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.
- Best Organic Hair Oil: The Ordinary 100% Cold Pressed Virgin Marula Oil
- Best Hair Oil for Scalp Health: Mielle Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil
- Best Hair Oil for Shine: True Botanicals Shine + Protect Natural Hair Cream Oil
- Best Hair Oil for Split Ends: Mielle Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil
- Best Hair Oil Overall: PATTERN by Tracee Ellis Ross Jojoba Oil Blend
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
Best UV-Fighting Hair Oil
"Containing grapeseed oil, this hair oil helps to boost moisture and nourishment while also containing ingredients to help repair peptide bonds," Dr. Garshick tells us. "It is especially helpful in providing UV and heat protection."
Pros: clean; lightweight; dermatologist-approved
Cons: contains silicones
Customer Review: "This is the only hair oil that tames my frizz without weighing down my hair or making it look greasy." -Sephora
Best Hair Oil for Scalp Health
"I have some areas on my hairline—mostly around my temple—that are a little sparse, so I picked up this oil from Mielle to help with hair growth," writes E-Commerce Editor Julia Marzovilla. "I’ve been applying it to those areas (as well as the rest of my scalp) about twice a week before I shower (I leave it in for around two hours each time) and while I haven’t seen much difference by way of hair growth or density yet, my scalp feels healthier, less itchy, and my hair is so much softer after I shower."
Pros: cruelty-free; Black-owned brand; cruelty-free; free of sulfates and parabens; works on scalp as well as split ends; editor-approved
Cons: some users report scalp tingling
Customer Review: "I absolutely love how my hair has become thick and wavy and curly again, just like my teen years. It grows so fast, just like it did years ago." -Target
Best Shine-Enhancing Hair Oil
"This is my only everyday product," gushes Pucciarello. "It's a go-to for my clients, perfect for all hair types because it's not too heavy. It's loaded with incredible ingredients and smells gorgeous too!" He adds that this oil "will nourish and protect from frizz and pollution as your hair dries into a subtly shiny version of its natural texture." He says that he typically applies it to wet hair, starting at the ends—which he says are normally the driest parts of your strands—and moving up the hair shaft.
Pros: protects hair from heat damage; good for all hair types; enhances shine; free of silicones and sulfates; stylist-approved
Cons: some users dislike the fragrance
Customer Review: "Absolutely love this product!!! My hair looks shinier after I straighten it. And it has more body and bounce and keeps the curl when I curl the ends. Smells great too." -True Botanicals
Best Hair Oil Mask
"Containing buriti oil, this mask helps to reduce frizz and flyaways with just one application," says Dr. Garshick. "It can help the hair become softer and smoother."
Pros: dermatologist-approved; affordable; works great on curls; protein-infused
Cons: one-time use; contains propylene glycol
Customer Review: "It works in just one use." -Walmart
Best Strengthening Hair Oil
"Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil contains organic oils well as jasmine oil, which help to strengthen and hydrate hair while also taming frizz," Dr. Marcus attests.
Pros: award-winning; works well on all hair types and curl patterns; dermatologist-approved; fights dryness, frizz, and heat damage
Cons: contains silicones; expensive
Customer Review: "Best hair oil I've ever used! Huge improvement to feel and bounce. No lingering fragrance." -Sephora
Best Wash-Out Hair Oil
I love this hair oil by Squigs, which is designed to be combed through your strands, left on overnight (or at least for a few hours), and then washed out in the shower. It always leaves my hair softer and my curls bouncier, and it doesn't feel too thick or uncomfortable when applied! For a serious hydration boost, leave it on overnight while covering your hair in a silk or satin hair wrap.
Pros: award-winning; hydrating; air dries; editor-approved; uses natural ingredients like coconut oil, orange peel oil, apricot oil, and kalonji oil
Cons: because it needs to sit in the hair for a few hours, involves a lengthy routine
Customer Review: "This is by far my favorite hair product I’ve ever used and I’ve tried A LOT. I usually wash my hair about 1-2x per week and apply this in the morning before I wash at night. My hair is so much shinier and I notice it’s also not as dry. Plus I love the subtle scent!!" -Urban Outfitters
Best Jojoba Hair Oil
Pucciarello promises that this oil "easily absorbs into the hair." How? He explains, "This product closely resembles the sebum that your skin and scalp naturally produce, making it ideal for replenishing what shampoo and cleansers strip away!"
Pros: affordable; works on hair as well as skin; comes in glass rather than plastic packaging; stylist-approved
Cons: small bottle
Customer Review: "This stuff is truly liquid gold!!" -Leven Rose
Best Frizz-Fighting Hair Oil
E-Commerce Editor Julia Marzovilla loves this oil. "I have fine hair that goes oily easily, so hair oils have not always been a part of my routine because they tend to weigh my hair down," she explains. "This one from Crown Affair somehow smoothes and adds shine to my hair without causing it to look oily faster. Instead, I’m left with healthy-looking locks that are so much more manageable."
