Guide to Doing an Effective Hot Oil Treatment on Black Hair

We outline what you need to know about hot oil treatments and how to get the most out of them.

Updated November 28, 2023
Hair treatment

Maintaining healthy Black hair doesn’t have to be complicated. If you want to take your hair care step further than your everyday routine (like the right diet, shampoo, and conditioner), using a hot oil treatment can help you achieve your goals. Hot oil treatments are used to protect, nourish, and give your tresses the extra layer of treatment it needs.

We've gathered the basics of what you need to know about hot oil treatments, including benefits, the types of oils that are generally used, and how to get the most out of them.

Benefits of Hot Oil Treatments

Hot oil treatments are miracles for your manes. They can help to do the following:

  • Promote hair strength and growth

  • Moisturize hair

  • Minimize breakage

  • Reduce dandruff

  • Decrease the amount of split ends you see

  • Shrink the level of frizziness you notice 

When to Do Hot Oil Treatments on Your Hair

You can use hot oil treatments regularly in your hair. Some people use them monthly, biweekly, or weekly, but how frequently you do a treatment depends on your hair's texture and conditioning. However, if you notice that your hair is on the brittle, frizzy side or you color-treated your hair, it might be time to reach for the hot oil. 

Choosing the Right Oil

An important part of doing a hot oil treatment is choosing the right oils for your hair needs. These can be oils that are already mixed or oils that you mix yourself. Different oils offer different benefits and nourishment for your hair.

Beneficial Oils That Will Penetrate Hair 

Hair that is dry or damaged will gain the most benefit from oils that penetrate the hair. These oils can penetrate the hair cuticle to nourish your hair.

  • Coconut oil is one of the best oils for hair as it conditions and strengthens hair and can reduce dandruff. Coconut oil locks moisture in the hair shaft due to its high moisture-retaining capability that does not easily break down in water. Natural or virgin coconut oil has a high concentration of fatty acids that nourish the hair with protein and produce long, strong hair.
  • Avocado oil contains vitamins, amino acids, and proteins that retain moisture, strengthen hair, and promote growth and shine. It is rich in biotin, vitamins E and B-5, and antioxidants that repair your hair and fight frizz. Avocado oil is a lightweight oil that will absorb into skin and hair and stimulate blood flow for hair growth.
  • Olive oil is another favorite nutrient-rich oil for black hair that can reduce split ends. It is rich in vitamins E and A and polyphenols that give it antifungal properties. It can also help with dandruff and lice removal. Olive oil absorbs into hair and skin and any residual oil will rinse easily from hair. It's an effective treatment for producing soft hair with shine.

Oils That Coat and Seal Hair

These oils have a higher fat content than oils that will absorb into hair and skin. They cover the hair cuticle, sealing in water, protein, and moisture from other oils that penetrate the hair. These oils are good options for healthy hair that does not show signs of dryness or damage — maintenance oils, if you will.

  • Castor oil has been shown to moisturize and promote hair growth. It's a thicker oil that works well for combating frizz and strengthening hair. It's high in minerals, protein, vitamin E, and Omega 6 fatty acids. Pure castor oil is clear in color and has no odor. Jamaican black castor oil has the ash of roasted castor beans added to the castor oil which gives it the black color. It does have a smoky odor.
Quick Tip

Both pure and Jamaican black castor oils will soak into the scalp to nourish hair and stimulate hair growth. Choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference.

  • Jojoba oil closely resembles the sebum that is naturally produced by our skin. It's a good option to keep your scalp healthy as it has antibacterial properties. It is high in vitamins A and E as well as antioxidants. Jojoba oil is a good choice for dry hair and scalp. It will moisturize the hair and help minimize split ends and breakage.
  • Grapeseed oil is a natural thermal protectant that is effective in moisturizing the hair to keep it in great condition. It produces stronger hair and is an effective dandruff treatment due to the high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, and vitamin E aids in hair growth. This oil is a good choice for those with brittle hair.
Need to Know

Other beneficial oils you can consider for the hot oil treatment are argan and almond. Both oils absorb into the hair and scalp quickly.

Premixed Oils Worth Trying

Sometimes, you're just not in the mood to make your own hair concoctions and would rather buy something from the store or online. When you decide to do that, there are a couple of classic hot oils to consider.

