How To Use Olive Oil To Get Shinier, Healthier Hair

How To Use Olive Oil For Shinier, Healthier HairaquaArts studio – Getty Images

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Hailed for centuries as “liquid gold,” olive oil probably makes you think of the Mediterranean diet, a dip for bread, or something you drizzle on vegetables. Cooking isn’t the only thing you can use olive oil for though; it’s actually great for achieving silky, shiny hair and even taming flyaways and frizz.

Meet the experts: Dmitry Irshinskiy is a hairstylist at in New York City. Audrey Kunin, MD, is a dermatologist and founder of . Jennifer Korab is a New Jersey-based hairstylist and owner of Renaissance Salon & Spa and Revival Barber Shop. Glenn Ellis is a celebrity hairstylist.

“Olive oil is one of the oldest moisturizers known,” says Dmitry Irshinskiy, hairstylist at in New York City. “It was used as a skincare product by royalty in ancient Greece and Rome. It is still considered one of the most powerful and effective skincare ingredients.” When it comes to moisturizing ingredients, Irshinskiy adds, usually what’s good for the skin is good for the hair, as essentially our hair is an extension of our skin.

Wondering where those hydrating properties come from and just how exactly they serve the scalp and hair? “Olive oil is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, so it can be nourishing to the scalp,” says dermatologist Audrey Kunin, MD, the founder of . “The hair itself is composed of dead keratin, so the olive oil helps coat the hair and create softness and shine.”

Before slathering your strands in EVOO though, you’ll want to understand how to best harness olive oil’s power, what to watch out for when applying it for best results, and what kind of hair care products it pops up in, if you don’t want to go the DIY route. Consider this your primer on all things olive oil for hair.

Benefits of using olive oil for hair

Moisturizes dry, brittle hair: If your hair is on the dry or brittle side, a little olive oil may go a long way. “It’s packed with fatty acids, antioxidants, and nutrients that can condition, soften, and hydrate the hair,” says Jennifer Korab, a New Jersey-based hair stylist and owner of Renaissance Salon & Spa and Revival Barber Shop. “Those with drier scalps may find olive oil to be soothing, as it can help relieve itchiness and dryness.”

Fights frizz and flyaways: For Irshinskiy, olive oil—or an olive oil-based product—is something to have in your arsenal for fighting frizz and flyaways preemptively. “It also is a lifesaver when it comes to frizz protection for coarse and unruly hair,” he says. That being said, just about anyone can try an olive oil treatment—or use a product with olive oil as a main ingredient. A typical pantry staple, olive oil is also fairly inexpensive, especially when used sparingly, which is exactly what the pros suggest doing to avoid a greasy appearance.

Drawbacks of using olive oil for hair

While Dr. Kunin says olive oil doesn’t have any known risks for hair, a patch test is always recommended before trying any new product.

When it comes to your hair, you’ll also want to use olive oil in moderation—think once a week or so, about the same frequency you’d use for a hair mask or deep conditioner. “Overuse of the product can lead to build up as well as not washing it out all the way,” says Ellis. “If you use too much, it can leave a slip on the hair that makes your hair feel weighed down and hard to style.”

Whatever you do, don’t—I repeat, don’t—use olive oil to style your hair, especially for heat protection. “Olive oil is NOT a styling product!” says Irshinskiy. “Products that have olive oil extract as their main ingredient, on the other hand, are safe to be used as instructed.”

Who shouldn’t use olive oil on their hair?

“If you are prone to dandruff (often associated with thick greasy scaling) or have an oily scalp, using olive oil would not be an ideal choice,” says Dr. Kunin. Very fine-haired folks might want to skip olive oil, too. “The oil can tend to be heavy and weigh down the hair,” says Ellis. “This treatment is good for people with thicker coarse, dry hair.”

What’s the best way to apply olive oil to the hair?

Olive oil can nourish your strands, but your application method does matter for achieving this effect. If you’re going the DIY route, look for a cold-pressed, unrefined variety of olive oil, which studies show, retains more nutrients. Put just enough oil into your hands to coat them lightly, then massage it into your hair, focusing your efforts on the shaft and ends versus the scalp, which olive oil’s fatty acids may overwhelm, especially if you’re more oily to begin with. (It’s best to consult a doctor if you’d like to try EVOO as a scalp soother, says Irshinskiy, as it may promote dandruff or follicle clogging).

“You want to only apply a little bit to the middle and ends of your hair,” says Glenn Ellis, a celebrity hairstylist who works with stars like Aubrey Plaza and Chloe Fineman. “Also, as with a lot of hair products, a little goes a long way, so you only really need about one to two tablespoons of olive oil.”

For a deep conditioning treatment, Ellis suggests leaving the oil on for about 20 minutes. “If applying just the oil scares you, I recommend mixing it with a little conditioner and then applying it, again avoiding your scalp,” he says. “This will help you rinse it out easier until you get used to the amount you want to use of oil by itself.” You can also use olive oil as an overnight treatment, says Irshinskiy, as long as it’s shampooed out thoroughly the next morning.

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If you don’t want to go the DIY route, can you find products with olive oil in them?

“Olive oil is not uncommon in hair care products,” says Irshinskiy. “There are plenty to choose from: shampoos, hair masks, oils, serums.”

Irshinskiy likes formulas that have unrefined oil, or better yet, olive oil extract, which has even less weight to it and won’t make your strands feel dirty. Specifically, he recommends the Brilliant Gloss line from FEKKAI, which is suitable for all hair types.

“My favorite is the ,” says Irshinskiy. “It’s great for blowouts as well as leaving it in the hair to be air dried.” If you tend to style with hot tools, consider the , which features cold-pressed olive oil as an ingredient and offers 450-degree heat protection.

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