Sunflower Oil For Hair – How To Use It And Side Effects

Reviewed by Dr. Ipshita Johri, MBBS, DDV
Written by Anjali Sayee

Today’s newest craze in beauty is using sunflower oil for hair. This oil is extracted from sunflower seeds. It is enriched with minerals and vitamins that improve hair health, quality, and texture. It also benefits your hair and scalp in many other ways. Keep reading to know how to use this famous vegetable oil to your hair’s advantage.

Is Sunflower Oil Good For Hair?

There is much anecdotal evidence boasting about the umpteen benefits of sunflower oil. The oil is said to treat dandruff, boost hair growth, prevent hair loss, improve hair and scalp cleanliness, and increase hair smoothness. It also could have humectant properties and moisturizes the hair and scalp.

But do these claims have any scientific backing? Read on to know.

Benefits Of Sunflower Oil For Hair

  • Has Antioxidant Properties: Sunflower oil is rich in vitamin E that has antioxidant properties (1). These antioxidant properties prevent signs of aging caused by free radicals.
  • Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Sunflower oil has anti-inflammatory properties and may help treat signs of scalp inflammation like redness, flaking, irritation, and bumps (2).
  • Suitable For Head Massage: Sunflower oil is a well-known emollient and can be used to massage the scalp and nourish hair. Research shows that massaging the scalp can stimulate hair growth by improving blood circulation (3).
  • Has Antimicrobial Properties: Research shows that sunflower oil also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that can help improve scalp and hair health (2).
  • Protects And Repairs Hair: Sunflower oil contains linoleic acid that is rich in triglycerides. These compounds repair and protect hair (4).
  • Has A Non-Greasy Texture: Sunflower oil is light and non-greasy in texture. These attributes make it an ideal addition to hair care products (4).
  • Moisturizes Hair: Sunflower oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acid that help moisturize hair (4).
  • May Treat Scalp Acne: Research shows that sunflower oil can help treat acne (5). This may mean it could help treat scalp acne as well. However, limited research is available in this regard.
  • Is Rich In Nutrients: Sunflower oil (seeds) also contains niacin, selenium, calcium, and iron (6). A deficiency of these nutrients can cause hair loss (7).
  • Improves Hair Quality: Sunflower oil can penetrate the hair fibers and coat the hair with a thin film to protect it from damage. It also can increase hair shine and decrease surface friction to help fight hair frizz (8).

These are the ways sunflower oil could benefit your hair. The following section lists a few methods of using the oil to derive the maximum benefit.

How To Use Sunflower Oil For Hair

  • Deep conditioning treatment: Sunflower oil can be massaged onto the scalp to moisturize the hair and scalp. Warm two to three tablespoons of sunflower oil and apply thoroughly to the scalp and hair. Place a shower cap over the hair and leave it on for 45 minutes to an hour. You can also use a warm towel to wrap your hair. Wash as usual.
  • Anti-Frizz Drops: Sunflower can help moisturize hair and prevent frizz. Add a drop or two of sunflower oil onto your palm. Rub your palms together to spread the oil and gently rub your palms over your hair. This adds a light shine to your hair and also prevents frizz.
  • Hair Masks: Sunflower oil can be added to homemade DIY masks to improve hair texture and quality. You can pair sunflower oil with honey, coconut oil, essential oils, and eggs.
  • Conditioner And Shampoo: Research shows that adding sunflower oil to your shampoo or conditioner can help moisturize hair while cleansing it too (4).

But before you grab a fresh pack of sunflower oil, here is what you must know – the oil may cause certain adverse reactions too.

Side Effects Of Sunflower Oil For Hair

Topical sunflower oil is generally safe. But it may lead to serious allergic reactions in some individuals. These reactions are caused by particular pollen (9). Hence, it is advised to perform a patch test on the elbow or the back of the neck to check for any adverse effects. If you experience any redness, inflammation, rashes, bumps, etc., consult a doctor.

You may continue to use sunflower oil should you experience no allergies. That brings us to a popular question – how is this oil different from coconut oil? Which of the two is better?

Sunflower Oil Vs. Coconut Oil For Hair

Coconut and sunflower oils are both beneficial for hair. However, coconut oil prevents protein loss from hair, while sunflower oil does not (10). While both oils can penetrate the hair fibers, sunflower oil cannot penetrate the cortex. Coconut oil, however, can penetrate the cortex due to lauric acid (8), (10).

Sunflower oil has antioxidant properties that may prevent the premature aging of hair. It has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe scalp inflammation. It is a well-known emollient that can be used to massage the scalp, which stimulates better blood flow and nourishes the hair. Its antibacterial and antimicrobial benefits protect the scalp and hair. The linoleic acid in sunflower oil can repair damaged hair. It also moisturizes the hair, may treat scalp acne, and improves hair quality. It contains nutrients whose deficiency may lead to hair loss. Clearly, it is beneficial to use sunflower oil for your hair health. But, remember to perform a patch test beforehand to check for any irritation or adverse effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does sunflower oil lighten hair?

Sunflower oil is commonly used in many hair lightening masks. However, there is no scientific evidence to support its hair lightening properties. The oil is prone to oxidation because of its high unsaturated fatty acid content (11). While some believe this may lighten the hair, more research is warranted.

How long can I leave sunflower oil in my hair?

Sunflower oil can be left in your hair for a few hours or even overnight. But ensure you do a patch test prior.

Key Takeaways

  • Sunflower oil is the newest craze in the beauty world.
  • The oil is enriched with vitamins and minerals and treats dandruff, boosts hair growth, prevents hair loss, and increases hair smoothness.
  • There are various ways and methods of using the oil to derive the maximum benefit.
  • However, the oil may also lead to serious allergic reactions in some individuals.


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Dr. Ipshita Johri

(MBBS, DDV, Diploma in Practical Dermatology)
Dr. Ipshita Johri is a dermatologist and cosmetologist who ensures result-oriented treatment with maximum patient comfort and satisfaction using updated... more