Whether your hair is very dry or heat-damaged, it can benefit greatly from an oil treatment. In particular, a hot oil treatment is a great option for low porosity hair. Heat opens the hair's cuticle allowing the oil to penetrate the hair shaft and make the treatment more effective. In order to get great results, you don't need to purchase a product that is specifically formulated for this purpose.

Woman applying product to hair
Lilly Wallace

Certain cooking oils, such as coconut oil, are excellent options for hair care. With the addition of essential oils, you can make your own oil treatment blend and extend the benefits to your scalp as well. The results may include reduced hair breakage; stronger, shinier, smoother strands; and a healthier scalp. You may even be able to skip conditioner after washing your hair!

Choosing the Right Oil for Your Hair

Consider Coconut Oil

According to a 2003 study, coconut oil is one of the very few plant oils that is able to penetrate the hair shaft due to its chemical structure, which has an affinity for hair protein. The 2003 study found that coconut oil can significantly reduce hair's protein loss for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash treatment.

coconut oil jar
Lilly Wallace

The amount of oil you'll need to apply to your hair depends on your hair length. For medium hair, one to two tablespoons will do the trick.


If you do not like the scent of virgin coconut oil, you can use refined coconut oil. The refined version does not have the characteristic coconut scent. Bonus: It also makes a great cooking alternative to butter.

Consider Adding Essential Oils

While scientists agree that there is not enough evidence to prove it, rosemary essential oil has been used for treating hair loss for centuries. According to a 1998 study, patients with alopecia areata who massaged their scalp with essential oils (using a blend of rosemary, lavender, thyme, and cedarwood) experienced improvements compared to those who did not use the oils. Adding a few drops of rosemary essential oil to your hot oil treatment may stimulate the scalp, increase blood circulation and encourage hair growth.

rosemary essential oil
Lilly Wallace


Mix Up the Hot Oil Treatment

Create a double broiler using a pot and a glass bowl. Fill the pot with some water and bring to a boil, and then set the pot aside to let the water cool a bit. Put one to two tablespoons of coconut oil into a glass bowl and add up to 10 drops of the essential oil of your choice and mix with the coconut oil. Place the glass bowl containing the oil in the water and let it sit there until the coconut oil melts and the mixture is very warm.

glass jar into a glass pot
Lilly Wallace


Test the oil on your hand before placing it on your head to prevent a burn. The oil should be very warm, but not scalding hot.


With a comb, part your hair into a few sections to help you distribute the oil evenly.

Woman parting her hair with comb
Lilly Wallace

Pour a small amount of oil into the palm of your hand and massage it into the first section of your hair. Then proceed with the other sections of your hair. Apply any leftovers onto the hair ends, which are usually the driest and most damaged part of the hair.

If you added essential oils to your hot oil treatment, massage the mixture into your scalp in circular motions.

Woman massaging her scalp
Lilly Wallace

Wrap Your Hair In a Towel

Wrap your hair into a soft hair towel and let the treatment sit on your hair overnight. You can simply leave the treatment on for a few hours, however, to see a more dramatic improvement you should leave it on for about 8-10 hours.

Woman wearing a hair wrap
Lilly Wallace


Preferably, use a very soft towel like Hubalou made of bamboo fiber and is much more gentle to the hair than a microfiber towel. A soft towel helps to prevent hair breakage.

Wash Out the Treatment

Wash your hair in the morning to remove the oil. You may have to repeat the washing step to completely remove all the oil, but your hair is going to be softer, more manageable, and stronger.

Repeat treatment at least once a week. If your hair is very damaged, do the treatment two to three times a week.