saturated and monosaturated oils better than polyunsaturated oils. Olive oil is monounsaturated oil.
Some studies exist that show that other oils may be beneficial when a person applies them to their hair. An older study from 2007 found that applying coconut oil to hair increased the hair's moisture retention more than mineral oil.
Another study, dating from 2003, discussed the effects of different oils on preventing hair damage. While the research did not look specifically at olive oil, it did suggest that applying coconut oil to hair may avoid damage to the hair proteins.
The authors found that while coconut oil reduced protein loss in undamaged and damaged hair, mineral oil and sunflower oil did not. They observed the benefit with coconut oil when using it both before and after washing the hair.
As the study did not look at olive oil's effect on preventing hair damage, there is no way to know if olive oil does prevent damage to the hair, and, if it does, how effective it is at doing so.
How to use olive oil for hair
People can use olive oil as a hair conditioner, but it may not be suitable for all hair types.
People who want to use olive oil as part of their hair-care routine could try the following method:
- Measure out a small amount of olive oil, especially if it is the first time of applying it to the hair.
- Apply the oil on dry areas of hair or scalp, which will vary from person-to-person.
- Cover the hair with a shower cap and let the oil sit on the hair for about 15 minutes.
- Rinse the oil out of the hair with warm water.
- Shampoo the hair, repeating this step if the olive oil leaves the hair greasy.
There are many different suggestions online about how to use olive oil as part of a hair-care routine. At present, there is no research to support specific methods, including the one above, or suggestions as to which is the best for individuals to use.
Most people will be able to use olive oil on their hair safely, and so it may be worth trying a few different methods to find one that feels best.
What type of hair might benefit?
Not all types of hair will benefit from someone using olive oil as a conditioner.
Dry, coarse hair will probably benefit more than thinner, dry hair. People with oily, fine hair may find that olive oil makes their hair feel greasy and weighty.
Other possible beauty benefits of olive oil
A lip scrub made of olive oil and sugar can help exfoliate the lips.
While no research beyond anecdotal evidence has proven that olive oil can help with hair care, this oil does have other possible beauty benefits.
Potential benefits include the following:
- High antioxidant levels mean that applying olive oil to the skin may prevent premature aging.
- Olive oil has a moisturizing effect that can help keep the skin moist and supple.
- High levels of fat-soluble vitamins may benefit the skin and treat certain skin conditions.
- Applying an olive oil and sugar mixture to lips may help remove dry skin from lips and soften chapped lips.
- Massaging olive oil into rough areas of skin, such as dry heels, can soften these areas.
- Rubbing an olive oil-soaked cloth over areas of skin with makeup on can remove makeup.
- Olive oil may be able to soothe some skin rashes.
While anecdotal evidence suggests that olive oil may be very beneficial for hair care, research to back up these claims is very limited. Before people think of olive oil as a hair cure-all, more research is required.
However, unless a person has an allergy to olive oil, applying olive oil to the hair as a beauty treatment is likely safe and very easy to do. For most people, the only risk of applying olive oil to their hair is that the hair will be left greasy and weighed down instead of feeling soft and silky.
If someone wishes to use olive oil as part of their hair care routine, the oil is available to purchase online.