Hot Oil Treatment: Why, When, How


It is a part of my hair regimen, I have suggested it on this site all the time, no doubt you go to the stylist and she’ll take up a hank of your hair and say tut-tut, you need a hot oil treatment, but have you ever wondered- why do I need a hot oil hair treatment? What is it about hot oil on my head that is so important to the overall health of my hair? Well here are some reasons:

1. The use of hot oil treatments has a conditioning effect on the hair and scalp. This is good news especially for women who have dry hair. Hot oil treatments can help to restore the hair to its best possible condition.

2. Hot oil treatments are very good news for dry damaged hair. If your hair is chemically treated, you use heat to style it all the time whether its blow dryers, straightening irons etc. or you use hair dyes. A hot oil treatment will infuse moisture and strength to the hair shaft, because it enters the very core of the hair, helping to heal the damage.

3. If you have frizzy hair or fly away ends, a hot oil treatment will reduce the look of damage. Like magic it can make your otherwise lank ugly hair look shiny, full of body and bounce.

4. Your scalp loves it! When the scalp absorbs all the delicious goodness from your organic oils it is quite happy to produce healthy hair to reward you for being so kind to it.


In the article Oils Explained: Essential Oils and Carrier Oils For Hair, I explored some of the essential oils and carrier oils that can be used for a hot oil treatment, their uses and benefits to particular hair types. All hair types can benefit from a hot oil hair treatment; you can customize your hair treatment regardless of hair texture or condition to create a hot oil treatment that is just right for you.

Dry Hair– do a hot oil hair treatment every week. Before you shampoo your hair, with a shampoo that is free from harsh detergents, apply hot oils to hair and let it sit on hair for a while. If you are pressed for time, you can do it overnight. Wake up in the morning and shampoo as usual.

Essential Oils For Dry Hair: Rosemary, Lavender, Peppermint, Geranium, Sandalwood.

Carrier Oils For Dry Hair: Sweet Almond, Avocado, Olive, Coconut, Castor, Jojoba.

Suggestions: Always use a carrier oil with an essential oil for a hot oil treatment. Carrier oils should be used more generously than essential oils. You can use a combination of carrier oils or even just one for a hot oil treatment. Using two or more carrier oils can enhance your treatment but that decision is totally up to you and what you have available or what you can afford.

Grey Hair– is more porous than other hair and requires a bit more conditioning especially if it is chemically treated or dyed. You should do a hot oil treatment every single week without fail. This bit is directed at my mother. I hope when she reads this, she smiles.

The same carrier oils that are used for dry hair can be used for your hair. If you want to add a darkening effect to your hair, you can use sage as your essential oil. It darkens hair overtime while conditioning your scalp. If you want your greys to have a silvery tinge you can try chamomile as an essential oil.

Normal Hair– after practicing a good hair regimen for some time, eventually you will wake up one day and your hair is normal-there is no hair drama, your hair is thick like a rope and growing like a weed or you are blessed with hair that can stand the rigours of whatever you throw at it. Normal, healthy hair has good elasticity (hair that stretches when pulled) with no breakage and minimal split ends. This hair type is also neither greasy nor dry and looks healthy most of the time.

You may not need to do a hot oil treatment every week or even every other week. Maybe once a month will suffice for your hair. The occasional treatment will help to maintain healthy hair growth, and keep your hair nourished and glistening.

Essential Oils: Rosemary, Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Jasmine, Lemongrass (also called fever grass)

Carrier Oils: Jojoba, Castor, Coconut, Olive, Sweet Almond, Sesame

Oily Hair– this can be caused by a variety of reasons and you might ask if I am crazy including this hair type in hot oil section but there are oils which are perfect for oily hair conditions. You can do a hot oil treatment every other week if your hair is oily. You can also use the essential oils listed to do regular scalp massages to normalize the oil producing sebaceous glands.

Essential oils: Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Basil, Chamomile, Lemon

Carrier Oils: Sweet Almond, Jojoba

Suggestions: Do not allow oil treatment to stay longer than an hour on your hair. Do not use harsh detergents to wash your hair; it can exacerbate your oily hair problem. You can use mild shampoos.

