Steam Creams and Oils | Hair & Scalp Oils

Enough of my reasons to use a hair oil. For many would-be hair oil users, it’s surely easy enough to search through this blog and find a serum that suits your locks and scent profile. Even after reviewing a few hair oils, I actually got to wondering if any stylists actually use them on their clients and if so, which ones?

It turns out the answer is an enthusiastic yes. Maybe it’s a micromovement beginning to take form, but top stylists from NY to LA are in fact recommending hair oils as the choice treatment for dry scalps or even just regular maintenance. I had a chance to speak with industry pro Carla Gentile, the jubilant in-demand hair stylist, who works on the tresses of some pretty A-list luminaries at the legendary Prive Salon in West Hollywood. As a mistress of all things curls, Prive is where hair and its care is a serious affair.

Name dropping isn’t her style, so don’t even ask. What Carla, LA’s curly hair expert in the salon and online at Dermstore’s Beauty Fix, does believe in is the art of aging gracefully. The interesting thing about Carla is that she opened her own salon in West Hollywood called Steam®, named after her signature scalp treatment. It was there in the back room where she developed her much lauded all-natural product line, Steam Creams and Oils®, which was launched in the late 90s long before the current oil craze.

Enough of my praise for oils. Here's real talk with Carla, who shares what are the biggest mistakes women make on using oils and tips on using a hair oil at night:

N.K: Do different hair types need different oils?    
CG: Different hair types don’t necessarily need different oils; although some oils are better for the hair than others. I like to think of oils in general as a nourishing element for the scalp and hair. Once you start experimenting with oils you will find what oil you prefer for your hair type.

The most important point to know in using any oils as hair treatments is that a little goes a long way. You can always add more. It’s best to apply in stages so that the oil can start soaking in. Also apply in downward strokes to help the cuticle layer start smoothing down and get rid of frizz.

I find that if the hair is extremely thick and porous lightly misting with water will help the oil penetrate and seal in moisture. Fine hair might absorb the oil quickly without needing any help. That said, there are many oils that are good for the hair, some might be better for the scalp like jojoba oil, and others might be better for sealing in moisture, like coconut oil. One thing is for sure, natural and organic oils are excellent conditioners for the hair and skin.

N.K: Can you please share some easy tips on using your hair oils?   
CG: The Steam Scalp Oils should be used twice a week. I recommend using at night before sleep. They will absorb right into your scalp and start working immediately. I put a few drops on my cuticles through out the day and it that really helps to stop them from cracking. You can also use them to scent another favorite oil to use as body oil. Try mixing a few drops in grape seed or sunflower oil for a Steam Scented Body oil.

The scalp oil bottle is really easy to use once you figure it out. Hold the bottle upside down between your thumb and your middle finger, using your index finger to tap the bottle. The oils will come out a drop at a time wherever you point the bottle. So section your hair off, point the bottle at the part and tap..tap…tap… take another section and tap again. 15 drops should be enough. There is a video on my website with a demonstration of how to use the oils.

The Steam Hair Oil, is not only an excellent hair conditioner, but is great for dry hands and body. As a conditioning treatment, begin by applying one palm full from mid shaft to ends. You’ll feel it start soaking in and be able to determine if your hair needs more. Gage the application amount as you would lotion. When you apply lotion to your hands you feel it soaking in. Sometimes you need to apply a little more because it absorbs so quickly. That means your skin wants more. When it’s had enough you can tell. The same goes for oil in your hair. You don’t want it to be an oily dripping mess. That’s just a waste. When the hair feels smooth and supple and has a light sheen you’ll know you’ve applied enough.

Next brush or comb all the oils through from scalp to ends. Either leave on overnight or wrap your hair in a towel or the Steam Hair Wrap. This will allow the heat from you’re scalp to help the oils penetrate. And if you’re having a “get things done kind of day” pull you’re hair back into a loose bun and leave the oils in while you run errands and get things done.

N.K: What is the one thing you see women doing wrong that we need to correct ASAP with a good hair oil? 

