Hair oils are best known for being a hair care product, but hair oils can also help style trendy hairstyles like the wet look and see-through bangs.
Kazuki Okumura managed the K-two hair salons in Aoyama and Ginza, and now manages the Ikebukuro branch since its launch in 2019. He's currently a top-rated hairstylist who is often fully booked. He specializes in cutting and coloring hair and treatments to improve hair quality. In addition to appearing on Japanese TV and in magazines, he also utilizes his in-depth knowledge of haircare and haircare products, working with many major cosmetics companies as a product development consultant.
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Hair oils are multifunctional products that can not only provide hair care benefits but also can be used as a styling product. Unlike similar multifunctional products like hair milk and hair cream, though, hair oils are almost entirely made of oils, similar to facial oils that you might incorporate into your skincare routine.
Since the oil coats your hair and creates a film, it makes it more difficult for water to evaporate, as well as makes your hair feel smooth to the touch, and adds shine to your hair. Moreover, since oils have a heavier consistency, they add plenty of moisture, which helps prevent your hair from getting frizzy as well as allows for tight and neat updo hairstyles. Since Japan can be pretty humid, and hair frizz occurs when the ambient humidity is higher than the amount of moisture in your hair, it's no wonder why Japanese hair oils focus so much on moisturizing your hair.
Recently, Japanese hair oils have become popular as the wet look and see-through bangs have become trendy. Some hair oils can even be used for the face and body!
Japanese hair oils are great if:
In this section, we'll go over the four major points to look for when choosing a Japanese hair oil.
Hair oil serves many purposes, so it's best to decide what you want to accomplish using the hair oil before you start randomly trying different products. If you want to add some nourishment to your hair before and after drying it, look for the following.
Usually, hair oil is made of multiple plant-based oils, rather than just one type of oil, and an antioxidant ingredient (including silicone).
Hair oil coats the outer layer of your hair to add shine as well as reduces friction, making your hair feel smooth to the touch. However, once you wash your hair, the coating will also wash off and you're back to the hair that you started with.
Rather than using hair oil similar to how you might use makeup, if you want to add moisture to your hair to improve it from within, you have to take a more skincare-like approach. This is where moisturizing ingredients come into play!
Look for the following ingredients:
Another point to consider when looking for a hair oil that focuses on haircare is to simply look for products that say "leave-in" or "outbath treatment" or otherwise indicate that it's formulated for hair treatment.
Similar to how your skin gets damaged from too much sun exposure, your hair can also get damaged when exposed to powerful UV rays. UV rays can not only dry your hair out but can also burn your scalp. To prevent this, it's best to protect your hair from UV rays during seasons where UV rays are at their strongest, such as spring and summer, or if you live in a climate where you get constant sun. Look for products that say UV protection or UV blocking on the package or product description.
If you're going to be using a hair iron or a hairdryer, check for heat protection ingredients. These ingredients can help prevent your hair from drying out when exposed to high heat. If you use a hair iron daily, or feel like your hairdryer is drying your hair out too much, look for heat protection ingredients.
Common heat protection ingredients to look for:
The ideal finish can vary from person to person. Some people might want to look sharp, while others might want to create trendy see-through bangs. Still others will want to stop their hair from getting frizzy and poofing out, while somebody else might want to add some shine to their curled hair.
In our rankings, we've categorized each product into five finishes (with occasional combinations): shine, smooth, clump, wet, and hold, so check out the product tables for your desired finish.
Hair oils that are geared more towards styling can broadly be separated into two types; those that look like you've got nothing on, and those that look like you've got some product in your hair. Before we explain the differences between the two, it's best to identify which one you lean more towards.
Think about it in terms of your makeup. Do you prefer a natural, no-makeup look, or do you prefer looking like you've neatly done your makeup?
No-Makeup Look/Natural-Looking Hair
→Look for a base control hair oil for a natural shine and smoothness
These products can enhance the look of your hair, giving it a natural and light finish.
Heavy Makeup/You Prefer an Intentional Hairstyle
→Look for a texture control hair oil for wet and glossy styles, clumps, and hold
These hair oils can also work for a more fashionable style and formal occasions.
