The practice originated 5,000 years ago and helps restore what we lose through overwashing, says Louise McSharry
Despite my years of work in beauty, I find the range of hair products available a regular state of confusion. There are simply so many products, making so many promises, it’s hard to keep up. One product which everyone can benefit from though, no matter what their hair type, is oil.
It’s understandable that some people hear the phrase ‘hair oil’ and immediately feel repelled. ‘Oily hair’ is something most of us are trying to avoid. In fact, the dry shampoo sector exists almost solely to eradicate its appearance. However, when used in the correct way, hair oil can give you the shiny, frizz-free locks of your dreams. Hair oiling originated more than 5,000 years ago in Ayurvedic medicine — this is no TikTok trend.
In 2023, we wash our hair much more frequently than the people of the previous centuries did, and therefore often strip our hair of its natural oils. Regular use of hair oil can restore the vitamins and minerals we lose through this practice. You’ll notice that your hair will look shinier and feel stronger, and the protective layer of oil on and through the shaft of the hair will prevent breakage and heat damage from styling tools.
Oiling can also improve elasticity, which, along with the sealed cuticles, will reduce the appearance of frizz. The right oil can even increase hair growth (try The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Serum for Hair Density, €21.80 via cultbeauty.com).
Not all oils are created equally, however. Dry hair will benefit from oil rich in vitamins and fatty acids and those with oily hair may find that their own oil production is balanced by the inclusion of an oil in the cleansing or styling routine (much like in skincare). Some hair oils are designed to be used as a treatment once a week or so, while others are styling products and can be used daily.
When used on damp hair, oil will penetrate more deeply and have a greater impact. Simply apply a small amount to your palms and work through the hair before brushing it through to ensure even distribution. On dry hair, you’ll see immediate results in terms of increasing shine and covering up any damage as the product will sit on the top layer of the hair follicle rather than being absorbed. Again, pop a small amount onto your hands and apply to the lengths and ends of the hair, avoiding the roots. If you have curly hair, a small amount of oil on your hands before you scrunch out dry curls will help them stay smooth and shiny.
There are countless oils on the market, and you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on them. Pay attention to the ingredients, argan and jojoba oils are two of the most popular because they are effective in locking in moisture and sealing the follicle. Moroccanoil is popular because it’s good and smells delicious. Check out the brand’s Treatment Oil (from €29 via brownthomas.com) that comes in a regular and light formula, which is good for thin hair.
Living Proof’s No Frizz Vanishing Oil (€32 via brownthomas.com) is excellent if frizz is your main concern. If you’re on a budget, L’Oréal Elvive’s Extraordinary Oil (€11.60 via citypharmacy.ie) is a good all-rounder with the vitamin rich marula oil at its core.
My personal favourite, though, is Kérastase Elixir Ultime L’Huile Originale (€42 via petermark.ie), which brought my hair back from the brink more than once during my bleaching days. It’s nourishing and protective, and conceals damage brilliantly.
Today’s ‘Something Old’ doesn’t exactly qualify as old, per se, but I had to reference it as it is very obviously part of the inspiration for today’s ‘Something New’. Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez has become incredibly successful since it launched just over two years ago. It’s most ubiquitous product is Soft Pinch Liquid Blush (€25 via spacenk.com), a light and long-lasting product which delivers pigment in spades and delivers a soft, healthy flush. This product blends beautifully, and comes in 10 shades in both matte and dewy finishes, so there’s something for everyone in the audience. Be warned: a little goes a long way with this product. Also, it’s often out of stock, so keep an eye on the Space NK website (the only option for us in Ireland) for restocks.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Beauty Wands have been an essential part of millions of beauty fans’ collections since they launched. They provide the face with a touch of blush as well as a soft-focus highlight. Now the brand is expanding its offering to include Matte Beauty Blush Wands (€36 via arnotts.ie). With sponge applicators, these come in four shades and deliver what it says on the tin: Liquid blushes which are easy to blend, delivering a healthy flush with minimal mess. They also layer well with the original beauty light wands.
Witch Hazel is a natural astringent which means it minimises the appearance of pores and draws oil from the skin by contracting skin tissue. The plant extract also helps prevent signs of aging and stops cellular damage that can lead to skin cancer. It used to be all the rage but was too strong for lots of people, resulting in red flaky skin so went by the wayside. Now it’s back, with more sophisticated formulas making it more effective and suitable for lots of skin types. Keep an eye out for it in ingredient lists!