Nothing transforms dry, dull strands like a good hair oil. And these days, they're not difficult to come across. In fact, there are tons of options to choose from: coconut, argan, jojoba, palm, and castor, to name a few. And now, we've got one more gem to add to the growing list. Enter: pracaxi oil. Lately, it seems like everyone, from celebrity stylists to major haircare brands to TikTok influencers, is promoting the stuff—but why? What is it about pracaxi oil that makes it deserving of our attention? And what sets it apart from the other oils out there? To get the low-down on pracaxi oil and how it can benefit tresses, we consulted with hair experts Dr. Stacy Chimento, Gretchen Friese, Giovanni Vaccaro, and Gina Rivera.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Stacy Chimento is a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami.
- Gretchen Friese is BosleyMD's trichologist. She is also a hairstylist and salon director at Foushee SalonSpa in Denver.
- Giovanni Vaccaro is Glamsquad's Artistic Director.
- Gina Rivera is the founder of Phenix Salon Suites.
Spoiler alert: The vitamin-rich hair oil is pretty much liquid gold—but more on that below.
- Type of ingredient: Hydrator and protector
- Main benefits: Hydrates dry hair, promotes hair growth, and strengthens damaged hair.
- Who should use it: Anyone looking for hydrating benefits, especially those with thick, coarse hair, and dry scalp.
- How often can you use it: One to two times a week.
- Works well with: It pairs well with conditioners, although it can be used on its own.
- Don't use with: There are no specific ingredients known to have a negative interaction with pracaxi oil.
What Is Pracaxi Oil?
"Pracaxi oil contains one of the highest concentrations of a fatty acid named behenic acid. This fatty acid protects and hydrates when used in hair care and skin, so it is commonly used in cosmetic products. Pracaxi oil is extracted from the pentaclethra macroloba tree, which is native to the northern Neotropics," says Chimento.
Benefits of Pracaxi Oil for Hair
From offering intense hydration to inducing shine, pracaxi oil offers a slew of hair benefits:
- Deeply conditions: According to Vaccaro, the rich fatty acids found in pracaxi oil make it especially beneficial for those who have curly, dry, or very coarse hair, as this texture is naturally dry.
- Protects: Pracaxi oil can protect hair fibers against damage, says Chimento. That can be from the sun, chemicals in other haircare products, or pollution, comments Vaccaro. Because it is so high in fatty acids, it also protects against losing keratin and water, he adds.
- Provides shine and smoothness: Our experts all attribute pracaxi oil to promoting smooth, shiny hair. "After using, the hair gains elasticity, softness, and is easier to comb and style," says Vaccaro. Plus, "This oil has terrific smoothing properties for those looking to straighten hair," notes Rivera.
- Treats dandruff: "Pracaxi oil can be a rescue to overly dry hair and scalp due to the presence of lignoceric acid," says Vaccaro. "It helps to protect and regenerate skin that requires greater care, such as the skin found on the scalp." Chimento elaborates: "Pracaxi oil can treat dandruff because it has antiseptic and antifungal properties. The presence of lignoceric acid in pracaxi oil also regenerates and protects the skin in the scalp that is prone to dandruff. The lignoceric acid also repairs, heals, and moisturizes a flaky scalp."
- Stimulates hair growth: "Pracaxi oil promotes hair growth by moisturizing the hair and generating blood flow to the scalp," explains Chimento.
- Promotes a healthy scalp: Extremely nourishing, pracaxi oil essentially feeds the scalp with vitamins and nutrients. Hence, "It can be used to regenerate and protect skin on the scalp," says Chimento.
Hair Type Considerations
Commonly referred to as a "conditioning miracle," pracaxi oil is a hair savior. Thanks to its ability to hydrate, strengthen, and promote collagen production, it can help those with dry, damaged, or coarse hair, Chimento tells us. Friese agrees: "People who have curly, dry, or very coarse hair (as this texture is naturally dry) may benefit from pracaxi oil because it is rich in moisturizing fatty acids."