If you feel like the tips of your hair are pretty dry, or you want a more intentional, put-together look, or even want your hair to have some healthy shine to it, look for hair oils with a shiny or wet finish, which will even out the texture of your hair.
Shiny hair oils can be broken down into two types:
Natural shine is best for those who want a more casual finish or want their hair to look more clean and healthy. Products like Hoyu's NiNE Styling Care Multi-Styling Oil Light fall under this category.
High-shine/wet is best for those who want to look fashionable or for formal occasions. Products like Yanagiya's Apricot Oil is a great example of this type of hair oil.
The natural shine style is trending in Japan lately since it's a bit more laid-back.
However, if you feel your hair is particularly damaged or regularly color or bleach your hair, I recommend considering high shine/wet hair oils since hair oils with a natural shine may not be enough for you.
One way to create an on-trend hairstyle using hair oils is to choose a product based on the length of your hair.
If you have short hair and want some movement, look for hair oils that help your hair clump. Products like Nature Labo's Diane Bonheur Signature Oil can help create big clumps that can help add more movement and texture to your hair.
If you have long hair and want to keep your hair curled after using a curling iron, look for hair oil with more hold since it will help you maintain your curls.
There are two types of hair oils that can create nice clumps of hair: those that can create thin, delicate clumps, and those that can create bigger clumps.
Bigger clumps create a more casual vibe. If you usually dress pretty casually and have a more laid-back style, then this type of clump might better suit your style.
Hair oil, in general, has a pretty heavy finish, but this can vary between products.
If you have fine hair or don't have much volume, it's best to choose a product with a lighter finish. If you end up applying too much hair oil to create a wet look, you might end up looking like you haven't washed your hair in a while, so watch out.
Regardless of the finish of the oil, it's best to use a little bit of oil at a time and let it settle in before you use more.
Hair oils are a product that you might want to use frequently, so it's best to consider a product that feels good to use. Our testers liked products in compact dispensers that allowed for portability that didn't let any oil drip or run.
Here's what makes a hair oil feel good to use, according to our testers:
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NiNE Styling Care Multi Styling Oil Light
A Multi-Purpose Product for All Hair Types, Ages, and Tastes
Anzu Yu Botanical Hair Oil
Moisturizing Damage Care and styling ability With 100% Natural Ingredients
Diane Bonheur Signature Oil
A Versatile, Organic Hair Oil With A Heavier Finish
Bioliss Botanical Hair Oil
Great for Both Moisturizing and For Creating a Natural and Casual Hairstyle
YOLU Calm Night Repair Hair Oil
Perfect for Long-Lasting Wet Styles
Elujuda Sun Treatment Serum
A Smooth Finish Suitable for All Hair Types, Great for Preventing Flat Hair.
P & G
Hair Recipe Wanomi Rice Oil
A Hair Oil That Adds Volume to Each Individual Strand of Hair
BOTANIST Botanical Hair Oil Airy Smooth
A Good Base Product, Recommend to Those Looking for a Lighter Finish.
&honey Moist Hair Oil 3.0
Look Pretty and Feel Pretty With This Care and Styling Product
Yuzu Oil Additive-Free Hair Oil
The Perfect Hair Care Product for a Smooth and Manageable Finish
Hoyu Professional's NiNE Styling Care Multi Styling Oil Light is a product that is sold exclusively at Japanese hair salons. The brand claims that this hair oil is great for creating trendy styles while providing haircare benefits. It's also advertised as an easy-to-use product, and true to its claims, this is an excellent hair oil that combines high styling ability with damage care.
This product gave us a manageably silky finish with an impressively healthy luster that seemed to glow from within. It didn't seem overly done and gave us a very natural yet elevated finish. Each strand felt well-conditioned and smooth, even up to the damaged ends. Whether you have thick or fine hair, this product is sure to help you get a more manageable texture with a polished look.
Above all, we were really impressed with how this product enhanced our hair. It also received outstandingly positive reviews from our testers in our feel test. The lightweight, stylish bottle was easy to use, and the pump dispensed the perfect amount of hair oil, which helps prevent over-application. This hair oil is excellent in both finish and ease of use and is great for anyone to try.
