Being an Indian, I never questioned the process of my mum or dad dumping a bucketful of oil onto my head every week.
Even though I followed this practice as an adult, I noticed my hair quality decreasing and I did start losing a lot of hair in my early 20s.
As I did research, I realized that there were a lot of things I was doing wrong mainly with how I oiled my hair.
In this post, I’ll talk about how long you should leave the oil in your hair to see maximum results.
You should not leave hair oil in your hair for longer than 2 hours. 2 hours is more than enough for your hair to completely absorb the oil and for the oil to coat most of the hair strands. You will want to wash all of the oil from your hair using a clarifying shampoo.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may make a commission at no extra cost to you if you decide to click on a link and purchase something. Click here to read the full disclaimer.
How long should you keep oil your hair before washing it?
Don’t keep any hair oil in your hair for longer than 2 hours.
Our hair follicles only have so much space within the hair strand to absorb any moisture or oil.
Coconut oil for example helps your hair build and retain protein.
So once the oil molecules are absorbed, there is no point keeping the oil in your hair – this takes 1-2 hours maximum.
When you wash your hair, you need to make sure that the oil is completely washed off.
If you leave any traces of oil in your hair, it’s going to attract dirt and you’re going to accumulate build-up.
This is going to look like greasy/sticky hair.
When you accumulate buildup, you’re not letting your hair follicles breathe because all the pores will end up being blocked.
This can lead to an itchy scalp, dandruff, and even skin infections.
This is why it is very important to wash your hair within 1-2 hours of applying hair oil.
If you’re using coconut oil, make sure you use fractionated coconut oil like this because the molecules are smaller and will easily absorb in your hair.
This is a trick we curly girls do to make sure that our hair is moisturized and protein-rich.
Can I keep oil in my hair for 2 days?
When you leave the oil in your hair for 2 days or overnight, your hair is going to finish absorbing most of the oil in about 2 hours.
After that, the oil is going to coat all the strands (making it difficult to wash off).
Think of it like a dirty pan with grease – the longer you leave it to dry, the tougher it becomes to wash off.
As the oil sits in your hair for a long period of time, it will start to attract dirt and dust which will get trapped in your hair and scalp.
The dirt and dust will coat your scalp and hair and block your pores a – leading to dandruff and an itchy scalp which will lead to greasy and sticky hair.
To counteract this, you will need to shampoo your hair 2-3 times to get out all the oil – and using so much shampoo will overdry your hair causing more hair fall and brittle hair.
So ideally, you should not leave the oil in your hair overnight or for days. It is going to have negative effects on your hair.
There are no added benefits to leaving oil in your hair for more than 2 hours.
How many times should I oil my hair in a week?
You should oil your hair 1-2 times a week if your hair is damaged, weak and brittle.
If you have pretty healthy hair, then once a week is sufficient.
Remember not to oil your hair every day.
Our hair requires breathing space and too much oil will coat the hair strands – making it heavy and greasy and unable to breathe.
If you leave the oil in your hair every day, you are going to attract a lot of dirt and dust which will coat your hair strands and lead to unhealthy hair and a dirty and greasy scalp.
How often should I oil my hair for growth?
There is nothing in this world that can make your hair grow faster.
However, a healthy hair routine like this will help you maintain strong and healthy hair – this means your hair won’t break easily and will not fray at the ends.
Split ends actually stunt your hair growth because damaged hair grows slower.
By ensuring that your hair is healthy and keeping your hair clean, you can make sure your hair grows at its optimum speed.
Should I comb my hair after oiling?
Always comb your hair before oiling to detangle and remove knots.
When you apply oil to your hair, your hair cuticles open to absorb the oil – this leaves your hair weak and vulnerable to breakage.
Combing your hair will cause a lot of breakages and split ends.
You should avoid heavy styling or combing your hair when it’s wet or has oil in it.
What is the best way to apply oil to hair?
You want to start with clean hair.
If your hair is wet or has hair products in it, it’s not going to absorb the oil, because all the space inside the cuticles will be sealed with product and water.
This will render the oil application useless.
- Warm the oil a bit. This will break down the molecules in oils with fatty acids (like coconut oil) and help your hair absorb the oil easily. It will also increase blood circulation to the scalp making oil absorption easier.
- Detangle your hair. Make sure that you have thoroughly detangled your hair and that there are no knots in it.
- Apply it gently to the scalp. Massage the oil into your scalp with soft circular finger motions.
- Apply oil to the lengths of your hair. Now with a preying motion, coat your fingers with oil and rub your hair between them from top to bottom, gently coating all the hair with oil. You can do this in sections so that you apply oil uniformly throughout your hair.
- Tie it up in a loose bun. If your hair is long, make sure that you tie it up in a loose bun. You can also use a satin scrunchy like this.
- Wrap a warm towel around your hair. This step is optional, but the heat will help your hair cuticles open up and absorb the oil faster.
- Use a clarifying shampoo. If you use heavy oils, you need to make sure that the shampoo doesn’t strip the moisture from your hair and at the same time removes all the excess oil coating your hair strands. Use a shampoo with apple cider vinegar in it like this one. This will not only get rid of dandruff but will leave your hair soft and shiny.
Why do I lose hair when I apply oil?
There are many reasons why you may be losing hair when you’re applying oil.
1. You may be massaging your hair vigorously
When your hair is wet with water or has oil in it, your hair cuticles open up to absorb the moisture and the hair oil.
This leaves your hair weak and vulnerable.
At this stage, you have to be very gentle with your hair.
If you tie your hair tightly or massage it furiously, you could be snapping off hair strands and this leads to hair fall.
2. You may be leaving the hair oil in for too long
You should not leave hair oil for more than 2 hours.
If you leave it for longer, the oil will weigh down your hair and attract dust and dirt.
This will coat your hair strands leading to dandruff and an itchy scalp.
After 2 hours, you must wash your hair gently with a clarifying shampoo.
Using a clarifying shampoo will help remove all the hair oil and product build-up while ensuring that it’s not stripping your hair of moisture.
Use a shampoo like the Pura D’or Apple Cider Vinegar shampoo. These kinds of shampoos remove all the oil and buildup while leaving your hair soft and shiny.
3. You may have low-porosity hair
Low porosity hair basically means your hair has trouble absorbing moisture.
When you have low-porosity hair, you need moisture, not protein.
I talk about how to take care of low-porosity hair in this post.
But basically, if your hair is protein-rich, then oiling your hair frequently is only going to make it more brittle.
If you pull at your hair strand and it breaks easily or snaps without any stretch, this could mean that your hair has too much protein.
It’s essential to have a protein and moisture balance in order to have healthy hair.
What happens if I don’t wash the oil out of my hair all the way?
If you don’t wash all the oil out of your hair, your hair is going to have a lot of build-ups.
Oil attracts dirt.
And the oil in your hair is going to seal your hair which will not allow your hair to breathe or absorb more moisture.
Instead, it will get clogged with dirt and dust and this will make your hair more prone to breakage.
If you leave some oil in your hair, you’ll notice that your scalp will feel greasy and dirty after a while.
A little oil goes a long way.
So, avoid keeping it in your hair for long, and make sure you wash it all off after 2 hours.