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Beginner’s Guide to a Hot Oil Hair Treatment

Benefits of a hot oil hair treatment, how to use it, and how to make one (plus the best ones to buy!).

Hot Oil Hair TreatmentIf you suffer from dry, irritated scalp and hair, you probably feel like you’ve run the full gamut of hair care options. From leave-in hair serums to conditioning hair masques, there are hundreds of products out there that promise to smooth your tresses and soothe your scalp. But just when you thought you’d tried every product out there, a retro classic has come back in full force: the hot oil hair treatment. This treatment is easy to use and is appropriate for any hair type, with benefits that range from hydration to boosted hair growth.

Benefits of a hot oil hair treatment

A hot oil hair treatment will deep condition dry hair, detangling and softening while it hydrates. Meanwhile, it will sink deeply into your scalp to repair dry skin and soothe irritation. Here’s how this treatment works to remedy different hair and scalp woes:

Hot oil treatment for dry hair

Unlike a typical hair masque, a hot oil treatment is warmed up before it’s applied to the hair, so it penetrates more deeply into the hair shaft. This means that the oil will more effectively impart its nutrients to the hair. Meanwhile, hot oil hair treatments usually include a carrier oil to ensure deep hydration and lock in moisturizing ingredients.

Hot oil treatment for hair growth

The warm temperature of the hair treatment, the benefits of the different oils included in the treatment, and the act of massaging it into your scalp will all help to boost circulation to your scalp. This increased circulation will help to promote hair growth. Meanwhile, the oils will nourish your hair follicles to encourage the growth of stronger, healthier hair.

Hot oil treatment for dry scalp

Many of the oils contained in different hot oil hair treatments will contain healthy, fatty acids that help to replenish your skin’s natural barrier. This barrier is often disrupted by harsh shampoos and other hair products. This disruption, along with the pH imbalance that often arises from the use of chemically-based hair products, causes scalp irritation. The right hot oil treatment can help to repair and rebalance your scalp.

Hot oil treatment for hair damage

If you have brittle, fragile hair or split ends, a hot oil treatment can help to strengthen your hair shafts. The fatty acids in different oil ingredients also help to protect your hair against damage. Their deeply hydrating properties will both strengthen individual hair shafts and promote healthier growth from the hair follicle. Clinical research has proven the effectiveness of fatty acids and antioxidants when it comes to restoring hair health.

Now that we’ve discussed the different benefits of a hot oil hair treatment, let’s look at how this treatment compares to different hair care options:

Hot oil vs. hair serum

Hair serums are leave-in products that protect your hair against exterior damage (from sun exposure, heated styling tools, chlorinated pools, etc.). They’re sprayed or worked into your hair after washing and conditioning, and before styling. In contrast to a hair serum, a hot oil treatment doesn’t need to stay in your hair all day long, and it doesn’t need to be used every day to achieve maximum results. Hot oil treatments will help to protect your hair against the elements by infusing it with fatty acids and other nutrients. But they will also go beyond this function by deeply conditioning and revitalizing your hair.

Hot oil vs. leave-in conditioner

Like hair serums, leave-in conditioners are intended to stay in your hair throughout the day. Their primary functions are to detangle, soften, and hydrate your hair. A hot oil treatment can also achieve these results, but will have longer-lasting effects than daily leave-in conditioners, and don’t need to be used every day. Unlike most leave-in conditioners, hot oil treatments will also impart benefits to your scalp by penetrating the hair and skin more deeply. This is due to both their warm temperatures and the carrier oils that they contain.

Hot oil vs. hair masque

Hair masques and hot oil treatments are similar in the sense that they both impart long-lasting hydration. However, the warm temperature of a hot oil hair treatment boosts its effectiveness, helping it to sink into the hair and scalp. A hair masque can often be a more low-maintenance option, as there’s no need to warm anything up ahead of time. However, a hot oil treatment will deliver the maximum benefits to your hair.

DIY Hot Oil Hair TreatmentDIY hot oil hair treatments

You can make your own hot oil hair treatment by combining the carrier oil or hail oils of your choice with additional booster ingredients. Here’s how to choose the right ingredients for your hair, and how to make and use a hot oil hair treatment.

Best carrier oils

For oily hair and scalp, we recommend jojoba oilThis carrier oil closely resembles the oil (sebum) that your body produces, so it will effectively fool your skin into thinking that it doesn’t need to produce any more oil. If you’re seeking the deepest possible hydration, we recommend coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil or sweet almond oil. All of these natural oils are rich in both fatty acids and antioxidants, making them extremely healing for your hair and scalp. If you want to boost your hair growth, we recommend using castor oil, which is commonly used to prevent hair loss and promote regrowth.

Additional ingredients

To take your treatment to the next level, add the essential oils of your choice. We recommend tea tree oil for hair growth, lavender oil for moisture and damage control, carrot seed oil for hair strength and smoothness, and rosemary oil to help prevent hair loss. However, these are just a few of the options!