Yanagiya's Anzu Yu Botanical Hair Oil is a 100% natural hair oil composed of only apricot seed oil, tocopherol, and natural fragrance. With a moderate shine, clumping, wetness, and holding power in the finished look, this product is excellent for both styling and moisturizing your hair.
In our damage repair test, we found that it left the hair bundle moist and supple. It left a manageable and well-groomed impression, and the texture did seem to be on the heavier side, so we would recommend this to those who have difficulty managing thick hair.
This product also works well with those who have severely dry and damaged hair. If you have thin and fine hair, try to only use a small amount at a time and work your way up to your preferred finish.
The oil helped give us a great hair texture, and the sweet apricot scent evolved into a subtle and clean shampoo-like scent over time. The oxidation resistance seemed good but this product comes in a glass container, so it's better left at home than for carrying around. The best part about this product would be how natural it is, with zero silicone, parabens and other artificial preservatives.
The Diane Bonheur Signature Oil by Nature Lab is made up of 99.7% organic-certified plant-based oils. With a slightly heavier consistency, this oil is suitable for both slightly wet looks and loose, casual styles.
We found that this oil left us with a moisturized feel during our damage care test. We were able to smoothly pass our fingers through the hair. This also received a high rating in our styling test; however, the moist and heavy texture won't work for all hair types. For those with fine and soft hair, be careful to not over-apply. We would recommend applying little by little, only focusing on the ends of your hair.
The oil has mildly sweet jasmine and fresh, exotic tea notes, making it usable for both men and women. The cap-style plastic bottle is compact and easy to carry around, but it's prone to dripping, so be sure to wipe the spout after use.
Kosé Cosmeport’s Bioliss Botanical Hair Oil is part of a lineup of shampoos with the same name. This product received high scores in all of our tests and came with minimal negative points.
In our damage care test, this product gave us a moderately moisturized finish and left us with manageable hair. The scent didn't oxidize and instead remained the same even after some time.
Styling with this product gave us a firm, glistening shine and would work well with dry and damaged hair. On the other hand, this hair oil was not able to hold the style for a long time, so this oil would be more suitable for more casual styles.
This product received great reviews during our feel test. The push-style dispenser helps prevent dripping and makes it easy to dispense the floral-scented oil. We would recommend this to those looking for a product that is easy to use.
The YOLU Calm Night Repair Hair Oil by I-ne is a product that aims to help repair dry and damaged hair while you sleep. It protects your hair from friction and is made to be used for post-shower haircare.
This oil left our hair feeling moist and wet in our damage care test, even though we'd left it for a few hours. It retains a strong, wet texture even after several hours, and although it was easy to run our fingers through the hair, the wet look texture may not be to everyone's liking.
Surprisingly, this product earned a high score in the styling ability test, leaving us with healthy and strong hair. While this product is best for those with fine hair, it's also great for those looking for a styling product.
The wet and glossy texture was not the best for soft and fluffy finishes. According to our testers, the bergamot and cassis/blackcurrant fragrance was refreshingly sweet, but others mentioned that it smelled similarly to fruit juice.
Milbon's Elujuda Sun Treatment Serum is sold exclusively at salons and is a leave-in conditioner. It also provides UV protection for hair with SPF25/PA++, making it great for daily use.
This product gave us an impressively light and fluffy finish to our hair. There was no stickiness or stiff, oily texture, and the fluffy hair remained voluminous throughout the day.
We found that the hair tended to separate easily during our damage care test, but we were able to run our fingers through the hair with no problems. With a smooth and light finish that gave us a voluminously thick appearance, this hair oil can be used with all types of hair and is a great damage care product.
The container received compliments as the lid closed tightly and prevented leaks. The stylish container was also popular among our testers.
P&G's Hair Recipe Wanomi Rice Oil is formulated with domestic Japanese rice oil and is made entirely of natural ingredients.
This hair oil adds a moderate amount of shine and wetness while also providing a moderate amount of clumps and hold. The consistency of the oil is pretty heavy, so it's best for keeping your hair from getting frizzled.
This product adds both a smooth, silky feel as well as moisture, keeping your hair nice and neat. Since it feels like it moisturizes each strand of hair, it's best for softer, finer hair rather than thick and firm hair. It's also great for those with particularly damaged hair as well, given its thicker viscosity.
