Is Baby Oil Good For Your Hair?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
by Arshiya Syeda

Everyone knows how safe baby oil is. After all, it is made for babies. Plus, it is as cheap as they come in terms of the price point, which makes one wonder: is baby oil actually good? Or, more specifically, is baby oil good for your hair?

The short answer is yes. Baby oil, being mild in nature, is extremely gentle on the hair as well as the skin. In fact, people have confessed to using this multipurpose oil to remove makeup and even treat frostbite during the winters! Clearly, this oil packs a punch with respect to its wide-ranging applications and uses.

This article will look at the hair benefits of using this versatile potion, from adding a lustrous shine to repairing damage and boosting growth. Let us jump right in!

Can You Put Baby Oil In Your Hair?

Baby oil is just mineral oil with some fragrance and other ingredients added to it. It keeps your skin healthy and is often used in makeup removers as well as shaving creams. However, the physical properties of the oil make it appropriate to use on your hair, too.

While there is not much research to prove how beneficial baby oil is for your hair, people worldwide claim it is safe to use. Just apply a few drops on your hair and scalp and massage in a gentle circular motion.

Gently rubbing the oil in can be effective in keeping frizz down and maintaining your hair’s softness. However, using too much baby oil can make your hair greasy. As such, it might be helpful to use just a little amount every session.

Caution: While baby oil is well-tolerated, it can cause an allergic skin reaction in people who have sensitive skin. So, before going all out, make sure to do a patch test on your skin.

Follow these steps to test the baby oil before use:

  1. Take a small amount of baby oil and apply it to your elbow.
  2. Leave it on for about 24 hours.
  3. If you see any redness, itching, or irritation, discontinue use immediately.

Also, please note that this oil may cause eye irritation. So while it is safe for leaving in your hair, refrain from using it on your eyebrows and eyelashes.

Now, let us understand how baby oil works and how it can help your hair grow faster and longer.

The Science Behind How Baby Oil Helps Hair Grow Faster

I. Common Ingredients Of Baby Oil

Baby oil is essentially mineral-based or vegetable-oil based. That said, some variations may contain additives such as vitamin E oil, aloe vera gel, jojoba oil, almond oil, avocado oil, or an added fragrance for extra appeal.

The choice of ingredients ultimately depends on the brand you buy, but not all of them might be suitable for your hair. So, pick wisely!

II. How Baby Oil Works: What Does Baby Oil Do To Your Hair?

It is common knowledge that our hair is made of a protein-rich component called keratin. Ordinarily, most people experience hair growth at a rate of half an inch a month.

But, if you have dry and damaged hair, your hair strands may stop growing on account of being dead. This is where using a good-quality baby oil truly shines.

Though it is not well-researched, it is said that baby oil can work well for split ends. Simply running some baby oil through the ends of your locks can hydrate them and help them grow without a hitch.

The non-penetrating properties of mineral oils also make them last longer on the surface of dry, frizzy hair. Thus, mineral oils like baby oil add shine to your tresses.

A study found that coconut, olive, and sunflower oils can penetrate the hair shaft and thus disappear from the hair’s surface. However, mineral oil does not penetrate the shaft and stays on the surface for longer (1).

Moreover, it prevents your hair from becoming dry, brittle, and weak by moisturizing the hair shaft.

Here is a DIY baby oil hair care ritual for people who have normal to dry hair:

  1. Take 4-5 drops of baby oil onto your palm.
  2. Gently distribute it all over your hair and massage for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Rinse off after a couple of hours.

Alternatively, you can make the best use of this oil by applying a small amount to your hair ends (and not the scalp) and skin after a bath. This extra measure will keep your skin and hair hydrated and moisturized.

III. Using Baby Oil As A Scalp Massage Oil

Much like hair, your scalp also needs gentle massaging from time-to-time as it can increase blood circulation. How does this help?

