If you are not that conversant with hair products, it is easy to confuse between a Hair serum and hair oil.
While these two products work to improve the state of your hair, they are very different an dare used in different instances.
To understand how the two hair products work, I will create a comparison guide to help you differentiate between hair serum and hair oil and help you choose the right hair product for a specific purpose.
Difference between hair serum and hair oil
Before we get into details of what each of the two products do and what they are, I will create a cheat table that will give you brief overview of the two hair products.
|Details||Hair serum||Hair oils|
|What it is||A hair styling product formulated using silicone and other nutrients||A hair hydrating and nourishment product|
|What it does||Creates a protective layer between your hair and the factors that might affect you hair||Rejuvenates your hair and adds moisture to your hair.|
|Benefits||Control frizzAdds shine to your hairSmoothen your hairEnhances your natural curlsMakes your hair silkyAids in styling||Nourishing your hairRejuvenates your hairAids in repair of damaged hairMoisturizing your hair|
|How to use it||Apply oil from the hair ends to the middle||Apply from the scalp to the ends|
|When to use it||If you want to style your hair||Anytime you want to take good care of your hair.|
What it is and what does it do?
A hair serum is a hair product that is formulated using silicone and other ingredients to aid in the styling your hair.
The silicone in the serum adds weight to your hair strands making them stay intact the way you style hair.
Hair serum also have contain hydrolyzed protein which controls the static charge that is responsible for flyways and split ends.
Once you apply hair serum on your hair, you can be sure your hair will be protected from any environmental factors that might harm your hair considering silicone is frizz and waterproof.
Hair oils on the other hand are hair products manufactured using different types of oil. Each of the oils used in the hair oils aim at performing a different purpose on your hair.
Some of the most common hair oils include;
Coconut oil: Aims at moisturizing your natural hair.
Jojoba oil: Contains antioxidants which makes it best for conditioning and moisturizing your hair.
Argan oil: Contains antioxidants and other vitamins like vitamin A and E for nourishing your hair
Avocado oil: Has all the important nutrients to aid in repair of damaged hair and also nourish your hair.
Essential oils: Nourishing your hair while conditioning your hair making it healthy.
Olive oils: Rich in antioxidants and other nutrients responsible for nourishing, moisturizing and repairing damaged hair.
Hair oils penetrate your skin and your hair follicles adding more nutrients to your hair for a healthy hair.
If you read my introduction to hair serum guide, you can see that a hair serum has quite a number of benefits. Some of this benefits include;
- Controlling frizz: The protective layer created by silicone on your hair controls any factors that might contribute to your hair frizz. Hydrolyzed protein also reduces the chances of your hair having flyaways and split ends.
- Straightens your hair: Instead of using heat to straighten your hair, you can apply hair serum on your hair. Silicone which is the main component of hair serum will add weigh to your hair making it remain straight.
- Enhances your hair natural curls: Instead of using gels and other products that do not guarantee your hair curls will remain the whole day, you can apply hair serum on wet hair. Use a hair serum that has some hydrating properties to moisturize your hair.
- Adds shine to your hair: Silicone that is an ingredient in hair serum do reflect light which makes your hair look smooth, neat and shiny.
- Aids in repair of damaged hair: Although hair serum is not responsible for repairing damaged hair, it locks in the products that are responsible for hair repair in your hair as they do their work.
Since most hair serums also contain oils, it means that hair oils are more beneficial that hair serum. Some of the benefits of hair oils include;
- Nourishing your hair: Most oils like olive, jojoba, coconut and Argan oils will penetrate your hair follicles nourishing you hair.
- Moisturizing your hair: Oils have some hydrating properties. It is for this reason most products for dry hair contain oils.
- Repairs damaged hair: Hair oils contain vitamins and nutrients that are will aid in hair growth. When your hair is moisturized and nourished the condition that was aiding hair damage will be eliminated.
How to apply hair serum?
How you apply hair serum will determine if it will work for your hair or damage your hair.
Ensure the hair serum you are buying will work for your hair type. There are different types of hair serum.
- Wash your hair with a gentle shampoo and then rinse with a conditioner to soften your hair.
- Rinse your hair with warm water and then add a moisturizer to ensure your hair is hydrated when you are wearing a hair serum.
- If your hair is damaged, you can go in with products that will repair your hair before applying hair serum.
- Pour some hair serum on your palm and then rub your hands together to apply some heat to melt the hair serum.