  • African Pride Olive Miracle Anti-Breakage Formula has received rave consumer reviews for producing soft, shiny hair. It is a blend of many oils including olive oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil. It can be purchased online or at Walmart for around $9.
  • African Royale Hot Six Hair Oil is a best seller that is an all-over body oil. It contains olive oil, castor oil, sweet almond oil, and herbal oils and extracts. Consumers say that this oil helps with itchy scalp, hair growth, and breakage. It can be purchased online or through Walmart for less than $10.

Making Your Own Hot Oil Treatment

If you want to make your own hot oil, here's a basic method. Many people experiment with different oils to find the combination that works best for them. 

  1. Choose an oil or a combination of oils of your choice. You can try using a mixture of olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, and almond oil. You can use all of the oils or pick one or two to use for your hot oil treatment. All of the oils above will moisturize your hair and hydrate the scalp. Coconut oil hardens when it is cool.
  2. Keep your hair warm or at least at room temperature while coconut oil is in your hair. Make about a cup of your own hot oil mix. You need enough of the oil to cover your hair, from root to tip, so it may be necessary to use less than a cup or make a little more depending on the length and thickness of your hair.
  3. Heat the oils in a small saucepan until the mixture is warm to the touch. The oil is going on your hair and scalp, so make sure that it is lukewarm. Again, if the oil is overheated, let it sit for a few minutes to cool.
Quick Tip

Although microwaving is faster, it's not recommended because the oil may get too hot. Microwaving may also negatively impact some of the nutrients in the oils.

How to Do a Hot Oil Treatment at Home 

The process for applying a hot oil treatment is similar whether you're using a prepackaged hot oil treatment or your own mix. To use a treatment that has been purchased from a store, use the product according to the directions on the package. 

Though many stylists suggest using hot oil on freshly washed hair, be sure to read the manufacturer's directions regarding shampooing if you're using a packaged oil. 

1. Heat the Oil 

Heat the oil as above or according to package instructions. Be careful not to allow the product to get too hot or it may burn your scalp. Let the product sit and cool off if it gets too hot.

2. Apply the Oil to the Hair

Apply from the container, or if using homemade oil, use a small squeeze bottle like the kind that's used to color hair. 

Massage the product throughout your hair, making sure that all of your hair is covered with the oil. The hair does not have to be overly greasy, just slightly oily. Do not rub the hair too harshly as this can cause tangles and breakage.

Quick Tip

Be sure to work the oil evenly through your hair focusing on the ends and mid-shaft. Work some oil into the roots before you wrap your hair.

3. Put on a Cap

Put a plastic cap on the hair and get under the dryer for a few minutes to help it retain heat as it penetrates the hair.

If you don't have a hood dryer, throw a bath towel in the dryer or a damp hand towel in the microwave for about twenty seconds (get it very warm but not too hot to handle). Wrap the towel around the plastic cap. If the towel cools before the time is up, reheat the towel and re-wrap it.

4. Let the Oil Treat the Hair

Let the oil penetrate through your hair according to package instructions, or for about 15 minutes. For a relaxing hot oil treatment, take a warm bath while the oil penetrates in hair.

5. Rinse the Oil Out 

Next, gently rinse the hot oil treatment out of the hair and style it as usual. For the best results, do not shampoo the hot oil treatment out of the hair. You are simply rinsing it so that the benefits of the oil will remain in your hair. If your hair is too oily after rinsing the treatment out of your hair, wash your hair with a mild natural shampoo.

Tips and Tricks

To achieve healthy looking hair with hot oil treatments, it simply comes down to knowing what your hair needs and choosing the right oils. The process is the same whether you have natural or relaxed hair. A few tips to keep in mind when treating are:

  • If you are using a premixed oil, read the all manufacturer's directions before doing the hot oil treatment.
  • It's important not to get the oil too hot. An alternative to the heating method above is to place it in a cup or bowl and place that in a bowl of boiling water, like you were making a cup of tea. Check the temperature with your fingers until you get the right temperature.
  • If you have an allergic reaction to the hot oil treatment, still experience dry scalp and hair, or have psoriasis or eczema, speak to your dermatologist.

Keeping Your Hair Healthy

Hot oil treatments done at home can be just as effective as those from a salon, so next time your hair's feeling a little lifeless it can be worth a try. It's an easy and affordable way to keep your hair healthy and looking beautiful. 

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Guide to Doing an Effective Hot Oil Treatment on Black Hair