The 13 Best Scalp Oils for Every Hair Concern

The Kiehl’s Magic Elixir Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment wins best overall

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Scalp health is often overlooked, and when you want to give it a little TLC, it's not always clear whether a skincare or haircare approach is best. Plant oils fall somewhere in between, and they can do wonders not only for the skin on your scalp but also for the hair that grows from it.

According to Kate Holden, a trichologist based in the United Kingdom, there are many potential benefits of applying oils to the scalp. "Tea tree, peppermint, ginger, and cade oil can help alleviate itchy scalps and reduce inflammation," she tells Byrdie. "Coconut oil is sometimes recommended as an emollient to help with dry skin and dandruff, and there is some evidence that rosemary oil may help with hair growth."

Meet the Expert

Kate Holden, AIT, is a trichologist based in the UK and an associate member of the Institute of Trichologists. She provides expert diagnoses, therapeutic recommendations, consultations, referrals, and treatments for various hair and scalp concerns.

With this insight in mind, we rounded up some of the best scalp oils below.

Best Overall: Kiehl's Magic Elixir Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment

Kiehl's Magic Elixir Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment

Amazon

What We Like
  • A little goes a long way

  • Multi-use formula

  • Supports healthy growth

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains PEGs

Who else recommends it? Reviewed also picked Kiehl’s Hair Restructuring Concentrate. 

Our top pick is Kiehl's Magic Elixir, an oil-based formula that can be used on both your scalp and hair. Its hero ingredients include avocado oils and safflower oils, which provide deep moisture and nourishment while minimizing inflammation.

You'll also get a dose of rosemary oil, which, as Holden notes, has been shown to support hair growth. Considering you only need a few drops at a time, we appreciate the generously sized bottle. You can use it as a pre-shampoo treatment or an overnight scalp mask, but the brand advises against applying it to wet hair.

Key Ingredients: Avocado, rosemary, and safflower oils | Free of: Sulfates, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance | Dosage: Small amount pre-shampoo | Size: 4.2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil

Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Alleviates itchiness

  • Supports healthy growth

What We Don’t Like
  • May leave hair greasy

On a budget? Check out this supremely affordable formula from Mielle Organics. Whether you're detailing with itchiness, dandruff, or hair fallout, you can count on the blend of rosemary, peppermint, and castor oil to deliver.

Key Ingredients: Castor, rosemary, and peppermint oils | Free of: Sulfates, synthetic fragrance | Dosage: A few drops as needed | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Drugstore: Derma E Scalp Relief Treatment

Derma E Scalp Relief Treatment

Derma E

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Supports healthy growth

  • Contains organic ingredients

What We Don’t Like
  • Some may dislike tingling feeling upon application

From the drugstore, we like Derma E Scalp Relief. This pretty blue tincture calls on tea tree oil to cleanse and reduce buildup, plus blue algae and kelp to promote thicker, healthier hair growth.

Key Ingredients: Tea tree and alma oils, blue algae, kelp | Free of: Gluten, soy, GMOs | Dosage: A few drops per section | Size: 1 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Splurge: Philip B CBD Scalp + Body Oil

Philip B CBD Scalp + Body Oil

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Nourishing

  • Minimizes irritation

  • Supports healthy growth

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

This premium blend is priced pretty steep, but you only need a teensy amount per treatment, and you can expect noticeable results. Olive, jojoba, and sweet almond oils help nourish the scalp and minimize inflammation, while hemp-derived CBD extract soothes irritation and supports hair growth.

Key Ingredients: Olive, jojoba, and sweet almond oils, hemp extract | Free of: THC, gluten, animal products | Dosage: Small amount as needed | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Serum: The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Serum

The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Serum

Amazon

What We Like
  • Non-greasy formula

  • Balances oil production

  • Trichologist-recommended

What We Don’t Like
  • Oil isn't primary ingredient

Holden recommends this serum-style treatment from The Body Shop. The non-greasy formula promises to nourish the scalp and balance oil production while soothing itchy, flaky skin.

