It’s no secret that men and women in the Mediterranean region have lush shiny hair. Some of it is obviously their genetic makeup, but a lot of the credit goes to olive oil, which is an essential part of their cuisine. Olive oil extracted from the olive fruit by pressing is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants called phenols that have heart-protective, nerve-protective, and cancer-preventive benefits.1 2 3 While there’s no scientific research on olive oil’s benefits for the hair, here’s how olive oil can benefit your scalp and hair.
1. Prevents Premature Graying And Hair Fall
If you are losing hair to stress, or your hair is going gray before time, olive oil may help. Everyday metabolic processes as well as environmental toxins give rise to reactive chemicals called free radicals in the body. These damage cells and cause inflammation, leading to oxidative stress inside the body. In the hair cells, free radicals like hydrogen peroxide can kill the melanin-forming cells that give hair its color. They also increase hair fall.
Olive antioxidants can act against these free radicals and protect the hair from graying and other oxidative damage. Olive oil mixed with herbal oils or natural extracts like hibiscus and fenugreek can improve follicular growth and reduce hair loss.4 5 You may also mix brahmi and Indian gooseberry oil with your olive oil.
Moreover, research shows that when you apply a serum with natural antioxidants to your hair strands, it not only protects your hair from UV rays but also improves the overall texture, color, and shine in your strands.6
2. Moisturizes Hair And Scalp
Olive oil is a rich source of fatty acids essential for improving our skin and hair structure. It contains tocopherol or vitamin E and fatty acids like oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, and linoleic acid that form a protective layer around the strands and prevent moisture loss. Olive oil has a strong permeability and for this reason, it can effectively moisturize hair follicles. 7
In fact, one of the great ways to ensure hair is protected and remains soft is to massage your scalp and hair once or twice a week with olive oil. Olive oil works for most hair types, except maybe those with very fine hair. It is a great oil for those with frizzy or extremely rough and curly hair.
3. Protects From Sun Damage
Whether you are including olive oil in your diet or applying it, it is very beneficial for your body. According to a study done on mice, application of olive oil on skin was found to protect the skin from prolonged exposure to UVB radiation from the sun. Extra-virgin olive oil actually reduces the inflammation caused by sun exposure by forming a protective layer on the areas applied.8 Since scalp is an extension of the skin, when you apply olive oil on your scalp, you protect the hair roots and scalp from getting affected by cancer-causing UV rays. Hair exposed to the sun become rough and brittle.
4. Kills Lice
If you have a lice infestation, try the olive oil treatment. The suffocation treatment calls for applying warm olive oil to infested hair and scalp and then covering the head with a plastic shower cap for a prolonged period of time. Though the suffocation treatment is useful to a great extent, it is found that it may not have the desired effect if left on the hair for less than 12 hours. The study on the treatment, published in Pediatric Drugs Journal, shows that using olive oil as a suffocating agent (for 12 hours a day) can actually kill a considerable number of lice if the treatment is continued for 2–3 days.9 Olive oil application, however, makes it easy to run a lice comb through the hair to capture even the last living lice on the hair.
How To Apply Olive Oil On The Hair
One of the best ways to apply olive oil is applying it warm to middling hot. You need about 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin or virgin olive oil to cover your scalp and smooth through your hair. When you massage the scalp with hot oil, it stimulates the roots and helps in improving blood circulation to the scalp. It dilates the blood vessels in your scalp ensuring better blood flow to the roots, which in turn help in hair growth.10 You may also mix other herbs that naturally promote hair growth, such as brahmi, Indian gooseberry, and hibiscus. Let it stay on for a few hours or at most overnight. Wash it off with a mild herbal shampoo. Try this twice a week.
After shampooing, take a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil and apply it along the length of your cleaned, damp hair. It can serve as a natural conditioner and prevent split ends.
|↑1||Morelló, José-Ramón, Satu Vuorela, Maria-Paz Romero, Maria-José Motilva, and Marina Heinonen. “Antioxidant activity of olive pulp and olive oil phenolic compounds of the Arbequina cultivar.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 53, no. 6 (2005): 2002-2008.|
|↑2||Visioli, Francesco, Andrea Poli, and Claudio Gall. “Antioxidant and other biological activities of phenols from olives and olive oil.” Medicinal research reviews 22, no. 1 (2002): 65-75.|
|↑3||Servili, M., Baldioli, M., Selvaggini, R. et al. J Amer Oil Chem Soc (1999) 76: 873.|
|↑4||Cicerale, Sara, Lisa Lucas, and Russell Keast. “Biological activities of phenolic compounds present in virgin olive oil.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 11, no. 2 (2010): 458-479.|
|↑5||Banerjee, Pooja S., Megha Sharma, and Rajesh Kumar Nema. “Preparation, evaluation and hair growth stimulating activity of herbal hair oil.” J Chem Pharm Res 1 (2009): 261-267.|
|↑6||Fernández, Estibalitz, Blanca Martínez-Teipel, Ricard Armengol, Clara Barba, and Luisa Coderch. “Efficacy of antioxidants in human hair.” Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology 117 (2012): 146-156.|
|↑7||”Hair conditioner comprising olive oil and derivatives of olive oil and preparation method of hair conditioner”U.S. Patent Application CN 201210230450, filed 4 Jul 2012.|
|↑8||Budiyanto, Arief, Nazim U. Ahmed, An Wu, Toshinori Bito, Osamu Nikaido, Toshihiko Osawa, Masato Ueda, and Masamitsu Ichihashi. “Protective effect of topically applied olive oil against photocarcinogenesis following UVB exposure of mice.” Carcinogenesis 21, no. 11 (2000): 2085-2090.|
|↑9||Mumcuoglu, Kosta Y. “Prevention and treatment of head lice in children.” Pediatric Drugs 1, no. 3 (1999): 211-218.|
|↑10||The benefits of scalp massage for hair loss. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.|