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.