Every Saturday, like clockwork, my mom used to massage coconut oil into my scalp as a child. She stressed the importance of self-care rituals — not in a vain way but rather the idea that it’s our responsibility to constantly nourish and improve ourselves.
Now that I live alone, I no longer depend on parachute coconut oil from the Indian store but on fortifying hair serums that contain a mixture of natural oils. With help of the board-certified dermatologist Dr Ava Shambam, we take a deep dive into hair serums (and the best ways to use them) below.
What are the benefits of hair serums?
It truly depends on the cocktail of botanical ingredients used in the serum. Some common benefits include combating environmental aggressors (free radicals) and pollution, soothing inflammation, calming irritation, and providing hydration. “As serums are usually composed of smaller molecules, they can penetrate through the hair shaft cuticle layer to the cortex,” says Shambam.
Our Fortifying Hair Serum contains an ultra-nourishing blend of amla extract, jasmine oil, and sunflower oil to manage breakage, nourish the scalp, and protect against heat damage to leave hair stronger and more supple.
How long should you keep a hair serum in?
“Usually, the minimum usage for absorption and implementation is about 15-20 minutes,” explains Shambam. You can often speed the process with a shower cap or even apply a little heat to activate the serum.
Since most formulas on the market are lightweight and fast-absorbing, you should be able to sleep overnight with them in your hair. Try wearing a loose braid and/or wrapping your head in a headscarf or turban to prevent the product from transferring onto your pillow — this also helps to prevent breakouts.
How to pick the right hair serum for you
Evaluating your needs and the state of your scalp and hair is the best determining factor. Like skincare, the serum you need depends on the condition of your hair and scalp, age, and even hormonal fluctuations (e.g., menopause). Seasonality, the environment, and whether your hair is colored or has undergone other chemical processes also play a factor.
If you suffer from a dry scalp then Shambam suggests looking for a serum that contains avocado oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, safflower oleosomes, or squalene. All these ingredients are soothing and support moisture and lubrication. If you suffer from itchiness or flaking from dryness, she suggests looking for a serum that contains aloe vera green tea, tea tree, or peppermint.
If your scalp is oily you need to be a little more careful as some formulas may be too heavy and can lead to build-up. She suggests light molecular weight oils such as squalene, lavender, or argan.