Yes, you read that right! Oiling your scalp is as unnecessary as douching! - you really do not need to be doing either of them.
You can certainly do a hot oil treatment, an overnight treatment or a pre-poo treatment with an oil because you will wash these out of your hair. The practice we are against is oiling or greasing and leaving it on.
Scalp oiling or putting grease e.g Blue Magic on the scalp is a practice that many grew up with. This practice is done under the belief that it conditions, adds shine and facilitates hair growth. Many of us have fond memories (or not!) of sitting between our mother's, grandmother's or auntie's legs as she delicately applied oil to our scalps.
Many people also oil their scalp thinking if the scalp is dry or flaky, oiling it will cure the dryness and get rid of the flakes, but this practice can actually make scalp issues worse or be the very thing that leads to a problem!
Your scalp produces its own natural oil called sebum, which is slightly acidic and designed by your body to help moisturize, protect and maintain the health of your scalp.
Oiling your scalp can disrupt the production of sebum. And there is scientific research showing that some oils can lead to scalp problems e.g Neem oil has been linked to Dermatitis. We also know that high-viscosity oils like castor oil can cause a build-up of both the oil and dirt which can clog the hair follicles. This also provides the perfect environment for scalp fungus such as Malassezia to thrive. – you’re basically feeding the fungus on your scalp the fatty acids in the oils you’re applying to your scalp. This eventually causes itching and flaking on the scalp and can even cause folliculitis!
Applying oils to your scalp can also worsen scalp conditions like eczema, psoriasis and dandruff. This is why I do not recommend even hot oil treatments to those who have a history of these conditions.
I also see clients who confuse masking the issue with addressing it. Covering up with grease or oil makes you think it has been addressed but it's just a disguise. Your scalp should not flake or be itchy, if a good shampoo is not sorting it out, it’s time to see a professional!
Are there any benefits to oiling your scalp?
There could be, I always like to say science is not static, there are things we are learning and there are things yet unknown. If you enjoy oiling your scalp, do it during hot oil treatments, do it for massaging, but use oil as a treatment to be washed off from your scalp. We know that there is scientific research showing Tea Tree oil can be successfully used as an anti-dandruff and other oils are great as anti-lice.
What to do when your scalp is dry?
The first thing you need to accept is that oil is not the remedy for dry scalp! You have to find out the root cause of the dryness. Is it even dry? I have started to hear many question what we mean by dry scalp, is it a look? Is it a feeling? Is it dandruff? Is it flakes? Dandruff and flaky scalp often need intervention via a shampoo or prescription. Some people experience dryness because they don't wash on a weekly basis. Simply washing regularly, with the right products may address some people’s issues, while others need to visit a specialist. Some people’s scalp can tolerate a light mist, but some people can’t, so it is really difficult to give a blanket suggestion here too!
If you are confused about where to start on yours or your child’s hair journey or what products to try, then it's time to sign up for our hair course starting next month! Our hair course will save you time, effort and money in the long term.