Soybean Oil for Hair: Benefits and How to Use

Back view of woman's color-treated afro hair

Guille Faingold / Stocksy

Most of us probably think we've got our hair care rituals and products down pat. But what happens when you make a drastic change with, say, hair color? I can speak from experience on this topic, having changed my hair color from dark brown (sprinkled with grays) to a bright copper, red. For someone like me with 4C curls, making a change like this means taking extra care to prevent dryness and breakage. And there's an additional layer: preserving my hair color.

When it comes to addressing these concerns, one ingredient that has made its way to the top of my list is soybean oil. To get a more detailed understanding of just how soybean oil helps hair thrive, I reached out to two experts, dermatologist Hadley King, MD, and trichologist Kari Williams, Ph.D.

Meet the Expert

  • Hadley King, MD, is a New York City-based dermatologist
  • Kari Williams, Ph.D., is a board-certified trichologist, licensed cosmetologist, and member of DevaCurl's Expert Curl Council.

Keep reading to learn more about how this powerhouse oil works overtime to keep color-treated and damaged hair looking and feeling its absolute best.

Soybean Oil for Hair

Type of ingredient: Emollient and occlusive

Main benefits: Hydrates and improves moisture retention.

Who should use it: In general, anyone with color-treated or damaged hair.

How often can you use it: It’s safe to use as often as your hair needs it. However, using it weekly during deep conditioning or pre-pooing is highly recommended.

Works well with: Moisture-boosting ingredients.

Benefits of Soybean Oil for Hair

We often hear about how emollients soften dry skin. Well, soybean oil offers similar benefits for hair. "Soybean oil has emollient and occlusive properties and can therefore help with supporting the moisture barrier and improving moisture retention," says King. Additionally, Williams shares that soybean oil is packed with nutritional vitamins. "Soybean oil is full of vitamin E and omega fatty acids," she explains. "Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps to protect the hair from damage as a result of pollution, sun exposure, and heat."

Hair Type Considerations

Both experts agree that the oil's vitamin E content and omega fatty acids make it a potent hair-loving antioxidant, and ideal for use on dry, damaged, and color-treated hair. "The fatty acids make it a great carrier oil, which helps to deliver other beneficial and moisturizing ingredients to the hair," Williams shares. As for color-treated hair benefits, King says "antioxidants may help to preserve hair color by preventing fading due to oxidation that can come from sun exposure or pollution."

How to Use Soybean for Hair

Incorporating soybean oil into your hair care routine is relatively simple because you have a range of options, including direct application or seeking out products that include it in the ingredients list. For extra conditioning, Williams says: "Soybean oil can be used as a hot oil treatment or pre-poo treatment to increase hydration in the hair, improve elasticity, keep hair strong and make hair look shiny without being greasy."

"As a hot oil treatment, warm up about three tablespoons of the oil and apply to clean, damp hair. Sit under a steamer for 20 minutes or cover the hair with a plastic cap for 30 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water." For naturals that enjoy pre-pooing before shampooing, Williams recommends warming the oil and massaging it into the hair from the scalp to the ends, and allowing the oil to sit on the hair under a plastic cap for 30 minutes to an hour, then following up with a hydrating shampoo.

The Best Products With Soybean Oil

PATTERN Hydration Shampoo
Pattern Hydration Shampoo $20.00

This moisturizing shampoo not only has soybean oil infused into its formula, but the SLS and SLES-free product also has additional hydrators including aloe vera leaf juice, coconut oil, and honey.

 Hydrate Conditioner
Pureology Hydrate Conditioner $32.50

Color-treated hair thrives when haircare formulas both add moisture and preserve hair color. If you have thick, color-treated hair, consider this hydrating formula, which includes moisture-rich ingredients like shea butter and jojoba oil alongside color-preserving soybean oil. It provides a conditioning experience that won't wash your hair color down the drain.

davines nounou mask
Davines NOUNOU Hair Mask $36.00

Extra moisture is always a welcomed addition. So on days when your hair needs a little extra TLC, add this vitamin E- and C-rich mask infused with fiaschetto tomatoes to your routine.

DevaCurl HIGH SHINE Anti-Frizz Nourishing Oil
DevaCurl HIGH SHINE Anti-Frizz Nourishing Oil $29.00

For curly folks, combating frizz is always a priority. Made with a blend of five natural oils, apply one pump of this silicone-free oil from mid-length to the ends of your hair for weight-free frizz protection.

oribe imperial blowout creme
Oribe Imperial Blowout Transformative Styling Hair Cream $68.00

Formulated with skincare technology, this blowout cream protects hair from heat, adds body and shine, and provides long-lasting hold.

vault color-lock conditioner
amika Vault Color-Lock Conditioner $16.00

With hair smoothing amino acids, color-protecting soybean oil, and UV rays-protecting sea buckthorn at the helm, this creamy conditioner helps prevent color from fading.

Prose Leave-in
Prose Custom Leave-In Conditioner $25.00

Prose's customizable leave-in conditioner offers soybean oil that will work in tandem with additional ingredients your personalized hair assessment deems beneficial for your hair concerns.

Soybean Oil Pure Soy Oil Cold Pressed Organic
Dr. Adorable Cold Pressed Organic Soybean Oil $17.00

For hot oil treatments and pre-pooing, this pure soybean oil will do the trick.

  • Does Soybean Oil Actually Help Hair?

    Yes. Soybean oil is rich in omega fatty acids and vitamin E. This antioxidant richness makes it ideal for damaged, dry, and color-treated hair.

  • Is Soybean Oil Good for Curly Hair?

    Due to its richness in antioxidants, soybean oil is a good ingredient choice for those with dry hair—and curly hair is often seeking moisture. If you have curly, kinky, or coily natural hair, consider applying warm soybean oil as a pre-poo before shampooing your curls.

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.
  1. Hon KL, Kung JSC, Ng WGG, Leung TF. Emollient treatment of atopic dermatitis: latest evidence and clinical considerationsDrugs Context. 2018;7:212530.

  2. Keen MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatologyIndian Dermatol Online J. 2016;7(4):311-315.

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