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Hair oil can be a bit intimidating. While we want our hair to look like it’s glistening, we certainly don’t want it to look (or feel) downright oily. While all hair types can benefit from using oil, the catch is finding one that works best for your strands in particular. For thicker hair types and some curlies, rich oils like cold-pressed castor or coconut oil can be used as a luxurious overnight conditioning treatment. Got fine hair with flyaways? Your locks might enjoy an ultra-light, almost invisible oil (yes, those exist) that won't weigh it down after styling, yet will add to its luster and keep errant strands in place.
And if you've been getting just a little too happy with curling irons and DIY hair-coloring kits (it happens to the best of us!), you might be left with too many broken strands to count. Going back to basics with a simple hair oil mask can bring your tresses back to life and repair damaged ends.
Below, we rounded up the best hair oils that’ll transform your locks.
Best Overall: Ouai Hair Oil
Contains nourishing oils
Created by celebrity hairstylist extraordinaire Jen Atkin, this lightweight oil can be applied to wet or dry hair. Its oil blend—a mix of African galanga, ama oil, and Asian borage oils—works to completely eliminate frizz and tame unruly hair while also preventing your color from fading and protecting against heat damage. It also doubles as a subtle hair perfume with notes of gardenia, violet, ylang ylang, and white musk. Use one or two pumps and apply from midshaft to ends to smooth down any wayward strands and leave behind a gorgeous glossy sheen.
Active Ingredients: Ama, borage, and baobab seed oils | Dosage: 1-3 drops | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates | Size: 0.5 / 1.5 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Drugstore: L'Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Deep Nourishing Treatment
Let us introduce you to your affordable new hero product. This rich oil has a ton of uses: spread throughout hair before shampoo as a protective treatment, apply to damp hair right before styling to keep hair in place, or use after styling to complete your desired look. No matter when or how you use it, just know that argan oil and camellia oil are plumping up your stands and enhancing your shine. The best part of all? For how deeply nourishing it is, it's incredibly lightweight, so you can trust it'll bring life back to your hair rather than weigh it down or leave it greasy. Plus, for the price, it really is a must.
Active Ingredients: Coconut and sunflower oils | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates | Size: 3.4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: Hask Argan Oil Repairing Shine Hair Oil
Strengthens hair with keratin
Free of drying alcohol
Hair oil doesn’t have to be super pricey to work efficiently. Take this affordable little bottle, for example. Its argan-oil-infused formula controls frizz and gently detangles hair while strengthening and adding some serious shine. It’s also safe to use on color-treated hair as it’s sulfate- and alcohol-free. Users note to avoid applying this near and on the root, as the thicker formula is meant for more damaged areas and could leave the hair feeling greasy.
Active Ingredients: Argan and grape seed oils, keratin | Dosage: Coin-size amount | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, alcohol | Size: 2 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Splurge: Gisou Honey Infused Hair Oil
Sustainably sourced honey
Makes hair silky
A full-size bottle of this hair oil may be pricey, but trust us that it’s totally worth it. Based on a special family recipe, the formula is designed to rebuild and repair your hair thanks to Mirsalehi honey. It deep conditions, leaves behind a luminous shine, and will boost the overall health and strength of your hair. The formula is also pretty versatile, meaning you can apply it before or after styling or use it as an overnight leave-on treatment. What we love most is the brand’s signature scent, which is 100% naturally-derived and infused with honey.
Active Ingredients: Mirsalehi honey, dimethicone | Dosage: 1-2 drops | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates | Size: 0.7 / 1.7 / 3.4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Damaged Hair: Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil
Heat and UV protection
Repairs damaged hair
Contains hydrating oils
Not for all hair types
When your hair has been put through the wringer from incessant combing, blow-drying, straightening, perming, and other chemical and mechanical processes, it could use a helping hand from a powerful bonding oil, like this one. This restorative yet lightweight formula features ingredients that help repair broken bonds in strands to prevent further damage and breakage so you can nurse your hair back to its best state. It also contains grape seed oil to deeply nourish and fermented green tea oil to improve the feel and absorption of your strands. Plus, it protects the hair from future heat styling up to 450 degrees. Impressive much?
