We’re sold on cleansing oils to remove makeup and dissolve daily grime from our faces, so why not apply skincare principles to our hair and scalp? Here’s your guide to oil cleansing up top
Applying an oil directly to your scalp with the endgame of light, shiny roots seems like a pretty cavalier move, but hey, we like to live crazy. Also, if we remember rightly, there was a bit of a kerfuffle when we started using oil on our faces for both cleansing and moisturising purposes: the whole business just seems counterintuitive, particularly if your main objective is to nix sebum, degrease and achieve soft, rather than slick, results.
Anyone who’s witnessed the instant vanishing act of waterproof mascara or deactivation of a formerly volcanic spot after a going-over with a luscious plant-based oil, however, will know that a bit of grease can do the world of good, oddly leaving skin more balanced and far less claggy. Within the equation of ‘like attracts like’, an oil can whisk away dirt, makeup and excess grease mightily effectively without stripping skin, meaning that your complexion is left sufficiently hydrated so as not to go into oil production overdrive, equalling soft, smooth skin that doesn’t feel the need to throw a sebum party. Turns out, the same formula applies to hair, and depending on the blend, oils can also provide a literal balm for brittle hair and dry, flaky scalps . Basically, A* to all-rounder oils, If you’re curious as to what an oil wash can do for you, say bye bye to build up with one of this lot, although it does seem that good quality oils come with a correspondingly high price tag at present…
IGK Smoke & Mirrors Conditioning Cleansing Oil, £25
With a tagline of “f*ck the traditional way of doing things”, IGK seems like an apt start to a slightly unconventional hair washing edit. New to the UK and hailing from the States, the achingly hipster hair range offering includes this gentle sweet almond and coconut oil based melting cleanser. It’s on the very hydrating end of the haircare scale, so best suited to coarse, curly and colour treated hair, and so potent that you may not need to follow up with a conditioner (lie-ins ahoy). Vegan, sulfate-free, cruelty-free and gluten-free, apply to wet hair and rinse, but don’t expect a luxurious lather- this oil potion has more subtle powers, and thanks to the lack of foaming agents, there’s not a lot of lather, which many would agree is a very.good.thing.
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Cleansing Oil Creme Duo, £23
A low-foamer thanks to the oil content and absence of sulfates, this dual-chambered cleanser was concocted to honour your hair’s natural oils and add lustre thanks to a cocktail of grapeseed, safflower, sweet almond, coconut, macadamia and argan oils. That’s a lot of oils in one sentence, and one bottle. Work it into damp, not sopping hair, and rinse- the cream-oil solution will prove to be quite the silken saviour if your hair is arid as desert.
Christophe Robin Antioxidant Cleansing Milk, £30.50
So yes, this may be dubbed a ‘milk’, but it’s packed with lovely lipids by way of omega and vitamin rich plant oils. The 10 per cent plant oil content includes almond, sunflower and peach, laced with vitamins A and E and rice protein for strength. In short, like a spoonful of fortifying cod liver oil for your hair, only it smells WAY better and cleanses at the same time. It’s just the stuff for delicate and coloured hair too- it’s free of colourants, SLS and silicones, and the antioxidant prowess helps to prevent highlights going brassy. A lot to pay for the privilege I know, but if you can afford it, it’s an emulsifying multitasker.
Pureology Shamp’oil Shampoo, £16.50
Like an oil spiked smoothie for stressed-out hair, this sulfate-free cleanser brings the shine thanks to jojoba, olive, sunflower and coconut oils, plus a mysterious ‘antifade’ complex is designed to preserve colour pigment, giving your dye job extra lustre and legs. It smells awesome too- an aromatherapeutic blend of sandalwood, orange blossom and white flowers. As swanky + oily = classy cleansing.
Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo, £26.90
If we can no longer get our mitts on the Japanese brand’s famed facial cleansing oils (sadly no longer available in the UK. Cue audible sobs from Brit beauty editors everywhere), we’ll damn well get our head in the game instead. With three cleansing oils for hair, catering for “normal”, dry and dandruff prone scalps, these three capitalise on the likes of emollient neroli oil and avocado oil to dissolve dirt and leave hair clean and cared for. Be aware that they still follow the traditional shampoo model, but with a whack of nourishing oils- while they don’t contain silicones, you’ll experience a slight foam party as they contain SLS , which is something to bear in mind in particular if you suffer with sensitive skin and or a reactive scalp. Otherwise, a classic oil infused option.
Kerastase Cleansing Oil Shampoo, £18.70
If dullness if your hair bugbear, this golden wash could restore your glory and boost condition. A fusion of rather funky oils- pracaxi, the highly prized camellia oil, argan and maize, it smooths hair texture to enhance shine while adding antioxidant protection and cleansing hair of gunk. It’s silicone-free, but it does contain sulfates .
Leonor Greyl Huile Apaisante, £28
This roller-ball oil is sliding on in at the end as it’s yet to launch (it’ll be available from the end of the month), and it’s also technically not a cleanser that takes the place of your shampoo, but bear with, as the glide-on oil aims to address common scalp gripes such as itching, inflammation and general irritation while purifying and getting sebum levels back in balance. Fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive hair and scalps, it’s a rich but easily absorbed elixir, and the oil blend is pretty exotic. Brazil nut oil apparently addresses flaking, omega loaded camellia and passion fruit oils help to preserve the skin barrier on the scalp and copaiba oil from the Amazon (fancy) provides antibacterial fatty acids. Use pre-shampoo or as a barrier for colour that also helps to prevent reactions.