5 Ways to Use Moringa Oil to Soften, Strengthen, and Protect Hair

Moringa oil in bottle with seeds on wooden table

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Brimming with phytonutrients, antioxidants, amino acids, and vitamins, moringa oil is a nutritional powerhouse commonly used by haircare giants like Oribe, R+Co, The Mane Choice, and more. Verb even calls it the "not-so-secret ingredient" in its cult-classic Ghost Oil. Sometimes called behen oil for its rich behenic acid content, the botanical extract is a superfood often taken as a supplement and applied topically to hair and skin. It's composed of 40% monounsaturated fatty acids—great for promoting hair growth and density—and a cornucopia of detoxifying, free radical-fighting, deep-cleaning, strengthening, and hydrating elements.

What Is Moringa?

Moringa (Moringa oleifera) is a tree native to the tropics of Asia and Africa, namely in the subcontinent of India. It's been called the "drumstick tree" for its long seed pods, as well as the "miracle tree" because almost every part of it is edible and contains nutritional or supposed beneficial properties. Moringa oil is derived from the seeds. 

Used on hair, moringa oil helps to moisturize the scalp, seal split ends, protect hair color against harmful UV rays, strengthen follicles, and boost shine—but you don't have to buy pricey, questionably sourced name-brand beauty products to reap its rewards. Instead, look for a pure, organic, cold-pressed, and food-grade moringa oil that's pale-yellow in color, then apply it to your hair using one of these five DIY methods.

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Mix It With Your Regular Conditioner

Moringa oil is a potent conditioner and natural detangler safe to use directly on hair. Of course, oils on their own are richer and heavier than most hair products, so try adding just a few drops to your regular conditioner to test it out first.

Alternatively, you can make your own conditioner by combining a tablespoon of moringa oil (or powder) with a mashed avocado, a tablespoon of honey, and a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. This concoction lacks shelf stability, but it'll provide you with a one-off deep conditioning indulgence so clean you could eat it. 

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Soothe Your Dry Scalp

Back of person with wet hair massaging own scalp

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Dandruff can be caused by something as simple—and preventable—as dry skin. Moringa oil is a celebrated dandruff fix because of its high omega-3 fatty acid content, which helps to lock in moisture and soothe irritation.

Warning

Note that frequent direct application of moringa oil can compromise skin barrier function, so you should limit use to no more than twice per week and mix it with a gentler carrier oil like almond oil if you have a particularly sensitive scalp.

Start with damp hair and massage two tablespoons of moringa oil (warmed, if you wish) into the scalp, working your way down to the ends of your hair, then rinse it out.

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Apply It to Split Ends

The amino acids in moringa oil hydrate hair cuticles—the outermost layers of the hair—and help them retain moisture throughout the day. It's a reparative and protein-rich humectant that can be used not just for care but also for styling. Applying a conservative amount to split ends or dry, damaged, and frizzy strands will help lubricate and seal the cuticles, leaving you with a soft and glossy finish.

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Use It in a Hair Mask

Bowl of pale-yellow oil amid cotton rounds and comb

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Hair masks are meant to nourish, strengthen, and restore hair to its optimum radiance. Moringa oil is a superb star ingredient because it's packed with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Thanks to its antioxidant free-radical protection, it's also widely used in mainstream color applications. Whereas other oils can tint hair, pale-yellow moringa retains hair's natural or artificial coloring.

One way to incorporate moringa oil into a hair mask is to mix two tablespoons of it with four tablespoons of yogurt (rich in protein and probiotics) and a teaspoon of carotene-packed mint. Apply a generous amount and let it sit for about 30 minutes, then rinse.

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Incorporate It Into Your Meals

One of the best things you can do for your hair and scalp is to maintain nutritious, well-balanced eating habits. Studies repeatedly show correlations between hair loss and nutrient deficiency, and moringa has been called a "sustainable remedy for malnutrition." It reportedly contains seven times the vitamin C of an orange, 10 times the vitamin A of a carrot, 15 times the potassium of a banana, 17 times the calcium of milk, and 25 times the iron of spinach. 

Moringa oil can be taken in capsules or added directly to food and beverages (make sure the label says "food-grade" first). It's also sold as cooking oil to be used for frying and baking. You can buy moringa in oil, powder, or tea form.