Chances are you’ve come across jojoba oil in at least one of your hair products. While it’s common to find in the list of ingredients in your favorite eco-friendly haircare, it can also be found in prestige brand products.
Meet the Expert
- Ghanima Abdullah is a cosmetologist and hair expert for The Right Hairstyles magazine
- Ginger King is a cosmetic chemist, owner of product development firm Grace Kingdom Beauty, and founder of lip care brand Fan Love Beauty.
- Sally-Kate Duboux, a wedding hairstylist, wig specialist, and the owner of Hair by Duboux.
Since it seems so ubiquitous in the world of haircare, we were curious to learn more about how jojoba oil should best be used to tame and nourish our locks. Enter our haircare experts. They filled us in on all the reasons that make jojoba oil a saving grace for tired strands in need of a restorative boost. And they shared how best to use jojoba oil, no matter what your hair woes and haircare desires may be.
What Is Jojoba Oil?
Jojoba oil is the liquid extracted from the seeds of the Simmondsia chinensis plant. The natural oil is a popular ingredient because of its numerous properties—it’s moisturizing and packed with vitamins and minerals—that are universally beneficial for hair health.
Looking to improve your hair health? Keep reading for nine ways using jojoba oil can be a transformative step in your haircare routine.
Type of ingredient: Hydrator
Main benefits: Soothes the scalp, repairs breakage, controls dandruff
Who should use it: In general, jojoba oil will moisturize and nourish all types of hair, but it’s particularly effective on curly and textured hair.
How often can you use it: It’s safe to use several times per day.
Works well with: Other moisturizing oils like argan, coconut, and moringa
Don’t use with: No contraindications
Benefits of Jojoba Oil for Hair
Jojoba “oil” is a bit of a misnomer, since it is actually a wax ester, not an oil. Ghanima Abdullah, a cosmetologist and hair expert, says this difference is what imparts some of its useful properties. She says another benefit is that jojoba oil washes out easily, so if it doesn’t go well, you’re not left with a semi-permanent disaster by any means.
- It can moisturize hair from the inside out: "It's moisturizing," says cosmetic chemist Ginger King. Explains Abdullah, “It’s light, impermeable, and sits on the surface of the hair shaft. Because of this, it’s perfect for sealing in moisture when your hair and scalp are still damp after washing. Other oils, like coconut, hemp, or argan, penetrate the hair shaft and provide conditioning from within. As a wax ester, jojoba sits on the outer surface to help protect the hair from dryness and breakage.” She does note, however, that because of this, if you want more of a deep conditioning, it’s best to choose a product that contains jojoba along with more conditioning oils.
- It can promote thickness: “Jojoba oil is rich in many vitamins and minerals that promote not only healthy hair, but skin and nails,” says hairstylist Sally-Kate Duboux. “This versatile oil contains B vitamins and C and E, as well as copper and zinc, making it a natural cheerleader for strengthening our locks, promoting thickness and regrowth, and aiding in preventing hair loss.”
- It can nourish hard-to-reach areas of curls: “Chemically, jojoba oil has almost the exact same structure as human sebum. This makes it ideal for dry hair and curly hair,” says Abdullah. “With curly textures, it’s difficult for nourishing sebum to make it midshaft—much less to the ends of your hair. So jojoba oil can fill in for sebum in these cases.”
- It can reduce frizz: If you tend to have a lot of flyaways and frizz, jojoba oil may tame your locks. Because it does a good job of sealing in moisture, jojoba oil may help minimize frizz. “Frizz is basically your hair’s way of searching out moisture from the environment, since it’s not getting it any other way,” notes Abdullah. “This is why sealing in moisture can be such an important step in your haircare routine—especially if you’re prone to frizz.”
- It can maintain your scalp’s natural balance: “Due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties, jojoba oil can help restore the scalp’s natural moisture and pH balance without upsetting the sebaceous glands,” says Duboux. In other words, jojoba oil should not cause your scalp to produce more or less of its own oil, so you can expect it to moisturize your hair without leaving it overly greasy.
- It can control dandruff: Jojoba oil may be a great place to start for anyone looking for a natural dandruff solution. Duboux says this is largely due to its ability to restore the scalp’s natural pH balance. Abdullah adds that it helps regulate oil production by sending a message to the hair follicles that there is enough moisture on the scalp. “This can help lessen greasy dandruff flakes that result partially from excessive oil on the scalp,” she explains.
- It can encourage hair growth: According to Duboux, “Jojoba oil not only moisturizes the hair, but [also] dissolves the dirt and buildup on our scalps, helping to nourish the hair follicles further, promoting healthy growth.” Abdullah adds that part of this scalp-cleansing effect of jojoba oil is due to its ability to dissolve sebum deposits, which may be blocking follicles. As they become unblocked, it might ease new hair growth.
- It can repair damage from heat and styling: Breakage and split ends happen when our hair has become damaged and brittle. Abdullah says jojoba oil can minimize this seemingly inevitable issue, stating, “The fact that jojoba oil seals in moisture and mimics the scalp’s sebum from root to tip means less breakage overall.” Jojoba oil may not penetrate as deeply as other oils, so it might sit on the outer cuticle of each strand and may help fill in the cracks.
