Since we first discovered them, oils have been changing our hair game for the (much) better, imparting shine, bounce, and softness where there formerly was none—they’re basically the fast track to perfect hair. Still, like skin care oils, hair oils are a tricky breed, and it’s important to know not only how to use hair oil properly, but how to find the right one for you in the first place. Don’t start slathering the stuff on until you’ve considered these four factors.
Stay away from your roots.
Applying oil anywhere near your roots is a major no-no: Hair naturally gets oily at the roots, so adding oil to the area while styling will weigh hair down, eliminating body and bounce, and make it look totally lackluster and, well, dirty. As a general rule, you should start applying oil several inches down away from your scalp, focusing on the midlengths and ends, to tend to the drier areas while avoiding the areas that don’t need extra oil.
You can always add more.
As is the case with most hair products, it’s best to start with a little less than you think you need and to build up from there if you haven’t applied enough. You can always add more oil to your hair after you’ve styled a bit to see if you actually need more, but once you’ve gotten a little carried away there’s no going back, short of a thorough hair-washing. Start with a couple of drops and add more as you see fit—don’t go all out on the first application!
Choose the right formula for you.
This is particularly important for those who have finer hair types—there are oils you can use (plenty of them, at that!), but choosing one that’s too heavy is nothing but a recipe for disaster. Look for lightweight oils that are targeted towards fine strands, and apply them only to the dry parts of your hair, particularly at the ends and anywhere you have damage or breakage. Conversely, choosing an oil that’s too lightweight for thick, frizzy, or coarse hair may not get the job done, so look for thicker, richer formulas if you need that extra hydration.
Know your ingredients.
Silicones, mineral oil, isopropyl alcohol, and more—all of these ingredients can potentially harm or dry out your hair, or infuse your hair with “shine” that’s nothing more than a fake-out plastic coating. Unfortunately, these ingredients also pop up all too frequently in mass-market hair products, so know what you’re getting into when you pick something up off the shelf. Oils are fairly straightforward, so if there’s something on the label that you’ve never heard of before, or that seems unnecessary—where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Look for pure oils, like argan, almond, grapeseed, and coconut.
Read more from Daily Makeover: 10 Hair Products You Should Never (Ever!) Use