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Soybean Oil and Hair: What are the Benefits?

Most vegetable oils are rich in fatty acids, offering numerous benefits to the body. Their advantages also extend to the skin and hair. Soybean oil is no exception and serves as an excellent hair care treatment. Continue reading to discover all the properties of this botanical extract on hair.

Soybean oil for shiny and soft hair.

Soybean oil is valued in hair care for its moisturizing properties, allowing it to make hair shiny and soft. This action of the soybean oil comes from its composition, particularly its richness in saturated fatty acids, like palmitic acid. This latter indeed contributes to the restoration and cohesion of the cuticle, the outer part of the hair fiber that ensures its impermeability and protection. When the structure of the hair fibers is solid and the scales that form the cuticle are properly linked, the hair appears more shiny, as they are better able to reflect light.

Soybean oil for strengthening hair fibers.

Soybean vegetable oil also has protective virtues on hair fibers. These come from the unsaturated fatty acids it contains, and more specifically from its oleic acid content. This naturally occurring omega-9 in the hydrolipidic film that coats the hair helps to protect the fibers from external aggressions and keep them hydrated. Therefore, soybean vegetable oil stands out as an interesting ingredient for dry or damaged hair.

Furthermore, soybean oil exerts an indirect protective effect on hair keratin, the protein that provides strength and flexibility. Indeed, as previously mentioned, the palmitic acid found in soybean oil has a chemical structure similar to that of the lipids composing the hair cuticle, allowing it to insert itself and act as a intercellular cement. In doing so, it contributes to the protection of the cortex, the intermediate layer of hair fibers rich in keratin.

Soybean oil for protecting hair lengths.

UV rays, pollution... These everyday factors are known to be generators of free radicals within cells. These reactive species cause several damages and are particularly likely to weaken the hair follicle and promote hair loss and the appearance of split ends. To protect against the effects of oxidative stress, it is beneficial to incorporate antioxidant treatments into your hair care routine.

Soybean oil is a good candidate because it is rich in tocopherols (vitamin E), natural antioxidants whose effectiveness has been demonstrated in several studies. If we look at their biological mechanism, tocopherols act by transforming hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂), which is unstable and reactive, into water (H₂O). In doing so, tocopherols, and by extension, soybean oil, help to counteract oxidative stress and protect hair fibers.

Soybean oil for soothing the scalp.

Soybean oil also provides benefits to the scalp, particularly relieving irritated, dry, or sensitive scalps. This soothing action comes from the lecithin present in its biochemical composition, a molecule with anti-inflammatory properties. Indeed, several studies have highlighted its effect on the production of interleukin 1-β (IL-1-β) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Lecithin also suppresses transcriptional activation of the gene coding for cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Lastly, lecithin inhibits the signaling pathway related to the nuclear factor NF-κB. This factor is involved in the production of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) in T lymphocytes. IFN-γ is synthesized as part of the innate immune response and plays a role in the regulation of various inflammatory mechanisms. Thus, by acting at different levels, soybean oil soothes the scalp and can alleviate its itchiness.

Soybean oil in hair care: how to apply it?

The soybean oil can be used pure on the hair or can be added to a hair care product. It is often incorporated into conditioners or hair masks. There are several ways to use soybean oil on the hair:

  • In an oil bath along the lengths.

    Oil bathing is a technique often mentioned for deeply nourishing the hair. To be done once or twice a week, it will strengthen and restore shine to the hair. To perform an oil bath, we recommend applying strand by strand a few drops of soybean oil, from mid-lengths to ends, and letting it sit for about fifteen minutes. Be careful not to use too much oil as it could weigh down your hair. After the oil bath, you can proceed with a shampoo.

  • As a mask on the scalp.

    To soothe an irritated or itchy scalp, it is possible to apply soybean oil directly to the scalp. Once again, a few drops are more than enough. Gently massage to allow the oil to penetrate and wait at least 30 minutes before shampooing. Do not hesitate to shampoo twice if necessary, as soybean oil has a relatively greasy nature.


  • MURTAZA G. & al. Dermatological and cosmeceutical benefits of Glycine max (soybean) and its active components. Acta Polonia Pharmaceutica (2015).

  • KIM J. Y. et KIM L. Chondroprotective effect of curcumin and lecithin complex in human chondrocytes stimulated by IL-1β via an anti-inflammatory mechanism. Food Science and Biotechnology (2018).

  • ERGONUL P. G. & al. Cold pressed soybean oil. Elsevier eBooks (2020).


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