5 Amazing Benefits & Uses Of Sesame Oil (Til Oil) For Skin, Hair & Health

Sesame oil | Gingelly oil is called Til oil in Hindi and Nallennai in Tamil meaning an oil that preserves the heath of the body. It is the oil extracted from sesame seeds. It has always been regarded very highly and you will never find a South Indian home without sesame oil. I am a bit hesitant to write that you will never find a South Indian home without sesame oil because nowadays many are switching over to refined sunflower oil for their cooking. Here in South India, traditionally only sesame oil and coconut was used and I continue to do so.

Few years back there was a big rumor that using coconut oil will increase the LDL cholesterol and we were all advised to switch over to other oils for cooking. I am really really wary of so called health advises that goes against our traditions that has been followed for many many years. The rumor didn’t last long but still many stopped using coconut oil for their cooking. Please think thrice before following any advise that goes against traditions that has been followed for thousands of years.

How To Make Sesame Oil?

My maternal grandmother used to make and store sesame oil in huge vessels regularly for that years cooking. Whenever, I go into the store room I used to love taking a peak at it to smell and look at the dark lovely red color of sesame oil. To make sesame oil, sun dry sesame seeds till crisp, clean it off any dirt and take it to an oil mill for extracting the oil.

I can tell confidently that the refined sesame oil we get in the market is of no comparison to homemade unrefined sesame oil. That is because with unrefined sesame oil, the seeds have to be of highest quality else it will reflect on the oils taste. Whereas with unrefined sesame oil even if they use inferior seeds we will not know because of the refining.

If you are trying to make your own sesame oil, try to buy good quality sesame seeds in bulk that are free of dirt, that way you will save up on labor cost for cleaning the sesame seeds which is time consuming. Always make sure to do it during hot summer season to get the maximum extraction.

Where To Buy Cold Pressed Sesame Oil?

If you want to buy organic unrefined sesame oil, next time you visit your departmental store specifically ask for unrefined cold pressed sesame oil. Usually there will be one or two unknown brands of unrefined sesame oil but the packaging might not be attractive. Nowadays unrefined sesame oil is manufactured only by small family run business and they are not able to compete with big brands with advertisements and packaging but the quality is usually good. Another important point when buying unrefined sesame oil is with the pricing, they can never sell unrefined sesame oil for a cheap price as they have to use good quality seeds. If it is sold very cheap, the chances are very high that it is adulterated……….

5 Top Uses Of Sesame Oil For Hair, Skin & Health:

1.  Gingelly Oil| Sesame Oil For Skin:

Sesame oil, especially unrefined sesame oil is wonderful on the skin. When massaged into the skin, it leaves it amazingly soft and smooth. If you don’t want to use creams for your beauty routine unrefined oils like sesame oil will come to the rescue and surprisingly it has multiple uses.

To use it as a cleanser, take 2tbsp of homemade coconut milk and add 1/2 tsp of unrefined sesame oil to it. To use, take a small piece of cotton, dip it in the mixture, squeeze and use it to clean the face. This cleanser does the job of cleaning the face amazing well but without any chemicals. You can use sesame oil as a moisturizer but sesame oil has a strong smell, so I prefer to use it in the night but I like to add essential oils to it.

Add essential oils according to your needs, for treating wrinkles add rose essential oil. To treat skin problems like eczema, add chamomile essential oil and to relax and calm yourself down, add lavender. Sesame oil also can be used to massage the skin around the eyes, it will prevent under eye bags and wrinkles.

2. Gingelly Oil| Sesame Oil For Hair: 

The best way to use sesame oil for hair is to use it for taking oil bath.Traditional oil bath is called with different names in India:
Saturday Oil Bath | Sesame Oil Bath | Ayurvedic Oil Bath | Ennai Kuliyal in Tamil | Gingelly Oil Head Bath | Oil Bath in Tamil Nadu & Indian Head Bath, but they mean the same thing. It is the practice of massaging the head with sesame oil heated with spices. It is usually done weekly twice and here in Tamil Nadu, it is a ritual we religiously follow.