If you have fine hair, start by using a little bit at a time, adding more as you see fit. Our testers were fond of the citrusy, refreshing fragrance, too.
I-ne's BOTANIST Botanical Hair Oil Airy Smooth is part of a popular shampoo line of the same name. Overall, this product performed greatly, but most notably in our damage repair test, leaving our hair feeling smooth and supple.
We tested the "Airy Smooth" hair oil, which gave us a smooth and natural finish while conditioning and calming our hair. Given this, we recommend this as a base control product or to those with fine hair.
This hair oil was praised by most of our testers in our feel test, but the artificially sweet scent, which smelled similar to candy, left our testers divided. The fragrance also seemed to oxidize and change after some time.
ViCREA's &honey Moist Hair Oil 3.0 is part of a popular brand of shampoos and contains three types of moisturizing honey ingredients that help make your hair both silky and manageable.
The consistency of the oil feels heavy at first, but when applied, it made our hair feel silky-smooth. With just the right amount of shine, luster, smoothness, and clumping, this product is great for both hair care and styling purposes. This hair oil also earned a high score in the feel test.
The pump bottle felt firm to push, but this helped us dispense exactly the desired amount of oil. The stylish bottle is on the larger side, so it's not the best for carrying around. The sweet rose fragrance wasn't to everyone's liking, didn't oxidize over time.
Utena's Yuzu Oil Additive-Free Hair Oil is a 100% plant-based product that uses Yuzu seed oil which is grown, harvested, and produced in Kitagawa Village in Kochi Prefecture. This product did extremely well in our damage care test and we would highly recommend this to those looking for a great hair-care product.
The smooth and manageable finish it gave us was great and we could smoothly run our hands through the hair, but this hair oil isn't a versatile styling product. It gave us an almost excessively wet, glossy, and heavy feel, so even those with voluminous, fluffy hair would be able to achieve a trendy wet look.
This would be a good styling product for those looking to get a wet look. This product also received highly satisfactory results in our feel test and the fresh yuzu scent was popular among our staff.
We gathered 63 of the best-selling Japanese hair oils on e-commerce sites popular in Japan, like Amazon, Rakuten, Yahoo! Shopping, and @cosme Shopping and tested them all.
We tested each product for the following:
First of all, we tested the products' damage care ability.
For this test, we took some wet bundles of hair and braided them, then applied some heat with a hair straightener and left it to dry. After that, we applied each product thoroughly and blow-dried each bundle at the same temperature and velocity. Once fully dried, we left each bundle for 3 hours and evaluated the hair quality.
We scored each product according to how the hair felt, if it was easy to tangle, and whether or not there was a healthy, glossy sheen to the hair.
Next, we checked on how well the oil worked for styling hair.
While hair oils are more commonly known as hair care products, seeing how wet looks and see-through bangs are all the rage now, we felt that it was important to check how well they worked as a styling product.
We applied a dime-sized amount of hair oil to a mannequin and checked each product based on its shine, clumping, wetness, smoothness, and setting power. Knowing the characteristics of a given hair oil is important when choosing one for styling purposes.
Lastly, we tested how it felt to use the products, which is an important point to note of when you plan to use one daily.
We recruited some of our Japanese editorial staff to test each product and asked them to evaluate them based on their texture, fragrance, how portable they were, and how easy it was to open and close.
When using heavier hair oils, be careful to not use too much and to make sure you apply evenly.
Here's a step-by-step process on how to apply hair oil:
Finish off with a comb or brush to remove excess oil and to ensure that the oil is evenly distributed throughout your hair.
Not only is Japanese hair oil great for nourishing your hair, it can also be used as a styling agent. However, when it's time to remove it, you'll want a shampoo that can remove the oil without drying your hair out. You'll also want to condition your hair, too!
No. 1: Hoyu Professional | NiNE Styling Care Multi Styling Oil Light
No. 2: Yanagiya | Anzu Yu Botanical Hair Oil
No. 3: Nature Lab | Diane Bonheur Signature Oil
No. 4: KOSÉ CosmePort | Bioliss Botanical Hair Oil
No. 5: I-ne | YOLU Calm Night Repair Hair Oil
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