My relationship with hair oil thus far reads a bit like this: get swept up by the idea of intensively hydrating my bleached ends; cautiously apply a few drops; watch as my strands clump together in one hot greasy mess; spend 20 minutes trying to wash it out; then wallow in my beauty editor fail.
You see, I LOVE the idea behind hair oil and there’s a strong case for using it.
‘It’s hard for oil on the scalp to travel down the hair shaft and moisturise the ends,’ says Nicola Clarke, Creative Colour Director at John Frieda, whose clients include Cate Blanchette. ‘A hair oil will replenish the lipid layer on the surface of the hair and penetrate deep into the strand to strengthen weak spots. In doing so, hair oils are also good for growth as they make hair more resistant to breakage.’
Which is all good in theory, but I HATE how dirty oils make my strands feel – like I haven’t washed my hair since last week’s sweaty spin class.
I should also mention that I have whisper-fine hair, which generally needs strand expanding not slopping down.
So I officially broke up with hair oil to spare my colour, pride and water bill respectively. That is until two new, high-tech iterations landed on my desk that are lightweight yet effective and don’t involve all that heavy schmearing.
The first is the much-hyped Olaplex Bonding Oil.
Yup, the same game changers who developed the first bonding treatment, that meant you could go bright blonde with less breakage, have created what they’re calling a ‘weightless reparative styling oil’.
Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil, £26, Space NK
In other words, the Olaplex Bonding Oil is hair oil you can smother parched strands in when you want to baby it but also use pre tools in place of a heat protecting spray.
One pump does everything (protects up to 450°F, smoothes frizz, adds shine).
Turns out, the Olaplex Bonding Oil was only the tip of the iceberg and a precursor for my new hair oil addiction. A few days later a sample of the Virtue Healing Oil arrived and cemented my conversion.
All Virtue products contain the Alpha Keratin 60ku protein – a sciencey term for the first ever protein extracted from real human hair.
Virtue Healing Oil, £40, Cult Beauty
Why is this important? The protein is identical to the keratin in your hair, says Adir Abergel, Virtue’s Creative Director and hair stylist to Saoirse Ronan, on whose hair he debuted the hair oil for the Golden Globes.‘When you apply it, your strands recognise the protein as their own, making it more effective at repairing damage than animal-derived keratin.’
As this keratin protein isn’t oil soluble, the clever folks at Virtue have created a ‘shake to activate’ formula.
This means the keratin lives inside the bottle without being diluted so you get a fresh dose with each application, alongside melon seed oil and a natural form of vitamin E for added lustre.
I now have both the Olaplex Bonding Oil and Virtue Healing Oil on rotation and use each once a week for a shot of much needed moisture.
The next day my hair is so well behaved I’ve found myself reconsidering putting anything else on or even blow-drying it, which is new territory for me.
Also nice: neither oil affects or alters your hair colour as some I’ve tried in the past made my blonde brassy.
Assuming you don’t have your heart set on dull, parched hair this winter, add these oils to your routine now.
From one hair oil hater to another: you won’t be disappointed…