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Ten Best Carrier Oils For Hair

Karen Marie Shelton - Copyright - All Rights Reserved 
Revised Date: 01/26/11

Introduction

Jojoba Oil Formula

When it comes to carrier oils there are so many great ones,  it was frustrating to limit myself to just ten.

Although I did my best with my research and based my final list below on my own favorites, I realize I didn't get close to covering every great carrier oil which is currently available.

Carrier or fixed oils also known as base oils or vegetable oils are usually produced by cold or expeller method, pressed from seeds, kernels, fruit and nuts.

The normal purpose of a carrier oil is to carry and dilute an essential oil for use in massage, or as a hot oil treatment for hair, skin or other parts of the body.

There are many benefits to using natural carrier oils as the base ingredient for conditioning treatments for your hair.  Natural oils provide great benefits to hair by attracting moisture and maintaining it within the cuticle.

While there are many different types of natural carrier oils which can be used to treat your hair, the type of oil you select should depend on your hair type, personal preference, budget and needs. Each oil carries its own signature and has healing properties by themselves. 

Continued below ↓
 

Different Oils, Different Properties

Carrier Oil Bottle

Hazelnut oil is astringent, macadamia nut oils support suppleness and sesame oil is much heavier.   Heavy oils, such as olive and coconut, should be reserved for those with thick, curly, or coarse hair.  Lighter oils, such as sweet almond, sesame or grape seed, are good for fine or thin hair.

Everyone will have their own list of favorite oils based on how they wish to use them and the type of tresses you have.

Listed below are some of the top ten oils to try for hair oiling and conditioning treatments.  Keep in mind there are many more oils available for use and that this list only includes my top ten favorites.

One word of warning, some people have allergies to the different ingredients in the various carrier oils.  Whether you are allergic to olives or almonds, keep this in mind before trying some of the oils that are.

1.  Jojoba

Jojoba Based
Hair Formula

Jojoba is the mystical elixir oil of choice for many people suffering from a variety of hair woes.

The reason jojoba is such a great choice as a healing hair conditioner and moisturizer is that the molecular structure of jojoba is very similar to the natural oil or sebum that is produced by the sebaceous glands in the human scalp.

Extremely damaged hair or hair that tends to break, split or tangle usually responds well to jojoba oil.  The beauty of this oil is that you can use it straight or in a mix and will work for just about all types of hair.

Depending on your hair type and needs you can buy various compositions that include heavy, medium or light concentrations of the jojoba in the mix.  Jojoba oil is extracted from the jojoba bean and it is a liquid wax.

Unfortunately in some cases, jojoba can clog pores.  Jojoba is very stale and can be stored for years without going rancid.  Jojoba oil was also used as a substitute for sperm whale oil and spermaceti what used to be the oil of choice for cosmetics.

2.  Olive

Olive Oil

This oil expressed from ripe olive fruit has a definite flavor and aroma. Olive oil has been used by people in the Mediterranean region for centuries as a food and cosmetic aide. 

It's best to only use the olive oil that is created from the first cold pressing which results in the extra virgin oil classification. Avoid the lesser olive oil varieties and consider using organic options if they are available.  Beneficial for hair that is dry or damage, this oil work best for coarse, thick hair.

Olive oil is suitable for use in the treatment of scalp conditions and dry skin. It does, have quite a distinctive color and odor of its own, which not everyone will appreciate, and it is rather heavy. 

Some people will find it preferable to use olive oil in combination with another, lighter base oil.

3.  Coconut

Coconut and palm kernel oils were recognized as health oils in Ayurvedic medicine almost 4000 years ago.  In India, coconut oil has been a favorite oil for skin and hair for many years.

Coconut

There are several different types of coconut including virgin white, fractionated coconut oil or the exotic Monoi oil (pronounced Mon-oy) which was originated in Tahiti and has been in use for over 2000 years.

The most commonly available coconut oil is Refined, Bleached & Deodorized oil.

This oil is produced from copra which is dried coconut meat. Due to the air or sun drying process the resulting oil must be refined, bleached and deodorized in order to make it suitable for human consumption and use.

The final product is yellowish-white in color with a thick texture and no taste or odor.  At room temperature coconut oil is a solid, white substance with only a faint scent.  The oil liquefied when its contains is placed in warm water.

Monoi is touted as special because the unusual volcanic soil of the Tahitian islands impart qualities to the ingredients which can not be duplicated anywhere else in the world. Golden yellow color. An elegant moisturizer and super fattening agent.  Great for nourishing the hair to give it a healthy shine and fewer tangles it is often recommended for the control of dry scalp and dandruff. 

4.  Sweet Almond Oil

Almonds

Popular with the ancient Romans, this very pale yellow and odorless oil from Italy nourishes dry, flaky, itchy, sensitive scalps. 

Although lighter than olive, this cold pressed oil made from almond kernels provides excellent lubricating and penetrating properties. 

This oil contains glycosides, vitamins and minerals and it is a favorite carrier oil for aromatherapy massage blends, although it can be used by itself for moisturizing hair and skin. 

