Photo Courtesy of Nelly

Ever wondered the difference between an oil rinse and a hot oil treatment? While both of these curly hair treatments might appear to be the same thing, they are actually quite different.

One major difference is that hot oil treatments are typically applied before shampooing your hair, while oil rinsing is usually done after shampooing the hair, right before applying conditioner. The differences don’t stop there, keep reading to determine what’s best for you!

hot oil treatments are typically applied before shampooing your hair, while oil rinsing is usually done after shampooing

Oil rinsing

Oil rinsing is a step usually completed after shampooing the hair right before applying conditioner.  Once the hair is clean and while the hair is still soaking wet, a generous amount of oil is applied all over the hair coating everything from root to tip. Penetrating oils such as olive, coconut, and avocado oils are recommended for use due to their low molecular composition, which enable them to bind to the water inside the hair cuticle to prevent hygral fatigue. Conditioner can be applied while the oil is still in the hair followed by a final water rinsing session removing the excess oil and conditioner. Oil rinsing also helps with fighting against excessive drying during the shampoo process, as it seals moisture into the hair.  The other added benefit of oil rinsing is the ability to add natural oils back into the hair, which could have been stripped away while shampooing.

Benefits of oil rinsing
  • Prevents dryness from shampoo
  • Seals in moisture
  • Easier detangling / reduction in single strand knots
  • Increased moisture
  • Reduced frizz
  • Prevention of hygral fatigue
  • More soft, shiny, and manageable curls
The cons

Although oil rinsing reaps tons of benefits for your curls, there are drawbacks. Continuous oil rinsing without properly clarifying or cleansing the scalp at least once a month can rapidly accumulate product buildup, attracting more dirt and dust. Clarifying regularly is an important step in your curly regimen to ensure the hair and scalp are clean, which allows other products and moisture to further penetrate.

How to oil rinse

After you shampoo and before you condition, apply a carrier oil to your hair the same way you would a conditioner. Massage the oil from the roots to your ends, completely coating your hair. Allow the oil to set for a few minutes and then rinse it. Follow up with your daily conditioner. For a full guide to oil rinsing, read here.

Hot oil treatment

Hot oil treatments on the other hand are typically used as a pre-poo option, meaning the oil is applied before shampooing your hair. Pre-pooing is also a step used to combat hygral fatigue. Any oil of your choice is heated slightly and applied directly to the scalp to fight dandruff and severely dry hair.  Hot oil treatments can be applied to dry or slightly damp hair. Furthermore, once the hot oil is applied, sitting under a hooded dryer or using a plastic conditioning cap for 15 – 20 minutes will allow the oil to penetrate deeper. With this method you will still be able to obtain soft and shiny hair even though hot oil treatments focus more on the scalp.

What You Will Need
  • Oil of your choice. Try one of these top 5 oils for hot oil treatments.
  • Plastic applicator bottle
  • Plastic conditioning cap
  • Large cup, bowl, or pot of boiling water
How to do a hot oil treatment
  1. Gather 1 cup of oil or oil blend of your choice.
  2. Pour oil into plastic applicator bottle.
  3. Sit plastic applicator bottle into larger cup of hot water, bowl or pot of boiled water to warm
  4. Test temperature of oil on top the back of your hand before applying to scalp
  5. Apply warmed oil to scalp and slightly damp hair, massaging thoroughly
  6. Cover with plastic cap and allow oil to sit for 15-20 min. (Sitting under hooded dryer optional”>
  7. Shampoo and condition according to your normal routine 

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Which method do you prefer for your curls? What has been your experience? 

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