It’s not uncommon for those with locs at any stage to experience dryness. This is especially true when the winter months approach, and there is a lack of moisture in the air. Whether you’re struggling with dryness at the root, tip, or anywhere in between, a hot oil treatment can be a great way to add moisture and improve overall texture.
But how is it done? Although the term “hot oil treatment” might seem intense or something that should be left to a professional, it’s easy (and safe) enough to perform right from home. This article will teach you how to perform a hot oil treatment for locs, the best oil, and other essential information.
What are the benefits of hot oil treatment for locs?
Before you douse your locs with warm oils, you might wonder – what are the benefits of this treatment? There are several benefits to performing a hot oil treatment, which is why it is so highly recommended. Here are some of the top reasons why a hot oil treatment for locs might be right for you.
- Treats dryness. Whether you’re struggling with excessive dryness or noticed a little drying around the ends, a hot oil treatment can plow through dryness and return moisture and nourishment to your locs.
- Less buildup. Sure, you can use dry loc treatment such as conditioners, but they leave an undesirable buildup and residue. The same isn’t true. As this treatment relies on oils alone, there is no chance of nasty leftovers left on your locs.
- Adds shine. Dullness can happen to anyone and has likely happened to everyone at one point. If you’re noticing lackluster locs, hot oil treatment is the cure. This simple technique will restore the shine in your locs.
- Minimizes breakage. Breakage can occur with locs, especially color-treated ones. If you’re struggling with breakage, a hot oil treatment can improve hair elasticity and minimize future breakage.
How often should you do a hot oil treatment on locs?
Although hot oil treatments are highly recommended and safe for your locs, it doesn’t mean you should do them every week. In fact, it’s recommended only to do a hot oil treatment once a month or every other month.
However, how often you perform a hot oil treatment will largely depend on your dryness level. For example, you might get by doing a hot oil treatment every other month during the summer months. You might consider stepping up to once a month when winter rolls around.
Unfortunately, doing a hot oil treatment more than once a month can have negative consequences. For one, oil can begin to build up in your hair. This is counterproductive, considering one of the benefits of hot oil treatment is zero build-up compared to conditioners.
The other issue is unraveling. Excessive hot oil treatments can cause locs – especially new ones – to unravel. Needless to say, this is a negative that you will want to avoid.
What are the steps to do a hot oil treatment?
Ready to dive in with your first hot oil treatment? Then you need to know how to do it the right way. Follow the steps below for success.
- Wash your locs – there is no need to dry them
- Place two to five tablespoons of oil (and essential oils) in a microwave-safe bowl
- Heat for ten seconds or until warm to touch
- Apply to the scalp and locs thoroughly
- Wait around 15 to 30 minutes, then rinse using cold water
- If you’re struggling to remove excess oil, use a residue-free shampoo
Do you wash your hair before or after?
Before starting your hot oil treatment, it’s recommended to wash your hair. A clean and wet scalp and strands will allow better oil penetration and improved results. You can do a hot oil treatment on dry and dirty hair if desired, but it will be more challenging for the oil to reach the inside of your strands.
Once you’ve thoroughly washed your hair, place a towel around your neck and shoulders to protect your clothing. Don’t worry about drying off your locs. Again, the oil will penetrate the strands better if your hair is clean and wet.
How do you heat the oil?
The next step is to heat the oil. You can choose between oils, including olive, sunflower, almond, jojoba, and grapeseed. You can add essential oils if you prefer, such as chamomile and lavender.
When you’ve chosen your oil (or oil blend), place three to five tablespoons in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for around ten seconds.
How hot do you get the oil?
The oil should be warm to the touch but not so hot that it burns your fingers. If it’s too hot, let it cool down before attempting to apply it to your scalp and locs. If it’s too hot for you to touch, you certainly do not want to apply it to your head.
Do you rinse the oil out or leave it in?
When you’re ready, apply the warm oil to your scalp and locs. Massage the scalp gently to ensure the oil can penetrate the scalp and relieve dryness. Leave the oil on your scalp and locs for at least 20 minutes.
You don’t have to wrap your locs in order to achieve great results. However, you can improve overall penetration of the oils by doing one of the following:
- Wrap locs in plastic wrap
- Wrap locs in a warm towel, then sit under a hood dryer
Regardless of whether you wrap your locs or not, rinse the oil from your hair using cool water after the desired timeframe has passed. Twenty minutes is typically enough to do the trick. If you’re using a hood dryer, you might reduce the time to 15 minutes. If you’re using plastic wrap, increase to 30 minutes then rinse.
Do you wash and condition afterward?
While it’s imperative to let the hot oil treatment soak into your locs for 15 to 30 minutes, you don’t want to leave the oil in your locs. This can lead to buildup, which is what you’re trying to avoid with this treatment.
That said, it is encouraged to use a residue-free shampoo after your treatment. Shampoo at least two times to ensure all of the oil is removed from your locs. Don’t worry – you’re not undoing all of the progress you’ve done. The oil has already seeped in and done it’s job at this point.
You can follow up with a conditioner, but it’s not necessary. A conditioner can further enhance the moisture and nutrients of your scalp and locs, though.
Can hot oil damage your hair?
As long as you are not using piping hot oils on your locs, there is no reason why a hot oil treatment will damage your hair. That said, it’s important to do a finger test before diving into applying the oil to your locs.
The other issue is doing a hot oil treatment too often. While it likely won’t cause “damage”, it will cause buildup. Depending on how you look at build up, this can easily be noted as damage to your locs (especially appearance-wise).
The last thing to consider is whether or not you have sensitive skin. Those with sensitive skin might avoid adding any extras to their hot oil treatment such as essential oils. If you’re concerned about your scalp reacting to the treatment, you can always start with a “spot check”. You can also opt to hydrate the ends of your locs and leave your scalp alone entirely.
Can you leave a hot oil treatment overnight?
When it comes to a hot oil treatment for locs, you can leave it on overnight. The only real issue is that you may get oil on your linens, and it may be challenging to remove them.
If you’re planning to leave your oil treatment overnight, lay a towel down over your pillows. You can also wrap your hair with plastic wrap, a shower cap, and another towel to ensure that none of the oil slips down to your bedding.
If you leave the hot oil on overnight, it will be even more essential to wash using residue-free and natural shampoo. There will be an excess of oil in your strands that might not remove from a quick cold-water rinse.
A hot oil treatment can work wonders for locs and scalps that are dried-out and lackluster. The whole process takes around 20 to 30 minutes and only requires an oil such as olive or coconut. Wash your locs and massage the warm oil to your scalp and locs. After 15 to 30 minutes, rinse and enjoy locs that are nourished, moisturized, and shiny.