Ayurvedic South Indian gingelly oil bath has many health benefits: 1. Regular practice of having oil bath relaxes and rejuvenates us. 2. Oil bath removes the heat from our body, especially during hot summers. 3. It helps us get a deep sleep, as we feel relaxed after an oil bath. 4. It prevents hair loss, especially if done with a good quality oil. 5. It helps to reduce the redness in the eyes, especially people who spend a lot of time staring the computers will greatly benefit from oil bath.

In Tamil Nadu, usually every Fridays women have their oil bath and men have their oil bath on Saturdays in South India. It is an ayurvedic tradition for women to have oil bath on Fridays and then visit a Temple. You can use this oil bath for babies too. Traditionally sesame oil is heated with spices and then when the oil comes to lukewarm temperature, the oil is massaged well into the scalp. After an hour we have our bath with arappu (arappu is a powder made from leaves of arappu tree).

In our home we always use garlic, dry ginger, pepper corns and cumin seeds. Some people don’t like the smell of garlic in the oil, they can skip garlic and add the rest of the ingredients. It is so common in our place to find small children being chased by their mothers for massaging this oil on their scalp. When I was younger they used to chase me for massaging this oil, now I am chasing my son.

For best results the temperature of the oil should be lukewarm and should be massaged well into the scalp. One feels really refreshed and relaxed after a hot oil massage. I think in this fast pace of life, we should try to include these kind of age old traditions to keep us relaxed. Because we add spices like dry ginger, this oil can be
safely used even in winter to be massaged into the scalp.

3. Gingelly Oil| Sesame Oil For Cooking:

In my home, I use both coconut oil and sesame oil for cooking. Some dishes like dosa (Indian pancakes) tastes best with sesame oil and cannot be made with coconut oil. If we use coconut oil, it will not taste good and the dosas will also stick to the dosa pan. If you love toasts and don’t want to use ghee, you can use sesame oil. I know it sounds strange but it tastes very good and is perfect for elders who can’t digest ghee or butter on a daily basis.

My grandfather used to have his bread toasted in a dosa pan along with sesame oil. You can use sesame oil for making all the dishes but one small tip, while cooking, I have seen people add oil again after seasoning if the mixture sticks to the pan. If you use sesame oil for that, the gravy will have a strong sesame oil smell. Use the required amount of sesame oil while seasoning itself.

Another thing you can’t do with sesame oil is deep fry, we never ever deep fry in sesame oil because it will keep bubbling up and the snacks will smell of sesame oil. Sesame oil also can be used for cooking the dishes during weight loss but use sparingly. For storing sesame oil, try not to store it in plastic cans. Also if you want to store huge amounts of oil, then consider buying vessels that comes with a small tap, it makes things easier. But on the downside some taps might leak or drip so check before buying…..

4. Gingelly Oil| Sesame Oil For Oil Pulling:

I remember the time when the oil pulling craze started, it promised so many cures and everyone I knew were doing it. From personal experience, I feel oil pulling does have it’s benefits but claiming that it is a cure all is stretching the benefits way too much. Oil pulling if done properly does cure most of the problems of the mouth, it prevents mouth odor, mouth ulcers heal very quickly and it also whitens the teeth.

But it has to be done regularly everyday morning as soon as you get up. The best oil for oil pulling is unrefined sesame oil. To use it for oil pulling, take around 2 tsp of unrefined sesame oil in your mouth as soon as you get up and swish it around in your mouth for 2 minutes. The oil will turn watery by the end of 2 minutes, spit it out and brush your mouth.

At first swishing the oil around the mouth will be uncomfortable but if you start doing it everyday, it will become easier. If you are having any problems of the mouth, I highly recommend oil pulling with sesame oil. But though many claim that it can be done with unrefined sesame oil, for best results try oil pulling only with unrefined sesame oil.

5. Gingelly oil| Sesame Oil For Body Massage:

I have to mention this use of sesame oil, because it is so very beneficial. It is also a tradition that has been followed in my family for many many years. I have seen both my grandpas get sesame oil massage regularly. Sesame oil body massage is one of the most relaxing thing that we can do to our body. Nowadays everyone are aware of the benefits of a good massage. Last time we went on a family trip to Kerala, all of us got a body massage done with sesame oil.