Breaking Hair, Chemically Treated Hair, Damaged Hair– you need to hot oil treat every single week. Additionally, you can put the relevant herbs found here in your hot oil, allow them to fuse and then strain, then apply to hair. There are a host of herbs that you can probably find in your locale that can be added to your hot oil for additional benefits like garlic, horsetail, aloe, comfrey, cayenne pepper. If you do not have access to herbs or you are too busy to look around. Using the oils alone is just as good.

Essential Oils: Rosemary, Lavender, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Horsetail, Neem, Sage

Carrier Oils: Sesame, Coconut, Castor, Olive, Jojoba, Sweet Almond.



Hot oil treatments are really easy to do at home. You can combine up to 3-carrier oils if you wish. Complementary essential oils, when used together, will further enhance the effects that each essential oil has on it’s own. The following guide will help you to prepare your formulations:

  • Short hair: 2 tsp carrier oil; 2-drops essential oil
  • Medium length hair: 1 Tbsp carrier oil; 4-drops essential oil
  • Long hair: 2 Tbsp carrier oil; 6-drops of essential oil.

The amount of oil you will need will also be determined by the thickness and texture of your hair. Make sure that you apply the oil to the entire hair shaft.

How To Make Hot Oil Hair Treatment

There are three ways to prepare the hot oil treatment, there is the lazy girl’s way- put your oils in a microwavable container and put it in the microwave for 20 seconds, if it is too hot to handle, wait until it is comfortable enough for your fingers to dip into the mixture and you can apply it to your hair with ease. Cover hair with a plastic cap, you can leave it on for an hour or more. The longer you leave it on the better.

The second way, is to put your oils or oil if you are using just one, in a container with a cover (glass preferably) boil some water in a separate container (saucepan, pot) and then turn off the boiling water and put your glass bottle in the hot water for about five minutes. It should be pleasantly warm, be careful not to burn your fingers when taking it out. After that apply the oil while it is still warm, cover your hair with plastic and let your body heat do the rest.

The third way is to part your hair and ensure that all your strands have oil on it, pin it up in a loose ponytail under a plastic cap, go under a hair dryer (setting should be cool or low heat) for 10-20 minutes. Keep on your plastic cap for an hour or more after that.


  • Razzi said:

    should i also use this for my damaged hair in the back

  • juju said:

    Thank you for all the info…..can I do hot oil even if im doin cowash

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      You are welcome Juju. It sounds like you’d have a very oily time of it because the conditioner would not wash out the oil properly.

  • V said:

    Hi Brenda

    ? – is it better to use organic products?.

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi V,
      I love organic products, my hair and body thrives with them. The problem I find is that there are products which claim to be organic and are not.But in the whole scheme of things the more natural (close to nature) a thing is. The better it is for you.

  • Anita said:

    Hello Brenda,
    Is hot oil treatment same as pre pooing cos I’m confused. Also, I wear weaves most of the time, and I find it difficult to moisturise and seal when the weaves are on. Pls, could you advise me on what to do cos I really want to grow my hair.

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Anita,
      Pre-pooing (pre-shampooing, before shampooing) is simply any treatment done before shampooing the hair. Most people do a hot oil treatment before shampooing their hair. So, hot oil treatment can be considered pre-pooing. I would recommend that you take out the weaves and then moisturize and seal your hair as you wish.

      • Jamaican Gurl said:

        I have the same issue, (with the weave that is). I use it as a protective style (because my hair HATES being combed everyday). Are you then saying Brenda that there is no way to moisturize your hair without removing extensions?

        • Brenda Barrett said:

          Hi Jamaican Gurl

          No, I just realized that my reply could be misconstrued as encouragement for Anita to remove her extensions because it is impossible to moisturize with it in. I just meant that when she does take it out she can do her treatments. She did say she found it difficult to moisturize with it in. Some styles are easier to moisturize than others. So maybe persons with a particular style can moisturize better than others.

    • Keirah said:

      Thanks for the blog.ihave dry relaxed hair and i use black shampoo scalp is so itchy,dry with alot of dandruff.Should i shampoo first towel dry and apply the hot oil treatment OR apply hot oil on unwashed dry hair, then shampoo after rinsing OR wash my hair first without shampoo then use shampoo after rinsing the hot oil treatment??? Pliz! help me coz am so confused .