How to make the treatment

Measure out 2-3 cups of your chosen carrier oil (the longer your hair, the more oil you’ll need) into a jar. If you’re using multiple carrier oils, combine them in equal proportions for a total of 2-3 cups. Next, add about 1 tablespoon of each of your chosen booster oils. Close the jar and shake it to combine all of the ingredients.

When you’re ready to use your treatment, you’ll need to heat it up. Instead of heating it directly, boil some water and pour it into small bowl, then place the sealed jar of hair oil into the hot water. Allow it to sit in the water for a few minutes. Then open the jar and test the oil’s temperature with a finger to ensure that it is not too hot.

Hair MassageHow to use the treatment

To use your hot oil treatment, you’ll need your warmed-up oil, a shower cap, some towels, and your usual shampoo. Starting with dry, unwashed hair. Stand or sit in your shower and apply the hot oil to your hair from roots to ends. Work it deeply into your hair and massage it into your scalp for 5-10 minutes.

Next, cover your hair with a shower cap and step out of the shower. Crunchy Betty recommends soaking a towel in hot water, wringing it out, and then wrapping it around your shower cap to help the treatment set.

You can let the treatment sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. We recommend allowing plenty of time for the treatment to sink into your hair and scalp. When you’re ready to rinse it out, remove the towel or shower cap, and wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo and warm or hot water. Once you’ve rinsed out your shampoo, turn the water to a cold setting to help seal your skin and hair’s cuticle. Then allow your hair to air dry, and enjoy your smooth, softened locks!

Best hot oil hair treatment products

Making a DIY hot oil treatment is generally more budget-friendly than buying a pre-made product. But if you prefer the convenience of buying a hair treatment ready-made, keep reading to find out which hot oil hair treatments we’re crushing on.

Coconut Oil Hair MaskCoconut Oil Hair Mask from St. Tropica
This product works to repair damaged hair, stimulate growth, and hydrate hair to achieve a soft, smooth texture. It uses organic virgin coconut oil as its hydrating base, and also includes coconut butter and coconut fruit extract to deliver maximum hydration. It also contains a blend of healthy ingredients including biotin, organic hibiscus, and organic green tea.

100% Virgin Coconut Oil Rehydration Hot Oil Treatment100% Virgin Coconut Oil Rehydration Hot Oil Treatment from Shea Moisture
This hair treatment uses a combination of coconut oil and shea butter to deeply hydrate your hair, leaving it soft and perfectly conditioned. It also uses coconut milk and acacia senegal to boost your hair’s strength and elasticity, decreasing hair breakage over time. We recommend this product to anyone with weak, damaged, brittle hair.

Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore SerumJamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Serum from Shea Moisture
This heatable serum features shea butter to moisturize your hair and scalp, deeply repairing damage, soothing irritation, and alleviating dryness. It also features Jamaican black castor oil to promote healthy hair growth, and rosemary essential oil to boost circulation to your scalp, nourishing your hair follicles. We recommend this product for anyone suffering from thinning hair.

Jamaican Black Castor OilJamaican Black Castor Oil from Tropic Isle Living
This pure castor oil can be used alone as a hot oil treatment, or combined with other carrier and essential oils to get a range of different nutrients. With its anti-fungal and moisturizing properties, it helps to both cleanse and nourish your hair follicles, making it an excellent option for promoting hair growth. This castor oil is pure, organic, and wildcrafted, so it’s great for your hair and for the planet.

Blended Therapy Hot Oil TreatmentBlended Therapy Hot Oil Treatment from Blended Therapy Hot Oil TreatmentAlikay Naturals
This multitasking conditioning treatment is excellent for all hair types. It uses a base of corn oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil to replenish your hair’s hydration. It also uses cedarwood oil to gently cleanse your scalp, black seed oil to prevent hair loss, and eucalyptus oil to strengthen the hair.

Mint Almond OilMint Almond Oil from Mielle Organics
This product is adored by reviewers, and contains just three ingredients that are all naturally derived. It uses soybean oil and sweet almond oil to hydrate your hair, boosting its shine and volume. Meanwhile, it features peppermint oil to increase circulation to your scalp, sending fresh blood to your hair follicles, and thereby encouraging them to produce healthy hair.


Anytime you’re searching for a hair product, make sure to compare the ingredients lists of different products. When shopping for a hot oil hair treatment, you’ll want to opt for a formula that contains no filler oils, fragrances, or synthetic dyes.

When using your new oil treatment, always make sure to test the temperature of the oil with a finger before applying it to your scalp and hair. Overly hot oil could burn your scalp and hair, causing damage. We recommend that you apply hot oil treatments no more than once a week, and follow up with a shampoo or apple cider vinegar rinse to make sure excess oil doesn’t linger and clog your pores.

6 Essential Oils for Hair Growth Backed By Research: Essential oils are gentle enough to use for daily treatment and for boosting long term hair growth.
9 Easy DIY Hair Masks for Damaged Hair: Simple yet powerful hair masks you can whip up in a jiffy to restore those tresses.
A Beginner’s Guide to Hair Serum, and Why You Need One: From taming frizz to repairing damage, and even helping hair grow, hair serum is a real multi-tasker!
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