Is Oil-Infused Shampoo The Solution For Dry/Oily Hair?

Oily on top, dry on bottom. Anyone else have this problem?
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Publish date:
December 3, 2014
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Silicones, dry hair, ogx, Shu Uemura, l' oreal, Kukui Nut Oil, oil-infused shampoo, Oleo Therapy

As a chronic hair-washing procrastinator I resort to a handful of unspeakable methods to prolong a blow-out in the wintertime. And not without good reason: The frigid, dry air turns my hair into some sort of electro-magnetic field of static.

It's nothing some dryer sheets couldn’t quell, save for the fact that my scalp feels dry and flaky but the hair near my roots gets oily after a second day of non-washing. Was my hair not in the delicate shape of being chemically damaged from mid-shaft to ends, and robustly oily at the roots, I’d gladly be a Head & Shoulders girl, but that is not the case.

My hair already gets a nurturing oil treatment via a concoction of coconut, argan, and jojoba oils that I spritz on my towel-dried ends after a shower, making my strands feel not just lively but soft--dare I say silky--despite its porous state. So I was intrigued by oil-infused shampoos, a growing star on salon and drugstore shelves.

Here are some tried and tested offerings from the oil-based gods of shampoo.

L’Oréal OleoTherapy Oil Infused Shampoo

L’Oréal’s Sulfate-Free System line is definitely a gold-star find for affordable good quality hair stuff. It didn’t surprise me at all that it was at the helm of Google findings when searching for "oil-infused shampoos." Free of sulfates (duh), parabens, and harsh ingredients, this shampoo coyly hints at a “six flower oil” formula. Which flowers? A shampoo never tells! Skimming the ingredient list, I spied argania spinosa kernel oil (aka Argan oil), coconut oil, chamomilla recutita flower extract (from chamomile flowers), gardenia tahitensis flower extract (gardenia flowers), rosa canina flower extract (dog roses), nelumbium speciosum flower extract (lotus flowers), and linum usitatissimum flower extract (from flax).

Not bad company, albeit they were lingering middle-to-end of the list. The shampoo is thicker and more gel-like than most shampoos, and it has a surprising amount of lather despite its lack of sulfates. My hair definitely felt clean without being crispy after using this. The scent is faintly floral, kind of like laundry detergent’s interpretation of what flowers smells like.

Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo

Now here’s a shampoo worthy of worship. The back of the bottle boasts a “paraben and silicone-free formula with Onsen inspired ferment known in Japan for their purifying virtues, gently cleanses all hair types while respecting the balance of the scalp.” If there is one thing my scalp is lacking, it’s RESPECT.

Onsen refers to Japanese hot springs, reaping all that nutrient-rich volcanic earth “ferment” to…clean your hair. Fear not, the scent is wonderful: freshly citrusy with warm musk notes that linger long after your hair is dried. The oil in question appears to be avocado oil, according to the ingredient list. I suppose they’re really banking on that Onsen ferment to do the job. My hair felt wonderfully soft after using this--and it smelled AMAZING. Only downside to this shampoo: sulfates. Boo.

OGX Kukui Oil Shampoo

What I like to call a high-class drugstore option, OGX has a plethora of hair-pampering products, generally sorted by ingredient. Full of fatty acids and vitamins A, C, and E, the kukui nut, from Hawaii, is generally hailed as a skin moisturizer and protector. But the ingredient is also aces at treating dry, itchy scalp, as well as absorbing into the hair shaft to moisturize and fill in porosity.

I like how OGX plainly marks what shampoo/conditioner line does what; this one is labeled “hydrate + defrizz.” It doesn’t surprise me then that dimethicone is on the ingredients list. It's a popular silicone for smoothing and resisting humidity, but it's also water insoluble and can contribute to build-up (fine haired shampooers beware). Since shampoo is a rinse-out product and not a serum (which dimethicone is commonly found in) that remains on your hair, this probably isn’t a big problem. For my chemically damaged hair, I avoid dimethicone so the good ingredients in my hair products actually have a chance to penetrate the shaft rather than be blocked by silicones.

It may feel like a weird concept, washing your hair with oil-based products, but if the oil-cleansing method works for faces worldwide, why not give it a chance on your hair?

  • That said, how do we feel about that whole slicked-back wet hair look anyway?
  • What are your favorite oils for hair nourishment?
  • Anyone ever try to add oil into their regular shampoo? I salute you.