Although haircare is rarely a priority at most spas, that is beginning to change with the growing popularity of hair oils. Hair products have evolved to include many ingredients commonly found in skincare, which makes them fit seamlessly in the luxury spa environment. Given the instant results, such as smoothing strands and repairing split ends, natural oils are ideal for an add-on service or value-enhancing conclusion to a relaxing spa treatment. They also make for profitable retail items, as they are particularly buzzworthy in beauty.
Aveda spa treatments begin and close with essential oil rituals. “A few drops of oil can be applied to the ends of the hair to add moisture and help the guest transition from the spa experience with refreshed hair,” says Marianne Knutson, senior vice president of global marketing at Aveda. The Hot Oil Scalp & Foot Treatment ($95, 25 minutes; $150, 50 minutes), meanwhile, is popular among guests at Allegria Spa at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa (CO). “A blend of coconut and jojoba oil infused with peppermint and rosemary is massaged onto the head to coat the hair and stimulate the scalp,” says spa general manager Gaye Steinke. “Jojoba oil is nearly identical to sebum that people naturally expel to lubricate their skin and hair. It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and non-toxic, which makes it incredibly useful for the hair. We find our guests enjoy the treatment, because scalp massages help relieve tension quickly and effectively while simultaneously serving as a beauty treatment.”
Still, even among spa-goers focused on overall wellness for the body, hair and scalp treatments are often overlooked. According to Courtney Syverson, spa director at Sundara Spa (Wisconsin Dells, WI), oil treatments for the hair are a way to introduce guests to the benefits of a healthy scalp and nourished locks. “Hair oils have many therapeutic properties and calming elements to help clients relax and rejuvenate during spa treatments,” says Giannandrea, international creative director for Macadamia Natural Oil. “I always tell my clients to prep for a big event with a scalp massage.”
To stay healthy and vibrant, hair needs many of the same nutrients and vitamins as the skin, making nourishing hair oils even more relevant for spas. “The trend seems to be toward the skinification of haircare products,” says Lydia Sarfati, founder and CEO of Repêchage. “Hair companies have looked into improving their collections by adding more specific restorative products like we in the skincare business have always done.”
Antioxidants found in many oils are essential to fighting free radicals and preventing damage in the hair. “Rosehip oil is a rich source of antioxidants, including lycopene and beta-carotene,” says Nancy Twine, founder and CEO of Briogeo, manufacturer of natural haircare products. “Antioxidants help protect the scalp and hair from the damaging effects of free radicals. On the other hand, avocado oil is rich in fatty acids, which are crucial to controlling frizz and balancing hair hydration.”
Some oils, such as shea and sesame, act as filters to protect hair from ultraviolet (UV) rays. “Shea oil works synergistically with phospho-lipids, which penetrate the deepest layers to help rebuild, strengthen, and protect hair and scalp,” says Francois Viargues, vice president of René Furterer. Ideal for use before sun exposure, the brand’s Protective Summer Oil shields keratin in strands from UV damage.
Essential oils often used in facial and massage services also have a place in haircare. For example, concentrated orange and lavender oils work to purify the scalp, stimulate microcirculation, and enhance the growth of healthy hair. Similarly, oil extracted from chia seeds improves the strength of strands. “Chia seeds are not only beneficial for the body but also an important anti-aging treatment to ensure healthy, vibrant, and youthful hair,” says Lilly Balasanyan, founder and president of Trissola.
Oils from regions known for natural, healing ingredients are making headlines, as well. For example, manufacturers look to fruits and nuts native to and cultivated in the Amazon rainforest, such as Brazil nut, buriti, cupuaçu, murumuru, and ucuuba, which contain oils with valuable antioxidant properties, vitamins, and more. Surya Brasil, a Brazilian hair- and skincare company, has used these oils throughout the line and in moisturizing treatments to restore hair. Another buzzworthy oil is argan, from the argan tree, which is endemic to Morocco. It is available in many haircare lines, including Agadir and Moroccanoil, and offers a transformative treatment for locks. “The rich, restorative, and deeply hydrating properties of the luxurious Moroccanoil Pure Argan Oil used in our scalp treatment or hydrating mask are wonderful add-ons,” says Lindsay Dunsmore, spa director at SpaVital (Denver). “A craniosacral scalp and head massage help the oils to penetrate and release stress and tension.”
With so much information now available about oils, clients are becoming more knowledgeable about their effects and are eager to embrace new varieties. “The fear of oils creating acne on skin or weighing hair down have been diminished recently, as the average beauty consumer has become more aware of the benefits of oils in personal care and many of the negative myths about using oils have been debunked,” says Twine.
It’s hard to beat the benefits of oils. “We are living in a time when people want to look their best and that starts from the inside,” says Giannandrea. “If you eat healthy, exercise, take care of your skin and hair with proper products and essential oils, it will all shine through.”