Let’s Talk About Hair Oils

Let’s Talk About Hair Oils

I love hair oils, but I think some explaining has to be done. There are a million and one hair “oils” on the market, and even more misinformation and BS about what the actual ingredients are, and what, if any, the benefits are for your hair.

There are oils, and there are silicones, more commonly known as serums, but often masquerading as “oils”. Let’s be clear – silicones, per se, offer no healing or conditioning benefits for your hair. NONE. Silicones coat the hair, and can protect the hair from heat styling as well as reduce the appearance of frizz. They do not nourish the hair, or provide conditioning benefits. Think of applying body lotion and wearing a coat. The coat will protect your skin from rain, cold and other environmental assaults, but the lotion will add moisture and nourishment to the skin. But if you only ever wear a coat to protect your skin, under the coat your skin will eventually get dry and dehydrated. Imagine, to push my analogy further, trying to apply lotion to your skin over the coat. Ridiculous, right? But we do this all the time when we try to condition or treat hair that is coated in silicone.

So what does this mean? Well, it depends on your needs. Do you want to protect your hair from a flat iron or hair dryer, and is your hair already healthy? Then a silicone based serum product is perhaps a good choice for you. My two cents? Serums are old news and there many things you can do for your hair that are better and more effective at healing and protecting. Also – if your hair is so frito that the only thing that flattens it is silicone serums, consider: trimming, stopping chemical treatments & letting it dry naturally, for pity’s sake. Few things look worse than blow dried/straightened hay hair. It’s not worth it, ladies! Suck it up & get a trim.

Now, as a rule, I try everything so my dear readers don’t have to. I have had long, thick, wavy coarse colour treated hair for a long long time and have tried every thing in the market to calm it. I will discuss conditioners and leave in conditioning treatments in another post, but for now I am addressing oils. Again, silicone is not oil. The elephant in that room would be Moroccan Oil™. It was one of the first commercially successful argan oil hair products on the market and managed to own that market share quickly. Let’s get this out of the way right now- argan oil is the 6th listed ingredient in Moroccan Oil™, the first five being silicone variants. I call silicone a “false friend”. Silicone seems like magic: it makes your hair shiny, helpts with detangling and smoothes the ends. But, that magic is temporary, and over time your hair can get increasingly dry, and can start to lose it’s suppleness. Why? Silicone is like an invisible plastic film that is not easily washed away by shampoo, except the very detergent-y ones, which are very drying for your hair and totally counterproductive! The silicone coats the hair which blocks the nourishing substances the cuticle needs. Moroccan Oil™ smells good, but unless you want to coat your hair in plastic, there are better products out there.

argan plant


So- what oil is best for your hair, if you want to condition and treat your hair?  Our hair is actually a rough coated thing, with cuticles held together by ceramides, constituted by essential fatty acids. We need them to stick together for a smooth surface, which helps the hair protect itself, and also makes it shiny. They also work as a barrier to keep the moisture inside the hair shaft from escaping, as well as absorb moisture from the air around us to keep the hair’s moisture levels optimum. Damaged and dry hair becomes rough, porous and vulnerable, as well as losing it’s shine. You want thin, viscous oils with fatty acids – one of the reasons argan oil is so heralded for hair and skincare is that argan oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids like Omega 3 and Omega 9  which are a direct source of essential nutritional components for hair pore/cuticles and roots. Camellia oil has been the traditional beneficial beauty treatment for hair in Japan used for centuries for its effective properties as a hair nourisher and conditioner as it has a high amount of vitamin e which is essential for healthy hair. It also contains oleic acid, which softens  – you find oleic acid in shea and olive oils as well, although their denser properties makes them better for skincare.

So, I’ve tried many many many hair potions, dear readers. I can honestly say that the only “oil” that has had a positive and quantitive effect on my hair has been a potion that combines both camellia and argan oil (as well as other good oils), Aroma M Camellia Oil for hair.  My hair is instantly smoother and shinier when I use it, and is never greasy. I can almost watch my thirsty hair drink it up. I would invite you to do your own research with argan and camellia oils to find a brand that works for you. If you want a simple argan oil, I would recommend Josie Maran Argan Oil. It’s pure, easy to find at Sephora, and reasonably priced. You can use it on your skin too! I love it, but found it a bit heavy for my hair, so I’m sticking with my Aroma M Camellia Oil for hair. I have a sample of Aroma M Camellia Face Oil that I plan to try this week, so stay tuned for that review.

Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Argan Dry Oil: Contains Actual Argan Oil

Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Argan Dry Oil: Contains Actual Argan Oil

I have a real problem with hair/skin treatments that call themselves “oils” when they are really 90%+ silicone. Bulletin: these are 90% of treatment oils on the market, for hair especially. If you like silicones, and find they work for you, well, this is good news for you. Silicones coat the hair with a smooth glassy finish and give the appearance of smooth silky hair. However, I have found, over time, silicones only mask the problem. Unless you regularly use the clarifying shampoos, silicones will also prevent hair conditioners and masks from helping your hair. In the end, silicone abuse ended up making my hair look like flat, dry straw. So- it has it’s place, if used properly, and if you use the silicones that are water soluble.

I love Kiehl’s, and I love their Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which is a superbly effective cocktail of actual oils that soothe and comfort skin, while adding radiance and moisture. I’d had a sample of Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Dry Oil at one point, and recall using it on my legs and quite liking it. (Note: Kiehl’s is one of the most generous companies when it comes to offering samples. If you try it, you are more likely to buy it. They get it.). I was wondering about the ingredient list the other day as I pondered their dry oil, and mused about it on Twitter. Their social media manager is clearly on the ball, as they replied right away that there were no silicones in the Superbly Restorative Dry Oil. Ding-ding-ding! I ran out and bought it later that day.

I take my shiny hair seriously as you can see. Jeesh.


I shampooed with my new fave ICON India Oil shampoo and conditioner, and after I combed out my hair, I applied a bit of Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Dry Oil to the ends of my hair, before applying my styling products. It has a slightly herbal scent, perhaps a mixture of lavender with woodsy notes (patchouli?) but it really is soft, and does not linger in the hair (or on skin) at all. My hair has seen a lot of sun this summer and is a bit parched so I was hoping it would help. After styling my hair I can honestly say it feels softer and silkier than it has all summer. Less pouffy and dry, yet still bouncy and shiny. So shiny! I would advise using a tiny bit at at time as it would be easy to apply to much which would likely make ones hair look, well, oily. The photo above is the second day after shampooing and I was trying to get the daylight coming in my skylight to hit my hair so you could see how shiny it is. If you could touch my hair, I guarantee it is as soft as it is shiny. Colour me thrilled, despite my serious expression…

Want shine built in to your  hairspray? Go Gay! Vintage ads rock.

Bonus: I also used some Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Dry Oil on my skin after the shower, and I loved the way it felt and how it made my skin feel. Again, another product that is perfect to use on bare legs when wearing shorts or skirts, to add a lovely healthy shine and banish dry, scaly or ashy skin. Win!

Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Dry Oil with Argan is available online or at their stores for around $42 for a 125ml bottle.