In this busy age of multitasking, we search out beauty products that do it all—and then some. For strands, that all-around workhorse happens to be hair oils. Their versatility is unparalleled. According to Benjamin Mohapi, L’Oréal Professionnel Session Artist and owner of Los Angeles’s Salon Benjamin, oils can be used to cleanse, detangle, prep, treat and finish hair—all with the added benefits of silkier, shinier tresses. You just need to know which hair oil is right for you.
Applied prewash, “hair oils can help remove product because they gently get between the built-up product and your hair, easing the buildup away from the hair shaft,” he explains. This is great news for anyone who’s ever used harsh detergents that not only rid their hair of debris, but also hydration and sheen. Want to speed up your blowout? Oils help with this, too. Run a little through damp hair before reaching for that drier; because oil and water don't mix, the oil penetrates the cuticle, pushes out the water and helps to cut down the time needed.
Perhaps hair oils are best known for their treatment benefits. Those in pursuit of lustrous, touchable hair turn to them as leave-in conditioners on towel-dried hair. But you shouldn’t simply slop them on. Mohapi says oil application depends on the texture of your hair and how you wear it. “If you have straight hair, make sure you don’t apply oil too close to the roots as the hair will look greasy," he says. "Straight hair tends to allow natural oils to travel along the hair shaft more easily.” For curly hair, he suggests “applying a generous amount of oil on wet hair and letting the ringlets form. Once the curls dry, you can scrunch in a little more to add even more shine.”
So that means hair oils can be used on dry hair, too? Yes: Pull a smidgen of oil through your blowout or smooth it over an updo to help lock out frizz, banish rampant flyaways and intensify gloss. “A very thin vale of hair oil on a smooth blowout gives extra polish and shine,” Mohapi says. And though less is certainly more in terms of hair oil, the newest batch of these do-it-all panaceas promises feather-light formulas that leave hair shinier, stronger and bouncier, too. So which of these hair cure-alls are best for you? We found one (or two!) oils to match up and patch up different hair types and needs.
For Fine Hair
When the granddaddy of the hair oil movement, Moroccanoil, heard that its original Treatment Oil was a tad too heavy for the fine-tressed set, it introduced Treatment Light. Still rich in the original’s argan oil, this lighter version absorbs instantly into hair to deliver fatty acids, omega-3 oils and antioxidants to sleeken, strengthen and protect—all without leaving manes limp and flat. And, to further assist in keeping it light, a new pump dispenser distributes just the right amount.
Fine hair suffers frizz and dulling just like other hair types, but often deflates under the weight of oils. Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Moroccan Sleek Oil Treatment seeks to fix this conundrum by harnessing the benefits of Moroccan argan oil (increased shine plus humidity resistance) in a lightweight, fast-absorbing formula that won’t leave behind a flattening residue.
For Color-Treated Hair
A spin-off of L’Oréal Professionnel’s original Mythic Oil, Colour Glow Oil sets out to protect your hair-color investment with linseed oil to highlight shine, cranberry oil to stave off fade and UV filters to stop harmful rays from robbing your hair of its faux hue. Its ultralight, instantly absorbing consistency makes it a fabulous oil for any hair type, and the clean scent can’t be beat.
If the sweet, candy-like fragrance of Pureology Precious Oil Versatile Caring Oil doesn’t hook you, the promise of extending the intensity of your hair color ought to. Securing the first Green Seal for beauty products, this certified 100 percent biodegradable oil works to repel water that can dull a dye job and rebuild the hair’s lipid content for a healthier, shinier finish. A blend of sunflower seed, coconut, olive and jojoba seed oils mix with OleoAntiFadeComplex, a cuticle-fortifier that magnifies shine for color-treated hair.
For Curls and Texture
Curly girls have long used oils for controlling their coils, but only recently have the formulas become lighter and more multitasking. Among them, Mizani Supreme Oil works to lock out frizz-inducing humidity, allowing for more curl-pattern control. The 99 percent naturally derived formula ditches heavy silicone and greasy mineral oils that simply lay on the surface of hair in favor of eight super-nourishing oils, including sesame, avocado and jojoba, to deliver lightweight shine and bouncier, healthier curls.
SoftSheen-Carson Optimum Salon Haircare 6-in-1 Miracle Oil not only packs in six nourishing oils—apricot, argan, coconut, sunflower, jojoba and avocado—but also has just as many uses. Most tempting for those with curls: turning 6-in-1 Miracle Oil into a hot-oil treatment to deliver even more TLC to thirsty ends.
For Damaged Hair
Whose hair hasn’t been put through the ringer? Zeroing in on those of us with fried follicles, Kérastase Elixir Ultime Moringa Immortel bottles moringa oil, known for its ability to sustain life in the most challenging climates. Other nourishing ingredients like the ever-popular argan oil and maize oil, which is said to promote regrowth of hair, give this product the reparative advantage over manes that have seen one too many heat tools.
Redken’s All Soft line has long been a go-to for those looking to transform their brittle tendrils into something, well, softer. The addition of All Soft Argan-6 Oil bumps up tress touchability a notch with a formula rich in fair-trade argan oil as well as omega-6 to deliver smoother, silkier locks. The oil tends to be on the heavier side, so only a few drops are needed.
For Oily Hair
Combating oil with oil is an idea that we’ve seen with facial oils, and Aveda Beautifying Composition Oil looks to do the same for hair. Though it’s touted for use on the body, this elixir works wonders on the scalp, blending rosemary essence to cleanse and remove follicle-clogging sebum buildup with softening jojoba oil to transform dry locks into lush ones.
For Dull Hair
We don’t live in a bubble, so even normal hair turns lackluster due to environmental elements like pollution, wind and UV rays. Harnessing the almighty moringa oil, Matrix Biolage ExquisiteOil Replenishing Treatment not only restores lost shine, but also prevents future dulling by fighting free radicals. Only pump a few droplets of this floral-scented oil; a little goes a long way.
What are your favorite hair oils?

Photos: Courtesy of the brands