How to Use Pracaxi Oil for Hair
As a rule of thumb: A little bit of hair oil goes a long way. "Moderation is key with everything when it comes to your hair and taking good care of it," says Chimento. "As with any oil, you always want to make sure you don’t apply it so heavily that you clog the hair follicles," advises Rivera. Vaccaro's tip? Layer on your oil before applying too much. You can either use it on its own or combine it with other hair care products:
- Mix with conditioners: "You can cocktail [pracaxi oil] with a conditioner or leave-in conditioner," says Friese. Rivera agrees, adding that this mix will amp up the moisture. "You can also mix a small amount into your spray-on conditioner if your hair needs extra hydration," she says. "Spray a light coat of the mix onto your hair after towel drying and style as usual."
- Use it by itself: According to Friese, "If you’re using pure oil, apply it before bed as a nighttime treatment and rinse out the following morning. You can also apply a few drops after the shower to help add smoothness and shine."
- Try it out as a scalp massage: A scalp massage not only generates blood flow to the scalp (which promotes hair growth and thicker hair) but when performed with pracaxi oil, it can also deeply moisturize, comments Rivera. Just keep in mind: "Be gentle when you are massaging your scalp, as the ends of your hair may be fragile. And avoid using your nails, as this can be damaging to the scalp," says Chimento.
The Best Products With Pracaxi Oil
All of our experts have good things to say about OGX's entire Pracaxi Oil line, especially for those with dry or frizzy hair. This color-safe shampoo, which highlights a mix of deeply nourishing pracaxi oil and murumuru butter, keeps flyaways at bay and strands looking (and feeling) silky smooth. Plus, its cost-quality ratio can't be beaten.
A must-have for waves and coils, Vaccaro recommends this moisture-rich leave-in for its curl-defining, frizz-controlling properties. With ingredients like pracaxi oil, acai extract, and olive oil, it adds shine without weighing hair down. (Note: This product is currently out of stock, but we recommend Carol's Daughter Pracaxi Nectar Style & Hold Foam, $10, for something similar).
This botanical-rich hair cream is Rivera's pro hair product pick. It utilizes the hydrating benefits of murumuru butter, marula oil, and pracaxi oil, making it ideal for coarse, afro hair. A small amount of this "hair-body-soul friendly" cream is all it takes to keep your mane nourished and moisturized for days.
This blend of hydrating oils—coconut oil, pracaxi oil, and soya oil—can make hair appear softer, smoother, and more manageable. Plus, it gets bonus points for its versatility. Vaccaro likes to use it as a pre-shampoo hair softener or even as an overnight treatment.
This treatment boasts an all-star lineup of ingredients that hits a home run in terms of hair benefits. A blend of essential oils and amino acids team up to moisturize, protect, and revitalize hair, taking you from bad hair day to selfie-ready. Our only critique: the herbal scent and steep price tag might not be for everyone, but fortunately, you've got options.
Are there any known side effects to using pracaxi oil?
"Pracaxi oil should be used in moderation because you don’t want to apply too much and clog the hair follicles. In addition, with oil, a little goes a long way. Oil can sometimes cause greasiness, so individuals should layer it on before applying too much. To date, there are no ingredients known to have a negative interaction with Pracaxi oil. I recommend performing a patch test on your wrist before applying a large amount to the hair to ensure you do not experience an allergic reaction," advises Chimento.
How much pracaxi oil should I use on my hair? And how should I use it?
"Just a few drops of pracaxi oil should be enough for you to reap the benefits," notes Chimento. "It pairs well with leave-in conditioner or conditioner, but it can also be used by itself. If you are just using the oil, apply it to the hair before bed and rinse it out the next morning."
How often can I use pracaxi oil on my hair?
"You should oil your hair one to two times a week, as doing it every day can strip away essential oils from your hair and attract dirt," explains Chimento. "In addition, vigorously massaging the hair with oil may also cause breakage. If you have low sebum production, you may want to oil your ends and roots every few days."
Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). "Self-Assessments of Standardized Scalp Massages for Androgenic Alopecia: Survey Results." 2019.