If you’re like us—you know, the type to put your hair through its fair share of heat styling, color changes, and aggressive passes of the brush—chances are your strands need a little extra TLC after going through the wringer. To accomplish this, look no further than wheat germ oil.
Wheat germ oil is made from a long chain of fatty acids, rich in both vitamin E and linoleic acid. Derived from the seed embryo of the wheat plant, the nutrient-rich oil packs major benefits when applied topically, and when used on your hair in particular, it can help to boost hydration, repair damage, and strengthen strands.
To give us the full rundown on all the magic that wheat germ oil can impart, we spoke to pro hairstylist and Matrix artistic director Nick Stenson, and Chelsea Scott, haircare expert and founder of Truhair. Keep reading to find out what the ingredient does, as well as how to tell if it’s right for you.
Meet the Expert
- Nick Stenson is an international beauty expert, celebrity stylist, and the artistic director of Matrix, a haircare company dedicated to providing professional-grade solutions for every hair type.
- Chelsea Scott is a haircare expert with over 20 years of experience in the beauty industry. She is the founder of Truhair, a line of easy yet effective products that address common hair concerns among women.
What Is Wheat Germ Oil?
Wheat germ oil is a rich, nourishing oil derived from the seed embryos of a wheat plant, often extracted by cold pressing. “It’s often referred to as ‘liquid gold’ because it is the richest natural source of vitamin E,” Scott says. “It’s also loaded with essential fatty acids like linoleic, which has been shown to help strengthen hair follicles while softening hair and maintaining moisture.”
Wheat Germ Oil
Type of ingredient: Hydrator, strengthener, emollient
Main benefits: Helps to hydrate dry hair, strengthen hair follicles, and boost shine.
Who should use it: Wheat germ oil can be used by all hair types ranging from fine to ultra-thick (and everything in between), though dry strands will especially love this ingredient. While fine hair types can benefit from wheat germ oil, use a lighter hand when applying it to avoid weighing strands down.
How often to use it: Every time you shampoo your hair to maximize benefits.
Works well with: In conjunction with your favorite hair mask or conditioner, alongside other carrier oils, or solo as a treatment.
Don't use with: While wheat germ oil plays well with most ingredients, those who have a wheat allergy should not use it in their hair routine.
Benefits of Wheat Germ Oil for Hair
Want to re-hydrate dry, color-treated strands? You’ve got it. Eager to bulk up thinning areas? Wheat germ oil has you covered. In dire need of some damage control? Three words: wheat germ oil. In addition to being rich in vitamin E and linoleic acid, wheat germ oil is packed with vitamins A, B, and D; squalene; and oleic, palmitic, and linolenic acids, making for an ultra-nourishing cocktail for your hair.
Replaces Lost Moisture: Thanks to the potent amount of vitamin E in wheat germ oil, Scott notes that wheat germ oil can be used to both boost and maintain moisture levels in dry hair. “The key here is consistency, but with time, your hair will appear shinier and feel less dry,” she adds.
Repairs Existing Damage: Since wheat germ oil is loaded with essential fatty acids and vitamins, hair damaged by heat, color, or general environmental stressors will drink in its nourishing, reparative goodness. In fact, Stenson notes that the blend not only repairs existing damage, but actually helps to prevent damage from future styling.
Strengthens Hair Follicles: While using an oil on thin hair might sound counterintuitive, the vitamin B in wheat germ oil helps to increase circulation to the scalp area and can actually promote new hair growth. “People will experience fullness at the crown if they commit to using it consistently, as it does take time for the follicles and root to strengthen,” Scott explains.
Creates a Soft, Smooth Finish: When your hair is healthy and hydrated after a wheat germ oil treatment, it’s almost as if the entire world has fallen into place. Your fingers flow through your layers a bit easier, curls and waves hold their shape better (and without frizz, at that), and it seems to hold a more glorious, shampoo commercial-esque shine. The long-chain fatty acids and vitamin E in wheat germ oil have emollient properties to create a softer, smoother finish. “You can expect an increased softness, suppleness, and elasticity when using wheat germ oil,” Stenson says.
Hair Type Considerations
Not unlike the most easygoing member of your friend group, wheat germ oil plays well with all hair types and textures, ranging from thick and coily all the way to ultra-fine—though Stenson advises using a light hand if you fall into the latter category to avoid weighing down hair. “Naturally dry hair types will respond very well with wheat germ oil,” he says. “It can be used to soften and nourish your hair as often as you need it.” So, in theory, you could opt to do a wheat germ oil hair treatment as often as you choose to lather up. Scott notes that those with thinning hair can expect to see stronger follicles with extended use, while thick, natural curls will feel more hydrated.
One thing to note: If you have an allergy to wheat, avoid using wheat germ oil in your hair to prevent potential irritation.
How to Use Wheat Germ Oil on Hair
While wheat germ oil is often a hero ingredient found in hair-strengthening formulas, you can also pick up a bottle of the raw, organic, unrefined oil either at your nearest vitamin shop or online to DIY your own treatment. “Using wheat germ oil either alone or as a pre-treatment will produce a balance of added strength and moisture for your hair,” Stenson says.
As a Pre-Shampoo Treatment: Before you lather up, Stenson recommends coating your strands from root to tip in wheat germ oil to help soften and nourish your hair. Let it sit anywhere from a few minutes to two hours, then rinse out with shampoo.
As a Leave-In Treatment After Shampooing: Wheat germ oil can also be applied to damp strands while the hair shaft is open. Scott advises applying a few drops from root to end—keeping the “less is more” mantra in mind—and leaving it in as you would with your favorite leave-in conditioner.
To Give Your Conditioner or Mask a Boost: Want to kick your go-to conditioning treatment up a level? Scott recommends adding a few drops to your hair mask or conditioner of choice for an express wheat germ oil treatment.