- Apply the hair serum from the ends of your hair to the middle of your hair.
- Do not use too much products as it might find it’s way to your scalp.
- Avoid touching your scalp with the hair serum. Hair serum contains some harsh ingredients that might irritate your scalp causing some painful rashes.
- Massage your hair gently to ensure every part of your hair gets the product.
- Run a wide toothed comb through your hair to ensure your hair is not tangled and that all parts of your hair gets the hair serum.
- You can then go ahead and style your hair as you please.
After applying hair serum, wash your hands with warm water and soap to ensure no products has hidden on your finger tips.
How to apply hair oil?
There are no rules to Applying hair oils. Hair oils are very gentle ad safe which means you can apply them anytime you think your hair need.
You can apply hair oil on wet hair or dry hair depending on what you want to achieve.
- Part your hair into a small sections and apply the oil on your scalp.
- Make sure every part of your scalp gets the oil.
- Pour some oil on your palm, run your palms together to melt the oil for easy application.
- Do not use a lot of oil on your hair if you have already applied oil on your scalp.
- Apply the melted oil on your hair surface and then massage your head using your fingers gentle to ensure the oil penetrates your scalp and every path of your hair get the oil.
- Run a wide toothed comb through your hair to ensure your hair is well detangled. You can the go ahead to style your hair.
A hair that is well oiled will look nourished and vibrant.
When to use hair serum?
You can use hair serum when you want to style your hair, if you want to prevent your hair from heat damage, when you want to hit the pool, and in case you are using other products that aid in hair repair.
Do not use hair serum every day.
Hair serum contains some alcohol content that might end up stripping your hair its natural oils.
When to use hair oil?
You can use hair oil anytime you feel your hair need to be hydrated.
Hair oils are very safe and gentle on your skin, so you can use it as often as you want even daily.
Can you use hair serum and hair oils together?
Depending on what you are looking to achieve, it is possible to use hair serum and hair oil together.
For example, if your hair is damaged and dry at the same time, you can apply hair oil after applying a moisturizer to your hair then add a hair serum to lock in the hair oil.
The hair oil will not interfere with styling of your hair considering hair serum will be applied last.
Between hair serum and hair oil, which is the best?
Hair serum and hair oils aims at achieving different purposes on your hair.
You cannot rule out which is the best since we also use the products for the different purposes.
If you want to hydrate your hair, then you should go for hair oils and if you want to enhance your natural curls, you should go for hair serum.
When it come to the safety of use, hair serum contains silicone which might dry up your hair which might end up damaging it in the long run.
Hair oils on the other hand are very safe and contains the best nutrients that aid in hair growth.
If you apply hair serum and hair oils the same period of time, your hair will benefit more from the oils.
So, if you want to enjoy what both products have to offer, you can use the two products together but smartly using this guide.
It is easy to confuse between hair serum and hair oils. However, these two are very distinctive hair products.
For starters, hair serum is normally a styling hair product that is formulated using oils and silicone.
It also has some benefits like adding shine to your hair, making it smooth and preventing heat damage.
Hair oils on the other hand are natural hair products most formulated using organic oils but has aim of rejuvenating, treating, and hydrating your hair.
Although this two hair products are very helpful, you cannot use a hair serum in place of oil.
To help you understand the difference between hair serum and hair oil, the guide above contains all the information you need.
Read it through and subscribe to this page for more beauty hacks.
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- Tiwari, R., Tiwari, G., Yadav, A., & Ramachandran, V. (2021). Development and Evaluation of Herbal Hair Serum: A traditional way to Improve Hair Quality. The Open Dermatology Journal, 15(1).
- Krutchangthong, S., & Chokevivat, V. (2018, November). The study of customer satisfaction with Herbal Hair Serum in Using the Service at Applied Thai Traditional Medicine Clinic in Bangkok, Thailand. In Proceedings of International Academic Conferences (No. 8810430). International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
- Aruna, V., Amruthavalli, G. V., & Gayathri, R. (2019). Hair root activation by anagen grow-a herbal hair growth serum. JOJ Dermatology & Cosmetics, 1(3), 56-59.
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Andriya Ruth, is a beauty specialist with more than 10 years of experiences. She loves to test new beauty products and techniques to innovate novel beauty procedures for her clients and knowledge. Further, she contributes to several beauty magazines and blogs as a leading author/reviewer.