  • Fay said:

    Hi Brenda
    I have damaged hair and recently began my longer healthier hair journey, should I do hot oil treatment every week or will using one of your pre shampoo recipes work just as good.

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Fay,
      If you pre-shampoo, you really don’t need hot oil at the same time. You can interchange them every two weeks or so.

  • brl said:

    I have gray hair that is breaking or shedding, not sure but scary.Have started using QP shampoo, QP leave in conditoner,QP moisturizer along with coconut oil,jojoba oil,castor oil,eov oil. Is this to much? Just started this regimen and I know it takes awhile to see what works but I am concerned, don’t want to be bald.

  • Kelly said:

    Good day after I wash the oil out of my hair with the mild shampoo, can I still condition it?

    • Jamaican Gurl said:

      Yes you can Kelly. Its best to do so, you will be sure of putting back moisture into your strands.

  • Mybest said:

    Hii Brenda,

    This article is very informative and guided…. Hope to see such kind article in future…

    All the best….

  • shonda said:

    I have few problems going on with my hair. 1st I have shedding and hair loss. I just found out I have eczema of the scalp and my hair and scalp is always dry. I put oils in my hair but it’s not helping. I also use nixion recovery shampoo that makes it drier. What can I do?

  • Suga said:

    Can i do a hot oil treatment even if im not going to shampoo my hair?
    Im grey, i relaxe my hair, and i dye my hair. It was mentioned that we should do a hot oil treatment every week, thats fine with me, i don’t mind that, but i don’t shampoo my hair every week.
    I know your answer will be ever so helpful. THANX

  • Jacquie said:

    Can the oil treatment be applied to dried hair or does it need misting first with water?

  • sandhya said:

    A very well written and informative blog! I stumbled upon this site while casually browsing regarding hair care…now I’m gonna bookmark it! Thank you Brenda. .you’re the best!

  • Kaisha Nicole said:

    Good Day, I am a Natural Hair Care Specialist. I have many clients I treat for traction aloepica and thinning hair in the center of their head. I want to incorporate steam treatments and would like your opinion since it was not address in class? I do know steam treatments are a good way to open cuticles and have the herbal teas/oils penetrate the scalp.

  • chel said:

    Thank u for this blog very helpful and infomative,I jst losened my cornrolls and intend to retorch by next week.what treatment should I use before I retorch.tanx

  • Tricia said:

    Thank you for this great article.
    I would like to know about adding herbs to the oil.
    Can I use the powdered form of Cayenne pepper or garlic? Can I add fresh aloe from the garden? Can I crush fresh garlic? Thank you.

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Yes Tricia, you can do all of the above, strain it and then apply. Be careful with the cayenne though, it can burn your scalp if you infuse a concentrated amount.

  • tabatha said:

    My hair is very dry.. an it frizz a lot.. what should I do for that..

  • Sandra said:

    Hi I really enjoy reading your hair articles, it’s helping me to take care of my hair. I want to ask you a question. I use sta sof fro hair dye to colour my grey roots. can I give myself a hot oil treatment and deep conditioning treatment on the same day?

  • Karen said:

    My hair is thinning throughout my hair and edges. My hair is relaxed and I uses demi hair color. I’ve just started the oil treatments,the oils I use are jam blk castor oil, argan oil,olive oil, and coconut oil. Will this help with my problem if do this once a week? I’m use to having long problem free hair. What should I do? Thanks in advance!

  • Erycah Edwards said:

    What shampoos and conditioners do you prefer to use if my hair is always breaking and its thick?

  • Whitegold said:

    Do they all have the same benefits do one way work better than the other

  • ozi said:

    is deep conditioning the same as a hot oil treatment?

  • Amy said:

    Hi! Thank you so much for the info! I’m newly natural and I died my hair so it’s been dry all the time.

    After I do the treatment do I HAVE to wash it out? Can’t I just leave it in and repeat every week? Right now I have cornrows and wear a wig so I don’t know if I should still shampoo the oils out.

  • Ratul Rahman said:

    Hi Brenda! Thanks for this tips. My hair is fallen every day. What should I do?
    Any suggestion?
    Thank You again.

  • Elaine Campbell said:

    Thanks much for your help, very informative

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