Moisturizing Oils Vs. Sealing Oils – What’s The Difference?

Understand the contrast between the two before you include them in your wellness routine.

Reviewed by Shantella RiosShantella Rios, Cosmetologist
By Annie JangamAnnie Jangam  • 

Hair oils can have different functions. Some moisturize the hair, while others work as sealing oils. If you are confused by the moisturizing oils vs. sealing oils debate, we can help clear the confusion. Both have unique benefits and work in different ways to nourish the hair. So, which one is the best for your hair? Read this article to learn more.

Moisturizing Oils Vs. Sealing Oils – Which Oil Type Is Better?

Woman holds bottles of moisturizing oil and sealing oil

Image: Shutterstock

The real answer to this question, as always, is that it depends. The impact of these oils can vary between individuals and from scalp to scalp, and there are not a lot of ways to determine how they will impact you. But we can lay out the pros and cons for each and enable you to make a better choice. That is precisely what the following sections will attempt to do.

What Is A Moisturizing Oil?

Avocado oil as moisturizing oil for better hair

Image: Shutterstock

Moisturizing oils are also known as penetrating oils as they penetrate the outer layers of the hair and access its inner layers. They preserve moisture inside the hair shaft (1). This makes hair significantly more resilient and resistant to breakage. The following are the types of moisturizing oils.

  • Avocado Oil

Avocado oil contains several essential nutrients, including biotin, and vitamins A and E (2). It offers your scalp antioxidant protection and also may help fight dandruff. It also helps reduce hair breakage and frizz.

  • Coconut Oil

Coconut oil reduces hair breakage and is also a good natural scalp (skin) moisturizer (3).

  • Olive Oil
Bottle of olive oil for moisturizing hair

Image: Shutterstock

Olive oil not only moisturizes your hair but also boosts hair shine. Additionally, it reduces hair breakage and can even help reduce split ends (4). It also could treat hair frizz and make detangling easy.

How To Use? 

The best ways to apply moisturizing oils are as follows:

  • Pre-Poo

Pre-poo refers to the activity of applying oil before you shampoo. This has a number of advantages. It adds a significant amount of extra moisture to your hair. It also softens your hair and boosts hair shine.

  • Oil Rinse

This method refers to washing your hair with a mixture of oil and conditioner. Apply the mixture to your hair and scalp and retain it for a while. Wash as usual.

Quick Tip
Add olive oil to your hair masks and apply these at least thrice a week to reduce split ends.

What Is A Sealing Oil?

Grapeseed oil is a form of sealing oil

Image: Shutterstock

While moisturizing oils penetrate the hair layers, sealing oils stay on top of the hair and seal its inherent moisture. The following are the types of sealing oils.

  • Grapeseed Oil

People with thin hair generally prefer grapeseed oil. The oil has low viscosity (5). It is light and does not weigh your hair down.

  • Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Jamaican black castor oil is an excellent option if your hair is thick or curly. It has a high consistency and coats hair significantly.

  • Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is a sealing oil.

Image: Shutterstock

Jojoba oil helps clean the scalp and its anti-inflammatory properties may help prevent any scalp issues (4). Its consistency is similar to that of natural oils.

How To Use?

The best way to apply sealing oils is as follows:

  • After Your Leave-In Conditioner

You may apply a sealing oil after and over your leave-in conditioner. The oil sits on top of the hair strands and adds shine. It also eliminates the necessity for additional hair products. These oils also help remove hair frizz.

Quick Tip
Use a clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup caused by both moisturizing and sealing oils.

We hope this article has settled the debate on moisturizing oils vs. sealing oils and helped you understand their basic differences. Both these oils benefit the hair. But the choice entirely depends on the hair type. As the name suggests, moisturizing oils deeply moisturize the hair and preserve the moisture in the hair shaft. Sealing oils stay on the top layer of the hair and seal the moisture content of the hair, giving the hair a healthy look. Avocado oil and olive oil are moisture oils, grapeseed oil, and jojoba oil are sealing oils. You can use them depending on the need and type of your hair.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is argan oil a sealing oil or moisturizing oil?

Argan oil is both a sealing and moisturizing oil. It implies that it can seal the strand on the surface while also penetrating the hair.

Can you mix moisturizing and sealing oils?

Yes, if your hair has a coarser texture, it is more prone to dry out quicker. Hence, you can apply a combination of moisturizing and sealing oils in addition to your other products to help preserve moisture.

Is shea butter a moisturizer or sealant?

Shea butter is considered a sealant because it is made mainly of oils. These oils don’t add water or additional moisture. Instead, they keep the moisture in your skin. Hence, shea butter works best as a sealant when applied after a water-based product. It can be applied to both skin and hair.

Is tea tree oil a moisturizer or sealant?

Tea tree oil is a natural moisturizer and conditioner. It removes any substances that make the scalp dry up and flake.

Is apricot oil a moisturizer or sealant?

Apricot oil can be used as a sealant as its light nature is excellent for sealing in moisture.

Key Takeaways

  • Moisturizing oils penetrate the hair shafts to preserve moisture, whereas sealing oils coat the hair shaft and prevent moisture loss.
  • Olive, coconut, and avocado oils are popular moisturizing oils, whereas grapeseed and jojoba oils are sealing oils.
  • Moisturizing oils are commonly used before shampoo while sealing oils are used after a hair wash.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Investigation of penetration abilities of various oils into human hair fibers.
  2. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects
  3. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis €” A preliminary report.
  4. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils
  5. Grape (Vitis vinifera L.) Seed Oil: A Functional Food from the Winemaking Industry
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