The use of essential oils dates back more than three thousand years ago. The Ebers papyrus, which was written approximately 1500 BCE, contains recipes and instructions on the use of fine oil as perfume and medicine. One of the common uses of essential oils is for hair care. Different essential oils benefit the hair in different ways.
What Causes Hair Damage?
Apart from the harsh sun and air pollution, you might be doing other damaging things to your hair. Here are some of them.
Frequent Washing – Just the act of wetting your hair makes it more susceptible to damage. When hair is wet, it becomes easier to break because of the swelling of the shaft. Adding shampoo to the act doesn’t help either. It can remove natural oils from your hair making it look dry and dull. Stripping oils from your scalp makes it flaky and prone to dandruff.
Brushing Your Wet Hair – As mentioned, wet hair is more prone to damage and breakage, which is why you should let your hair dry first before combing or brushing. If you must brush your hair while it’s still wet, be gentle. Excessive brushing can break or snap hair.
Towel Drying – Be gentle when drying your hair using a towel. Rubbing hair can damage the hair’s outermost layer called the cuticle. This will make your look fluffy or frizzy.
Blow Drying – The damage is even worse if you use the high heat setting of your blow dryer. High heat can dry up your hair abruptly because of water evaporation. Opt for the low heat or ‘air only’ setting.
Curling/Flat Iron – These devices are even more damaging to your hair than blow dryers. When used on wet hair, the heat causes water moisture to burst. This causes blisters on the hair cuticle which can be seen by using a microscope. Ironing dry hair, on the other hand, can cause hair cracking which can then lead to split ends.
Managing Damaged Hair Using Essential Oils
There are many factors that can contribute to hair damage. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize or even reverse it. One option is using essential oils. Here are 5 DIY essential oil recipes to help you manage your damaged hair.
1. Tea Tree Oil – Best Healing Oil
This is considered to be one of the most potent healing oil and it comes from Melaleuca alternifolia tree leaves. This tree is native to Australia. It is often used as antifungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic.
Tea tree oil is most effective in treating hair flakiness. Studies show that this essential oil is successful in managing seborrheic dermatitis and in general treatment of dandruff.
Tea tree oil also helps relieve psoriasis, as proven by a medical study done in 2012 and published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. This is due to its anti-inflammatory properties. There are even studies showing that tea tree oil may also promote hair growth. Minoxidil, the only clinically accepted hair growth solution, becomes even more potent when combined with tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil – 3 drops
Peppermint oil – 3 drops
Extra virgin olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Combine the 3 oils mentioned above with a cup of warm water and mix well. Wash and shampoo your hair normally and rinse. Pour the mixture of water and oils and massage it into the scalp. Continue massaging for a few minutes allowing the mixture to be absorbed. Rinse it all off completely using a mild shampoo.
Pure tea tree oil should be stored in a glass container, not plastic. The glass should also be dark. Store in a cool and dry place and keep away from sunlight to make it last longer.
2. Peppermint Oil – Invigorating and Refreshing
The healing benefits of this essential oil are enough to fill a whole book. Peppermint is synonymous to invigoration. And it does a lot for your hair, too!
Peppermint oil works great for either dry or greasy hair. The cooling effect leaves a pleasant tingle on your scalp. This is due to the increased blood flow to the applied area. Peppermint oil is also believed to open pores on your scalp. This promotes a balanced flow of natural oils. This action can help alleviate dandruff.
This oil has also been used for ages in treating lice infestation. A study published in 2007 by the Archives of Dermatological Research shows that when peppermint oil is combined with eucalyptus oil, the mixture becomes as effective as other commercial lice shampoo solutions.
Like tea tree oil, peppermint oil also shows promise in promoting hair regrowth. There was even a study published in 2014 that showed this oil to be more effective in growing hair than minoxidil.
Peppermint oil - 2 to 3 drops
Carrier oil (almond, coconut, or jojoba) – 1 tablespoon.