Key Ingredients: Ginger essential oil, birch bark extract | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Dosage: 1 to 2 drops per section when hair is dry | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dandruff: Rahua Founder's Blend Scalp & Hair Treatment

Rahua Founder's Blend Scalp & Hair Treatment

Amazon

What We Like
  • Calms irritation

  • Supports healthy growth

  • Contains organic ingredients

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

If you're battling dandruff, reach for Rahua Founder's Blend. According to the maker, the rare combination of plant-derived oils dissolves the bacteria that causes the condition, then calms irritation and creates a healthy environment for hair growth.

Key Ingredients: Rahua and Palo Santo oils | Free of: Mineral oil, sulfates, dyes | Dosage: Small amount left on overnight | Size: 1.3 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Damaged Hair: Carol's Daughter Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Hair & Scalp Oil

Carol's Daughter Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Hair & Scalp Oil

Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • A little goes a long way

What We Don’t Like
  • May weigh down fine hair

The remedy for damaged hair starts at the scalp. This pick leans on castor oil and jojoba oil to nourish and strengthen brittle hair and support new growth. In the brand's clinical trial, 94 percent of users reported less breakage.

Key Ingredients: Castor and jojoba oil | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil, dyes | Dosage: Small amount as needed | Size: 4.2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Braids and Weaves: SheaMoisture Wig & Weave Tea Tree & Borage Seed Oil Scalp Soother

SheaMoisture Wig & Weave Tea Tree & Borage Seed Oil Scalp Soother

Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Dissolves buildup

  • Soothes inflammation

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers note formula is very watery

SheaMoisture Scalp Soother was formulated specifically with wigs, weaves, and braids in mind. Tea tree oil helps dissolve buildup, while borage oil offers immediate relief from tightness, tension, and overall scalp discomfort. The wallet-friendly price doesn't hurt either.

Key Ingredients: Tea tree and borage seed oils, aloe vera, oat extract | Free of: Sulfates, mineral oil, silicone | Dosage: 1 to 2 drops to affected area | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Curly Hair: Pattern Jojoba Oil Hair Serum

Pattern Jojoba Oil Hair Serum

Ulta

What We Like
  • Nourishing

  • Adds bounce

  • Leaves hair shiny

What We Don’t Like
  • Strong smell

Curly hair? This moisturizing blend is your best bet. It combines the nourishing, anti-inflammatory effects of safflower, olive, rosehip, and jojoba oils to minimize breakage from root to tip while leaving your hair brilliantly bouncy and full of shine.

Key Ingredients: Jojoba, olive, rosehip, and safflower oils | Free of: Parabens, sulfates, silicone | Dosage: A few drops to targeted areas | Size: 3.9 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Pre-Shampoo: JVN Complete Pre-Wash Scalp & Hair Treatment Oil

JVN Complete Pre-Wash Scalp & Hair Treatment Oil

Amazon

What We Like
  • Leaves hair shiny

  • Prevents breakage

  • Smells amazing

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers note it's difficult to wash out

Apply this treatment oil to your scalp, then run it through your hair and let it sit for 15 minutes before hopping in the shower. After shampooing, you can expect shinier, healthier-looking hair. The citrusy-amber scent is pretty incredible too.

Key Ingredients: Squalane, bisabolol, basil root extract | Free of: Sulfates, silicone | Dosage: Dropper-full 15 minutes pre-shampoo | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Exfoliating: Moroccanoil Dry Scalp Treatment

Moroccanoil Dry Scalp Treatment

Sephora

What We Like
  • Dissolves buildup

  • Balances oil production

  • Alleviates itchiness

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

In addition to Moroccanoil's signature ingredient, argan oil, this scalp treatment contains salicylic acid to gently exfoliate, dissolve buildup, keep flakes at bay, and balance oil production. In the brand's clinical trial, 94 percent of users said it minimized itchiness, too.

