The 16 Best Hair Oils, According to Beauty Experts

For hair so shiny, your friends will need shades.

model with shiny, healthy hair
(Image credit: Getty)

Winter weather can wreak havoc on your hair. Whether the blame falls on your endless array of scratchy hats or the super-dry heat pouring out of your radiator, your hair is likely looking (and feeling) drier than usual during the cold months—and your favorite shampoos and conditioners, leave-in conditioners, and scalp treatments just aren't doing the trick. This is where a high-quality hair oil comes into play. 

But what exactly is a hair oil, you ask? While hair growth oils are specifically designed to stimulate healthy growth, "hair oil refers to an oil that is used for the hair to help nourish the hairs to soften and smooth the appearance of the hair," explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick. Maei MD founder and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Marcus also adds that these products, in addition to smoothing out frizz, are great for "adding hydration, protecting from heat styling, and adding shine."

Personally, hair oils are an integral aspect of my daily hair routine, and go a long way in hydrating my curls and restoring shine. I use them all year long, no matter the weather. Read on for our expert breakdown of the best hair oils money can buy, based on the recommendations of editors, dermatologists, stylists, and reviewers. 

How To Apply Hair Oil

Unless your hair oil is specifically formulated for use on the scalp, Dr. Marcus advises that hair oils only be used on "dry hair from the ears down." Otherwise, she says, it "could cause hair to appear weighed down. Most hair oil products should be applied sparingly to avoid creating buildup in the hair, and some may wish to apply oil only to the ends of the hair if the goal is to hydrate dry ends while preserving plenty of body and volume."

However, it's important to note that hair oils come in different forms, and this impacts the product's frequency of use, the amount you should dole out each time, and whether you should wash the oil out.

"Some hair oils may be formulated into shampoos or conditioners, while others may be in the form of a hair styling product or hair mask," Dr. Garshick points out. "Depending on the product formulation, hair oils may be used anywhere from one to two times per week up to every day."

Furthermore, users may need to tailor their hair oil routines depending on their individual needs. "Typically the thicker the hair, the more oil may be needed per application," she says. 

What to Look for in a Hair Oil

There are countless hair oils on the market these days, and such variety, while great for creating a tailored haircare routine, can also feel daunting. "Different hair oils include coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, and moringa oil," Dr. Garshick tells us. "The different oils may have different types of fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins, which give each its different properties."

That sounds like a lot of research, and research can be inconvenient and time-consuming—particularly when you're in a rush to reap those hair oil benefits. Thus, we've asked the experts to break down what the best hair oils are for each hair need. 

  • For Hydration

Dr. Marcus recommends "oils such as shea butter, argan oil, and squalane," which she says "are moisturizing to dehydrated strands." Celebrity hair designer and stylist Dominick Pucciarello also recommends coconut oil, sesame oil, castor oil, tea tree oil, almond oil, grape seed oil, and olive oil.

  • For Shine

If your hair is looking a little dull (we've all been there), Pucciarello recommends jojoba oil and sweet almond oil, which enhance shine in addition to naturally providing much-needed moisture.

  • For Curls

If, like me, you have curly hair and are constantly afraid of either under-moisturizing or weighing your curls down with too much oil, Pucciarello says to check out baobab oil.

  • For Heat Styling

People with natural, curly, or low-porosity hair may shy away from products that contain silicones. However, Dr. Marcus says that such formulas "tend to be best for protecting hair before heat styling for adding shine and taming frizz."

If you're still not sold on the silicones, never fear: Pucciarello says that macadamia nut oil works great for combatting heat damage.

  • For Damage Repair

If it's a little too late for the aforementioned preventative measures and you're dealing with breakage, split ends, heat damage, or bleach damage, there are a number of hair oils you should consider (in addition to seeing your favorite hairstylist for a trim). In particular, Pucciarello recommends grape seed oil for frizz and split ends, coconut oil for emergency damage repair, and avocado oil for preventing and quelling breakage. Dr. Garshick also adds that olive oil works great for fighting breakage.

  • Ingredients to Avoid

According to Dr. Garshick, "it is best to avoid mineral oils or paraffin oils," which she says "can leave the hair appearing greasy."

The Best Hair Oils

Meet the Experts

Dr. Rebecca Marcus
Dr. Rebecca Marcus

Dr. Rebecca Marcus is a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology. She has nearly two decades of experience and completed her residency along with a clinical research fellowship at Columbia University. Since then, in addition to practicing dermatology, she has founded her own skincare line, Maei MD. 

Dr. Marisa Garshick
Dr. Marisa Garshick

Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD is a leading board-certified dermatologist serving patients throughout Manhattan, New York at MDCS Dermatology: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, as well as an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell - New York Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. Garshick provides a wide variety of cosmetic and medical procedures and services including treatments for acne, eczema, hyperhidrosis, moles, psoriasis, rosacea, signs of aging, skin cancer, skin tags, vitiligo, and wrinkles.

She completed her undergraduate education at Emory University and attended medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she graduated with Research Honors and Alpha Omega Alpha. As a medical student, Dr. Garshick was awarded the prestigious Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship at Harvard Medical School, during which she performed dermatology clinical trials and research at Massachusetts General Hospital. She was also awarded the American Medical Women’s Association Glasgow-Rubin Academic Achievement Award for graduating in the top of her class and the William Dameshek Award for Research Excellence. Dr. Garshick’s post-graduate training in dermatology began with an internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She completed her dermatology residency at Cornell’s New York Presbyterian Hospital, where she served as Chief Resident in Dermatology. 

Dominick Pucciarello
Dominick Pucciarello

Dominick Pucciarello is a New York-based hairstylist. He trained under top hairstylists Italo Gregorio and Serge Normant, and has since accumulated an impressive portfolio of celebrity clients. They include Olivia Culpo, Katharine McPhee Foster, and Alessandra Ambrosio.