Pros: editor-approved; free of sulfates, SLES, and SLS; protects hair from heat damage; editor-approved; clean; suitable for all hair types and curl patterns
Cons: contains silicones
Customer Review: "The creme da la creme of all hair oils. This oil leaves your hair looking hydrated, alive, and shiny, all without being oily. This stuff is magic potion and amazing for locking in my coarse curls!" -Sephora
The Versatile Oil
Dr. Garshick counts this oil among her favorites, saying, "The oil-serum blend contains 4 different oils including argan, maize oil, procaxi oil and camellia oil which together help to improve softness, shine, strength and protection to the scalp and hair."
Pros: dermatologist-approved; contains natural ingredients like argan oil; clean; vegan; protects from heat damage; works on all hair types and curl patterns
Cons: contains silicones
Customer Review: "Ever since I started using this oil I have been getting SO many compliments on my hair. It does not weigh down hair and adds so much shine. It is a game changer in the hair routine!" -Sephora
Best Cold-Pressed Hair Oil
I love Act+Acre's Cold-Pressed products. While many oils and leave-ins tend to weight down my curls—especially considering I have long hair—this particular product keeps my curls bouncy while providing much-needed shine. Use it on wet hair to infuse your mane with moisture after a shower, or massage it through dry hair to revive a two-day old 'do.
Pros: vegan; cruelty-free; free of silicones, parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, fragrance, and gluten; pregnancy-safe
Customer Review: "It has within weeks made my hair shinier and healthier, without making the blonde brassy in any way." -Act+Acre
Best Marula Oil Infused Hair Oil
"Those with dry, brittle hair will reap most benefits from this nutrient-rich oil, as it has heat protectant qualifier," Pucciarello tells us. He also says that it absorbs quickly—perfect for those on the go!
Pros: organic; cruelty-free; affordable; stylist-approved; protects hair from heat damage; free of fragrance, silicones, parabens, and sulfates
Cons: small bottle
Customer Review: "This product has also done some serious magic to my dry/wavy/coarse hair! My favorite part about using this oil in my hair is even when applying on dry hair, it doesn't leave your hair looking oily. It adds the perfect shine." -ULTA
Best Ceramide-Infused Hair Oil
"One of my favorite hair oils is Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Strengthening Hair Treatment Oil," says Dr. Marcus, explaining that it "contains hydrating ceramides and rose flower oil, which conditions hair and gives it a glossy finish without weighing it down."
Pros: lightweight; clean; vegan; cruelty-free; contains natural ingredients like castor oil, rose flower oil, and coconut oil
Cons: contains fragrance, which polarizes some users
Customer Review: "I sleep with this overnight with my satin hair cap and it makes the biggest difference." -ULTA
Best Argan Oil Infused Hair Oil
This was one of the first hair oils to hit the market and, from day one, it's been protecting strands from heat damage while keeping them shiny and smooth. I especially like using it to guard my hair and protect it from the elements and pollution.
Pros: gentle scent; smoothing; softens hair; works on all hair types and curl patterns
Cons: contains silicones
Customer Review: "If frizzy or dry ends are your issue, this is totally the product for you. I am super impressed at how well this revives the ends of my hair after heat styling. It makes them look shiny and like I just got a haircut without looking greasy or weighing my hair down. It also really helps combat frizz from forming in the rain." -Sephora
Best Hair Oil for Low-Porosity Hair
This hair oil from Tracee Ellis Ross' PATTERN Beauty is designed for curly and wavy hair types. Its blend of jojoba, lavender, and safflower oils soothe the scalp and define curls. I love the way it smells, and it never stings or irritates my sensitive scalp.
Pros: works on all curl patterns; uses natural ingredients like lavender and jojoba oil; woman-owned; Black-owned; scalp-soothing; detangling
Cons: may be too thick for thin, straight hair
Customer Review: "This doesn’t weigh down my hair and keeps it moisturized. My hair used to feel dry and tangly by the end of the first 24 hours of wash day, and this totally prevents that." -Sephora
Best Tradition-Based Hair Oil
Mega influencer Negin Mirsalehi founded her beauty brand, Gisou in 2015 with this now-iconic Honey Infused Hair Oil. Beekeeping has been in Mirsalehi 's family for six generations, and this hair oil utilizes that multi-generational wisdom to create a potent, moisturizing product. Reviewers love how lightweight and easy to apply it is, but they warn that a little goes a long way.
Pros: POC-owned brand; woman-owned brand; uses natural ingredients; clean
Customer Reviews: "This hair oil is a game changer! I have tried so many oils that leave my hair feeling sticky and oily but this one does not. It sinks into my hair beautifully and leaves it looking soft and shiny." -Sephora
The Shiniest Oil
This inexpensive oil from Verb is proven to enhance shine by 75 percent, and can even be incorporated into other products for a boost of moisture. Reviewers swear by it, appreciating how lightweight it is, enhancing shine without weighing hair down—no matter the hair type.
Pros: free of sulfates, SLS, and SLES; vegan
Cons: contains silicones
Customer Review: "This hair oil is amazing. It’s so light weight and non greasy. My hair has such shine and feels so soft after using it. Great for overnight as well. A little bit goes a long way." -Sephora
Meet the Experts
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.
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 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.