- It can impart a nice shine: ”Although jojoba oil is a wax ester, it’s a pretty shiny one, and it imparts a beautiful sheen to the hair,” says Abdullah. And who doesn’t love that?
Hair Type Considerations
As King explains, "normal to dry hair will benefit the most" from jojoba oil. That being said, our experts say that jojoba oil does have benefits for all hair types, but how you should use it might differ depending on the type of hair you have. If you have finer or lighter colored hair, you’ll want to use less. “The oil may be too weighty, giving the appearance of grease buildup,” explains Duboux. “Those with thicker, curly, kinky, or coily hair types can afford to go with a touch more.”
Jojoba oil is generally safe and doesn’t typically cause significant reactions: Duboux says mild reactions in the form of skin irritations such as redness, itchy scalp, and a rash may occur. “If irritation or discomfort occurs and worsens through use, discontinue immediately,” she advises. “The more severe reactions [occur] when it’s ingested.”
Abdullah’s advice? “Every head is different. Do a patch test first if you are prone to allergies.” She says that even though jojoba oil is very light, if you’re not accustomed to using oils in your hair, you should start with just a little.
How to Use Jojoba Oil for Hair
- Use it as a sealant: Before you shampoo your hair, add a few drops to your fingers and run them through your hair to coat the strands from root to tip. When you go to shampoo, the jojoba oil may help create a protective seal.
- Revitalize your scalp: To try to combat dandruff and sebum buildup, massage a few drops into your scalp and allow it to soak in for 30 minutes. Then rinse your hair or shampoo it.
- Boost your conditioner: Jojoba oil may help provide moisture to the hair shaft at a time when the hair follicles are at their most permeable. “Try first adding a few drops to your conditioner or hair mask when you’re about to apply it. If you notice more shine but would like to see more benefits, add two or three drops to your hair and scalp after cleansing and conditioning, while your hair is still damp,” suggests Abdullah. “That’s about all fine hair can take. If your hair is more coarse or curly, there really isn’t so much of a limit on how much you can use—it depends on personal preference.” You can add a few drops of jojoba to your leave-in conditioner or heat protectant to try to further combat fluffiness and frizz.
The Best Products With Jojoba Oil
We cannot sing the praises of Olaplex enough. Its patented system is specifically formulated to help bond strands back together after the damage caused by bleaching. It is meant to be reparative and restorative, and promises to allow for hair to get the nutrients it needs without weighing it down. The original at-home product is a pre-shampoo treatment that is meant to be used in tandem with the brand’s No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo and No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner ($28).
Amika is one of those brands you see all over Instagram and instantly fall in love with because of its packaging. This nourishing hair mask is one of the brand’s standout products, and we can’t get enough of it. The main ingredients of this mask are jojoba and sea buckthorn oil, making it a superfood powerhouse. Apply it to damp hair and leave on for 20 minutes to see noticeably smoother and softer tresses, according to the brand.
This is perhaps jojoba oil in its purest, rawest form. It’s USDA-certified 100% organic, cold-pressed, pure, unrefined jojoba oil. Applying it after heat styling may help add an enviable shine to your strands. We also love to use it following shampooing and conditioning to try to help fight the split ends and frizz associated with damaged strands.
This 100% natural hair treatment serum blends jojoba oil with moringa oil for a product that promises to moisturize, smooth, and detangle hair. It is meant to reduce breakage and split ends, fight dry scalp, and can be used on any type of hair. Plus, it’s free from silicones, parabens, fragrances, and gluten.
There’s something that feels amazing about massaging a little bit of this serum into your scalp after washing your hair. The delicious smell is an added bonus. It’s designed specifically for tighter, textured hair and promises to penetrate low-porosity, coiled hair for a nutritious dose of hydration and fortification against breaking. An aromatic blend of jojoba, safflower, rosehip, olive, and lavender oils, this serum is nice and light, so it won’t leave a residue or greasy sheen on your hair.
This pre-wash treatment goes on hair prior to shampooing and can be rubbed into roots for further efficacy. A blend of oils, including jojoba seed, is meant to support natural scalp circulation and promises to heal damaged strands.
Can jojoba oil be used on all hair types?
Yes. In fact, dry and oily types will benefit from the use of jojoba oil, according to our experts.
Does jojoba oil need to be rinsed out of hair immediately?
You can use jojoba oil as a leave-in (or in conjunction with a leave-in product). Try adding a few drops to a leave-in conditioning treatment and sleep with it on overnight.
Can jojoba oil treat dandruff?
Jojoba oil treats dry scalps and, by extension, can help with the root cause of dandruff, according to Duboux and Abdullah.
Gad HA, Roberts A, Hamzi SH, et al. Jojoba oil: an updated comprehensive review on chemistry, pharmaceutical uses, and toxicity. Polymers (Basel). 2021;13(11):1711. doi:10.3390/polym13111711