Active Ingredients: Moringa and sunflower seed oils, dimethicone | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates | Size: 1 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Detangling: VERB Ghost Oil
Contains strengthening & hydrating ingredients
Not for super dry, damaged hair
This handy pump is called Ghost Oil for a reason—it literally disappears into hair as soon as it’s applied, leaving behind no trace. Users find that it’s an excellent detangler and smoother, thanks to moringa seed oil, which is chock full of the nutrients your hair craves. Argan oil helps to improve hair’s elasticity, transforming lackluster curls by giving them a healthy bounce. Apply all over the hair for the ultimate weightless shine, and say goodbye to frizzy, lackluster hair.
Active Ingredients: Argan and rice bran oils | Dosage: 2-3 drops | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, gluten | Size: 2 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Type 4 Hair: Curls Blueberry Bliss Hair Growth Oil
Certified organic ingredients
Hydrates curls & coils
Scent could be more long-lasting
Tight, coily curls are prone to damage from day to day detangling and styling, but this oil is jam packed with all of the nutrients that you need to repair and restore your natural hair. It's formulated with certified organic blueberry extract to strengthen your hair and repair existing damage while encouraging healthy new growth. It's also infused with pomegranate and castor oil to strengthen and stimulate your strands and argan oil to smooth out split ends and add shine. The best part of all? It smells absolutely divine.
Active Ingredients: Blueberry seed oil, castor seed oil | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, gluten, alcohol | Size: 4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Fine Hair: Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil
Heat & UV protection
Contains hydrating camellia oil
If you have fine hair, prepare for this ultra-lightweight oil to blow your mind. Infused with camellia oil, the velvety texture (read: not sticky) targets deep in your hair’s cortex, hydrating it from within and rebalancing moisture levels. It also doubles as a protectant, as it shields strands from harmful UV rays, making it the perfect addition to your beach bag. Users love how silky and manageable their hair feels after use. Apply just one pump, avoiding the roots, for glossy locks.
Active Ingredients: Camellia oil | Dosage: 1-4 pumps | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, alcohol | Size: 1 / 5 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Overnight: Vernon François Overnight Repair Treatment Oils
Easy to use
With clients like Lupita Nyong’o, Serena Williams, and Kerry Washington, celebrity stylist Vernon François knows hair—which is why the overnight repair oil from his namesake line is on our list. Each vial (this set includes four!) contains the same nourishing blend of jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, argan oil, and vitamin E. Just spray evenly from root to tip before bed, and you'll wake up with smoother, nourished strands sans any greasiness.
Active Ingredients: Seabuckthorn fruit oil, argan oil | Dosage: One bottle | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 4 x 0.2 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Scalp: Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil
Soothes a dry scalp
Could be more hydrating
When your scalp could use a little extra love, look no further than this treatment from Mielle. The nutrient-rich formula not only supports length retention thanks to biotin, but it also nourishes the hair follicles, smoothes split ends, and helps to soothe and hydrate a dry scalp. Plus the invigorating mint in the formula has a subtle cooling effect, leaving you feeling refreshed. The formula is versatile, and can also be used to hydrate protective styles like braids and weaves or as a hot oil treatment.
Active Ingredients: Rosemary leaf oil, biotin | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates, preservatives | Size: 2 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Sun Protection: Klorane Protective Oil with Ylang-Ylang Wax
Can be used on damp or dry hair
Not Byrdie Clean
You likely know how important it is to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, but protecting your hair is a real thing, too. That's why we love this product—it's basically sunscreen for your strands. It's formulated with built-in UVA and UVB filters, while ylang-ylang wax and an oil-based complex help to nourish, hydrate, and protect the hair against salt and chlorine. Also nice? The formula is waterproof, so it’ll keep hair protected while you swim. Plus, it smells like summer in a bottle, thanks to its warm sand, coconut milk, and ylang-ylang scent.
Active Ingredients: Castor seed oil, ylang-ylang wax | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 3.3 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Hair Growth: Briogeo B. Well Organic + Cold-Pressed 100% Castor Oil
One ingredient: cold-pressed castor oil
Hair growing at a snail-like speed? Consider slathering this organic pure castor oil all over your scalp, hair, and even eyebrows to promote faster hair growth and thicker strands. Extracted using the cold-press method, this oil is as pure as it gets with all its natural vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, and ricinoleic acid preserved throughout the process. Also nice: This formula can also be used on the skin, so try applying it to extra dry patches overnight for a deeply moisturizing treatment.