Basically, if you have nutrient-rich blood flowing to the follicles, your hair is bound to grow faster and thicker (2). Plus, the mere act of massaging stimulates the production of natural oils, which can maintain moisture in dry hair.

Additionally, it ensures that the ends of your hair are well-coated with this nourishing, hydrating oil. Anecdotal evidence claims that this prevents split ends and eliminates any unnecessary breakage.

The wide-ranging benefits of baby oil are yet to be proven medically. However, personal accounts suggest that it is good to put baby oil in your hair. So, if you are wondering about its proposed benefits, check out the next section.

Top 6 Hair Benefits Of Baby Oil

1. Hydrates And Moisturizes Your Hair

While there is little research to support this claim, anecdotal evidence states that baby oil can seal in moisture and lubricate the skin. The oil does not evaporate and acts as a barrier to prevent moisture loss from your skin.

In the same vein, baby oil keeps the scalp moisturized by sealing each cuticle. This hair benefit comes in handy if you are someone who engages in excessive blow-drying and heat styling.

2. Relieves Dry Scalp, Parched Hair Ends, And Other Scalp-Related Issues

A healthy scalp leads to healthy hair. After all, the scalp is the foundation on which your hair grows.

On the other hand, a dry, flaky scalp is cause for concern and essentially paves the way for the onset of dandruff and other hair care problems. Moreover, a dry scalp can slow down hair growth and damage your hair roots.

One of the uses of baby oil for hair is lubricating the scalp. Simply massage your scalp with a few drops of moisturizing baby oil before washing your hair. This can eliminate much of the dryness and flakes.

Another area where you can use baby oil is if your baby suffers from a cradle cap. Cradle cap is an issue that causes a baby’s scalp to form crusty white or yellow scales and dandruff-like irritation. A study shows that baby oil may be a better alternative to natural oil-based remedies for cradle cap in infants, especially when caused by the Malassezia yeast (3). You can use baby oil to massage their scalp and get rid of the dry, scaly skin.

Additionally, personal findings suggest that putting a few drops of regular baby oil nourishes the scalp and reduces the risk of hair loss.

3. Makes Your Hair Stronger

Tiny holes in your hair shaft can stop it from growing and increase the chances of breakage. This characteristic also makes your hair porous and leads to plenty of water absorption.

Naturally, too much water makes your strands swell, causing it to become brittle, weak, and damaged. Add to the mix excessive hair pulling (especially if you comb your hair wet) and harsh chemical treatments, and we have a real problem.

So, here is the solution – why not use baby oil as a pre-treatment ritual before shampooing?

Baby oil behaves differently than other oils. Mineral oils like baby oil cannot penetrate the hair shaft and are less effective in retaining protein in the hair (4). However, since it is not very absorbent, putting baby oil in your hair can keep water out of it.

Baby oil’s lubricating properties can also prevent breakage, detangle the hair naturally, and reduce frizz.

4. Smoothens Your Hair

As mentioned earlier, baby oil can help seal your hair cuticle. Adding 2-3 drops of baby oil to freshly washed hair can make your hair smoother. This, in turn, gives your locks natural protection from blow-drying or other harmful heat-styling treatments.

In fact, instead of using a chemical-based hair serum, you could simply opt for baby oil as a post-shower hair serum. While there is not enough data to support this claim, it is widely claimed that baby oil adds a frizz-free, healthier, and shinier look to your tresses.

5. Acts As A Hair Protectant

If your hair is exposed to the sun, pollution, or swimming pool chemicals regularly, baby oil can act as an excellent hair protectant. Many people claim that baby oil prevents harmful pollutants from damaging your hair by adding a protective layer to it. However, note that this claim is not scientifically proven. So while you can apply the oil before you step out in the sun or go for a swim, there is little proof that it will help against any long-term damage.

6. Can Help Get Rid Of Lice

Baby oil is considered a popular home remedy to get rid of head lice and lice eggs in both adults and children. It may help loosen their grip on the hair strands and make it easy to remove by combing them out.

