In case you haven’t noticed beauty oils are having their moment. Everywhere you look—there’s a bottle of that slippery, amber-hued substance.
But we have to admit we were confounded by one particular type of oil: the hair oil. A whole barrage of them started showing up in the office, one seemingly undistinguished from the next. So it got us to asking: Are they best for wet or dry hair? Can they replace our favorite conditioner or de-frizzing product? And what makes one oil better than another (do the ingredients really make a difference)? What follows is our first-hand experience with these shine-infusing, strand-strengthening softeners.
Tested by: Angelica Catalano, YouBeauty Assistant Editor
If you want low-maintenance with lasting power, give Kérastase's Elixir Ultime a whirl. I love the versatility of a product that can be used on damp or dry hair. This product goes one step further and can be used to nourish hair pre-shampoo.
A quick pump on dry hair gave me the instant gratification of seeing my coarse strands smooth out right before my eyes.
This blend of four exotic oils (maize, pracaxi, camellia and argan) helped revive any dullness, but what amazed me the most was how quickly my hair drank this stuff up without ever looking or feeling greasy.
Bottom line: This is big time-saver in my hair routine, and I don't find myself reapplying constantly.
For Colored Locks
Tested by: Jennifer Appenrodt, Beauty Sage Commerce Editor
I have fine, highlighted hair, so I was hesitant to slather on the oil. This blend of African manketti, argan and evening primrose oils helps seal the cuticle and protects against color fading. Once applied to wet strands, the K-PAK oil was lightweight and left my strands shiny and super soft. I even dabbed a bit on my dry split ends and they instantly looked healthier and more hydrated.
Tested by: Laura Kenney, YouBeauty Editor-in-Chief
First, I began using oils to cleanse my face. Now, I'm using them to lather up my hair! It seems counterintuitive, but oils make great cleansers. Oil actually dissolves oil, and by using the right oils you can de-gunk your ‘do without drying it out. Enter Pureology Precious Oil Shamp’Oil, which is infused with sunflower seed oil and coconut oil to do just that. Coconut oil has been proven to increase hair's natural lipid levels, meaning less water escapes from the shaft, and your strands stay shiny and moisturized. Sunflower seed oil is rich in linoleic and acts in a similar fashion. So you get hair that’s clean, and super soft too—I’ve been using it for three weeks now and have been pleased with the smoothness and luster of my usually brittle, color-treated strands. At $29, Pureology Precious Oil Shamp’Oil is pricy, but it lasts forever—the shampoo is super-concentrated and you only need a smidge, seeing you through at least 70 shampoos.
Tested by: Courtney Dunlop, YouBeauty Senior Editor
I was wary about this product because a pre-shampoo treatment seemed like more trouble than it’s worth. But my hair has been feeling brittle lately and looking allover blah, so why not give this a try? I massaged it into my scalp and worked a generous dose into the rest of my hair and let it sit for 10 minutes. The natural oils (including avocado, orange blossom and ylang ylang) must have worked their way into my porous strands because when I combed out my hair post-shampoo, I had way fewer tangles. I let it air dry and my hair feels soft and seems to have more bounce than usual—not a bad thing for a fine-haired gal like me.
This product is available at our sister site, Beauty Sage, where we only sell products proven to work!
Tested by: Valerie Fischel, YouBeauty Photo Editor
This is my new favorite hair product. My hair is wavy, dry and lacks shine even though I cycle through several leave-in conditioners and moisture masks each night. So I’ve given up on trying to keep it straight and frizz-free, instead embracing my natural texture and putting it up when it won’t behave.
Bumble & Bumble’s oil has UVA/UVB filters to protect against heat damage, so I used it before and after heat styling which made my hair both silky and shiny. Paired with my favorite styling cream, it created nice, shiny waves.
Only a little bit is necessary but should you go overboard (which I did the first day), it still doesn’t look greasy. I've been using it for about a week now and my hair appears significantly healthier. I highly recommend it for people who struggle with dull, dry hair.
For Thin Hair
Tested by: Anne Roderique-Jones, YouBeauty Social Media Manager
I have very fine hair and shy away from hair oils for this reason alone. When I read that L’Oréal’s Mythic Oil is lightweight and made for all hair types, I was eager to give it a try on my thin, color-treated strands. I applied the recommend two pumps on my wet hair and blew it dry.
The avocado and grape seed oils gave my balayage-highlighted ends and ultra-soft feel without looking greasy or stringy. And it smells heavenly. I wish I could give it the same rave reviews when applied to dry locks (grease city). The verdict: This oil is fantastic for fine hair when applied wet and could double for perfume in a pinch.
Tested by: Letitia Wells, Beauty Sage Director of Buying
I have fine, wavy, colored hair that's prone to frizz and dryness. The 6-in-1 Miracle oil claims to deliver softness, moisture, smoothness and everlasting shine. I used a few drops of this oil as a leave in conditioner on my damp hair after washing. Once dry, my hair was definitely more hydrated, super soft and less frizzy. Plus, I loved the fragrance of the oil‑a mix of argan, coconut and apricot scents.
Tested by: Melissa Goldstein, YouBeauty Contributing Beauty Editor
As a recent convert to Josie Maran’s argan oil face products I had really high hopes for this warm oil. The promise: intense moisture and shine and a way to undo the damage inflicted by repeated use of hair styling tools. All things I desperately needed. Sign me up!
The individual ampoules contained a decent amount of oil and indeed did heat up when rubbed it in my hands before spreading it over wet strands.
I left it for the recommended 3 minutes, rinsed it out and used a hairdryer to straighten my thick, wavy hair. Afterward my hair looked and felt nice, but it didn’t deliver the kind of soft sleekness I usually get with a rich hair mask. But it definitely made my blowout quicker and easier.
Tested by: Amanda Schupak, YouBeauty Research Editor
Billed as an alternative to argan oil, the eponymous ingredient in this Kendi Dry Oil Mist lubes your locks with omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids and protects them from UV damage with the antioxidant tocopherol, a form of vitamin E. The no-muss, no-fuss spray can be used on damp or dry hair to tame frizz and add shine.
For long summer days you want an outfit that can go from backyard BBQ to moonlight cocktails—and hair to match. By day, this oil kept my waves soft and bouncy. But when night fell, so had my strands. Since the product is made for "unruly and unmanageable" hair, I'd recommend it for girls whose curls put up more of a fight than mine do.
Tested by: Courtney Dunlop, YouBeauty Senior Editor
There is just something so decadent and exotic about fragranced oils—like you’ve just returned from Istanbul and have decided that plain ol’ body lotion doesn’t cut it anymore. This dry oil (read: non-greasy) smells fantastic—with notes of Moroccan rose, cedar and white musk—and makes your skin silky-soft. The real bonus is that you can use it on your hair, too. I worked it into my dry ends so the sesame and argan oils could do their nourishing thang. Then every time I swished my hair I caught a whiff of scent and felt very, very fancy.
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