A common household cooking ingredient, olive oil, also serves as an all-purpose skin and hair conditioner. Everyone, regardless of hair type or texture, can use olive oil to condition their hair or treat certain scalp, skin and hair conditions. However, due to black hair's constant need of deep conditioning, olive oil is most often associated with black hair care.
Inexpensive and readily available, olive oil is a significant hair-care solution for several reasons. Unlike other homemade deep-conditioning treatments such as cholesterol and mayonnaise, olive oil is easy to apply and rinses cleanly away without much effort. Olive oil immediately transforms hair, making it healthier-looking and easier to manage. Additionally, olive oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties that clean the scalp and aid in the healing of certain scalp conditions.
In addition to acting as a deep-conditioning treatment, a small amount of olive oil serves as a daily leave-in conditioner and style aid for infants, children and adults with black hair. Olive oil smooths dry, frizzy hair, and can be used to treat dandruff and dry scalp. Olive oil soothes the symptoms of other scalp conditions as well. The scabs and crusts associated with seborrheic dermatitis and eczema are softened by olive oil, according to American Family Physician. Olive oil also serves as an all-natural lice treatment.
Olive oil instantly conditions hair and smooths the outer protective layer of the hair, which is responsible for shiny, smooth hair. When used as a deep conditioner, olive oil leaves hair looking healthier for several weeks after the treatment. When a small amount is used as a leave-in conditioner, olive oil removes static and frizz. It effectively smothers lice, killing them when traditional lice treatments fail. When used as a scalp treatment, olive oil softens and removes dense scalp scales, according to American Family Physician.
Olive oil is applied in several ways. When used as a leave-in serum, two or three drops of olive oil suffice. Pour the drops of oil into your hands, rub your hands together to distribute the oil over the palms and run your hands through your hair, paying special attention to the scalp and ends. To use olive oil as a scalp treatment, massage the oil directly into the scalp. Wait two to three hours, then rinse with a mild conditioning shampoo. To use olive oil as a deep-conditioning or lice treatment, apply a liberal amount of the oil to the scalp, hair shaft and ends until all of the hair is thoroughly saturated. Put on a shower cap, and leave the oil on overnight or for three to four hours. Shampoo with a mild conditioning shampoo to remove the oil.
Light virgin olive oil applied weekly to a baby's hair keeps the hair moisturized, supple and tangle free. Baby Center recommends mixing light oil with rosemary or lavender to create a natural weekly conditioner for babies. They also recommend applying a small amount of oil to the baby's hair daily to remove tangles.
- "American Family Physician"; Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis; Betty Anne Johnson, MD, Ph.D., and Julia R. Nunley, MD; May 2000
- Baby Center: African American Babies: Hair Care
- "Milady's Standard Textbook of Cosmetology"; Milady, Diane Carol Bailey and Margrit Attenburg; 2008
Kathy Mayse began her writing career as a reporter for "The Jackson-County Times Journal" in 2001. She was promoted to assistant editor shortly after. Since 2005, she has been busy as a successful freelancer specializing in Web content. Mayse is a licensed cosmetologist with more than 17 years of salon experience; most of her writing projects reflect this experience.