Washing Hair With Oil – The K-Beauty for Luxurious Tresses


Washing Hair With Oil – The K-Beauty for Luxurious Tresses

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I know this may sound crazy, but washing your hair with oil is now a thing!

Thanks to the trendy #KBeauty routine that’s sweeping Instagram.

I’m sure you’ve been told time and time again that oil is a cardinal sin for your skin. It can clog the pores and cause breakouts.

But modern research is proving those assumptions wrong.

Read: Why Dermatologists want you to consider the oil-cleansing method

Here’s the thing …

You probably use a makeup remover every night. Right?

Everyone loves that fresh feeling of removing layers of makeup in just one swipe. Because it just works, and it feels so satisfying at the end of a long day.

But, did you know?

Makeup removers contain emulsifying oil cleansers (More on this below).

rinsing hair with oil

Without these oils, it will take you ages to wash your makeup off with traditional foaming face washes. Plus imagine the mess.

So here’s the basic science behind how makeup removers work:

They use oil to absorb oil.

Also known as the Hydrophobic Effect, oil absorbs and dissolves sebum, grease, and makeup without stripping your skin of its natural moisture.

“Cleansing oils contain hydrating and soothing ingredients that may actually be more effective and less irritating than some traditional cleansers.

Contrary to what you may think, cleansing oils won’t leave your skin greasy or heavy. Oil absorbs oil, which means that these products can effectively remove dirt from and leave the skin clean.

Self.com – Joshua Zeichner, M.D. New York City–based certified Dermatologist

With more research coming out each year to highlight the dangers of sulphate-based shampoos, isn’t it the right time you try something different for your hair too?

I decided to tag along with the K-Beauty trend to see what the fudge it was all about.

Rule No. 1 for K-Beauty: Oil Cleansing.

Washing hair with oil isn’t complicated, but there is more to it than just grabbing a few bottles from your kitchen and throwing on yourself in the shower.

It’s important that you choose the right oil, and understand the process to prevent your hair from looking greasy throughout the day.

So let’s get down to some oiling business.

The Benefits of Washing Hair with Oil Only

Oil Makes Your Hair Retain Moisture For Longer

washing hair with only oil

When you wash week in week out with a regular shampoo, you are stripping oil and moisture from your hair, which is why it becomes so dry and brittle.

Cleaning your hair with oil does the complete opposite. It provides a protective barrier over your hair to prevent it from drying out on hot days.

I tried the DHC Deep Cleansing oil for a month, and this is what I noticed:

  • My hair never felt dry or brittle
  • I had less visible split-ends
  • My hair was so easy to detangle
  • I could style my hair faster

I believe that these benefits come directly from my decision to stop using sulphate-based shampoos.

The deep cleansing oil definitely adds more love back into my hair and scalp.

It Doesn’t Irritate Your Scalp

cleansing oil for scalp

For me, the main reason why I decided to start washing my hair with oil was: scalp irritation.

Swapping shampoos with the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil got rid of my scalp problems for good.

Here’s why …

Many of the ingredients used in commercial shampoos and conditioners are toxins and irritants. If you have dry scalp conditions, these chemicals will make it worse.

Sodium lauryl sulfate, for example, is a synthetic detergent often used to degrease engines and machinery. It’s the ingredient that makes your shampoo bubble into the luxurious lather and gives your hair a squeaky-clean feeling with little to no grease in it.

However, lather and bubbles play little to no role in cleaning your hair. Instead, it’s a marketing tactic that leads us to believe that bubbly soap and shampoo are more effective.

When you use sulfates on your hair and skin, they strip a considerable amount of natural oils away, most of which had no need to be removed in the first place.

Without these natural oils:

  • Your scalp becomes dry
  • It cracks
  • It becomes itchy
  • You get scalp acne
  • You get dandruff
  • And this can cause an array of scalp problems down the line

Paraben is another chemical in shampoos that can cause organ toxicity and potentially cancer. In a study of 40 women who had mastectomies after a breast cancer diagnosis, Parabens were found in 99% of the samples.

Both sulfates and parabens are known to cause irritations and in some extreme cases, even hair loss.

But I don’t want to risk losing my hair for the sake of using a commercial shampoo when I know how useful cleansing oils are.

Oil Unclogs The Pores

scalp buildup cleansing oil

Oil unclogs your pores because it gets right in there to dissolve the hardened sebum plug.

