When I decided to go natural a few years ago, I knew that one of the biggest challenges of my hair journey would be finding the right products. The one thing I knew to turn to was natural oils. Why? Well, many nourishing hair oils such as peppermint oil, olive oil, and tea tree oil are the subject of rave reviews by experts in the haircare space. After much exploration, the one oil that kept my hair strong and healthy was canola oil. Although it came to prominence as a cooking oil, canola oil has many well-documented health and beauty benefits. But what is it and what does it do for our hair? Keep reading to learn all about canola oil for hair, complete with insights from haircare experts as well as a few product recommendations.
What Is Canola Oil?
True to its name, canola oil is extracted from the canola seed, a variety of rapeseed that's low in erucic acid. It's grown primarily in the prairie regions of western Canada. Although it remains one of the most versatile and popular cooking oils to grace many pantries, it also has numerous beauty and wellness benefits and can be applied to hair, skin, and nails to moisturize and strengthen.
Canola oil contains vitamin E, an active ingredient that has been hailed as a trusted solution for many haircare woes. Although canola oil boasts many hair-transforming properties, it shouldn’t be used in cases of serious hair loss. In cases like this, it’s always best to seek advice from a medical professional. In spite of this, canola oil can revive dull hair, repair hair follicles, and improve blood circulation to the scalp.
To find out what makes canola oil so beneficial to hair, we’ve sought some knowledge and expertise from trichologists Shab Reslan and Gretchen Friese, as well as medical advisor Dr. Angela Phipps and skincare expert Dr. Catharine Denning. Ahead, they share everything there is to know about canola oil and the things it can do for your hair—you can thank us later.
Meet the Expert
- Shab Reslan is a HairClub hair health expert and trichologist based in New York City.
- Gretchen Friese is a BosleyMD-certified trichologist in Denver, Colorado.
- Angela Phipps, D.O., A.B.H.R.S., is a Raleigh, North Carolina-based hair restoration physician and medical advisor at HairClub.
- Dr. Catharine Denning is a London-based advanced aesthetic doctor and skincare expert.
Type of ingredient: Moisturizer and hydrator
Main benefits: Keeps scalp and hair healthy, promotes hair growth, prevents dryness
Who should use it: In general, canola oil can be used on all hair types due to its lightweight texture.
How often to use it: One to two times a week
Works well with: Other moisturising oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil.
Don’t use with: No known contradictions—however, be aware that canola oil is a vegetable oil, so discuss with your doctor before use if you have any allergies.
Benefits of Canola Oil for Hair
Don't let canola oil's widespread availability and prevalence in the kitchen fool you: This unassuming ingredient may be one of the best ways to improve your hair health. This oil has an impressive amount of benefits, and moisturizing your hair with it can lead to improvement all around.
Promotes hair growth: ‘’Canola oil greatly benefits the hair and scalp, thanks to its fatty acid content,’’ Reslan says. ‘’It contains a high percentage of oleic acid—60%—and 20% linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is lightweight in texture and is great for moisturizing the scalp and stimulating hair growth.’’
Moisturizes and softens the hair: Hair needs a balance of moisture and protein to flourish. Moisture helps retain hair’s elasticity. Without it, hair can become dry, brittle, and at risk of breakage. When detangling, styling, or performing any other type of manipulation, soft, supple, and moisturized hair is key. ‘’Canola oil can moisturize and soften the hair,’’ Friese says.
Prevents dandruff: Canola oil can be helpful in treating and preventing dandruff, an effect that can help avoid related issues, as well. Severe dandruff can cause a person to scratch their scalp so hard that they might injure it and/or cause repeated inflammation in the hair follicles, which can reduce or even stop hair growth. Friese agrees with the power of canola oil, adding that it also ‘’contains anti-inflammatory compounds.’’
Minimizes hair loss: ‘’Consuming vitamin E, as well as applying it topically, can minimize oxidative stress on the scalp so your hair can grow properly,’’ Friese says. Reslan also agrees with canola oil’s ability to rejuvenate hair. ‘’Vitamin E is one of the most essential antioxidants for healthy hair growth, as it works to minimize hair loss,’’ she says.
Can provide UV protection: Most of us link sun damage to skin, but hair can also be damaged by the sun’s UV rays. Although experts question whether SPF is necessary for hair, being aware of the potential impact those warmer days can have is important. Friese says that even though the oil your hair naturally produces can protect it from the sun, canola oil ‘’may be helpful in providing UV protection.’’
Increases shine: Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids make up 85% of hair’s lipid content. Lipids are responsible for increasing and influencing shine in hair. ‘’Canola oil can calm down frizz and create shine,’’ Friese says.
Treats dryness: Canola oil is a hydrating ingredient, so it can repair damage caused by dryness. It can also protect hair from external factors like pollution and dry weather conditions. ‘’Oil treatments may help hydrate the strands and scalp. It is usually more effective to apply oils to dry hair since oil repels water,’’ Dr. Phipps says. She adds that dry oils are generally safe to apply to hair, but it’s important to adopt a less-is-more approach: ‘’Oils can weigh down hair, which can make it tough to rinse out, especially if your hair is fine or short.’’
Hair Type Considerations
Canola oil generally works on most hair types, but to reap its full benefits, understanding your hair’s porosity can help when deciding which type of treatment to use. The porosity of your hair affects how well oils and moisture are able to pass through your cuticles. Low-porosity hair thrives on lightweight oils, as the cuticles on the hair shaft are tightly sealed. As canola oil is lightweight, it's perfect for low-porosity hair, as it won’t weigh it down. Canola oil may also benefit high-porosity hair, which can look and feel dry.
