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Why You Should Use Olive Oil for Your Hair

Who knew your pantry had the secret to soft and shiny hair?

Why You Should Use Olive Oil for Your Hair

By Nicole Blades, Good Housekeeping

Let’s keep it real: You put your hair through the ringer almost every day. From cuts to color, heat to highlights, and countless product chemicals and deep treatments, plus, the general tug-o-war that often happens with even the simplest of styles, you’re asking a lot from it. To be honest, you should be thankful that it still wants to hang out with you!

That’s why when you can give your hair a little extra TLC, you'll want to make smart choices that boost hair health. Of course, there are about a fifty-leven new products on the shelves and even more popping up online every 30 seconds, all promising to solve those problems and transform your hair. And, uh, that’s not overwhelming at all, right? Exactly. The good news is, sometimes the best hair remedies can be found at home — usually right in your kitchen. We'd like you to introduce you the benefits of using olive oil for hair (and what the experts are saying about it). 



What are the benefits of olive oil for hair?

“You can use it in so many ways,” says Gabrielle Corney, a celebrity hairstylist and licensed cosmetologist living in New York City. She recommends trying it as a hot olive oil hair treatment. “You can also add olive oil to a deep conditioner to really soften the hair,” Corney says.

Or apply a small amount of it to the hair and scalp as a daily styling shot of moisture as well as for adding some luster and shine. Used alongside a healthy hair care regimen, olive oil for hair brings plenty of good to the table. But remember, Corney says, a little goes a long way. “Too much of it can weigh the hair down.”

The Good Housekeeping Institute experts also note that there are cosmetic benefits to using olive oil for hair.

"In certain regions of the world, olive oil has been used in soap making as well as directly applying to hair and skin for thousands of years," says Birnur Aral, P.h.D., director of the Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab. "the claimed cosmetic benefits of olive oil for hair care range from preventing dandruff to softening and conditioning via DIY masks which are left on hair for half hour to several hours and then rinsed off." 



Should I use extra virgin olive oil for my hair?

When it comes to your hair, not just any ol' version of olive oil will do. Go for extra-virgin (EVOO); it's the highest-quality olive oil you can buy. It's an unrefined oil — meaning it is not treated with chemicals or heat — and it has to meet very specific standards to receive the “extra-virgin” stamp. EVOO is made in a particular way that allows the oil to retain more the olives' natural vitamins and minerals.



Can you use olive oil for hair growth?

Short answer: olive oil is no magic bean, and it hasn't been proven to grow hair. It also won’t thicken your hair. "What helps your hair is not having split ends that split at the same rate that it grows. You have net zero that way," says Craig Carter, a film and TV hair stylist based in New York City.

In fact, Carter is largely against using olive oil in your hair. “Cooking oils should not be used on hair,” he says. “The molecules are too big to penetrate the important cuticle layer of the hair shaft and have any conditioning or nutritious benefits. The molecules end up just sitting on the hair shaft, collecting dust.”

To illustrate the point, Carter likens cuticle layer of the hair to the trunk a palm tree. The old leaves fall away and new ones grow over that in an overlapping effect. “The cuticle layer pulls away from the ‘bark of the tree’ like a flap, opening and closing,” he explains. “When that ‘flap’ opens, that’s how the nutrients get into the deeper layer of the hair.” And when they just sit on top, the hair will look shiny. But that’s just a visual trick, Carter says. “The olive oil is simply reflecting light. Soon it will get hold on to dust and that temporary shine will dull.” 




So does olive oil actually help as a hair protectant?

Carter gives a very soft yes, with one big caveat. “You’re basically deep frying your hair!” he says. Also, olive plus heat doesn’t equal shiny hair, he adds. “It just makes it greasy.”
Why You Should Use Olive Oil for Your Hair

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