By warm oils I mean "pepper seed oil", and "sesame oil".
These oils are said to have inherent warmth due to which they increase blood circulation.

The secret of essential oils' effectiveness lies in the speed at which they are absorbed through our skin. They can reach the blood stream in 20 minutes to half an hour maximum.


Triphala Guggulu contains the detoxfying action of triphala with the penetrating action of guggulu.It is said to promote normal cholesterol levels, support proper weight management and remove deep seated toxins from joints and tissues.

Guggulu's English name

If I warm a normal oil manually (assuming it is absorbent), will it penetrate the same way as those warm oils? In India normally we apply "coconut oil" to our hair. Also, sometimes the oil of "Indian gooseberry".

From dailyglow.com:

DIY Hot-Oil Treatments It’s easy to whip up a hot-oil treatment at home if you prefer, and you likely already have everything you need in your kitchen and bathroom. To start, blend together equal parts of olive and canola oil — three tablespoons or so of each should do it — and warm them in the microwave. You want the oil to be warm but comfortable to handle, not hot. Use your hands to apply the warm oil to damp hair, working it over every strand. Follow up with a wide-toothed comb for even coverage, if necessary. Wrap your hair with a warm towel or a shower cap and leave the oil on for 30 minutes, then rinse and follow up with a gentle shampoo. If you like, you can experiment with adding other oils to the mix.

  • I am still not seeing the claim that the warm oils penetrate faster. Just that they are more effective because of their properties... totally coincidentally, the more expensive the oils are the more effective. Though they could be more efficacious with the same(or even slower) rate of absorption. Quite frankly, a 30 minute absorption rate does not seem all that impressive. It reminds me of a car ad I once saw that said it would do 0-60 in less than 15 seconds, I guess it could sound good if you do not know what to compare it too.
    – Chad
    Jan 23, 2012 at 14:38
  • @Chad I am not comparing speed here. I am just saying that the warm oils do reach to the bottom of the skin. Do normal oil also reach to the bottom of the skin after 30 minutes massage? Jan 24, 2012 at 0:28
  • I think that depends on your definition of normal oil. These oils also claim that they provide benefits once they are absorbed. Some oil could be absorbed but provide no benefit so fact that it can be absorbed is irrelevant if all that happens is the oils get excreted as waste. I think, in order to get a meaningful answer, you will need to be more specific what you mean by normal oil.
    – Chad
    Jan 24, 2012 at 13:45
  • @Chad In India normally we apply coconut oil to our hair. Also, sometimes the oil of "Indian gooseberry". Jan 24, 2012 at 14:28

2 Answers 2


The reason these oils seem to penetrate more is due to the irritation caused by Capsaicin.

Web MD Says:

When a capsaicin cream or ointment is used on the skin (topical use), capsaicin helps relieve pain. Capsaicin works by first stimulating and then decreasing the intensity of pain signals in the body. Although pain may at first increase, it usually decreases after the first use. Capsaicin stimulates the release of a compound believed to be involved in communicating pain between the nerves in the spinal cord and other parts of the body.

So while the oils feel like they are penetrating more I find no claims that it is actually absorbed by the skin at a greater rate.


From what I understand the rate of skin penetration by oils is determined by their viscosity, rather than anything to do with their temperature.

I could not find any studies testing the effect of temperature on skin penetration, nor anything to show why the practice of warming oils exists is common in some places. My guess is that applying warm oil may be considered to have other benefits such as helping the subject to relax.

I did find some studies that seemed to show a trend that the higher the viscosity of an oil the lower the absorption rate. However the only one I was able to access was this:

The results indicate that as viscosity increased in the range ca. 30 to 5000 cSt (base oil to residual aromatic extract) the uptake of the radiolabelled benzo(a)pyrene into blood was reduced by ca. fivefold. Further increases in viscosity from ca. 5000 to 69 × 106 cSt (i.e. residual aromatic extract to bitumen) resulted in a further but smaller (ca. twofold) reduction in uptake. The relationship between the amounts of free benzo(a)pyrene measured in blood and viscosity showed the same trend.

Source: Studies on the dermal and systemic bioavailability of polycyclic aromatic compounds in high viscosity oil products

This was also interesting:

The negative influence of liquid viscosity on penetration power through the skin has since long has been noted by many authors. : Brown & Scott 1934-Valette, Cavier & Savelle 1954- Hadgraft 1961.

In fact, some of our results meet their assertions: it is according to their very low viscosity that MINK OIL, Linseed Oil Carthame Oil are showing their penetration power, It is according to their heavy viscosity that Rice germs Oil and Celzaseed Oil have a very poor penetration power. Between these two extremes, we can establish a satisfying correlative between speed of penetration power and viscosity. Exceptions to these rules are.

-Soya Oil: low viscosity but still slow penetration -Avocado Oil: Higher viscosity but strong penetration


I find that page quite questionable however and am unable to find any other reference or copy of the study they claim is done in collaboration with the Laboratory Services of Chemistry and Bacteriology - City of Gent and the Belgium Ministry of Health.

If the rate of absorption is dependent on the viscosity of the oil, then warming an oil may make it less viscous but that may also remove or damage elements of the oil that you were hoping would be absorbed.

  • Thanks, I'll read your links in detail. But, you know here in beauty saloons we are always encouraged to apply oil to our hair scalp "after heating" it up! Jan 30, 2012 at 0:33
  • See the edit in the question. Jan 30, 2012 at 0:43
  • @AnishaKaul that may just be tradition, or perhaps because there is some other benefit (such as a more relaxing experience) in warming the oil. I can't find anything that supports the notion that warming oil leads to better skin penetration.
    – user6327
    Jan 30, 2012 at 9:09
  • doesn't hot oil open the pores? Jan 30, 2012 at 11:12
  • 2
    @AnishaKaul I would think so although that doesn't necessarily help with oil penetration. Maybe that would be better as a separate question? I can't find anything reliable showing that warming oils leads to better absorption.
    – user6327
    Jan 30, 2012 at 13:54

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