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Two natural oils that make your hair shiny and strong

Lina says: I was very happy to read your post about coconut oil in Ojon penetrating hair. I have been using it for a while and feel my hair is stronger than it used to be. I’d like to keep using coconut oil and I want to add olive oil to make my hair shiny but I`m worried that mixing the two oils will stop the coconut oil from penetrating. Is it ok to mix two oils on my hair? Thanks for all of your helpful information – you’ve kept me from wasting money on over-hyped products.

The Left Brain provides an oily update:

Thanks for your kind words, Lina. Yes, studies have shown that coconut oil actually penetrates the hair to help make it stronger. And as it turns out, olive oil also has penetrating properties. Scientists at the Textile Research (J. Cosmet.Sci 52, 169-184, 2001) tested Olive oil, Avocado oil, Meadowfoam seed oil, Sunflower oil, and Jojoba oil. Their results showed that straight chain glycerides like olive oil easily penetrate into the hair. Polyunsaturated oils , like Jojoba oil, are more open in their structure so they don’t pass through the layers of cuticles very well.

What does that mean in plain English? Olive and Avocado oils penetrate all the way into the hair shaft. Meadowfoam seed oil partially penetrates, and jojoba and sunflower oils don’t penetrate at all. They’re very superficial and don’t really provide any practical benefit. Kind of like Ryan Seacrest.

And to answer your question: mixing coconut and olive oils shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, it’s possible that the olive/coconut oil combination might even penetrate hair better. I won’t bore you with the details, but it has to do with mixed micelles. I’d start with a 50/50 mixture and see how that works for your hair.



Sara, one of our sharp-eyed readers, caught an error in this post that we want to bring to your attention. The J. Cosmetic Science article cited in this post is incorrect because it doesn’t refer to all the oils discussed in this post. When this post was written we had another reference that contained data on more types of oil. Therefore, without having that original reference, we would be poor scientists if we definitively said only these types of oil penetrate hair. Our intent was to make sure you understand that there are differences in how oils penetrate hair and that you should be careful not to be tricked into paying more for oil treatments that are based on oils that don’t really work. We apologize for any confusion this might have caused and we thank Sara for bringing it out our attention.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sophie April 15, 2014, 4:24 pm

    So do olive oil and avocado oil penetrate the hair as well as coconut oil?

    • Randy Schueller April 15, 2014, 5:05 pm

      No, sorry. As we tried to clarify, that’s not the case.

  • Alicia June 7, 2015, 4:01 am

    Hi, does Jojoba Oil do anything for nails? I’ve seen it praised for its similarity to sebum and therefore being beneficial to use on hair and nails but would coconut oil actually be better?

    • Randy Schueller June 7, 2015, 10:31 am

      I’ve never seen any data that jojoba is good for nails. And coconut oil is the best oil proven to penetrate hair, as far as I know.

  • stefania February 15, 2016, 6:34 pm

    I hear what you are saying but I have been bleaching my hair and it soaks large amounts of Jojoba oil on my now short hair. It soaks it in and then feels as if there is no oil on it. Time it is absorbed depends on amount. I have restored damaged hair with Jojoba before. I have tried coconut oil prior to bleaching and it left my hair dry and brittle. There is a thing called protein sensitive hair and apparently I had it. I say had because I don’t know how it will react to coconut oil now. My hair feels much better after Jojoba. Are you saying that it is not actually absorbing? I have read that Jojoba mimics natural sebum better then any other oil. Are you saying that is a fallacy?

    • Randy Schueller February 16, 2016, 7:44 am

      Hi Stefania. We’re not saying that jojoba oil doesn’t feel good on hair it’s just that there’s no data showing that it penetrates into the cortex the same way coconut oil does. Jojoba is a good emollient for skin as well but I don’t know that it’s closer to sebum than any other oil. Squalane, for example, is also very similar to sebum.

      Also, I’m interested in the idea of protein sensitive hair that you mentioned. I’m not aware of any scientific basis for this – I’m not sure I even understand what it means! If you can provide a link to where you learned about it, that might be helpful.

  • Jess1604 August 20, 2016, 9:25 am

    Hi! I would like to ask you a question, because I am not able to find that information myself so I decided to ask PROs. I found some studies that tea tree oil is effective against acne causing bacteria at 5% concentration. I know it is not well researched as BP for example, but still there is a possibility. So then I read on Paula Begoun’s website that it was impossible to find tea tree oil at that percentage, even if you bought 100% PURE TTO 10 ml bottle. But I always thought that when they did the research they had applied solution mixed with so called 100% PURE TTO at 5%. I know this is all confusing, but I hope you could make some kind of explanation. Thank you!!!

    • Randy Schueller August 20, 2016, 9:36 am

      It’s complicated but here’s a quick answer: There is some data indicating TTO is effective against acne. The composition of TTO is well defined by an international standard that also sets controls for the level of the active antimicrobial agent that the oil contains. (There’s more to it than just is the oil 5% or not.) I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t buy TTO with the proper concentration. Here’s a paper from Pubmed that explains this in much more detail:


  • Hikari Moon October 6, 2017, 6:47 am


    Mi 1rst time using coconut oil i let it sit for (5 hours), i guess i overloaded my hair because I, Washed it 2 times with shampoo, I had to leave my conditioner for 20 min to make it soft because it wasn’t as soft as i’m used to and as i watched in videos of ppl using it. After conditioning It was softer but not like i wanted it to, so i added some drops of argan oil to my damp hair and ah ha! it was really soft now.

    I use this shampoo and conditioner (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Y0XUl0ksO6s/UpN8pn-AnxI/AAAAAAAAAVI/Bs-sYTy7TL8/s1600/keraliso+brillo+y+sedosidad.jpg) Are these products tearing up my hair and not letting the coconut oil results be at its fullest or are they “ok”?

    The question now is… this is my second time and I wanna wash it and see if it´s not as soft as I want… i wanna know if I add Avocado (the real fruit) as a mask after i shampoo it : 1. what is it going to do to my hair? How long should i leave it ? should i use conditioner after or before it?.

    all i want some remedies to add some shine and softness to my hair that don´t wash away intermediately.

    *Pardon my english is not my mother tonge i hope you can answer my questions and guide me with ur intelligence :)*

    • Randy Schueller October 6, 2017, 8:21 am

      Avocado oil is a nice surface conditioner but it doesn’t penetrate the same way coconut oil does. Maybe you could experiment with lower levels of coconut oil left on your hair for less time. Good luck!

  • Kina November 11, 2018, 8:06 pm

    When using coconut oil for the hair, does the type matter? Can I use refined or is virgin organic really the best?