Why Using a Hot Oil Treatment for Hair Can Completely Change Your Strands

Read up on the benefits of hot oil treatments and find out how to add one to your routine.

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Even if you're versed in the unique benefits of every hair oil, from castor to coconut, you might not be so clear on the perks of using a hot oil treatment for hair. The theory is that by heating up an oil prior to application, you can take advantage of deeper moisturization than simply using hair oil at room temp.

If you're already dedicating time to treating your hair with masks, bond builders, deep conditioners, and unheated oils, you might be doubtful that hot oil treatments bring benefits to the table that make it worth the additional effort. Before you decide whether to add one of the treatments to your routine, learn more about their purpose and exactly how to use them. Below, Christopher Naselli, a celebrity hairstylist who's partnered with Biotera, shares what you need to know.

Q: Are hot oil treatments good for hair? I've just been using room temperature oil to moisturize my hair, and am wondering if heating up an oil is worth the effort.

The short answer: Yes, there is a purpose behind heating up a hair oil before applying it, according to Naselli. They may provide deeper moisturizing benefits compared to colder-temperature oil treatments, thanks to heat's effect on hair, he explains.

The Benefits of Using a Hot Oil Hair Treatment

To understand the benefits of using a hot oil treatment, it helps to understand the benefits of using oil on your hair in general. The main benefit of oils for hair is that they have emollient properties, meaning they can help fill gaps in your hair's cuticle (outermost layer), which can help prevent moisture loss and dryness, according to an article published in the International Journal of Trichology. Specific oils (argan oil and olive oil, for example) have been linked to various other benefits, such as contributing anti-inflammatory properties or promoting hair growth through scalp application, according to the research.

A hot hair oil treatment is intended to penetrate hair on a deeper level and provide the same benefits. "Any time you use hot oil or apply any sort of treatment to the hair, the heat will open the hair shaft," to allow the oil to penetrate, says Naselli. The heat prompts the cuticle to open, allowing the oil to sink in and moisturize hair rather than sitting on the surface of strands, he explains.

Whether or not you should add a hot hair oil treatment to your routine will depend on your individual needs and hair type. "Hot oil treatments are best used on hair that has been chemically treated, coarse hair, and grey hair," says Naselli. (Refresher: Chemical treatments can damage hair cuticles, resulting in dryness and dullness, and people with coarse hair tend to be more naturally prone to dryness.) "If you have light blonde hair or fine hair, I would avoid using a hot oil treatment as it will make your hair limp and appear oily."

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Courtesy of Christopher Naselli.

How to Use Hot Oil Treatments

Naselli recommends buying a dedicated hot oil treatment rather than trying to DIY a hot oil treatment by heating up just any random oil, as he believes "it's best to purchase a product that is meant to be used as a treatment." Typically, brands recommend heating a packet of oil in warm water, applying the oil to wet hair, leaving it on for a minute or two, then washing your hair with shampoo and conditioner afterward as normal. For the best results, rinse with cold water after washing your hair, which will further help seal the cuticle to lock in moisture, says Naselli.

If you decide to add a hot oil treatment to your routine, don't use it more frequently than once a week, advises Naselli. "Overuse of any treatment can do more harm than good," he says. "Hot oil treatments if used too frequently can clog the pores on the scalp." If the pores on your scalp become clogged it can contribute to issues such as scalp acne.

If your hair is dry, coarse, chemically treated, or all of the above, you may want to consider adding one of the treatments to the rotation to give your hair some TLC. While your go-to hair oil is no doubt benefiting your strands, your hair will thank you for taking the additional step involved in a hot oil treatment to add deep penetrating moisture to your strands.

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