Oleic acid and linoleic acid (omega 9 and omega 6 fatty acids) are two popular ingredients for hair and skincare products. In this article, you will learn about the benefits of using oleic acid for hair growth and what makes it so popular.

Let’s start with the basics:

What is oleic acid?

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid found in nuts and seeds as well as some vegetable oils.

Oleic acid is also called omega 9 fatty acid and is generally considered as an “healthy” fat, compared to saturated and trans fats.

Some of its health benefits include lowering cholesterol levels, improving blood circulation, helping with weight loss, protecting cells from free radicals, and most importantly deeply hydrating our skin and hair as well as preventing hair loss.

What is the most well-known oleic acid oil that is great for stimulating hair growth? It’s olive oil (with an oleic acid content between 55 to 83%).

When it comes to using it on hair and skin, oleic acid has richer, heavier, and more velvety texture compared to linoleic acid.

Oleic acid structure

Oleic acid has a molecular formula of C18H34O2.

This basically means oleic acid has a chemical structure that contains 18 carbon, 34 hydrogen, and 2 oxygen atoms.

oleic acid structure hair and skin

Monounsaturated: The structure shows oleic acid has only one double bond, thus it is a monounsaturated fat. On the other hand, linoelic acid (also known as omega 6 fatty acid) has 2 double bonds, making it a polyunsaturated fat.

Omega 9 fatty acids: The first double bond starts at where the 9th carbon atom (C) is located, so it is called an omega 9 fatty acid.

Note: If there is no double bond in the chemical structure, it is called a “saturated” fat. If a double bond exists, it becomes an “unsaturated” fat. For instance, coconut oil, a popular healthy oil used for moisturizing skin and nourishing scalp and hair, has no double bond in its structure, thus it is called a saturated fat.

Oleic acid benefits for hair growth

Oleic acid is great for moisturizing and nourishing hair strands by adding a protective layer to seal moisture (reducing water loss). It also has an antioxidant property which is essential for healthy follicle growth.

A study shows that oleic acid along with certain fatty acids effectively blocks 5 alpha reductase enzyme activities in the scalp. Finally, oleic acid makes a great carrier oil when it comes to penetrating hair and skin.

Here are the details:

Oleic acid has an amazing moisturizing property for hair and skin.

Oleic acid is known for its heavier and denser texture. This helps seal moisture in very effectively when used on brittle hair and mature / aging skin.

High-end skincare brands such as StriVectin and Tatcha use (and highlight) oleic acid as one of their main ingredients. Why? Oleic acid’s moisturizing agent helps restore the layer of skin surface lipids.

A 2009 study (1) evaluated 5 Brazilian plant oils in relation to restoring brittle hair condition, specifically for split ends. Some of these oils include palm olein and Buriti which have great amount of oleic acid (and linoleic acid) in them.

The results show that hair treated with these oils has significant increases in shine and glossiness and restoration effects in split ends.

Oleic acid is antioxidants

A number of studies show oleic acid is a powerful antioxidant agent.

Antioxidants play an essential role when it comes to encouraging healthy hair growth by regulating free radicals, to prevent interfering with the proper follicle growth cycle.

A 2016 study did a test on camellia oil whose main compound is oleic acid, unsaturated omega 9 fatty acid. When researchers analyzed oil’s compound, they found the oil to have detoxifying and protecting effects against environmental oxidative stress.

Oleic acid blocks 5a reductase enzyme, the main cause of hair loss

A 2009 study reveals that unsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in the study) along with lauric acid had a positive impact on down-regulating 5a reductase activities. This in turn blocks testosterone from converting into DHT, which is one of the main causes of pattern baldness.

Oleic acid is great for penetrating your hair and skin

Monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid is better at penetrating skin than polyunsaturated fats (such as linoelic acid), because it has smaller lipid molecule sizes.

Oleic acid rich oils, such as olive oil and sweet almond oil, make great carrier oils for hair. Use it with peppermint and lavender essential oils to make it a lot more effective for stimulating hair growth.

Carrier oils high in oleic acid

Here is a list of oils high in oleic acid ( * indicates popular carrier oils for topical application):

OilsOleic Acid
Safflower oil *11.5%
Evening primrose oil *05% - 11%
Poppy seed oil11% - 20%
Grapeseed oil *15%
Rosehip oil *14% -16%
Argan oil *43% - 46%
Sunflower oil16% - 28%
Pumpkin seed oil *24% - 41%
Hemp seed oil09% - 12%
Almond oil *60% - 75%
Olive oil *55% - 83%
Emu oil *47%
Marula oil *70% - 80%
Wheat germ oil12% - 39%
Sesame oil *35% - 50%
Rice bran oil38% - 43%
Rapeseed oil63%
Peanut oil71%
Coconut oil *06%
Corn oil27%
Cottonseed oil19%
Soybean oil17% - 30%
Walnut oil21% - 35%
Pistachio oil60%
Canola oil62%
Palm oil37% - 40%
Macadamia Oil60%
Hazelnut oil79%
Apricot kernel oil55% - 70%
Tamanu oil *34% - 41%
Castor oil *03%
Flaxseed oil21%
Jojoba oil *05% - 15%

(Sourced from wiki, news-medical, Esoteric Oils, US National library of medicine)

Top 3 Oleic-acid rich carrier oils for hair growth

best carrier oils rich in oleic acid for hair growth and skin care

#1 Olive oil

Olive oil contains 71% of oleic acid (omega 9 fatty acids) and is one of the best carrier oils to use for stimulating hair growth and stopping hair loss.

An extensive study shows that olive oil not only promotes various hair growth factors, but also converts follicle cells from the telogen to the anagen stage, thus providing an extended growth cycle.

Recommendation: Get extra virgin olive oil like this one, which has a top rating. This olive oil is even certified by the California Olive Oil counter to ensure its purity.

#2 Almond oil

Almond oil is a popular carrier oil great for hair growth use. It contains 70% oleic acid and 22% of linoelic acid, in which a Japanese study showed as essential fatty acids for inhibiting DHT activities.

Flavonoids is also predominantly found in almonds, a powerful antioxidant source for keeping our immune system in balance and providing anti-inflammatory benefits (thus providing ideal environment for proper hair growth).

Recommendation: Get this sweet almond oil – 100% pure formula from a reputable brand.

#3 Emu oil

Emu oil has 47% of oleic acid. What makes this oil extra special is its superior penetration ability to the scalp, compared to other oils. A study also shows that when emu oil is topically applied, it acts as a natural 5a reductase inhibitor to stop hair loss and stimulate hair growth.

Recommendation: Look no further – This emu oil is a simple choice hands-down.

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