Peanut Oil Just Might Be the Hair Oil You Didn't Know You Needed

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When you think of oils for hair, more often than not your mind goes to coconut oil, argan oil, and jojoba oil. But what about peanut oil? This ultra-hydrating ingredient is often slept on in the haircare category, and while there are a million and one oils out there that may be suitable for hair, this just may be the one you should check out. Research shows that peanut oil can actually be extremely beneficial to both dry hair and dry scalps as well as specific dry-skin conditions such as psoriasis.

So, what exactly does peanut oil do for your hair? We turned to the experts—cosmetic chemist Shuting Hu, Ph.D., and board-certified dermatologist Brendan Camp, MD—to find out.

Meet the Expert

  • Shuting Hu, Ph.D., is a cosmetic chemist and the founder of Acaderma.
  • Brendan Camp, MD, is a double board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical and cosmetic dermatology at MDCS Dermatology in New York City.

Keep reading to learn about the benefits of peanut oil for hair.

Peanut Oil for Hair

Type of ingredient: Hydrator, occlusive agent, and emollient

Main benefits: Increases hair’s thickness and growth rate, helps repair split ends and damaged hair, treats dandruff and scalp psoriasis, and replenishes oil on the hair shaft

Who should use it: In general, peanut oil is recommended for drier, damaged hair. While all hair types can use peanut oil, someone with oily hair may run into some issues when adding a second source of oil to the scalp.

How often can you use it: The typical recommended usage is once or twice a week, and it can be applied at any time of the day, on wet or dry hair.

Works well with: Peanut oil pairs well with humectants, which provide moisture to the scalp skin and hair shaft in a different way than oils. 

Don’t use with: Cleansing surfactants in shampoo or other hair care products remove oil, dirt, and residue on the surface of the hair and thus can counteract the action of an oil treatment.

Benefits of Peanut Oil for Hair

While peanut oil may not be your first thought when it comes to hair treatments, it most certainly should be on your radar—especially if you have dry hair. "Peanut oil has many great benefits, including increasing hair’s thickness, reducing hair’s protein loss, and combating damaged hair and split ends," says Hu. "It is packed with antioxidants making it helpful in the treatment of dandruff and even scalp psoriasis."

  • Treats dandruff and scalp psoriasis: Peanut oil contains antioxidants that are highly moisturizing and which often help with dry scalp conditions such as dandruff, Hu notes. Peanut oil also contains vitamin E, which studies have found can help prevent an imbalance between oxidative stress and antioxidant defense in psoriasis.
  • Replenishes oils in hair: Peanut oil can be used to replenish oil on the hair shaft. "Normally sebaceous glands in our scalp skin secrete oil (sebum) into the hair follicle, which coats the hair shaft," says Camp. "Sebum functions to make the hair shaft soft, smooth, and pliable."
  • Helps de-frizz hair: Camp also explains that frizzy hair occurs due to a lack of moisture in the hair shaft. He notes that coating it with peanut oil seals in moisture to the hair and makes it more manageable.
  • Increases thickness and growth rate: "Peanut oil contains various fats—such as vitamin E, which can reduce hair's protein loss—that contribute to thicker, more hydrated, and healthier hair," Hu notes.
  • Repairs damage: "Peanut oil is moisturizing and works to help mend split ends and regenerate and revitalize damaged hair," says Hu.
  • Helps with curl definition: If you're looking for more definition to your curls, peanut oil can help. "Peanut oil can help restore structure to curls," Camp notes.

Hair Type Considerations

Generally, those with drier scalps and hair will benefit more from an oil treatment. "Hair or scalp skin that is particularly dry is best suited to an oil treatment because peanut oil acts as an occlusive to seal in moisture and as an emollient to soften dry, damaged hair," explains Camp. "People with excessively oily hair or scalp skin may not need the additional benefit of peanut oil treatments as their body already makes sufficient amounts of sebum." Studies also note that peanut oil can help with the repair of the skin barrier thanks to its hydrating effects on human skin (without increasing transepidermal water loss), which is why experts often recommend it for those with scalp conditions. "It is an effective and natural option for those with dandruff or scalp psoriasis," adds Hu.

Aside from those with dry scalps, people with damaged hair should also consider using peanut oil. "For those with damaged hair, peanut oil is a great option to use as a healing element," notes Hu. "It works best for those with dry hair, as it works to deeply moisturize and nourish your hair."

On the flip side, those with oily hair may want to test peanut oil before diving in "as it may increase oil production due to its moisturizing qualities," Hu notes. "However, it has a variety of great benefits, so [there is] no harm in trying it out." Camp adds that those with oily hair may want to avoid it altogether if they aren't seeing benefits, because "their body already makes sufficient amounts of sebum." He adds: "Peanut oil is not considered a particularly comedogenic oil, but people prone to acne on the scalp may want to use peanut oil treatments with caution lest they develop a breakout from clogged pores."

How To Use Peanut Oil for Hair

While there are not many hair products on the market with peanut oil as an ingredient, both experts do recommend using peanut oil for hair. Hu suggests using peanut oil once or twice per week for optimal results, as applying it too often can cause the oil to strip away essential oils from your hair. Depending on the way you use peanut oil for the hair, she also notes that it can be applied at any time of day, on wet or dry hair.

Camp agrees but notes that "exposure of the oil in the hair to the skin of the face, neck, or back may add extra oil to the skin and contribute to clogged pores. Excessive oil in the hair may also stain clothing or linens." So, how exactly do the experts recommend using peanut oil in the hair?

  • Growth mask: "Cold-pressed peanut oil works wonders and if it is organic as well, then it does not contain any harmful toxins or chemicals," says Hu. "One way to use peanut oil is to increase hair growth. For this, combine two tablespoons of peanut oil with one egg yolk along with ground peanuts. Once applying the hair mask to your scalp, gently massage it and let it sit for two hours. After it has sat, continue with your usual wash routine."
  • Dandruff mask: "Peanut oil is super moisturizing and is great as a treatment for dandruff and scalp psoriasis," states Hu. "To combat dandruff, it is best to combine peanut oil with tea tree essential oil and lemon juice. After massaging it into your hair and scalp, let it sit for no more than two hours. Then, follow with your normal wash routine."
  • Scalp treatment: "As a scalp treatment to address flaky skin, warm a few tablespoons of the oil and apply it carefully (without burning yourself) to parted scalp skin," says Camp. "Leave it in place for a few minutes or cover with a shower cap for extra hydration before rinsing it out. While the scalp is being treated, run some of the leftover oil through the hair gently to address any frizz or difficult to manage parts of the hair. If there seems to be excess oil in the hair afterward use a gentle shampoo to clean the hair and scalp."
  • Does peanut oil have skin benefits?

    Yes. Topical peanut oil helps protect the skin from UV radiation and has been shown to have hydrating effects on the skin.

  • Can those with a peanut allergy use peanut oil?

    Research has suggested that refined peanut oil-containing preparations are safe for topical use, even in persons who are sensitive to peanuts. Always spot test before trying peanut oil on the skin, especially if you have a peanut allergy.

  • Are there any retail hair products with peanut oil?

    Camp notes there are few hair products with peanut oil on the market. When searching for a product, look for the ingredient labeled Arachis hypogaea (Peanut) Oil.

Article Sources
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  2. Wong AP, Kalinovsky T, Niedzwiecki A, Rath M. Efficacy of nutritional treatment in patients with psoriasis: A case report [published correction appears in Exp Ther Med. 2020 Feb;19(2):1136]. Exp Ther Med. 2015;10(3):1071-1073. doi:10.3892/etm.2015.2631

  3. Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant OilsInt J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. Published 2017 Dec 27. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070

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