Unclogging these pores on your head helps your hair to grow healthier and faster, as well as reducing the amount of hair that you lose.

Although you can’t see these pores as you can see on your face, they are there, and it’s just as important to care for them as you look after the ones that you see.

It may seem counter-intuitive to fix an excessive oil problem with more oil, but applying oil to your hair convinces your scalp to reduce its natural oil production.

The benefits:

  • No excess sebum
  • No buildup
  • No greasy hair
  • Less dry shampoos

The only reason your scalp overproduces sebum is to balance out the adverse effects of sulfates. So avoid them at all costs.

How Does Washing Hair with Oil Only Work?

To understand how oil washing works, you need first to understand how soaps and shampoos work.

Here’s a quick chemistry lesson from SciShow kids:

washing hair with oil
Credit: SciShow Kids. YouTube.

As you can see, the essential part of any shampoo or soap is oil and fatty acids which do the heavy lifting.

Detergents and chemicals then wrap around the oils to make them suspend in water so they can be washed off.

Similarly, an emulsifying oil contains hydrophilic elements that attach to water to rinse out oil and dirt.

Compared to traditional shampoos and soaps, emulsifiers in oils contain Stearic Acids (animal and plant fats) rather than commercial surfactants like sulfates.

Yep, that’s right! No sulfates.

Do I have your attention now?

Great. Now let me show you how easy it is to wash your hair with oil without any mess.

How To Do Oil Washing (Step-By-Step)

Oil washing is very simple.

But the magic happens at a level that you can’t see.

The oil gets busy unclogging your pores and coating your hair to retain moisture and prevents it from drying out to become brittle.

When you’re oil washing, you’ll want to be careful about the amount that you are using. As always, I suggest that you use a little bit at first and then add more if you think that you need it. You won’t be able to wash out cleansing oil as quickly as a shampoo does, so you need to be more cautious.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Put a few drops into the palm of your hands
  • Rub it through bone-dry hair with your fingers or a shower comb
  • Massage it in circular motions
  • Ensure it covers your scalp
  • Then distribute it towards the ends of your hair
  • Let it sit for a few minutes
  • Then rinse it off thoroughly

When you rinse it out, use a cooler temperature, as cold as you can handle.

In my experience, hot water makes it hard to wash the oil out while cold water is far more effective.

You don’t want to remove all of the oil, try and leave roughly 10% of it in your hair. It should feel soft, look shiny and when you run your hands through your hair, you should notice that it’s silkier than it would be with only water in it.

At this point, finish up your shower and preferably let your hair air dry or use a hairdryer because using a towel could stain it.

I would highly recommend that you do this in the morning rather than at night. I too prefer to shower in the evening, but my hair would start looking heavy towards the end of the workday. Whereas when I do it in the morning, it lasts for longer.

My final tip is to blow-dry your hair immediately after oil washing in the morning. This process, I found, gives it a fantastic lift and sheen, with tons of volume and it prevents your hair from looking greasy later on.

Why I Chose The DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

After trying a vast array of different oils including cooking oils and other cleansing oils, I feel lucky to have landed on the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.

I’ve tried coconut oil, olive oil shampoos, and more products than you could shake a stick at. None even come close to the effectiveness of the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.

The reason why I love it is simple, it works.

But why does it work so well?

1. Emulsifying Agent

Firstly, it has an active emulsifying agent which allows it to wash out as easily as shampoo, leaving little to no oily residue at all.

2. Rich in Vitamins & Antioxidants

Secondly, it’s rich in vitamins and antioxidants which shampoos aren’t, giving your hair all of the love that it needs to stay strong and healthy.

3. It removes gunk and impurities

Plus, because it’s specifically designed to remove gunk, it’s very effective at getting the dirt out of your hair, even after a long day outside!

Perhaps the only disadvantage other than the price tag, which isn’t cheap, is the smell which is nearly identical to a bottle of olive oil. Unless you love the scent, which I don’t, it can be a little strong at first, but I got accustomed to it after only a couple washes.

My hair looks more luxurious than ever, and it feels as soft as it did ten years ago!

Emulsifying Oil Vs Cooking Oil

One of the biggest debates among those that use oil cleansing or oil washing is whether you should use cooking oils or cleansing oils.