Here is how you can use baby oil on your scalp to eliminate lice:

  1. Simply apply the baby oil to your scalp and hair, moving from the roots to the tips.
  2. Leave it on overnight before rinsing it off.
  3. If you are suffering from a rather aggressive lice infestation, pair this oil with doctor-approved chemical treatment for best results.

While there is no concrete scientific evidence for baby oil itself, a study suggests that mineral oil-based shampoos may effectively combat lice (5).

Now that you know how baby oil can benefit your hair, let’s check out some risk factors that you must keep in mind before you start using it.

Risk Factors And Important Pointers To Keep In Mind When Using Baby Oil On Hair

  • Baby oil can block your skin pores and irritate your scalp if used in excessive amounts.
  • It can make things worse for acne-prone skin and cause breakouts on the hairline and forehead if too much oil trickles down in the said areas.
  • Using this oil excessively can make your hair and skin look greasy.
  • If you have oily hair, apply the oil only at the ends to prevent them from breaking. This way, you will not be weighing your hair down and making it look super greasy.
  • Baby oil can leave stains on the surfaces it touches, so make sure to put a towel on your pillow if you plan to leave it on overnight.
  • The biggest drawback of baby oil is the lack of scientific studies to back it up as an effective hair care product. Its effects are likely to vary based on how your hair responds to oil in general.

Final Verdict: Is Baby Oil Good For Your Hair?

Baby oil is a mineral oil that adds shine and softness to the hair. Moreover, it is typically considered to be safe to use.

Despite the fact there is no hard evidence proving its benefits, you can use baby oil on your hair to strengthen and moisturize it and bring it back to life.

Embrace the tips and hacks outlined above and say ‘hello’ to happier hair at a fraction of the cost and effort!

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

Is Johnson’s baby oil good for hair?

According to the Johnson & Johnson website, baby oil can lock up to 10 times more moisture if your skin is wet. If consistently used on your hair, this baby oil can effectively seal your hair cuticles.

It essentially locks in the natural moisture, giving it a healthy, shiny, and hydrated look. So, yes, Johnson’s baby oil is an effective mild oil that can be used on your hair as well as your skin.

How can I get the baby oil out of my hair?

Baby oil is a generally heavy oil that does not come off without thorough washing. Thus, it is recommended that you use lukewarm water and a decent amount of shampoo to get it out of your hair.

Try this step-by-step guide to rinse out baby oil:

  1. Start by massaging your scalp and hair in gentle circular motions with water.
  2. Then rinse it off with a mild shampoo.
  3. Remember that if your hair is already naturally oily, you may need to shampoo twice.

How long should I leave baby oil in my hair?

To make the most of baby oil, leave it on for about 8 hours. Keeping the oil on overnight ensures that it gets absorbed into your hair to the maximum extent possible.

You can use baby oil on your hair if it is extremely damaged and dry. Here are the steps to follow for a DIY hot baby oil hair mask:

  1. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of baby oil in a microwavable bowl.
  2. Heat up the oil for about 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Gently massage the oil into your scalp with your fingers. You can start with your hairline and move towards the back of your head.
  4. Coat the ends of your hair with the rest of the oil to combat split ends.
  5. Use a shower cap to cover your head so that the oil gets absorbed fully.
  6. You can leave this mask on overnight.
  7. The next day, rinse off your hair with a mild shampoo.
  8. You may follow up with a conditioner.

Note that leaving baby oil on for too long can clog your skin pores.

Can baby oil make my hair curly?

No, putting baby oil in your hair does not make it curly. On the contrary, it helps hold in moisture, reduces frizz, and smoothens out your curls.

Can you use baby oil on your hair?

Yes, baby oil works well for all hair types as long as you use it within the recommended limits. Baby oil may have additional ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction, so do a patch test before using it. It helps to moisturize your hair, add shine to it, detangle it, and remove frizz. All in all, it is safe to use on your hair.

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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).
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