Active Ingredients: Cold-pressed castor oil | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, alcohol | Size: 1.5 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Oil Serum: Moroccanoil Treatment Original
Nourishing, non-greasy formula
A little goes a long way
With each use of this deeply restorative treatment, argan oil (rich in vitamin E, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids) and linseed extract (also packed with fatty acids) nourish and strengthen hair. However, the formula is also non-greasy and fast-absorbing, so you won't have to worry about weighing your hair down. It’s best used on clean, damp hair right before styling or as a touch-up throughout the day. Plus, one whiff of the spicy amber and warm floral scent, exclusive to Moroccanoil, will instantly transport you.
Active Ingredients: Argan oil | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, alcohol | Size: 0.9 / 1.7 / 3.4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Dry Hair: Aveda Dry Remedy Daily Moisturizing Oil
Doesn't weigh down fine hair
Brittle hair, beware. This repairing oil is coming for you—but in a good way. Certified organic buriti oil, harvested from the “tree of life” in Brazil, instantly quenches and restores thirsty, weak hair. You’ll also find that there’s no silicone in this formula, so just a few drops are all it takes to revive dull tangled strands with no greasy or sticky residue left behind. Plus, the whole formula is 90% natural (sourced from plants, non-petroleum minerals, and water), and doesn't contain any sulfates, parabens, or phthalates.
Active Ingredients: Buriti oil | Dosage: 2-4 drops | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, silicone, alcohol | Size: 1 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Lightweight: Bumble and bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil
Heat & UV protection
Contains 7 hydrating oils
A little pricey
Using a blend of six nourishing oils such as coconut, argan, and macadamia, this hair oil has a super non-greasy texture that's immediately absorbed, adding needed hydration and softness and removing any pesky frizz. It's formulated with UV filters that protect strands from the damaging effects of the sun while also protecting against breakage and heat styling. We like to apply this one to wet hair right before drying, or to dry hair before heat styling.
Active Ingredients: Coconut and argan oils | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 0.9 / 3.4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Color-Treated Hair: Leonor Greyl l'Huile de Leonor Greyl Pre-Shampoo Treatment
Product may solidify in cold temperatures
Our former editorial director, Faith Xue, calls this oil a life-saver for her platinum blonde hair. Considered a protective pre-shampoo, it’s best applied on dry hair—either right before you hit the beach or pool, or before you spend the day out in the sun. Let the product, which contains a powerhouse blend of botanical oils, sit for a few hours so the product can completely coat each strand, essentially creating a barrier to guard your hair from outside forces (like chlorine and salt water). At the end of the day, rinse it out.
Active Ingredients: Vegetable oils | Dosage: Dime-size amount | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 3.2 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Adding Shine: REDKEN Oil for All
Works on all hair types
Doesn't weigh hair down
Byrdie's former editorial director Faith Xue swears by this oil for adding instant shine and hydration to her platinum strands. Formulated to work for all hair textures and types, it's great for locking in moisture, combatting frizz, and reducing blow dry time. It also moonlights as a heat protectant, preventing any future damage from your blow dryer or hot tools. The formula is weightless, so it won't leave your hair feeling sticky or weighted down. Plus, it has the most incredible fresh orange and rose scent.
Active Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 3.4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
What Our Editors Say
"My bleached, fragile hair drinks up oil like it's water, and this one from Redken is a newfound favorite. Whenever my ends are looking parched or thirsty, I add a dime-sized amount to my palms and smooth it through my hair. The result is instant—my hair looks shinier and healthier (and feels softer) immediately afterward. Plus, I like that I can use as much as I want without it feeling greasy or heavy." —Faith Xue, former Byrdie Editorial Director
Best Argan Oil: Josie Maran 100 Percent Pure Argan Oil
Also for skin and nails
Pure argan oil
A little pricey
This best-selling argan oil checks all the boxes: hydrating, nourishing, clinically tested, and it has no added ingredients. Tame frizz effectively by applying a small amount from midshaft down, focusing on the ends as you spread out the product. What we love about this versatile oil is that you can literally use it anywhere—your hair, scalp, face, and body. Not only is it multifaceted, but it shortens your routine, too.
Active Ingredients: Argan oil | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, alcohol, silicone | Size: 0.5 / 1 .7 / 4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Protective Styles: Taliah Waajid Ditch The Itch Anti-Itch Serum
Soothes an itchy scalp
Could be more moisturizing
If you're wearing braids, extensions, or other protective styles, it's important that you keep both your hair and your scalp healthy. This hydrating oil is infused with bamboo, basil, and peppermint, tackling itch and other issues from the root (literally) with an easy to use applicator that goes straight to your scalp. The formula is super calming to stop itch on contact and seal in moisture. Plus, it contains biotin to protect hair elasticity and promote thicker, fuller growth.
