Olive oil is no magic bean, and it hasn't been proven to grow hair. It also won’t thicken your hair. "What helps your hair is not having split ends that split at the same rate that it grows. You have net zero that way," says Craig Carter, a film and TV hair stylist based in New York City.
In fact, Carter is largely against using olive oil in your hair. “Cooking oils should not be used on hair,” he says. “The molecules are too big to penetrate the important cuticle layer of the hair shaft and have any conditioning or nutritious benefits. The molecules end up just sitting on the hair shaft, collecting dust.”
To illustrate the point, Carter likens cuticle layer of the hair to the trunk a palm tree. The old leaves fall away and new ones grow over that in an overlapping effect. “The cuticle layer pulls away from the ‘bark of the tree’ like a flap, opening and closing,” he explains. “When that ‘flap’ opens, that’s how the nutrients get into the deeper layer of the hair.” And when they just sit on top, the hair will look shiny. But that’s just a visual trick, Carter says. “The olive oil is simply reflecting light. Soon it will get hold on to dust and that temporary shine will dull.”
So does olive oil actually help as a hair protectant?
Carter gives a very soft yes, with one big caveat. “You’re basically deep frying your hair!” he says. Also, olive plus heat doesn’t equal shiny hair, he adds. “It just makes it greasy.”
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