Hair Oiling Is Taking TikTok By Storm, But How Effective Is It Really?

You might be wondering why everyone on TikTok is putting oil in their hair all of the sudden. Does this new trend live up to the internet hype?

By Hannah Leah3 min read
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The newest hair trick blowing up on TikTok is hair oiling, and it seems like everyone is trying it. There’s speculation that it makes your hair healthier, fuller, and longer. I looked deeper into the science of it all to answer some of these questions, and to be honest, there might be something to it. 

What Is Hair Oiling?

Hair oiling is the process of applying a natural oil to your hair and/or scalp consistently, with the intention of promoting healthier hair. There doesn’t seem to be one specific way of doing this, as everyone might be trying it for a different purpose. But, typically, people are massaging the oil into their scalp, leaving it on for a few minutes or hours, and then shampooing it out. They do this regularly for a few months, and many people claim that their hair has grown longer, become fuller, or gotten shinier. 

Here’s the Science Behind It

A good balance of oils on our skin and hair can be very beneficial for us. Similar to using oil for your skin (the Italians are partial to olive oil, but others use tallow or coconut oil), if your hair is deficient in certain vitamins and minerals and is super dry, then oil can be a good way to replenish these deficiencies and promote healthier hair. But go about this carefully.

As a hairstylist, I can’t help but put a disclaimer out there that the way you go about this really depends on the type of hair you have. For some people, this trend will feel like a magic trick, and for others, it’s not necessarily useful for your hair. And too much oil on someone who doesn’t need it will cause dandruff and greasy hair. 

Textured Hair Girls

For all my curly girls out there – this trend might be the one for you! If your hair is naturally super dry and frizzy, then an oil could be very useful for you. If you’re the type that can go several days without washing your hair before your hair gets greasy, then it's safe to say using hair oil will be helpful for you and won’t cause any issues. 

If you aren’t sure which hair oils to try, these seemed to do the trick for this curly-haired girl. 

Thick Coarse Hair

If you’ve got that really thick, frizzy, coarse hair, then you can also benefit from hair oil. This will help tame the frizz and smooth out your hair when you style it. I would recommend using the oil after you’ve straightened or curled your hair and you want that extra shine. You can try doing oil treatments a couple of times a week or month if you feel your hair lacks moisture and needs some hydration. 

Damaged Hair

Maybe you had a bad highlighting or bleach experience, and your hair is fried. Hair oils will be helpful for you. Damaged, over-processed hair needs extra hydration. Try to stay away from any unnecessary heat as you let your hair heal, and also try using conditioning treatments as you baby your hair back to health. You might need to cut some length off to get rid of those dead ends. 

Naturally Oily Hair

Maybe this is a given, but if you have naturally oily hair, do not try this trend! Your scalp already produces a lot of natural oil, and too much oil will only make things worse. Too much of a good thing can sometimes turn into a bad thing. If you have greasy hair but still a lot of frizz, you could apply a small amount of hair oil from your midshaft to ends, but I would avoid putting it on your scalp. 

Can Hair Oiling Make Your Hair Grow?

One particularly viral TikTok claimed that hair oil can grow your hair up to 3 inches a week (it has since been deleted). This is very unlikely as hair typically grows half an inch a month for most people. But not all hope is lost, because there are hair growth benefits with certain oils. While not a miracle cure for all situations, rosemary oil is known to improve blood circulation around the hair follicles and help soothe itchiness on the scalp. 

Recent studies have shown that rosemary oil helps prevent hair loss. Healthline reports that “Two separate clinical reviews – one from 2010 and one from 2011 – also acknowledge rosemary’s hair growth potential. The former cites a study with successful hair regrowth in people with alopecia who used essential oils. One of these essential oils was rosemary. In the latter review, rosemary essential oil was described as a hair loss restorative. This was due to its circulation-improving effects.” In another 2015 study, rosemary oil was compared to Rogaine and found to be just as effective. Both subjects suffered from alopecia, and rosemary was more helpful in treating itchiness than Rogaine. 

Marnie Nussbaum, a board-certified dermatologist, backs up this claim stating, “The rosemary plant contains carnosic acid which is known to heal nerve damage, tissue damage, and improve cellular turnover. Therefore, it encourages nerve growth and improves blood circulation. The reason blood circulation is so important to hair growth is that without a proper blood supply, the follicles do not get the nutrients they need to grow the hair and they can die off.” Even with all its benefits, it’ll take some time to see major growth from rosemary oil. It can take more than six months to see results. Nevertheless, rosemary oil might be a game changer for those suffering from hair loss.

Closing Thoughts

Try to remember that when something seems too good to be true, it probably is. But we can still reap the benefits of hair oiling if we do it the right way. It might be the perfect piece of advice you’ve been looking for if your hair needs some extra hydration, but avoid this trend if you have greasy hair. If you’re ever unsure about a trending hair trick you want to try, ask your hairstylist. They can research it and see if it might work for you.

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