Key Ingredients: Argan oil, salicylic acid | Free of: Parabens, sulfates, mineral oil | Dosage: 3 to 6 drops per section | Size: 1.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Hair Growth: The Mane Choice The Alpha Multi-Vitamin Scalp Growth Oil

The Mane Choice The Alpha Multi-Vitamin Scalp Growth Oil

Ulta

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • A little goes a long way

  • Non-greasy formula

What We Don’t Like
  • May weigh down fine hair

If hair growth is the goal, go with The Mane Choice. This treatment blends castor, jojoba, and coconut oils to moisturize and nourish and then calls on tea tree and rosemary to clear up the skin on your scalp and create an environment that supports new growth.

Key Ingredients: Castor, rosemary, jojoba, coconut, and tea tree oils | Free of: Parabens, sulfates | Dosage: Small amount as needed | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Itch-Relief: As I Am Dry & Itchy Scalp Care Oil Treatment

As I Am Dry & Itchy Scalp Care Oil Treatment

iHerb

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • A little goes a long way

  • Dissolves buildup

What We Don’t Like
  • Not suitable for frequent use

For itch-relief, Holden says to look for products containing tea tree oil, like this generously sized blend from As I Am. It's also formulated to dissolve buildup and prevent dandruff while minimizing any flakes you might already have.

Key Ingredients: Olive and tea tree oils | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Dosage: Small amount as needed | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

The best scalp oil overall is Kiehl's Magic Elixir Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment, a multitasking treatment that moisturizes, nourishes, soothes, and supports healthy hair growth. For those on a budget, we recommend Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil, which tackles dandruff, itchiness, and hair loss.

What to Look For in a Scalp Oil

Treat vs. Prevent

If you already experiencing some itchiness or flaking, you'll want to help treat the area with a scalp oil that has soothing ingredients. (If your skin is inflamed or flaking excessively, see a medical professional.) However, if your scalp is already in tip-top condition, opt for a well-rounded formula containing ingredients designed to keep your scalp balanced and hydrated

Consider Your Individual Needs

Just like you would with skincare concerns, base your scalp oil choice on what your scalp needs. What works for one scalp may not be a benefit to another. Thanks to today’s massive offering, you’ll find options specially formulated for oily scalp, dry scalp, curly hair, thinning hair—you name it.

Ingredients

Do you find yourself to be a fan of a certain ingredient because you love what it does for your skin? Then you’ll most likely love what it could do for your scalp, too. And like skincare, trendy ingredients like hyaluronic acid, argan oil, biotin, and even niacinamide (vitamin B3) are making their way into many a scalp oil formulation.

FAQ
  • What is the best scalp oil?

    For the majority of us looking to up our skincare game by extending it to our scalp, one of the many one-size-fits-all formulations is sufficient to keep the scalp hydrated, soothed, and protected. However, the best way to choose scalp oil is to approach it as you would skincare, so if there’s a condition you’d like your scalp oil to address, such as oiliness or dryness, it’s best to shop around until you find one with the ideal ingredients. 

  • How often should you apply scalp oil?

    That depends on your lifestyle and scalp skincare concerns. Proper usage should keep the scalp moisturized and soothed without any build-up. However, if build-up is a real concern for you, try a formula with more of a water-based, serum-like consistency.

  • Will scalp oil make hair grow faster?

    Many of today’s scalp oil formulations contain a bevy of natural ingredients that some believe can encourage hair growth. While the official science is still out on many of them, certain compounds like biotin can play a role in supplementing hair strength and quality. So, while no scalp oil has been proven to make hair grow faster, its ability to support scalp health is a great start in the battle for great hair.

Why Trust Byrdie

Theresa Holland is a commerce beauty writer and content creator. She interviewed a trichologist for this story, who offered insight into the best oils for scalp health and product recommendations. When narrowing down the final selections, she combed through reviews and looked at scholarly journals to cross-reference ingredients. Theresa covers skincare, haircare, and wellness products at Byrdie.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  7. Alyoussef A (2020) Comparative Study of the Online Over-The-Counter Hair Loss Products. J Dermatol Res Ther 6:077. doi.org/10.23937/2469-5750/1510077

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