Active Ingredients: Sesame seed and basil oils, menthol | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 2 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Hands down, the Ouai Hair Oil is an absolute must. Formulated with a blend of African galanga root extract and ama, borage, and baobab oils, this lightweight hair oil works to completely eliminate frizz and tame unruly hair. Plus, it doubles as a hair perfume with the prettiest gardenia and violet scent. We’re also big fans of the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Deep Nourishing Treatment, a rich, multitasking hair treatment formulated with argan and camellia oils. It can be used as a pre-shampoo treatment, a styling treatment, and a finishing oil to lock in moisture and keep frizz at bay. Looking for something weightless? The VERB Ghost Oil literally disappears into the hair upon application, helping to smooth and detangle it. The results? Shiny, frizz-free hair with no heavy residue.
What to Look for in a Hair Oil
Nutrient-Rich Plant Oils
When it comes to the very best oils for your hair, hair stylist Shelly Aguirre recommends a handful of natural, plant-based oils. “Coconut oil is very conditioning and is rich in vitamins and minerals that help heal the hair,” she says. “It’ll also protect the hair from heat damage. It’s perfect for drier textures.” In addition to coconut, she recommends nut-derived argan and almond oils, both of which are rich in protein and antioxidants. “The protein in argan oil is wonderful for healing hair, while almond oil contains magnesium which may assist in hair growth.” Castor oil is another favorite for thicker, curly hair and is great used as a pre-shampoo treatment.
Avoid Mineral Oil
While the above oils are all great choices for deeply nourishing the hair, there are some oils that shouldn't be slathered all over your scalp. Case in point? Mineral oil. Already considered to be an iffy ingredient in the beauty world, it’s known to cause excess buildup, which will not only lead to scalp issues down the road, but will leave the hair feeling heavy and weighed down.
Some hair oils smell heavenly, but if your scalp is particularly sensitive and prone to itchiness, it's best to avoid formulas with any added fragrance—even natural ingredients like essential oils. This can lead to irritation, inflammation, and more serious scalp breakouts. If you’re loving the scent of a particular hair oil but you aren't sure how your scalp will react, be sure to only apply it your ends, keeping it as far away from the roots as possible.
Can you use a hair oil on oily hair?
Aguirre says that experts have pretty mixed opinions when it comes to applying hair oil to oily hair. “There are a lot of conflicting views on oil for oily hair,” she says. “Most dermatologists won’t recommend applying oil on oily scalps, while some haircare companies do."
She goes on to explain that oil can clog pores, which isn’t good long-term, especially if you're prone to scalp blemishes and breakouts. At the same time, the cause behind an oily scalp will vary from case to case, and it can sometimes be hard to diagnose. “I would recommend asking your professional stylist what steps to take and which products to use if you're dealing with an oily scalp,” she says.
Do hair oils cause scalp acne?
Scalp acne occurs when hair follicles get clogged with oil, dead skin cells, or product buildup, and several different factors can cause it. “If you’re experiencing occasional scalp acne, that’s totally normal—it may just be hormonal,” says Aguirre. However, she mentions that more frequent breakouts can be caused by something internal, like stress, or they can be triggered by the products you’re using—hair oils included. Hair oils and other products that contain a lot of oil can contribute to scalp buildup, causing acne or exacerbating an existing breakout. If your scalp is already prone to breakouts, be sure to avoid applying any oil-based products too close to the scalp or roots.
How do you apply hair oil?
Hair oils can be used in a multitude of ways depending on the formula, weight, and your hair’s specific needs. Hair can be soaked in oil as a deep-conditioning pre-shampoo treatment, or it can be applied to wet hair pre-blowout as a shine-boosting styling treatment. Lightweight formulas can also be used on freshly styled hair to tame frizz and lock in shine.
If you’re not using hair oil as a pre-shampoo treatment that you'll be washing out, Aguirre recommends avoiding applying it too close to your roots and scalp—especially if your hair is already on the oilier side.
When should you apply hair oil?
Hair oil can be applied at any time to wet or dry hair, again, depending on the formula, weight, and your hair's needs. Aguirre prefers to apply hair oil on damp hair before a blowout. “Depending on the density, less might be more,” she adds. “Your brush will glide through the hair easier, and it will act as a protectant from the heat of your dryer. It also adds shine and body."