The 15 best hair oils for softness, growth and shine

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The 15 best hair oils for softness, growth and shine

Hair oiling may be trending on TikTok but it's certainly nothing new, and that’s exactly where its allure lies – few beauty treatments come with tried-and-tested validation as weighty as this ancient ritual. The concept of soaking strands in richly nourishing oils may be 5,000 years old, but it remains a prominent beauty ritual for many South Asian women today.

“In India, massaging the hair is called ‘champi’ and it stems from the origins of Ayurveda,” explains Anita Kaushal, founder of Mauli. “While yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self, Ayurveda is the practical knowledge of how to live a healthy, full life,” she says. According to Kaushal, using oil to massage the scalp and hair not only nourishes dry skin and strands, but works to replenish the body too.

“We are working on the marma points (the body’s energy points, where two types of tissue meet) which in turn heal the body, release tension and rejuvenate,” she explains. “The point being, our body is a brilliant, complex interconnected web and when we work on one area, we work on all parts.”

Kaushal believes that hair oiling also delivers tangible benefits, in the form of longer, stronger hair growth. “There is truth in the idea that certain oils can encourage hair growth, and indeed there have been countless studies comparing the effects of herbs such as bhrami and amla with pharma hair-growth products, with the natural ingredients producing better results,” she says, divulging that certain big-name brands have previously attempted (and failed) to patent certain oils for their growth-boosting properties.

Of course, the quality of your oil is also important. “Another key factor is how the oils are matured and the percentages of oils or herbs used,” says Kaushal, whose own oil elixir is made the traditional Ayurvedic way, with 14 steps taking over three months. “In a world of instant gratification, we have lost sight of the value of simple steps to wellness – you have only to look at an Indian women’s hair to know that these treatments work.”

While certain oils do offer bolstered benefits to different hair types (nut oils are great for thick and dry hair, while the lighter abyssinian is ideal for fine strands), Kaushal suggests the key to success lies more in the technique of hair oiling. “Don’t saturate the scalp, but part the hair in sections and put a few drops through each. Then, a little through the ends. Give hair a really good but gentle massage as that too brings great results, even without oil.”

Today, the traditional ritual of hair oiling has given way to a host of new products, designed to benefit all hair types by imparting hydration, increasing elasticity, and promoting healthy growth. Some are intended to be slathered and massaged into hair in the traditional style, before being shampooed out, whereas others are designed as a leave-in tincture, with a couple of drops delivering all the protection and moisture dry strands demand.

Finally, a note on silicones: a pure, high-quality hair oil should not contain silicones, which is how they are distinct from a hair serum. Where hair oils are designed to penetrate the strands, imparting nourishing benefits to both the hair and scalp, a silicone serum mostly slips over the surface to create smoothness and shine. To distinguish whether you're holding an oil or a serum (product names can be misleading), check the ingredients list for chemical ingredients ending in '-cone'. Both can have a place in your hair routine, but the benefits they deliver are different.

Below, see the eight pure hair oils the Bazaar team are calling on this autumn/winter...

Founder Nikita Mehta created this hair oil as an homage to the childhood ritual she holds close to her heart, sitting cross-legged while her grandmother oiled her hair.

Dashmool (a traditional Indian blend of ten herbs) nourishes the scalp, while ashwagandha calms the nerves and castor oil increases blood flow around the scalp, helping to promote healthy growth.

Burgeoning independent brand Koba pays homage to Congolese beauty rituals with its naturally derived formulas. This multi-use oil is made with a base of safou fruit oil, which is prized for its antioxidant properties, alongside sweet almond and jojoba. Rich in texture and heady in scent, it’s ideal for massaging in before bed – after shampooing out come morning, your strands will visibly shine.

Staying true to tradition, Mauli’s Grow Strong hair oil is made using argan, amla, bringraj and brahmi to condition both the scalp and hair. Massage a few drops into dry hair (just like you would a shampoo), then leave for two hours – or overnight, if you can – before washing as normal.

This dual-purpose pre-wash treatment packs the seed oils of black cumin, pumpkin and papaya in a bid to rebalance overloaded scalps, while sweet almond oil soothes.

To use, massage in a full pipette from root to tip and leave for up to an hour (or overnight if you want to intensify results), before rinsing out and shampooing.

This one has been billed as a serum, but really it’s an oil. It’s made with just three ingredients: and they’re three very impressive ones at that. Steeped in the sunflower seed oil base is nothing but a drop of circulation-boosting amla fruit and jasmine sambac for a ridiculously addictive white-floral scent.

Nuxe’s iconic multi-use oil is ideal for applying head-to-toe. The ‘dry’ texture is ideal for fine hair, as it’ll mollify frizz and flyaways without making your scalp or strands appear greasy. The much-loved original version may considered a holiday hero, but this lighter floral iteration is perfect for day-to-day use.

Aveda’s replenishing oil can be either slathered on before shampooing, or applied sparingly to damp or dry hair to smooth and add shine (just as you would a finishing serum). The argan, coconut and avocado oil delivers moisture that satiates even the straggliest of strands, without adding any extra weight.

For something that exudes spa-level luxury, turn to Aman's sublime hair oil (which you'll also find used in the hotel brand's famous spas).

Moroccan argan is combined with anti-inflammatory neem and Amazonian patua oil, which is believed to combat dandruff. With a grounding, woody scent of neroli and cedarwood, this is a treatment you won't want to wash out.

The Black hair market is long overdue a touch of modernisation, and new brand Bread is here to do exactly that. This silicone-free multi-use oil is designed specifically with 3a – 4c curls in mind, and combines castor, argan and sweet almond oils for a heavy-hitting moisture injection. It smells like a sweet shop, and imparts unrivalled shine.

If you find the application of hair oil hard to control, this one from Dizziak is for you. The fine 'oil mist' settles evenly on the hair, imparting a greaseless gleam without adding any weight.

The surprisingly lightweight formula blends the likes of babassu, inca inchi and argan oils alongside murumuru butter and coconut emollients and is perfect for all hair textures and types.

This rich hair oil is designed to bring the spring and shine back to curls. It contains olive, coconut and moringa oils amongst others, and can be used in multiple ways. We love using a small amount before diffusing hair to protect from heat and add gloss.

Here's an award-winning organic formula from the creators of some of the finest hair oils out there. Divinely scented with fragrances from essential oils – think patchouli, rosemary and jasmine– it improves hair health from root (stimulating growth) to tip (protecting split ends), while quenching dryness and taming frizz. A luxurious do-it-all.

This Aurvedic hair oil blend contains anti-microbial neem and brahmi oils to balance scalp irritation while conditioning hair. Indian jasmine imparts a heady, spa-standard scent that’ll have you putting off that shampoo for just one more hour...

This hair treatment oil is especially beneficial on dry, brittle hair and curls that need a serious moisture injection. Leave it to linger before shampooing, or smooth a drop over damp hair before leaving it to air dry. A couple of weeks of loyal use will result in stronger, shinier hair with improved elasticity.

If you're searching for an all-over oil that's as nourishing on hair as it is skin, look to Bourii's blend, handcrafted using organic ingredients and ancient Ayurvedic principles.

The aromatic elixir cocktails yuzu, ylang ylang, rose and cedarwood essential oil to boost the mood while its hemp seed, camellia seed and coconut base oils quench parched skin and strands, leaving the scalp soothed and locks luminous-looking.

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The 15 best hair oils for softness, growth and shine

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