Mix the oils thoroughly. Wash and shampoo your hair normally. Pour in the mixture into your hair and massage it in deeply into your scalp. Leave it on for half an hour before washing it off with a mild shampoo. Repeat the process every day for 28 days.
Too much peppermint oil can cause a burning sensation, leaving your scalp irritated. Keep away from children and use only as directed.
Peppermint oil loses its efficacy fast when exposed to light and heat. You need to store it in a dark glass container and keep it in a dark, cool, and dry place.
3. Lemon Oil – Best for Oily Hair
Lemon oil offers a variety of healing properties. Lemon oil works best when used on oily hair. The acids from lemon will help dry up and clarify that extra grease in your hair. Lemon has also been proven to have antimicrobial properties. Its essential oil is quite effective against fungus. The antiseptic effect helps cure dandruff and scalp acne.
Although lemon oil works exceptionally well on oily hair, it can be used as well to prevent and even treat flaky scalp. There is also some proof that this essential oil can be effective in clearing up lice and helping in stimulation of new hair growth.
Lemon oil – 1 tablespoon
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Castor oil – ½ tablespoon
- Combine all three oils in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Before sleeping, apply this mixture all over the hair by massaging it into the scalp for 10 to 15 minutes after it is absorbed.
- Leave the mixture on your hair overnight.
- Wash it off the following day using an herbal shampoo.
- Do this process once a week.
The vitamins and fatty acids from olive oil condition and nourish your hair. Castor oil makes each hair strand stronger and thicker. Lemon oil boosts hair growth.
Citrus fruit oils, like lemon oil are more prone to oxidation than the other oils mentioned above. Oxidation is more significant in higher temperatures and when the essential oil is exposed to air. Keeping it in a dark glass container and refrigerated is the best way to keep the lemon oil’s efficacy.
4. Lavender Oil
Not all lavender oils are created equally. To get the most benefits, make sure that you only use top quality Lavendula angustifolia plant extract.
Lavender oil is more known as aromatic oil and is widely used in aromatherapy because of its relaxing scent that can help effectively reduce stress and anxiety, but the benefits of this essential oil don’t stop there. Lavender oil can be used on any type of hair be it flaky, dry, oily, or normal.
Its natural healing properties are believed to improve scalp dryness and circulation, prevent hair loss, and promote hair growth. Lavender also helps maintain the balance of natural oils on your scalp and relieve itchiness. The antifungal and antiseptic properties are effective against scalp acne and dandruff.
A study done in 2016 shows that lavender oil controls dandruff, keeps hair shiny, and conditions the hair. When tested on mice, significant hair growth was also observed on areas where the essential oil was applied.
Lavender oil – 8 drops
Coconut oil – 2 tablespoons
- Combine the oils in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Before sleeping, massage the oil mixture into your scalp for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is completely absorbed.
- Leave it on your hair overnight by covering with a scarf.
- Wash in the morning with a mild shampoo.
Because most of the benefits of lavender oil come from its essence, keeping the container air tight is a must. Also keep it away from light and heat.
5. Rosemary Oil
Those who cook might be familiar with the distinctive smell of rosemary. The herb itself goes well with meat roasts and grilled vegetables. The oil, distilled from rosemary leaves, is an effective healing oil because of the antioxidants contained in it.
Rosemary oil works well for all types of hair. It helps balance hair oils and also unclogs the pores on your scalp. Mixed with other oils, it becomes a potent dandruff remedy. A study published in WebMD shows that rosemary oil increases scalp circulation, improves hair growth, and stimulates hair roots.
Rosemary oil – 12 to 15 drops
Carrier oil (coconut recommended) – 4 tablespoons
- Mix the two oils in a small bowl.
- Lightly heat the mixture then cool.
- Rub into the scalp and cover with a hot towel.
- Leave it on your hair for half an hour then
- Wash with a mild shampoo
- Repeat the process once a week
Storing rosemary oil is pretty much the same with the most common essential oils. The container should be airtight and kept out of direct light or stored in dark colored vials. This will ensure that the oil will remain effective for up to half a year.