Everything You Need to Know About Using Macadamia Oil for Hair

close up of macademia hair oil

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Originating from trees in Australia, macadamia nuts are popular for their subtle, nutty flavor and rich texture. Beyond their great taste, macadamia nuts are nutritionally dense and are one of the highest natural sources for healthy fatty acids. The oil produced from the nuts of the macadamia tree packs a concentrated dose of these fatty acids, magnesium, and vitamin E. One of the most commonly used natural oils in hair products, macadamia oil is reportedly able to transform dry, damaged hair. Is macadamia oil the solution to your hair health revival?

We turned to the experts, board certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman and certified trichologist and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Dr. Shawon Gullette, to learn the truth.

Macadamia Oil For Hair

Type of ingredient: Scalp hydrator and hair strengthener.

Main benefits: Moisturizes the scalp, boosts shine, and regulates oil production.

Who should use it: In general, anyone with medium-coarse or dry, damaged hair. Those with curly hair will also benefit from the hydrating factor of macadamia oil. Macadamia oil is not safe for anyone with a nut allergy, as it may trigger an allergic reaction.

How often can you use it: It’s safe to use up to two times a week topically and there can be additional benefits to your hair health by adding macadamia nuts to your well-balanced diet.

Works well with: Steam treatments to maximize the benefits of macadamia oil for hair. The addition of heat helps with the absorption of macadamia oil in low-porosity hair.

Don’t use with: There are no known ingredients that negatively interfere with macadamia oil, but new treatments should always be patched tested for allergic reactions before applying to the entire scalp.

Benefits of Macadamia Oil for Hair

Macadamia oil is made from the nuts of the macadamia tree. Macadamia nuts are credited for being a great source of naturally occurring fatty acids. The fatty acids in macadamia oil can provide moisture to the hair and scalp, among other benefits. Macadamia oil is also rich in magnesium, oleic acid, calcium, and antioxidants. Most macadamia oil used in beauty and hair products is pure, cold-pressed oil. There can be additional health benefits from increasing your intake of macadamia nuts, as well as topically applying the oil, but Dr. Engelman explains that scalp and hair hydration will be improved more by topical application than through oral supplementation.

  • Regulates oil production: Macadamia oil is rich in oleic acid, which Dr. Engelman explains "encourages and rejuvenates body levels for sebum production, this regulation prevents excess sebum production and thus keeps bacteria at bay." Oil overproduction can lead to oily hair and can contribute to a scalp environment prone to dandruff and other bacteria.
  • Hydrates the scalp: By regulating the oil production of the scalp, macadamia oil can help to keep the scalp and hair moisturized. Dr. Engelman shares that in enabling additional natural oil production, it helps to keep the scalp hydrated. Macadamia oil also contains linoleic acid, which helps restore skin barrier function and reduces transepidermal water loss.
  • Regenerates scalp skin: The oleic acid found in macadamia oil works to regenerate the skin of your scalp. Oleic acid works to soften the skin, regenerate skin cells, moisturize the skin, and is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. In nourishing the skin of the scalp, macadamia oil can boost the overall health of your hair from the roots.
  • Tames dry, frizzy hair: The fatty acids in macadamia oil add moisture to the strands of your hair. Dr. Gullette explains that this is "great for calming the hair of frizz and tangles." She adds that macadamia oil is lightweight and non-greasy, so it works to moisturize and tame frizz without weighing hair down.
  • Aids in restoring damaged hair: Dr. Gullette shares that macadamia oil has "magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, phosphorus and copper." All of these, plus the presence of fatty acids, gives the hair shine and strength, two things needed by damaged hair.
  • Prevents oxidative stress: Macadamia oil is a source of antioxidants. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, free radicals in the body can cause oxidative stress. Consuming antioxidants, however, may help counter these free radicals. Dr. Gullette explains that "a 2016 study in rats suggests that taking oleic acid supplements may help protect against the effects of oxidative stress. Other studies indicate that oleic acid consumption may have a beneficial effect on cancer and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings."

Hair Type Considerations

Our experts agree that macadamia oil is safe for all hair types, with dry and damaged hair reaping the most benefits. Dry, damaged hair follicles can be treated, but it is equally important to treat the scalp so that new growth is possible. Macadamia oil's oleic acid content controls oil production and promotes skin regeneration, improving the health of the scalp. Dr. Engelman specified that a "healthy scalp helps produce healthy follicles and therefore healthy strands." Dr. Gullette adds that "curly, coily, and wavy hair textures love this oil because of the moisture and shine properties."

How to Use Macadamia Oil for Hair

The benefits of macadamia oil are most easily obtained through the application of the oil directly to the hair and scalp. There are other health benefits that can achieved by incorporating more macadamia nuts into your diet as a source of healthy fatty acids. Before applying any oil to your hair or skin, it is important to ensure it is from a reputable source. Dr. Gullette recommends using virgin, cold-pressed macadamia oil for treating your hair. Both experts strongly caution against the use of macadamia oil for hair if you have any form of nut allergy, as an allergic reaction could result.

  • Apply as a leave-in treatment: Dr. Gullette recommends that you "take a dime-sized dollop of virgin, cold-pressed macadamia oil. Rub it between your palms and then smooth it throughout your hair." She also recommends that you pay careful attention to getting the oil to the ends of your hair to help repair split ends and damage. 
  • Use as a pre-shampoo detangler: Before shampooing, take macadamia oil and work it through your hair from scalp to ends. Use the oil to work out any tangles or knots in the hair, providing moisture to any damage to the hair.
  • Condition damaged hair and split ends: Dr. Engelman encourages you to "apply to a clean scalp, massaging as you go. Leave on for about 10-20 minutes before rinsing." Add a shower cap to trap heat and create a steam treatment to increase the efficacy for low-porosity hair.
  • Consume macadamia nuts: Consuming macadamia nuts will provide you with the antioxidants found in the nut itself. The oleic acid in macadamia nuts has been shown to counter free radicals in the body. Additionally, the healthy fatty acids found in these nuts can help to promote hair health from within.

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