Is olive oil good for your hair?

Is Olive Oil Good for Your Hair? | Hailee Steinfeld

Another pantry staple for the win? We’ve got the answer

Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / January 16 2020

It’s hard not to imagine putting any kind of oil in your hair as being a recipe for greasy strands. But as we’ve already discovered, oils like coconut oil and even Rachael Taylor's go-to - avocado oil - are great for your hair. You can add olive oil to that list, too. 

“High in intensively moisturising oleic acid, olive oil makes a great conditioning ingredient for delivering on gloss, suppleness and strength-building, which are the hallmarks of healthy-looking hair,” says Beauty Botanist for Noughty Haircare, Jennifer Hirsch.

How is olive oil good for hair?

The olive oil benefits for hair are actually pretty impressive. Hirsch notes these as olive oil’s top perks.

#1 / It boosts the strength of hair (fewer splits and snaps).
#2 / It improves suppleness (which means less breakage and brittleness, which we see as more volume).
#3 / It smooths the cuticle of each shaft (making hair reflect more light, which we perceive as shine).
#4 / It enhances the overall condition of hair (perceived as healthier-looking hair).

So how does it deliver all these lustrous benefits? Olive oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin A and E. It's able to penetrate hair easily to moisturise strands and seal in moisture, protect the keratin in hair, and remove a build-up of sebum that can prevent hair growth.

Olive oil’s antioxidant properties help minimise oxidative damage (which can lead to dandruff and hair loss) and can boost the overall health of your scalp and hair. It also dissolves dirt and grime and dislodges dead skin cells on the scalp to help unclog follicles. So, besides keeping your hair stronger, shinier and healthier, it can actually help ease dandruff and potentially reduce the risk of hair loss. 

What hair types should use olive oil?

“All hair types benefit from the barrier-enhancing and moisturisation properties of olive oil, but it’s a critical ingredient for delivering the intensive level of conditioning that dry, damaged, frizzy and curly hair requires,” says Hirsh.

What is the best kind of olive oil for hair?

Hirsch says extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is best because it’s been cold pressed. “Heat is the enemy of plant oil, causing it to oxidise and degrade. It’s why we prefer to use cold-pressed oils wherever we can.”

Does that mean you can take that bottle of EVOO in your pantry and pour it straight onto your hair?

Yes! “It’s absolutely safe to apply olive oil to the hair as a DIY treatment,” says Hirsch. But...“It’s important to remember that while olive oil moisturises, it doesn’t hydrate. The difference? Hydration adds water to the hair. Unlike your skin, which can access the water you drink, your hair is reliant on water applied to the surface of the hair shaft where it can be absorbed. Oils make an effective barrier, preventing water from escaping, but also from being absorbed,” explains Hirsch. So what does that mean? If you’re going to apply olive oil to your hair, make sure your hair is damp first.

The other option is to use products formulated with all the goodness of olive oil, as well as moisturising ingredients. Try Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Shampoo, Noughty Haircare To The Rescue Conditioner and L’Occitane Aromachologie Nourishing Hair Mask.

Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Shampoo

Noughty Haircare To The Rescue Conditioner

L’Occitane Aromachologie Nourishing Hair Mask

How to use olive oil in your haircare routine

You can incorporate olive oil into your haircare routine in a couple of ways, depending on the benefits you’re after.

#1 / As a hair mask
To make your own olive oil hair mask, first heat up a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until lukewarm. Warming it up allows it to better penetrate the hair shaft. Massage it into hair (from roots to ends) and leave the olive oil hair treatment for at least 30 minutes. Put a shower cap over your head - it will prevent dripping and also creates humidity to help the oil really seep into the hair. Wash it out with shampoo. Can be used weekly.

#2 / To treat dandruff
If you want to treat dandruff, mix equal parts EVOO with lemon juice. The acid in the lemon juice helps loosen dandruff while olive oil nourishes the scalp. Massage the DIY solution into a damp scalp and leave for 20 minutes. Rinse and shampoo. Repeat once a fortnight.

#3 / As a shine serum
Olive oil can also be added to your styling products to boost shine and moisture in hair. Just add a few drops to a mousse, heat protectant or hair serum before applying. 

Olive oil or coconut oil? Which one is best for you?

Both of these oils are good for your hair and actually provide almost identical benefits. So which one should you be slathering on? For the most part it will come down to personal preference, but as olive oil is a heavier oil than coconut oil, it’s generally a better choice for thick, curly and/or extra damaged hair types.

Want to know what other edible pantry staples belong in your beauty routine? Here’s how honey, turmeric and yes, olive oil too, are all good for your skin.

Have you ever done a DIY olive oil hair mask? Do you use any olive oil-enriched haircare products? Share with us below!

Main image credit: Getty

Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.