For anyone who wants to use canola oil with the intention of revitalizing dry and damaged hair, it’s worth a try. Oil treatments may have benefits for dry hair, but if your scalp is sensitive (be aware that scalp health and hair health are two completely different things), it may be best to avoid using canola oil on your hair. ‘’Test oils before you use them in the event of an allergic reaction—if you have an allergy to a product that oil is sourced from, avoid it altogether,’’ Dr. Phipps advises. When you apply oil on your hair, it will come into contact with the skin, and canola oil is no exception. To test a dry oil on your hair, Dr. Phipps recommends applying it to a small section of your skin before applying it on your scalp. If you don’t develop an allergic reaction within 24 hours, it’s likely to be safe.
Canola oil is safe to mix with other oils, but if you're using it by itself, don’t apply large quantities if your scalp tends to get oily. ‘’Excess oil can clog pores on your scalp, which can prevent your hair follicles from growing normally,’’ Dr. Denning says.
How to Use Canola Oil for Hair
There are a number of ways to experience the benefits that canola oil has to offer. ‘’I would recommend using canola oil as a pre-poo treatment,’’ Friese says. ‘’This will help with circulation and cellular rejuvenation.’’
- As a pre-shampoo treatment: ‘’For hair growth, mix canola oil with rosemary or lemongrass oil and massage into the scalp for about 20 minutes before shampooing,’’ Friese says.
- As a hair mask: ‘’To increase your hair’s moisture levels, mix canola oil with coconut oil and use it as a hair mask,’’ Friese says. ‘’I recommend leaving it on for about 30 minutes before shampooing.’’
- As a hair treatment: ‘’I recommend using one to two tablespoons of canola oil to saturate the ends and scalp, depending on the length of your hair. Massaging the oil onto dry hair and then covering it with a warm towel or shower cap for up to 15 minutes will allow the oils to better penetrate into the hair shafts and scalp,’’ Dr. Phipps says. ‘’I also recommend using a wide tooth comb to evenly distribute the oil all the way through your strands before rinsing thoroughly.’’ If your hair is thick, you may need to increase the amount of oil accordingly.
- As a leave-in conditioner: ‘’To help combat dry hair issues, canola oil can be mixed with warm water and sprayed into hair. Leave it in like a leave-in conditioner to provide extra moisture and protect the hair from damage,’’ Friese says.
The Best Canola Oil Products for Hair
When choosing the right canola oil for your hair, it’s important to look for an oil that is pure, refined, or cold-pressed. We would also recommend using an oil that's multi-purpose. Canola oil is generally lightweight, so it shouldn’t weigh the hair down. If it does, then it may not be suitable for hair.
Below are some pure canola oils that could be a welcome addition to your pantry and haircare routine, as well as a few hair products that integrate this hero ingredient.
This 100% pure canola oil contains no additives. It’s also available in a variety of sizes, so if you want to ease your way into using canola oil on your hair, start with a smaller bottle first.
This canola oil is organic and expeller-refined. It also contains Omega-3s, which are said to promote hair growth and thickness. Be aware that this product has been bottled in a facility that produces peanut oil, so if you have a peanut allergy, another option may be better for you.
This refined oil is 100% pure and made without pesticides, GMOs, or hexane. According to the brand, it's safe enough to apply on skin as well as hair. This homegrown and cruelty-free oil may provide your hair with the nourishment it needs.
This organic oil is expeller-pressed and made without GMOs. It’s also the best value on this list. It’s multi-purpose, cruelty-free, and light in texture, so it's great for reviving hair and so much more.
This hair oil works to smooth frizz and seal split ends for a healthy, shiny finish. Perfect for anyone who wants to repair their hair, it also protects strands from heat damage, giving them some much needed TLC. Lightweight in texture and featuring a blend of nourishing oils (including canola oil), it’s safe to say this product will transform your hair in no time.
This multi-use oil includes Olaplex’s groundbreaking technology, which works to repair broken bonds. It also protects hair follicles and promotes shiny, vibrant hair. If you need another reason to give this oil a try, read the reviews: Customers attest to the product making a visible difference to hair after just a few uses.
If you're a fan of leave-in products, this hair oil may be just what you need. Ideal for dull and coarse hair, it promises to melt into hair, leaving it feeling silky and soft. A bonus is that it’s smooth in texture, which makes for easy application. Just be careful not to use too much, as a little goes a long way.
Although this oil is a little pricey, you can trust that it will do what it says on the bottle. Featuring a restructuring effect that helps to smooth cuticles and influence shine, this product brings nutrition and radiance to the hair. All you need is one drop for your best hair yet.
Are canola oil and rapeseed oil the same thing?
No. Canola oil comes from canola seeds, whereas rapeseed oil is from rapeseeds. These two different types of seeds have very different property profiles, although they do fall into the same family.
How can you tell if canola oil is pure?
There are two ways of extracting canola oil from seeds: one is by cold-pressing (which is expensive and harder to come by), and the other is by gently heating the seeds and using a solvent (usually hexane) to extract as much oil as possible. A tiny trace amount of hexane remains in the oil after extraction (it accounts for less than 2% of our daily intake and has a good safety profile), so technically, the later method doesn't produce pure canola oil.
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