To Oil or Not? The Lowdown on Oiling Your Scalp

Oiling your scalp, oiling your hair – are there benefits or are we doing ourselves more harm than good? At Antidote Street we’re always seeking to provide you beauties with informed and accurate hair care advice – misinformation is a big no-no for us!

We think this topic is a fitting way to wrap up our Scalp Series – for the past few weeks we’ve been taking an in-depth look at all the issues and conditions which affect our scalp health and providing expert guidance on how to keep your scalp – and therefore your hair – as healthy as can be. From IG Takeovers by Tola Okogwu and The Fulham Scalp & Hair Clinic, to articles by Dija Ayodele, to videos by CurlBellaa, to our top Scalp product recommendations – our Scalp Series had it all! 

The last piece in the puzzle is to figure out (hopefully once and for all) whether we should be applying oil to our hair and scalp. To do this, we’ve surveyed some of the brilliant founders of brands that we carry on Antidote Street, as well as a healthy hair advocate, as who better to provide these insights than experts who live and breathe quality hair care.



TLDR: YES to light oils on a healthy scalp, NO to heavy creams/heavy oils/hot oils - particularly on certain scalp conditions

  • Hot oils on the scalp aren't the best idea and hot oil treatments are more for the ends of the hair to keep them from breaking off. Light oil blends on the scalp are beneficial and the idea that they aren't is a common misconception.

  • From Trichology training I learnt that heavy creams or oils on the scalp aren't healthy but light oils with the ingredients we have are great for stimulating blood flow to the scalp and preventing itchiness. For a healthy scalp, oils are great - just like you moisturise your face, it's good to moisturise your scalp.

  • The misunderstanding comes from the fact that with certain scalp conditions, oils can aggravate the situation. Just as you wouldn't apply regular cream or oil to broken skin, you shouldn't apply oils when the scalp has raw wounds.

  • We generally advise that women with seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis seek medical/trichological advice before using any oils on the scalp. Many customers have (after medical advice) used Soothe to help their scalp recover. I myself have suffered from seborrheic dermatitis and used Soothe to help to get my scalp back to normal.

  • Heavy oils (e.g. castor oil) or vaseline are always a no no for the scalp but it's certainly a minority that should avoid light oils (such as Soothe) on the scalp. A recent paper showed that some oils such as tea tree oil can actually be beneficial for treating seborrheic dermatitis.



    TLDR: little scientific consensus therefore oiling the scalp must be an individual preference – and should be done only as required.

    • Various scientific studies have shown that the use of oils on the scalp can be highly effective for certain scalp conditions

      • Tea tree oil – anti dandruff  
      • Mustard oil – antifungal
      • Linoleic rich oils – prevents radiodermatitis

    • On the other hand, some studies have shown the contrary – i.e. that oiling the scalp may:

      • Exacerbate existing scalp conditions such as dandruff and itchiness
      • Mask scalp conditions
      • Block hair follicles
      • Cause allergic reactions
      • Introduce new scalp issues

    • Conclusions:
      • As with many aspects of hair care, your decision to oil or not oil your scalp will depend on your individual preferences and hair and scalp conditions.
      • When using oils on the scalp (e.g. as a topical application to relieve irritation):
        • Consider using oils sparingly e.g. as an occasional treat
        • Mix oils with a conditioner or leave-in
        • Use only as required


    TLDR: As with anything – use in moderation!

    • Oftentimes, advice from one expert will contradict the advice of another - for example, I heard one trichologist say we shouldn’t massage our scalps as this damages hair follicles. On the other hand, so many trichologists do very much recommend scalp massage as beneficial for hair growth as it increases blood flow!

    • Therefore it’s best for any advice to be followed up by your individual research, and any action or decision taken should be based on your individual lived experience.

    • Finally, and as always, whatever the product or treatment – use it in moderation!


    TLDR: Light oils only -  and wash them off thoroughly!

    • I would agree that applying oil and grease to your scalp is generally a very bad idea as it accumulates and suffocates the hair follicles. It also makes it difficult for the scalp to shed normally and disrupts the production of sebum.

    • When is applying oil to the scalp ok?

      • With a hot oil treatment, it’s fine as long as you include stimulating essential oils and you wash it out shortly after. The oil should be concentrated on the hair rather than the scalp.

      • It is also ok to use oils for scalp massages but choose light oils such as Jojoba and Broccoli seed oil.

      • Lastly, oil can be used as a carrier for active ingredients like sulphur containing compounds, black seed oil or essential oils to treat a scalp condition but once again the oil should be light or washed off the scalp regularly.

    • To be honest, the principle is sound but each person is going to have their own take on it, so I’m sure there will be plenty of people who will still disagree. This is my personal opinion and I’m not a specialist by any means.

    • The main issue is with people who use heavy greases or Vaseline often. It is also one of those things that you won’t realise is having an impact until you stop doing it.


    TLDR: Massaging oil onto your scalp is only recommended to boost hair growth.

    • Oils are not recommended for dry scalp or other scalp issues since they can make the issue worse.

    • Also, oil on healthy scalps can cause a “greasy” feeling. Healthy scalps produce enough of their own oils.

    • The Stimulating Scalp Massage Oil (SM) is meant “encourage healthy hair growth” by stimulating the scalp. Scalp massages with oils like peppermint, jojoba, coconut, lavender and rosemary have been shown to help stimulate hair growth.

    • We do not recommend using oil on the scalp except in cases where hair growth is desired. SM was developed by Jess to help with the hair loss she was experiencing.

    So what is our major conclusion about oils on the scalp? Should we or shouldn’t we? There’s seldom one easy or one correct answer to these questions, but in this case we CAN tell you:
    • If you have a healthy scalp and want to boost hair growth, DO use light oils to massage your scalp – and be sure to wash the oils off afterwards!

    • If you are looking to restore health, resilience and shine to your hair with a hot oil treatment, concentrate the oil on your HAIR – not your scalp – and again, wash it off thoroughly afterwards.

    • If you have existing scalp conditions, ALWAYS seek advice from a qualified medical professional such as a trichologist. You can refer to the Black Skin Directory for a recommended practitioner near you.

    • NEVER use heavy oils and creams on your scalp


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    Our mission is to arm you with the best products for textured hair and to guide you in finding the best routine for YOU.

    Winnie Awa, founder of Antidote Street