Midwives have historically used sweet almond oil during pregnancy and labor to prevent rips and tears.  Produced primarily in Italy and Spain, it is also produced in California.

Relatively inexpensive this oil is normally safe.  Almond oil should not be used by people who have known almond or nut allegories in order to avoid an unpleasant reaction.

It is important to note that sweet almond oil and bitter almond oil are different.  Bitter almond oil should never be used as a base for any type of massage oil because it contains acids that can burn.

5.  Sesame Oil

Sesame Oil

This is a clear oil that is light and comes from Italy. It is made from the uncooked seeds and it is an expressed extraction.  This oil is known to block approximately 30% of the sun’s UV rays. 

It can be used to help protect the skin and hair from the sun.  This oil is used in many sun care preparations for the hair and body.

Sesame oil, extracted from the raw un-toasted sesame seed, has no aroma and is a light yellow in color.  It contains 85% unsaturated and 15% saturated fatty acids. It can be added to other oils to enrich them. 

Mix with cold-pressed oils like wheat-germ or jojoba to inhibit oxidation of the oil.  Sesame becomes rancid quickly and must be stored in a cool, dry place. 

Some sesame oil is produced from the cooked seed which produces a heavy-scented brown oil.  This oil is not recommended for skin or hair treatments.

6.  Aloe Vera Oil

Oil from the slightly green tinged, succulent aloe vera desert plant contains one of the most precious substances for human scalps, hair and skin. 

This odorless oil is rich in enzymes, vitamins, proteins and minerals which support health. 

Aloe Vera

Not only does aloe vera oil help maintain proper moisture balances, it stimulates circulation which is helpful for hair growth.

Excellent for dandruff, this oil will also soothe psoriasis and eczema of the scalp.  Aloe vera oil applied to a sunburned, infected or raw scalp will receive special soothing and healing. 

Made from an infused process, aloe vera oil is a descendent from an African plant that is now commonly found in the desert areas of the United States. 

The Aloe Vera plant is a type of lily that has a special ability to retain water.  This is an excellent carrier for both oral and topical applications of essential oils.

7.  Kukui Nut

Made from the official state tree of Hawaii, kukui nut oil has been used by Hawaiians for hundreds of years.  This oil contains essential fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic acids which are very similar to skin lipids and provide high penetrability and moisturizing benefits to hair and skin. 

Known to benefit acne, eczema and psoriasis, kukui nut oil can also be used to treat sunburns and chapped skin.

Kukui nut oil can be used alone as a hair and scalp oil or added to shampoo to add special nourishing and softening benefits.  More expensive than other oils, kukui ranges in price from approximately $7.50 for 4 ounces to $135.00 for 1 gallon.

8.  Shea Butter

Shea Butter

Although this is not specifically an oil, it can be melted into an oil and is one of the most moisturizing products available for hair and skin.

This butter is from the kernels of the shea nut tree, Butyrospermum parkii, native to Western Africa. It is a tallow-like substance extracted by hydraulic pressing or screw expellers. In crude form, it can be yellow or grey but is whitish if refined.

Shea butter is non-toxic and non-irritating and derived totally from renewable natural resources. Traditionally it's has been used in Africa as a great medical balm for rheumatism, muscle aches, bums, and light wounds.

Its unique fatty acid composition makes it a suitable emollient for many-skin-care applications, such as baby-care products, massage creams, make-up, and similar products.

One unique characteristic of shea butter is its content of unsaponiables (up to 8%) which imparts soothing properties and provides extra sun protection.

9.  Grapeseed Oil 

This oil from Italy has a slight flavor with a slight odor.  It is as expressed oil made from the seed. This is one of the lightest oils.  The skin absorbs it easily.  Good to use as a skin oil or body oil.  Slightly astringent and tightens and tones.  Does not aggravate acne.

A natural preservative made from extracts of citrus seeds and pulp.

10.  Avocado Oil

Avocados

This clear oil comes mostly from South America and is made from the fleshy fruit of the avocado.  It is an expressed extraction process. 

Similar to sebaceous fat, the oil quickly merges with it.  Touted as a hair growth stimulant, this oil nourishes and restores dry, dehydrated and mature hair and skin.  It's great for healing dry or permed hair.

Problems, especially psoriasis of the scalp, respond to its high content of vitamins A, B and E along with lecithin, proteins and fatty acids.  Avocado oil has its own distinct aroma and extracted from the flesh of the avocado.  An excellent softener, it is easily absorbed.

Avocado oil is known to go rancid very quickly.  Buy in small amounts and refrigerate to avoid losing the oil prematurely.

An alterative to pure avocado oil is avocado pear oil which is an oil made from the fruit of both avocados and pears. 

Summary

Other great hair oils include Black Current Seed Oil as well as Borage Seed Oil for dry, dehydrated, mature hair. 

Ultimately each fan of hair oil has to compose their own list of favorites because no two heads of hair will experience carrier oils in the same way.  Take your time and be willing to experiment.

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Original Publication Date:  01/10/2002 - Revised Date:  01/26/11

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