Benefits of using red palm oil for hair

When it comes to your skin and hair, using natural ingredients is often more beneficial and safe than using many of the synthetic options on the market. Natural ingredients often contain more than a single active component, and hence have several benefits. Nowadays even researchers and beauty experts are suggesting using natural products – one such product is red palm oil.

What is Red Palm Oil?

red palm

Image curtsy of Marco Schmidt

For those who are not familiar with red palm oil, first, let me introduce the oil to you. Red palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that is extracted from the fruit of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis and Elaeis oleifera). As the name suggests, red palm oil is dark red in color. The color of red palm oil is completely natural and is due to the presence of the pigments alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lycopene and the mixture of at least ten other carotenes.

Red palm oil can be bought from any grocery store. It is widely used in cooking in some cultures. Many foods, cosmetics, and hair products contain red palm oil. Due to the high saturated fat content in the oil, red palm oil is semi solid and has a buttery texture at room temperature.

The listed health benefits of consuming red palm oil in the diet include reduction in the risk of arterial thrombosis and/or atherosclerosis, inhibition of endogenous cholesterol biosynthesis, platelet aggregation, a reduction in oxidative stress and a reduction in blood pressure. The oil has even been used as a mosquito repellant in the Ivory Coast. But why would you want to use the oil in your hair?

Important properties of red palm oil

The answer lies in the composition of red palm oil. As I’ve already mentioned, red palm oil is rich with carotenes- the ingredient which makes tomato, carrot and other colorful vegetables so vibrant. Carotene is excellent for your hair. It is the basis of vitamin A, which is an antioxidant, and is readily absorbed by hair and scalp. Carotene adds extra shine to your dull and lifeless hair.

Red palm oil also contains tocopherols and the rare tocotrienols; both of them belong to vitamin E family, another important group of lipid-soluble antioxidants, which is vital for hair growth and keeping your hair strong and healthy. Tocotrienols is less common form of vitamin E than the main alpha-tocopherol. It accumulates in skin and protects against oxidative damage.

Benefits of red palm oil for hair and skin

Red palm oil can be beneficial for your hair in different ways. Some of these benefits are discussed here.

Red Palm Oil as a Moisturizer

Red palm oil is one of best natural moisturizers. It has high fat contents that act as a deep conditioner. The high saturated lipid content of red palm oil penetrates the hair follicles and locks moisture in the hair strands. The moisture makes your hair soft and gives protection against dust, harsh chemical products, and environmental pollution.

Red palm oil moisturizes your hair for a long time and your hair remains smooth and manageable even after one week of application.

Benefits of anti-oxidants in red palm oil

As mentioned above, red palm oil is very reach in vitamins A and E. These vitamins are potent anti-oxidants that fight the free radicals that cause destruction of the cells of your skin, and scalp, including hair-producing cells. One of the theories to explain graying hair is increased in oxidation in the hair follicle. Applying strong antioxidants may help maintain your native hair color, in addition to providing healthy hair growth.

Should you use red palm oil for hair loss?

Red palm oil is not a DHT blocker, and will not help with hair loss caused by hormonal imbalance. The high anti-oxidant content in the oil may maintain healthy hair follicle cells, but will not stop hair loss due to androgenic alopecia (the major cause of hair loss). There are anecdotal reports of users in various hair loss forums, that red palm oil has stopped their hair loss (for example, here and here), but there is no scientific support to the claims that a topical treatment would prevent hair loss or increase cell proliferation and hair growth.

Consuming red palm oil as part of a balanced diet may be one component in your regimen to prevent hair loss. Read about other hair loss options here and here.

Red palm kernel oil for hair

The kernel oil is has a different composition than the fruit oil. The kernel oil is rich in Lauric acid (unsaturated fatty acid with 14 carbon atoms – 14:0), which has antibacterial properties. These are especially beneficial for hair and skin, if you suffer from Acne or another bacterial-related condition.

How to Use Red Palm Oil for Hair

To get the best result from using red palm oil, you’ll need-

  • Red Palm Oil– as necessary.
  • A small heat resistant bowl
  • A pair of gloves
  • A shower cap
  • A towel
  • An old shirt / dress

Instruction for use

  1. The red color in red palm oil is very rich and it tends to stain. So the first step of applying red palm oil would be to wear an old shirt or dress, so that you don’t mind when it is ruined from the stain.
  2. Take the necessary amount of red palm oil keeping the length of your hair in mind and put in a small heat resistant bowl.
  3. Slowly heat the oil so that the texture of the oil becomes liquid.
  4. Wear gloves when applying the liquid oil on your scalp and hair. You can apply the oil to wet hair if you want. Cover the scalp and hair fully and message in circular motion for a few minutes.
  5. Put on the shower cap. You can rinse after 30 minutes if you want but it’s preferable to keep it overnight, in that case cover your pillow with a towel to prevent staining.

Red palm oil shampoo

Carina Pure & Natural Daily Moisturizing Shampoo is an all-natural and completely safe shampoo with red palm oil as its main ingredient. This shampoo does not contain any synthetic surfactants of preservatives. It is highly conditioning with coconut oil and glycerin, but it is not clear how well it really cleans the hair.


  • Konan, Y.L., Sylla, M.S., Doannio, J.M., and Traoré, S. (2003). Comparison of the effect of two excipients (karite nut butter and vaseline) on the efficacy of Cocos nucifera, Elaeis guineensis and Carapa procera oil-based repellents formulations against mosquitoes biting in Ivory Coast. Parasite 10, 181–184.
  • Oguntibeju, O.O., Esterhuyse, A.J., and Truter, E.J. (2009). Red palm oil: nutritional, physiological and therapeutic roles in improving human wellbeing and quality of life. Br. J. Biomed. Sci. 66, 216–222.
  • Traber, M.G., Podda, M., Weber, C., Thiele, J., Rallis, M., and Packer, L. (1997). Diet-derived and topically applied tocotrienols accumulate in skin and protect the tissue against ultraviolet light-induced oxidative stress. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 6, 63–67.


Rehana is a professional writer and researcher. She has written about health and beauty in several different websites. She is passionate about natural life style and personal development. She loves to read novels in her spare time. Her hobbies include writing, watching movies and reading about anything interesting.

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