We read somewhere, “Hair that slays starts with good hair care…” and we couldn’t have agreed more to this statement! Investing time and taking care of your hair is the biggest form of self-care for us. Taking out a few minutes for your mane, is the least we can do for it, right? One of the oldest remedies to take care of your glorious mane is by oiling it regularly to nourish and moisturise your scalp and hair. But the big question is - what oils should you use to oil up your hair and what should you avoid? With endless options of oils out there, one is bound to be left confused, but not when you have us by your side. Here, we are investigating and answering one of the biggest questions that pops in everyone’s head when we suggest oil therapy for hair - is mineral oil good for your hair or not?
To answer this, we got in touch with celebrity dermatologist and founder of Ambrosia Aesthetics, Mumbai, Dr Niketa Sonavane and asked her whether one should use mineral oils for their hair, it’s benefits or disadvantages and everything in between. So, without any further ado, read on and know everything you must before using mineral oils for hair.
- What’s mineral oil and how is it good for your hair?
- Is mineral oil good for the hair?
- Does mineral oil help with hair damage and growth?
- Are there possible side effects of mineral oil for your hair?
- What other oils, besides mineral oil, may be able to help improve hair health?
What’s mineral oil and how is it good for your hair?
Let’s start by understanding what exactly mineral oil is and how it is different from other oils. Mineral oil is frequently used as a moisturising agent in skin and hair care products. These oils are odorless and colourless in nature and are a byproduct of petroleum production. In fact, prolonged contact with the unpurified form of mineral oil can cause skin cancer. That’s why the type used in cosmetics is highly purified and FDA-approved for topical use.
On cosmetic products, Dr Niketa Sonavane explains, “Mineral oil is generally referred to as liquid paraffin or paraffin liquidum on product labels. Besides this, look for names such as paraffin, liquid petrolatum, petroleum, white petroleum and paraffin wax.”
So, how exactly is this oil good for our tresses? Dr. Sonavane explains, “Because of its molecular size, mineral oil does not penetrate the hair shaft or the skin, and it is easily washed away. Besides this, cosmetic grade mineral oil is functionally inert, which means it is extremely unlikely to cause skin allergies, clog pores, or cause any other type of irritation. As a result, mineral oil is preferable for many different skin types, including the sensitive skin of a baby.”
Is mineral oil good for the hair?
To answer the big question, yes, there are several benefits of mineral oil that will make you turn to it for your tresses. Some of these benefits are -
Conditions hair: Mineral oil conditions your hair to soften and smoothen the hair shaft while thickening the structure and closing cuticle scales.
Helps prevent flyaways: All thanks to its antistatic properties, applying mineral oil to your mane can help prevent hair static and flyaways by a great deal.
Improves elasticity of the hair: Yes, you can improve the elasticity of your hair by simply introducing mineral oil in your hair care routine.
Prevents tangling: Due to its moisturising properties, mineral oil makes sure your hair does not easily get tangled up or knotted. Less tangling ensures easier brushing and styling.
Reduces hair breakage: Hair static, tangles and knots are some of the most common reasons for hair breakage. Since mineral oil reduces all of these issues, it makes sure your hair doesn’t break easily.
Boosts shine and adds volume to your hair: According to Dr Sonavane, applying mineral oil to your tresses can help boost shine and also add volume to it.
Does mineral oil help with hair damage and growth?
According to Dr. Sonavane, mineral oils of cosmetic grade, tend to form a protective barrier around the hair and prevent moisture loss. Essentially, it prevents water from escaping from your hair and skin. Furthermore, mineral oil also acts as a lubricant, and could help reduce tangles and prevent frizzy hair by decreasing dryness.
Are there possible side effects of mineral oil for your hair?
Well, it turns out, the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to using mineral oil for the hair. Dr. Sonavane says, “While mineral oil is generally considered safe, it can still cause rashes, acne breakouts, eye irritation, and scalp irritation in some people.”
She further highlights the many negative effects of this oil on your hair and scalp -
Can be heavy on your hair: Mineral oil can be too heavy for your hair, especially if you have fine hair So, it’s best advised to avoid this oil for such hair type.
Can cause dryness: It is seen when used too frequently, mineral oil can cause hair dryness rather than hydration and moisturisation as it is expected to.
Is not a long-term solution: The effect of beautiful hair lasts until the first wash; mineral oil does not provide long-term results because it neither nourishes nor repairs the hair; instead, it coats the surface and is washed away easily.
Causes scalp build-up: Using this oil can lead to scalp build-up and further cause hair strands to become stiff and lifeless as a result of being weighed down by leftover product residue.
Requires harsh shampoos to clear it out: Mineral oil requires harsh surfactants such as sulphates to be completely removed; using a sulfate-free shampoo will result in the buildup not getting cleared.
What other oils, besides mineral oil, may be able to help improve hair health?
Our previous discussion confirms the fact that mineral oils have very few advantages when used on hair. As Dr Sonavane explains, “Its primary use as an ingredient is as a low-cost lubricant that can be mass-produced. Anyone considering a mineral oil-based product should keep in mind that there are a plethora of natural alternatives that provide the same benefits and help to infuse nutrients into the hair.”
Here are a few alternatives suggested by her as these are emollients that regenerate, beautify and protect the hair from damage -
Coconut oil: Contains lauric acid, which may be beneficial to the health of your hair.
Olive oil: Contains squalene, oleic acid and palmitic acid all of which soften the hair.
Argan Oil: Contains antioxidants and vitamin E, which are amazingly good for hair health.
1) Is mineral oil toxic for skin and hair?
Generally, purified and cosmetic grade mineral oil is absolutely safe to be used on your skin and hair. While there are some risks, topical application of this oil isn’t exactly toxic for your skin or hair.
2) Is mineral oil bad for curly hair?
Since mineral oil is an amazing lubricant and helps prevent frizziness and tangling of hair, it can help enhance and define your curls without weighing them down too much.
3) Is castor oil a type of mineral oil?
Not at all. While mineral oil is a by-product of refining crude oil (as explained earlier), castor oil is simply a type of vegetable oil that is extracted from the seeds of the castor plant.