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What happens if you leave oil in your hair overnight?

Oiling hair has many benefits. However, leaving hair oil overnight might not be such a good idea.
Woman oiling her hair
Watch how long you keep the hair oil. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 24 Sep 2023, 10:30 am IST
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Many women believe that the secret behind beautiful hair is oiling the hair regularly. While it can restore moisture in your hair, you also need to make sure you don’t have oil in your hair for too long. Many people like to apply hair oil at night and then go off to sleep, thinking keeping oil in hair overnight will make hair thicker and stronger. Read on to find out what an expert has to say about leaving hair oil overnight.

What are the benefits of oiling hair?

To understand the benefits of oiling hair, it is important you know about a hair follicle. It is made up of the cuticle coating the cortex with a central medulla, explains Dr Saijal Gupta, Visiting Consultant, Department of Dermatology, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Dehradun. The cuticle is the outermost layer offering protection against environmental damage and a smooth well-oiled cuticle gives gloss to the hair follicle.

oil massage
Oiling hair has benefits, but keep an eye on the duration. Image Courtesy: Freepik.

Here are some benefits of oiling your hair regularly:

• Oils such as coconut oil and almond oil are rich is fatty acids and triglycerides, so they coat the cuticle to make it smooth and so, impart shine to hair.
• Many oils are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and E that protect against free radical and environmental damage.
• Certain oils have antibacterial and antifungal properties.
• A gentle massage of the scalp while oiling improves blood circulation to the scalp which helps to improve scalp health and in turn, promotes healthy hair.

What happens when you leave hair oil overnight?
Women, especially with dry and frizzy hair, might think that leaving hair oil overnight is best solution. But here’s what can happen:

• Hair oil left overnight may block the openings of the hair follicles and cause a special type of acne called pomade acne, says Dr Gupta. It happens when you use hair products containing pore-clogging ingredients.
• Leaving hair oil for long may worsen a condition called seborrheic dermatitis, which is a fungal infection of the sebaceous glands. It causes greasy yellowish flakes on the scalp, eyebrows, behind ears and around your nose.
• Facial pigmentation can happen due to use of oil for long.

So, it’s definitely not good to leave hair oil overnight, says the expert. But then are you left asking “How long should I keep oil in my hair?” Well, oil left in the hair for 30 minutes to one hour is sufficient. Also, hair oil should be applied gently and not done vigorously as that may cause hair breakage.

Hair massage
Leaving hair oil overnight is not a good habit. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the best hair oils?

Coconut oil, which is rich in saturated fatty acid and antioxidants like vitamin E, is considered to be the best for hair, but you can try other hair oils too. Here are some options:

1. Almond oil

It is a rich source of fatty acids and vitamin E, and so helps to protect against UV radiation induced structural damage. It also softens and moisturises dry hair, and improves the elasticity of hair.

2. Olive oil

It is a rich source of fatty acids and antioxidants such as flavonoids, says Dr Gupta. It has an emollient action as it seals the cuticle and traps the moisture inside. It also has an anti-fungal activity.

3. Amla oil

A rich source of vitamin C, amla oil is protective against greying of hair caused by free radical damage. It also has antimicrobial and anti-fungal activity, says the expert.

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4. Sesame oil

It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and protects against UV damage. It moisturises the hair follicle and also improves hair growth as it has enhanced penetration into the hair follicle and improves scalp circulation.

Looking for some hair oils to boost your hair health? Check out the best hair oils here!

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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