Is Abyssinian Oil the Secret to Strong Strands?

Oil on a pink backdrop

Getty Images

You've probably heard of and encountered many, many oils that promise to treat your biggest hair qualms. Coconut oil, argan oil, and even olive oil have all been touted as magical hair salves at one point or another.

One type of oil for hair you may not be familiar with, however, is Abyssinian oil—and according to the pros, it may actually work better than anything you've tried yet. (Step aside, culinary oils. Seriously.)

So, is Abyssinian oil really the secret to strong strands? We investigate, below.

Read ahead to get the answers you need on the best-kept-secret hair ingredient, Abyssinian oil.

Abyssinian Oil for Hair

TYPE OF INGREDIENT: Hydrator, strengthener, and anti-fungal

MAIN BENEFITS: Protects hair from heat and pollution while also decreasing frizz and adding shine, moisture, and more.

WHO SHOULD USE IT: Anyone looking to add some hydration and shine to their hair while reducing frizz and flyaways.

HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE IT: Once daily, or simply after washing your hair.

WORKS WELL WITH: Argan and jojoba oils offer similar benefits.

DON'T USE WITH: Not applicable. Abyssinian oil is lightweight, noncomedogenic, and works for most skin and hair types no matter what else your routine has going on.

What Is Abyssinian Oil?

Like many of its fellow oils for hair, Abyssinian oil is derived directly from nature. It's extracted from the seeds of the Ethiopian-native Brassica Abyssinica plant, to be exact.

Abyssinian oil is chemically similar to the natural oils found on our skin and in our hair, making it a safe, practical ingredient (especially if you're as passionate about clean beauty as we are). And unlike some of the synthetic mineral oils that currently dominate the haircare market, Abyssinian oil is completely derived from nature—meaning, you don't have to worry about the buildup that happens while using chemical- or silicone-based haircare products. (Can't beat that.)

So, what exactly makes Abyssinian oil so special?

"Abyssinian oil is loaded with omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, and E," says New York–based dermatologist Hadley King, MD. (Yes, that's a lot of nutrients in one oil—which is the whole point. More on that in a bit.)

Plus, according to King, Abyssinian oil is also "lightweight, non-greasy, and absorbs quickly into skin and hair." That's right: You won't have to worry about greasy residue or oily buildup with this oil. Due to the omega fatty acid chains, Abyssinian oil goes on lightweight without stickiness, greasiness, or tack—making it the perfect formula for everyday use (and won't weigh down or overwhelm your strands like heavier oils that ultimately end up stripping your hair of moisture rather than replenishing it).

Benefits of Abyssinian Oil for Hair

Spoiler alert: Not only will your hair thank you for trying Abyssinian oil, but your scalp will, too.

  • Gives skin a boost: "The omega fatty acids improve texture and hydration and reduce inflammation when you use it on the skin," King continues. "The oil is also rich in antioxidants to help protect skin from free-radical damage, and it's also non-comedogenic." (Non-comedogenic means it's unlikely to clog pores or cause breakouts.)
  • Strengthens and softens: King says that the nutrient-rich Abyssinian oil will "moisturize, add shine, decrease frizz, and help protect the hair from heat and pollution." The rich lineup of nutrients adds elasticity to hair, making your strands less prone to splitting, breaking, or becoming brittle. It basically acts as a shield against everyday irritants and pollution, too, by strengthening the strands and locking in moisture and shine.
  • Consistently works: Another perk of Abyssinian oil, according to King, is that it resists oxidation—meaning, you won't have to worry about the formula's chemical compounds changing after opening the bottle and exposing it to air. You get what you see with Abyssinian oil.
  • Helps hair growth: The fatty-acid profile of Abyssinian oil allows it to condition split ends, soften hair, and boost shine, and the plethora of minerals can promote healthy hair growth, too. So if you're trying to grow things out, Abyssinian oil might just be the natural hair-growth remedy you've been searching for.
  • Acts as a natural anti-fungal: And since Abyssinian oil also contains erucic acid—another coveted ingredient used for cuticles and beyond—it counts as an anti-fungal, too. The cure-all erucic acid eradicates scalp fungus growth (which can be responsible for unpleasant side effects like dandruff and itchiness, which, in turn, can lead to hair thinning and loss). Essentially, what's good for your scalp is good for your hair—and Abyssinian oil basically does it all.

How to Use It

Obviously, heat damage from tools like hair straighteners, blow-dryers, and curling irons can do a number on your hair, no matter how much you try to prevent it.

Luckily, Abyssinian oil is the perfect pre-styling treatment, as it shields and protects strands from heat damage and other external irritants—and has miraculously been clinically proven to cause less breakage than non-treated hair or hair that's been treated with the chemically similar argan oil.

So, if you're someone who uses heat to style your hair, here's how to try it out: Just apply a dime-sized amount of Abyssinian oil to damp or dry hair prior to styling, focusing on your ends (rather than roots). You can also try this if you simply want to add moisture—and subtract frizz—from your tresses, or if you want to add a dose of hydration to a dry, next-day hairstyle.

African Imports Abyssinian Oil
Africa Imports Abyssinian Oil $11.90

Or, introduce the ingredient directly into your shower routine with an Abyssinian-based conditioner you can count on to smooth your strands and prevent frizz before it begins.

Grown Alchemist
Grown Alchemist Anti-Frizz Conditioner $40

As always, make sure you do your research for any ingredient you put on your skin or in your hair, as allergic reactions are always possible.

For the most part, however, Abyssinian oil is a safe, natural remedy for lackluster hair and damaged, split ends—even if its name doesn't evoke as much recognition as its coconut-based cousin.

Related Stories