The first thing that comes to mind is that oils, real oils, are meant to be used as a conditioning treatment not a styling product. They won’t give your hair immediate body or volume. But they will give long term benefits resulting in more body and volume. A hair serum is what most people confuse with hair oil and usually has a small amount of some type of oil in it. There has been much confusion about hair oils in the past few years because brands started adding oils to silicone based products to provide nutrition and shine. This is wonderful but this also made the consumer really confused about what oil really is and how it should be used.

Don’t be afraid!! Oils are great for everyone’s hair because they are a treatment product, not a styling product. You might have to experiment a little to find which oil is best for you but don’t be afraid to try them. Oils are great for fine straight hair, dry frizzy hair, aging hair, thin wispy hair, and all scalps too.

In our busy schedules and lifestyles today we want it all. We want it all and we want to figure out how to have it. We want to work out everyday, which makes our hair oily, so we need to shampoo every day so we don’t have greasy oils hair. Excessive shampooing can make the hair dry out. We want to have a beautiful shiny hair color, and style it so we feel good. Hot tools zap all the natural oils from our hair resulting in brittle, lifeless hair.

All of this involves torture to our hair. This is where understanding and using hair oils can change your life. If you have to shampoo every day then use the scalp oil to help replenish the oils and balance you’re scalp oil production. I believe in using hot tools and blow dryers to get the look you want, but you need to protect and condition your hair. Use the hair oil twice a week to help give back the luster lost from styling.

Carla, my readers and I are so, so indebted to your brilliance and expertise. Thank you!

Readers, do try her superbly conditioning 100% organic hair oils, which really do leave dried-out hair from winter’s elements truly soft and smooth without weighing hair down. Each washes out with one shampoo rinse and leaves the locks much more obedient when rinsed.

The ultra lightweight Scalp Oils ($24 each) are available in two aromatherapeutic scents, each inviting on its own. The treatments are made from Acai, Jojoba, Moringa, and Pomegranate carriers. Moringa is what to note; it’s rich in Vitamins A and C,  has 46 different types of antioxidants, and is highly stable so your hair oil won’t go rancid. Moringa Oil is also regarded as a “cleansing oil” because it helps to rid the scalp and hair of dirt and foreign residue. The oil pairs well with Pomegranate, which soften the skin on your scalp to reduce flakes and itch.

Which to choose from? The artistic veil of Rose and Ylang Ylang play well against the striking citrus accents of Orange and Mandarin in oil #1. Yes, floral fans this delightfully fragrant version was made to help send you off to a flowery slumber when worn overnight.

Spicy fans will want to click on oil #2 for its bracing infusion of Sandalwood, Frankincense, and Black Pepper punctuated by the sensual linger of Jasmine. Neither scent is deeply overpowering, which is nice for when you’ll want that long overdue overnight soak of essential oil goodness.

Pair your scalp oil with the Hair Oil #3, which is a fabulous rendition from the revered Coconut Oil blended with Olive and Sunflower oils. But added to these are some interesting ingredients such as the non-greasy Tamanu Oil, the restorative Murumuru Butter, and phytosterol rich Saw Palmetto extracts. I could go on with the marvelously potent roster of more oils, but have a look at the list yourself.

The hair oil smells of the hybrid friendliness of some affable herbs and essences; the sharp edges of a shadowy Vetiver softened by the freshness of Grapefruit, while Cedar, Sage and Rosemary impart a handsomely old school kind of classic scent – minimal but distinguished and perfectly suited to share with your leading man.

The last word here is on Carla’s specially created nifty Hair Wrap ($21). Carla’s clients swear by its ability to act as a thermal insulator to lock in heat and helps seal in the treatment. I actually microwaved the mossy-coloured wrap a bit, wrapped it around, and sat back to enjoy the salon-y deep conditioning treatment. Pair it with a footbath for some serious ahhh’s…

Here’s the drill; oil #1 or #2 on the scalp, hair oil on the tresses, microwave the wrap, sit for 30-60 minutes while masking, exfoliating, or whatever you do on a spa night and rinse.

Results? Pretty damn good?

Price: $$
Scent Classification: Floral; Spicy;
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity