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Avocado Oil for Hair: Potential Benefits and How to Use It

BY Felicia Ler

Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended as medical advice. For any medical concerns, always contact your doctor.

You mash it up in your guac, slather it on your toast, and blend it into your post-workout smoothie. If you’re thinking “avocado,” you’re right.

Aside from being an in-demand “superfood,” this popular green fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) also produces avocado oil, one of the most versatile oils out there. From cooking to cosmetics, the uses of avocado oil are endless. Join us as we dive deep into the benefits of avocado oil for hair.

Avocado Oil for Hair: What’s in a Name?

In case you didn’t know, the name “avocado” comes from the Aztec word “Ahuacatl,” which translates to testicles. Yes, you read that right. This ever-popular green fruit was once considered an aphrodisiac and fertility food in ancient times, simply because of its unique shape. Belonging to the Lauraceae family under the botanical name Persea americana, the avocado is also referred to as the alligator pear.

According to historical records, avocados made their appearance around 500 BC in the country of Mexico. Fast-forward to the 21st century and California is now the leading producer in the United States and worldwide.

Avocado oil is typically extracted from the fleshy part of the fruit. The plant oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are widely known for their heart-protective benefits. In fact, one of the main fatty acids in avocado oil is oleic acid, which is also present in olive oil — the OG in the world of healthy cooking oils.

When it comes to avocado oil for hair, oleic acid may be the trump card your tresses are looking for. That’s because this fatty acid partly makes up the lipid content in your hair fibers.

Research indicates that avocado oil consists of the following fatty acids:

  • Oleic acid (47.2%)
  • Palmitic acid (23.6%)
  • Linoleic (13.4%)
  • Docosadienoic (8.88%)
  • Palmitoleic (3.58%)
  • Linolenic (1.60%)
  • Eicosenoic (1.29%)
  • Myristic acids (0.33%)

In comparison, our hair shafts contain oleic acid, linoleic acid, and linolenic acid — three of the fatty acids present in avocado oil. These nourishing hair lipids coat your hair cuticles (the outermost protective layer) and are present in the cortex (the inner layer).

A 2018 study even highlighted that “saturated and unsaturated fatty acids make up 85% of the total hair lipid content” and “play a crucial role in keeping hair healthy, influencing shine, feel, manageability, and strength.”

Fatty acids aside, avocado oil is also rich in vitamin E, another hair-healthy antioxidant. (Hop over to our in-depth post on “Vitamin E oil for hair” to get the deets.)

So, what kind of avocado oil for hair should you pick? Generally speaking, cold-pressed avocado oil has a better nutritional profile compared to other extraction methods. That’s why extra virgin and virgin avocado oils (which are typically cold-pressed) are considered the cream of the crop. Meanwhile, pure avocado oil is derived from virgin avocado oil and may be blended with other herbs and fruits.

Potential Benefits of Avocado Oil for Hair

While you might’ve heard that avocado oil can promote hair growth, we certainly won’t go there. However, there are a few other possible benefits that can level up your haircare routine.

A Natural Moisturizer for the Scalp and Hair

Calling all those with a dry scalp, dry hair, and anything in between! Avocado oil may be just the haircare ingredient you need.

On any given day, you subject your tresses to all manner of external stress. Maybe it’s shampoos with sulfates and other questionable ingredients, brushing your hair too vigorously, ultraviolet (UV) exposure, heat styling, or color treatments.

These daily stressors strip away your fibers’ natural oils. To worsen the issue, only the scalp’s sebaceous glands produce sebum to replenish the lost lipids. In which case, when you lose more sebum than is generated, you quickly find your scalp and locks struggling with dryness, flaking, or frizz.

Thankfully, science suggests that avocado oil can help nip scalp and hair dryness in the bud. A 2015 medical review explained that monounsaturated fats (such as those in avocado oil) easily penetrate the hair fibers to moisturize the shafts.

As such, consider using avocado oil as a lightweight hair oil to hydrate your mane. Applying a small amount of avocado oil (or avocado oil-infused hair product) to your hair may help moisturize it without risking an overly greasy appearance.

In a similar manner, the rich fatty acid content of this moisturizing plant oil may also help with flaking or dry scalp. (Although you don’t want to use it on your scalp if it’s already oily.)

Prevents Split Ends, Tangles, and Breakage

Optimal hydration levels are your hair’s defense mechanism against common signs of hair damage, such as split ends, tangles, and breakage. Given that avocado oil for hair is a naturally potent source of hydrating lipids, it makes sense to use it as a hair treatment against these types of damage.

Findings from a 2009 study back this up: Scientists examined the effectiveness of various plant oils and butters against cuticle breakdown (the root cause of split ends) and cortex damage (a determining factor in hair breakage).

The results showed that the oils performed significantly better than the butters in improving hair combing and shine while reducing split ends. The specific oils used in this study include:

  • Passion fruit seed (77% linoleic acid)
  • Brazilian nut (38% oleic acid and 35% linoleic acid)
  • Palm olein (47% oleic acid)
  • Buriti (79% oleic acid)
  • Palm stearin (42% palmitic acid and 41% oleic acid)

As you can see, the fatty acid breakdown of these oils is similar to that of avocado oil. 

Coating your hair strands with avocado oil may then mean fewer knots to detangle. Safe to say, your hair brushing sessions are now more effortless and less painful, especially for natural hair types, which are prone to tangles. Furthermore, the lower likelihood of split ends translates to less breakage for a fuller-looking ‘do.

How to Use Avocado Oil for Hair

One of the best things about avocado oil for hair is its versatility as a haircare ingredient. For that reason, it can be found in almost every kind of hair product, from shampoos and conditioners to hair masks and serums.

That being said, some people may be allergic to this botanical oil. It’s best to patch test avocado oil on your skin before applying it to your scalp and hair.

For those who have no issues with avocado oil for hair and are keen to use it at home, try this nourishing hot oil treatment:

  • Mix equal parts of avocado oil with another carrier oil, like olive oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil in a microwaveable bowl.
  • Add a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender oil or peppermint oil, into the bowl if you’d like a little fragrance. (You may choose to omit this step.)
  • Microwave the bowl for 40-60 seconds.
  • Once ready, test the oil on your wrist to ensure its temperature won’t scald your scalp.
  • Apply the oil to your hair and scalp. For some TLC, perform a gentle scalp massage with circular motions to boost blood flow to your hair follicles.
  • Don a shower cap and let the hair treatment sit for 30 minutes before washing it off. Follow up with your shampoo and conditioner.

Hot oil treatments are particularly beneficial for curly and coily hair types, as well as those battling a dry, flaky scalp and dull strands.

Let Your Hair Enjoy This Superfood

Instead of limiting avocados to your diet, introduce avocado oil to your tresses, too. Whether it’s moisturizing dry hair, preventing split ends, or limiting breakage, avocado oil for hair is a winner. What’s more, it’s a fun, versatile ingredient to play with for DIY hair concoctions.

If you find yourself short on time, though, Function of Beauty’s haircare range has got your back, or more specifically, your mane. Our “deep condition” hair goal uses avocado oil and shea butter to help moisturize and deeply condition dry, damaged hair. All you need to do is go to our hair quiz and start building your one-of-a-kind formulation.