As curly clients hunt for products to tame frizz, enhance vitality and add shine, it’s time to polish up on your oil repertoire.
By Susan Johnston
Not too very long ago, the very mention of oils in hair products was unthinkable.
“Traditionally, oils weren’t considered desirable because they added weight and tackiness,” says John Davis, co-founder and CEO of AG Hair Cosmetics. “Had you asked me two years ago, I would have told you that all of our products were oil-free. But, people see oils very differently now.”
That’s because there’s an oil boom in the making, as clients everywhere are asking for more ways to calm their frizz, while ensuring health and shine. Product companies are answering the call with a plethora of oil options.
While the boom is new, oils themselves aren’t. For centuries, women around the world used different botanical oils to lend their hair healthy sheen and appealing fragrance.
In September, AG Hair Cosmetics is launching The Oil, an argan-infused product designed to smooth and hydrate the hair without weighing it down. The Oil is the latest in an impressive lineup of professional, botanical and oil-based products that have hit the market in this buzzed-about category. Argania spinosa kernel oil, or argan oil, has been the superstar, with companies such as Moroccanoil, Agadir, Orofluido and DermOrganic creating entire lines around it. Argan oil is produced from the kernels of the argan tree, which is indigenous to southwestern Morocco. The oil softens thick, coarse and unruly hair, and brings shine to dull hair. High in vitamin E, argan oil also provides natural UV protection, which is especially beneficial for color treated hair, but works on all hair types.
While argan oils are definitely the most popular in this vast market, many companies have been blending it with other popular, health-boosting ingredients such as pequi and amla oils.
For example, Macadamia Natural Oil combines argan with macadamia seed oils. Michael Cain, education manager for Macadamia Natural says, “with the matching of those two oils, the performance of the product is unparalleled as far as the absorbency and as far as the great benefits. The combination of the two oils gives hair elasticity which prevents breakage and split ends.”
Although some people expect hair oils to leave a greasy residue, Cain says these oils can actually have the opposite effect, even with daily use. “A lot of people who have finer hair will typically have an oilier scalp,” he explains. “This helps even out the porosity in your hair.” The oils also speed up blow-drying time, similar to the way oil and water separate.
When combined with an oil, certain extracts like aloe vera, which is said to heal minor skin injuries, can help repair a scalp that’s been damaged by chemical processing.
“If the scalp is on the dry side, most of the time, you need to have a combination of natural and synthetic materials,” says Dr. Ali Syed, president of Avlon Industries and master chemist for Syntonics formulations.
“Botanicals have been around for a long time and as styles changed, things become sort of cyclical,” says Syed. He adds that botanical oils are gaining popularity among health-conscious consumers who have been “pushing the envelope toward natural ingredients in food, personal care, and health.”
One of the pioneers in the oil boom is Moroccanoil, which introduced its signature Moroccanoil three years ago. Driven by the success of the initial products, the company has been introducing new products ever since, says Moroccanoil artistic director Antonio Corral Calero.
The popularity of the products was especially evident among curly clients and the stylists who use them. As a result, the company answered the demand with several curl-specific products containing its argan oil. The line now boasts a curl-defining mousse, curl control cream and intense curl cream. Moroccanoil infuses their argan oil with vitamin A, E and F to protect against free-radicals.
“What makes our curl line so unique is that the formulas work on dry and wet hair,” says Calero. “These formulations not only make styling easier, but they also decrease frizz, make curls more manageable, and restore moisture to the hair.”
Now there are a number of great oils available, including: Mizani Supreme Oil; Oscar Blandi products with jasmine oil; Oribe Haircare’s oilinfused products; and Alterna’s Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil.