There was a time that the very mention of oils in hair products was considered a negative, but an oil boom has transformed the category, with curlies everywhere clamoring for the latest and greatest in oils for their locks.

“Traditionally, hair oils weren’t considered desirable because they added weight and tackiness," recalled John Davis, co-founder and CEO of AG Hair Cosmetics. “Had you asked me two years ago, I would have told you that all of our products were oil free. People see oils differently now.”

Oils themselves aren’t new. For centuries, women around the world have used botanical oils for their hair, giving it a healthy sheen and appealing fragrance.

“Botanicals have been around for a long time,” says Dr. Ali Syed, president of Avlon Industries and master chemist for Syntonics formulations.

Fact is, curly-haired women everywhere are now asking for more ways to calm their frizz while ensuring health and shine, and the product companies are answering the call with a plethora of oils to choose from.

Consumers Change the Industry

AG Hair Cosmetics will launch The Oil this month, an argan-infused product. The new product is designed to smooth and hydrate your hair without weighing it down. The Oil is part of a boom in professional hair-care botanical oil-based products that have hit the market. It is one of the hottest, most buzzed about categories in the natural industry.

Argania spinosa kernel oil - argan oil – has been the superstar of oils, with companies such as Moroccan Oil , Argadir, Amika and DermOrganic creating entire lines based on the oil.

Argan oil is produced form the kernals of the argan tree, which is indigenous to southwestern Morocco. The oil softens thick, coarse and unruly hair, bringing shine to lifeless dull hair and, even, to skin.

CurlChemist Oil Breakdown

Intensive Oil Treatment

Josie Maran has a full line of oil products including a bronzing argon oil for the body that boasts the ability to leave the skin with a healthy, moisturized glow.

Argan oils are definitely the most popular in this consumer-driven market, but many companies have been infusing argan seed oil with other popular health-boosting ingredients, such as Pequi and Amla oil. Macadamia Natural Oil, which combines macadamia and argan seed oils.

Michael Cain, the Macadamia Natural Oil’s education manager, says, “With the matching of those two oils, the performance of the product is unparalleled as far as the absorbency and as far as the great benefits you get from it.”

Vitamin E provides natural UV protection, which is especially beneficial for color-treated hair, but works on all hair types. According to Cain, the combination also “gives your hair elasticity which prevents breakage and split ends.”

Although some people expect hair oils to leave a greasy residue, Cain says these oils can actually have the opposite effect, even with daily use.

“A lot of people that have finer hair will typically have an oilier scalp,” he explains. “This helps even out the porosity in your hair.” The oils also speed up blow-drying time, similar to the way oil and water separate.

Certain extracts like aloe vera, which is said to heal minor skin injuries, can help repair a scalp that’s been damaged by chemical processing when combined with oils.

“If the scalp is on the dry side, most of the time, you have to have a combination of the natural and some of the synthetic materials,” Syed says. “Botanicals have been around for a long time, and as the passions and styles changed, things become sort of cyclical.”

He adds that botanical oils are gaining popularity among health-conscious consumers who have been “pushing the envelope towards natural ingredients in food, personal care, and health.”

Dana Amador, who works in business development at Amika believes hair oils serve a number of functions.

“Not only do [oils] make your hair smell wonderful, but they also protect your hair against the elements,” Amador says. “Oils are a very natural way to not only condition the hair, but to style it and make it look effortlessly perfect.”

Oils can also help to define curls without making the hair look greasy or weighing them down, adds Amador, who happens to have curly hair herself.

One of the pioneers in the recent oil boom is Moroccanoil, which introduced its signature Moroccanoil Treatment three years ago. Driven by the success of the initial products, the company has been introducing new products ever since, says Moroccanoil artistic Director Antonio Corral Calero.

The popularity was especially evident among curly stylists and the stylists who work with them. As a result, the company answered with several curl-specific products containing their argan oil. The popular line now boasts a curl defining mousse, curl control cream, and intense curl cream. Moroccanoil infuses their argan oil with Vitamin F, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E to protect against free-radicals.

“What makes our curl line so unique is that the formulas work on dry and/or wet hair,” says Calero. “Their formulations not only make styling so much easier, but they also decrease frizz, make curls more manageable, and restore moisture back into the hair. We are all about having the hair feel soft and natural, with no sticky residue.”

Now, there are a number of great oils available, including Mizani Supreme Oil, Oscar Blandi’s oil product containing Jasmine oil and Alterna’s Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil, which are said to promote healthy hair while delivering shine.

Top Carrier Oils and Their Benefits
  • Argan Oil – Argan oil hydrates the hair, penetrating into the hair shaft and enhancing elasticity of hair. It is especially good for uncontrollable and unmanageable hair, restoring the and repairing damage.
  • Abyssinian Oil – This natural vegetable oil contains a high percentage of unsaturated C22 fatty acids. is proven to produce a natural radiant luster to the hair and it will glide onto the surface forming a light continuous lipid layer. Those qualities provide lubricity to help detangle the hair and lock in essential moisture.
  • Amla OilAmla oil is considered one of the world's oldest natural hair conditioners. It stimulates hair growth and pigmentation. It prevents premature graying of hair, dandruff, increases the strength of hair follicles.
  • Olive Oil – Olive oil strengthens and nourishes your hair as well as adds loads of shine and smoothes the cuticles. Great for fizzy hair! Just a note: You might want to use a conditioner after an hot olive oil hair treatment as I have found hair still tangles.
  • Macadamia Nut Oil – Rare and unique composition with an incredible compatibility to the bodies’ own natural oils, allowing for extraordinary absorption and rapid penetration into hair and skin. 
Incredibly rich concentration of essential fatty acids, natural antioxidants and vitamins penetrate, smooth and coat hair shaft, improving elasticity and strength, leaving hair deeply nourished and revitalized.
  • Coconut Oil – is one of the oil which helps in the lubrication of the hair. It softens the hair and conditions the scalp. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. It is very useful for damaged hair due to its ability to strengthen it. Also said to be a wonderful oil for dandruff.
  • Rosemary Herbal Oil – is very useful for the unwanted and flaky dandruff problems. Rosemary oil helps in stimulating follicles, as a result of which, hair grow longer and stronger.
  • Kendi Oil – This is a robust source of multiple essential fatty acids (Omega 3, 6 & 9) that repair and maintain your hair’s natural lipid layer while anti-oxidant powerhouse Tocopherol fights free radicals protecting hair from future damage.
  • Castor Oil – Rich in ricinoleic acid (triglyceride of fatty acid), castor oil can be used to treat skin conditions such as fungal infections. It nourish hair and prevent the scalp from drying by retaining moisture Castor oil added to hair care products helps to seal moisture, soften, and thicken hair.
  • Vitamin E Oil – Vitamin E is a well-known antioxidant and when added to homemade products, helps extend their shelf life. Vitamin E acts as a rejuvenator and protection for scalp and skin.
  • Avocado Oil – Perfect for dry hair, avocado oil is full of vitamins your hair needs like vitamins A, E, D and potassium. This added to other carrier oils makes a perfect deep treatment.
  • Hemp Seed Oil – Brings gloss and manageability to hair as well as relief from dry scalp or hair damage caused by blow-dryer heat, chemical perms, coloring or sunlight. Loaded with moisturizing and replenishing essential fatty acids.
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