To find the best conditioning hair oil, a person must look at their hair type, the specific oils in the product, what she desires from the oil, and whether the oils are of natural or synthetic origin. Factors such as price also matter but are of less significance. A person will know she has found the right oil if her hair stays soft, is hydrated and moisturized, has few flyaways and is not weighed down.
Finding the best conditioning hair oil starts with examining hair type. Broadly, this means looking at the hair's circumference and how flat the protein scales on the outermost or cuticle layer of the hair sit. Cosmetologists and scientists classify hair loosely as fine, normal, thick, straight, wavy or curly. They also categorize hair by the amount of moisture and oil. Each hair type needs a different type of conditioning hair oil.
In general, the straighter or finer a person's hair is, the lighter a hair oil needs to be. Without as many kinks and turns, straight hair has protein scales that are able to sit flatter and therefore are better at protecting, controlling moisture and letting oil travel down the strand. A lighter oil will not weigh the hair down and supplements the smoothing already happening with the natural oil present. The thicker or curlier a person's hair is, the harder it is for the cuticle to sit flat but the stronger the strands are, so the hair can stand up to and is better smoothed and protected by a heavier oil.
In considering hair type, the next thing to do when picking a conditioning hair oil is to look at the percentages of carrier and essential oils in the product. Carrier oils are heavier oils that usually come from seeds, vegetables, nuts and fruits, and which form the foundation of the product. Examples are jojoba and avocado oil. Essential oils such as tea tree oil are much lighter, typically are fragrant and evaporate quickly. A conditioning hair oil with more essential oils is better for fine, straight hair, while one with more carrier oils is better for thick, curly hair.
Once a person knows an oil is suitable for her hair type, she can get specific about exactly what she wants the oil to do. Some conditioning oils, for example, are designed for smoothing and controlling flyaways, while others improve shine, control curls, aid in styling, add body, or prevent damage from starting or worsening. Different oils contribute the product's ability to perform in each of these areas.
Lastly, an individual should look at whether the oil is synthetic or natural. Although some people react even to organic products — an example is peanut oil — an organic hair conditioning oil tends to cause fewer reactions and is better for people with sensitive skin. They are good choices for those who are health conscious, as well. Synthetic conditioning products such as those that contain mineral oil may work well, but many are under study for being potentially toxic or contributing to health issues. Additional ingredients such as preservatives or coloring should be investigated as well.