Benefits of Jojoba Oil for Hair and How to Use the Ingredient

Brush up on jojoba oil hair and scalp benefits, then read tips on how to incorporate the ingredient into your routine.

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Hair Health Hotline is your direct access to dermatologists, trichologists, hairstylists, and other beauty pros. Each story in this series tackles a common hair or scalp concern and offers science-backed solutions to care for your strands.

If there were to be a beauty ingredient popularity contest, jojoba oil would definitely place near the top. Beauty experts love that jojoba oil offers various benefits (e.g., moisturization) without some of the downsides of other oils. (Spoiler alert: It's less likely to clog pores.)

But if you've only been using jojoba oil on your face or body, you might want to rethink that approach. Using jojoba oil for hair can lead to healthy-looking, shiny strands, and the ingredient may benefit your scalp as well. Here, Aanand Geria, M.D., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Verona, New Jersey, details the benefits of jojoba oil for hair and the best way to use the oil.

Q: Is jojoba oil good for hair? Does it increase hair growth or have any other benefits?

A: Jojoba oil can help your hair and scalp retain moisture, and it has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties that may benefit scalp health, according to Dr. Geria.

If you're unfamiliar, jojoba oil is sourced from the coffee bean-like seeds of the Simmondsia chinensis plant, and has been utilized for centuries. Indigenous inhabitants of California used the oil for various medicinal and culinary uses during the 18th century, according to a literature review from the University of Arizona.

Today jojoba oil is a popular ingredient in skin- and hair-care products, thanks to a few key qualities. Jojoba is relatively lightweight, a major plus given that heavy oils can weigh down hair or clog pores and contribute to acne, notes Dr. Geria. In fact, jojoba oil may even help your skin maintain a balance in oil, since it's similar to your skin's natural sebum (oil). "The wonderful thing about jojoba oil is that it balances the oil in the skin, rather than adding oil to it," Jennifer T. Haley, M.D., a dermatologist practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona and Park City, Utah, previously told Shape. Thanks to its unique qualities, jojoba oil offers several benefits for hair.

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Courtesy of Aanand Geria.

Jojoba Oil Benefits for Hair and Scalp Health

Like other oils, jojoba oil can lock in moisture on your hair and scalp. It can help seal up the cuticle (i.e. the outermost layer of strands, which looks like it's covered in overlapping scales), thereby preventing moisture from escaping, says Dr. Geria. "It's going to help reduce the frizz that happens when [your] hair does not have enough moisture," he says. It smooths out hair, gives it "instant shine," and makes hair "feel a lot softer," says Dr. Geria.

Applying jojoba oil directly to your scalp may help combat dandruff, adds Dr. Geria. Dandruff may be caused by an overpopulation of yeast on the scalp, and jojoba oil's anti-fungal properties may help prevent the overgrowth, he says.

Who Is Jojoba Oil Best For?

Pretty much anyone can take advantage of the above jojoba oil hair benefits, according to Dr. Geria. "The ideal person is somebody who has normal to dry hair, but anybody can really use it," he says.

Some caveats: Skip jojoba oil if you have fine, pin-straight hair, since jojoba oil could weigh down your hair and make it look greasy despite the oil itself being lightweight. If your hair or scalp is prone to extreme dryness, you may get better results from an oil that penetrates skin and strands more deeply (e.g. coconut oil), says Dr. Geria. And if you're prone to allergies, do a patch test (using a small amount of product on your forearm or under your chin and observing whether you react) before using jojoba oil on a larger area, he advises.

If your main goal is to promote hair growth, you may want to consider looking elsewhere. While jojoba oil theoretically may boost hair growth by preventing oil build-up on the scalp, "I'm not aware of any specific studies that have shown that jojoba oil has been proven to help hair regrowth," says Dr. Geria. "Whereas with rosemary oil, there are some small studies that rosemary oil can help with hair growth."

How to Use Jojoba Oil for Hair

When using jojoba oil for hair, go for pure jojoba oil vs. a product containing the ingredient, suggests Dr. Geria. Apply around seven drops (fewer if you have short hair) while your hair is still damp post-shower, he says. "It's an oil, so it's going to lock in the water," says Dr. Geria. If you're after the aforementioned jojoba oil scalp benefits, part your hair and use a dropper to distribute the oil directly on your scalp. Then repeat, parting your hair in three other places, and massage the oil in, he says.

While using the oil twice per week will probably be sufficient, you can use jojoba oil daily if you feel like it, says Dr. Geria. "Since jojoba oil just sits on the surface of hair, it's good for everyday usage," he says. "You can wear it out [or] you can wear it to sleep, whereas with coconut oil, you can't really do that. It's so thick and greasy."

To sum everything up, jojoba oil is a crowd-pleaser for various reasons. If you're hoping to keep your hair shiny and frizz-free, but find other oils too heavy, it might be worth trying.

Have a hair health question you want answered? Send your Q to hairhotline@shape.com for a chance to have it featured in a future installment of Hair Health Hotline.

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