Although they are similar, there is one key difference.

Emulsifying cleansing oils wash out easily with pure water. Cooking oils, on the other hand, need a lot of shampoo to wash out.

For those women with drier, curlier and frizzy hair that needs all the oil that it can get, thicker cleansing oils are ideal. Whereas for those with naturally more oily, straight and shiny hair, choosing a thinner cleansing oil is a better choice.

Olive oil is fantastic because it seems to give my hair a lovely shine that other oils aren’t capable of, making my hair look healthy and younger than it is. It also nourishes the hair and dissolves a lot of the gunk and pollution that ends up in your hair each day.

Rosemary oil is, I believe, the best for your hair and scalp health for the same reason why it’s highly recommended as a skin lotion. It’s naturally very moisturizing, and for this reason, it’s excellent for those of you who have dry and brittle hair that needs some extra love.

The DHC Deep Cleansing Oil contains both of these oils, and that was one of the many reasons why I decided to give it a go. It wasn’t until I used it for a few days and compared it to the other oils that I’d tried that I realized just how incredible it truly is!

After only a week of trying it, I was sold.

I could wash my hair without shampoos for days and still not go cold turkey.

Considerations for Color Treated Hair

If you have color treated hair, then you should be aware that it’s possible that a cleansing oil could cause fading. This issue is going to be particularly common among those of you that have vivid colors that should only be washed with conditioner.

Other Products to Try

non greasy hair oil

Burt's Bees Cleansing Oil


With Coconut and Argan oil, it keeps your hair and scalp soft.

Burt’s Bees has been around for many years, and this cleansing oil is as fantastic as the rest of their other products. Containing coconut and argan oil, both of which provide plenty of nutrition and protection for your hair, this cleansing oil is an ideal choice if the DHC product didn’t tickle your fancy.

hair regrowth oil

ROHTO Hadalabo Gokujun Cleansing Oil


This Japanese hair cleansing oil works as a deep clarifier for your scalp to remove all impurities

Containing high purity olive oil, which I thoroughly believe is the best for your hair, this cleansing oil which is made in Japan, is highly recommended by the thousands of customers that use it. Relatively well priced, it’s very effective and unclogging your pores and dragging gunk out of your hair.

Neutrogena ultra light cleansing oil

Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil


This super lightweight cleansing oil removes makeup, dirt, and sebum without leaving greasy residues.

Neutrogena is a leading brand in the US, and for a good reason, all of their products are consistently well formulated. This cleansing oil is particularly thin, with a strong emulsifier, making it the perfect choice for those of you who naturally have very oily hair and are therefore cautious about using a hair cleansing oil and scalp cleansing oil.

Shu Uemura Cleansing oil shampoo

Shu Uemura Gentle Radiance Cleansing Oil Shampoo


With purifying deep sea volcanic extracts, Shu Uemura works well to eliminate build-up on your scalp.

If you want the benefits of using oil but you’re not ready to give up your shampoo you might consider swapping to this cleansing oil shampoo by Shu Uemura. Although it does contain sulfates which I would advise against using, it has avocado and castor oil which should help to protect your hair and care for it.


Washing hair with oil may seem like an obscure thing to do, but it works.

It’s a brilliant alternative to chemical shampoos that do more harm than good.

  • It keeps your hair soft
  • It helps your hair retain moisture for longer
  • It stabilizes sebum on your scalp
  • It helps your pores breathe
  • And it sucks out all the dirt and impurities

I may have just discovered the new K-Beauty routine for luxurious hair by accident.

You’ve got to give it a try to see the difference!

References & Citations

  1. NCBI: Byrd AL, et al. (2018). The human skin microbiome [Abstract].
  2. NCBI: Danby SG, et al. (2013). Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care [Abstract].
  3. NCBI: The effectiveness of using a bath oil to reduce signs of dry skin: A randomized controlled pragmatic study.
  4. PubMed: Seon-Hyeong I, et al. (2010). A study on skin conditions by water-soluble cleansers [Abstract].
  5. Skin and Cancer Foundation: Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis [Abstract]
Tina Moretti
Tina Moretti
Creative Writer and Researcher

Tina has a genius knack for transforming complex topics into easy-to-understand content. She is super organized with her note-taking system, often researching and demystifying the sciency bits about skincare and haircare concepts and theories.