Why You Should Be Using Dry Oil in Your Hair

Updated on December 31st, 2020
dry oil benefits

It may seem like a wonderful concept today, but using oil in daily skin routines was once regarded as a faux-pas! Now, oil reigns as one of the cleanest beauty ingredients. Face oils, oil cleansing, and of course, essential oils are trending.

As more green beauty products hit the market, you might notice some oils that are promoted as “dry,” specifically for body oils. Here’s what that means.

What is a dry oil?

Have you recently noticed a luxe product labeled “dry oil”? Dry oils have been trending everywhere, and if you need some clarity about this oxymoron, you’re not alone.

How could something wet, liquid, and moisturizing also be dry? What’s the difference between dry and wet oils? And most importantly, are dry and wet oils meaningful distinctions that prove to be more than just a passing trend?

For the sake of lucidity, let’s start by stating that dry oil is somewhat of a misnomer because the term relates to the rate at which oil absorbs into the skin. While the term is rather fresh, the concept has been around for decades.

Many aromatherapists, herbalists, and product formulators refer to dry oils as quick-absorbing and lightweight oils used in hair and skin care. Lamentably, there is no hard-and-fast classification for which oils are defined as dry.

But there’s a consensus among beauty experts that they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely linoleic, and encompass seed, vegetable, and herbal oils.

Dry Oil Benefits

What are the benefits of using dry oil?

Dry oils provide the same moisturizing benefits as wet oils without leaving a sticky residue on the hair or skin. Several people prefer dry oils because they absorb into the skin within seconds of application.

Some potential benefits of dry oil include:

1. Moisturizes Skin 

Most dry oils, such as safflower and sunflower, contain linoleic acid. This fatty acid may keep the skin moisturized by supporting it to maintain its water permeability barrier.

2. Increases collagen production

 A 2013 research on rats discovered that applying avocado oil to the skin may increase collagen synthesis (collagen production) and decrease inflammation.

3. Improves cracked or dry skin.

A 2011 research shows that applying avocado oil is an excellent way to moisturize damaged, dry, or chapped skin.

4. Helps combat signs of aging

Studies on rats suggest that sesame oil’s high number of antioxidants might reduce the skin’s oxidative stress. In theory, this could help protect the skin from premature aging [3].

5. Reduces sun damage

Rosehip oil contains substantial amounts of antioxidants that can protect the skin from damage caused by the sun’s UV (ultraviolet rays).

6. Promote skin barrier repair

Studies have ascertained that the linoleic acid in sunflower oil can maintain the skin’s integrity and help repair the skin barrier.

7. Helps control eczema

The moisturizing abilities of dry oils might help manage itchy and dry skin caused by eczema.

8. Using dry oil for hair

Applying a dry oil can help moisturize the hair, plus reduce frizziness and breakage caused by dryness.

Studies have identified that oils containing monounsaturated and saturated fats penetrate the hair better than those with polyunsaturated fats [4]. So, the best option for our hair might be to pick a dry oil that consists of mostly monounsaturated fats, like avocado oil.

To apply: Add a few drops of dry oil to the hair when it’s damp, then comb through the oil.

9. Using dry oil for skin

Most dry oils have linoleic acid, which is believed to help keep the skin hydrated and maintain its natural moisture barrier.

A small 2012 research with 19 participants observed that sunflower oil more effectively improved hydration than olive oil when applied to the skin. Studies have also discovered that this fatty acid may help lessen inflammation in the skin.

To apply: After a warm bath or shower, rub a dry oil on the skin to add moisture.

10. Dry oil on nails

The same moisturizing ability of dry oil that benefits the skin and hair may also be good for the nails. Applying dry oil to the cuticles may help prevent cracking and nail dryness.

To apply: Rub a few drops of dry oil between the palms to warm it, then massage it into the cuticles.

Other benefits and uses 

There’s some proof that applying dry oils to the skin can help with wound healing. Studies have found that applying oleic acid to surgical wounds can expedite the rate of wound closure. The bulk of the fatty acids in avocado oil, for instance, are oleic acid.

See Also
Damp Hair

One 2017 study noted that a gentle massage with sesame oil minimized pain in limb trauma patients.

What forms does dry oil come in?

Dry oil comes in multiple forms, including:

1. As a spray – Most dry oils come in a spray bottle, making it easier to apply to your skin or hair.

2. In a dropper bottle – Some dry oil brands come in a dropper bottle, which is helpful when applying a few drops to your skin, nails, or hair.

3. In shampoos – Few shampoos may incorporate dry oils in their ingredients for easy application to the hair.

4. In moisturizers – Some moisturizers and skincare products may also include dry oil in their ingredients.

Side effects and precautions

Dry oils are usually safe for topical use and unlikely to cause any serious negative effects. As with any new material you apply to the skin, though, you could possibly have an allergic reaction to an oil.

Side effects of an allergic reaction can include:

  • rash
  • itchiness
  • swelling
  • irritation
  • redness

Before you use new oil for the first time, you might want to apply it to just a small section of the skin, then wait 24 hours to see how the skin reacts. This will help you determine whether you are allergic to the oil.

Where to get dry oil?

You may buy dry oil at most stores that sell cosmetics. They are also widely available online.

Bottom Line

The term “dry oil” relates to any oil that dries instantly on the skin. Most dry oils come from vegetables, herbs, or seeds. Many can moisturize the hair or skin without the sticky residue that wet oils often leave.

Just remember: The initial time you apply any new skincare product, it’s a good idea to apply it to only a small section of the skin and wait for a day to make sure you are not allergic before using it on the whole body.

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