I know what you’re probably thinking: Coating your hair with oil sounds like the exact opposite of what should happen to strands. After all, isn’t the whole purpose of dry shampoo (and, really, shampoo) to keep oil and grease as far away from your scalp as possible? But there are benefits to slicking your strands with things like argan oil and coconut oil. And one more good-for-you oil worth adding to the list? Almond oil for hair, which is jam-packed with good stuff, including omega-3 fatty acids, phospholipids, vitamin E, and magnesium, that will help strengthen and nourish your strands.
We often talk about how fantastic these elements are from nutrition standpoint (in my experience, almonds are most RD’s favorite “healthy snack” recommendation), but the combination is also really, really great for your hair. It will leave strands smooth, shiny, and healthy looking—especially if you’re dealing with dryness at the ends of hair, which happens to be a common problem amongst women with coily and curly textures (#itme).
Though almond oil may not be as well-known as some of the other plant- and nut-based oils that are likely already sitting in your beauty cabinet, when it comes to haircare it’s actually superior to them in many ways. “Using almond oil nourishes and strengthens your hair, and is optimal for damaged hair,” says Carolyn Aronson, CEO and founder of It’s a 10 Haircare. “Argan oil does hydrate and soften your hair as it’s rich in nutrients.” However, according to Cliff Heiser, a manager at Petal Fresh SuperFoods, this is because almond oil is higher in monosaturated fats (it’s made up of 70 percent of them, while coconut oil and argan oil have only six and 45 percent respectively), which helps it penetrate the hair shaft more easily. Because of its ability to sink in, almond oil is great to use on the ends of your hair, especially strands that have become particularly porous from sun damage and heat styling (and which have endured the most).
“Almond oil prevents hair from absorbing too much water,” says Heiser, adding that the fact that this is a good thing may be counterintuitive. “However, when hair absorbs too much water too quickly, it makes cuticle scales stand up. This leaves hair more porous and ultimately susceptible dehydration and breakage. Healthy hair has a lower porosity and is somewhat hydrophobic to balances the amount of water that hair absorbs.” So basically, almond oil for hair yields healthy hair, which will thus show itself in shine and smoothness.
So how can you use almond oil?
You’ll likely find almond oil as an ingredient in various haircare products that are already on your shelf—like the It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask ($32), which is great for deep conditioning. Or you can pick up a bottle of the pure oil, which can be used on its own in a variety of different ways:
1. As a pre-treatment: Apply almond oil to your hair a few hours before you wash it, and let it sit on your scalp. “The idea of a pre-treatment is to prevent dehydration from cleansing,” says Heiser. “The result is softer, better lubricated and more flexible hair.” These pre-treatments are great if you have trouble forming waves, curls, or coils, or if you have light, straight hair that is prone to flyaways. “You might also try an almond pre-treatment if you find that deep conditioners do not leave your hair as moisturized or flexible as you desire,” says Heiser.
2. Before you shampoo: Massage your scalp with a few drops of the straight stuff (a little bit goes a long way), let it sit for a few minutes, then wash your hair as usual. “It will add silkiness and shine to your hair while nourishing your scalp,” says Aronson.
3. As a little extra oomph with your conditioner: A few drops of almond oil in your regular conditioner or deep conditioning treatments can go a long way.
While these types of oil treatments aren’t meant to be done every day, there are certainly benefits to doing them every once in a while. “There is always a time and place where oil products can be great for your hair,” says Gina Rivera, Founder and President of Phenix Salon Suites. “When your hair is feeling dry and needing extra moisture, doing an oil treatment can be extremely helpful, because it can add shine, help tame frizzy split ends, and can make the hair appear more youthful.”
So in addition to grabbing a handful of almonds the next time you’re hungry, stock up on some almond oil to swipe through your strands the next time they’re hungry for a little extra nourishment.
Here’s why more and more women all over the world are adding argan oil to their routines. Plus, the next-generation scalp serums worth investing in no matter what type of hair concern you’re dealing with (and especially if you want to start washing your hair less).