Especially getting massage done by experts is very very relaxing. We had great fun and all of us felt very rejuvenated. The oil used was plain sesame oil and for some of us, herbs were added. The massage lasted 45 minutes to an hour and by the end of the day everyone’s skin was glowing. If you can’t make it to a massage center, you can easily do it at home too. Just warm up unrefined sesame oil with herbs of your choice and massage your whole body with it, wrap a warm towel around and then have bath with homemade bath powder, I am sure you will get the same benefits.

When you are having the massage, switch off the phones and do it on a day when you are alone at home. Once we asked a massage therapist to come home. But the problem was, someone or the other was was walking in and out of the room and we had to go in the middle of the massage to attend to phone calls and kids and it wasn’t relaxing at all. Plan ahead, light some candles, play soft music and have a warm massage with sesame oil and trust me, you will find all your stress melting away…:)



  1. Anonymous
    April 27, 2015 / 9:18 am

    Hi Ramya ,As usual impressive post.. Regarding homemade massage oil suggest herbs that we can add and are easy available and can compete to kerela massage centre oils… Can we these oils for kids as well.Regards,Kasturi

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      April 29, 2015 / 4:33 pm

      You can use it for kids. Try dried basil, mint, lavender, thyme, rosemary, crushed cardamom, marjoram or even neem will be good……

    • Anonymous
      January 29, 2017 / 10:45 am

      Hi! Could you please be a bit more detailed about the hair massage ingredients? When must they be added? And in what form? (Powdered,crushed, whole etc?) Thanks!

  2. Anonymous
    May 12, 2015 / 11:45 am

    Hi Ramya, how to make bath powder? And where can we get thyme etc

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      May 15, 2015 / 12:06 pm

      Hi, There is a recipe for bath powder in the blog, please look it up. Certain nurseries sell fresh thyme, otherwise you can get dried thyme from any departmental store…

    • Anonymous
      January 31, 2017 / 1:18 pm

      Hello Ramya! I told about this to my mom and she strongly argued that sesame oil can lead to hairfall. Any thoughts?

  3. Peter Premkumar
    August 6, 2015 / 8:33 am

    hi Ramyai want to know how to store home ground sesame oil and how to reduce the bitterness from the oil for cooking?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 12, 2015 / 4:01 pm

      Usually sesame oil made from good quality mature seeds does not have much of bitterness. I use unrefined sesame oil everyday and I have never experienced bitterness at all. We usually store sesame oil in huge drums in our pantry and once in 6 months, we sun dry the oil again to prevent the it from going rancid..

    • Kamakshi Kumar
      August 13, 2015 / 6:29 pm

      What sort of drum do you use to store sesame oil for a year? Is mud pot gud our a pot of some other material mam? Kindly advise as i am going to make sesame oil myself.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 16, 2015 / 5:19 am

      We use stainless steel drum for storing the sesame oil….

  4. shanthakumar Tabali
    August 30, 2015 / 7:50 am

    Mam, which oil is best for cooking sesame or groundnut oil? At present am using both, advice me

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      September 4, 2015 / 4:02 am

      Hi, We use unrefined sesame oil and homemade coconut oil for cooking in our home. We don't use peanut oil much. But in my opinion all good quality unrefined oils are good for cooking. You can use both sesame oil and ground nut oil for cooking like you are doing but try buying only unrefined sesame oil & groundnut oil…

  5. shanitha cm
    September 13, 2015 / 7:36 am

    Is sesame oil good for daily use on hair

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      September 19, 2015 / 1:35 pm

      Hi Shanitha, though sesame oil is very good for hair, we use sesame oil only for oil bath and coconut oil for daily application. Sesame oil, especially unrefined sesame oil has a strong smell which makes it difficult to use for daily application….

  6. sarath ks
    November 15, 2015 / 3:21 am

    Is sesame oil helps to increase our face and body fairness

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      November 22, 2015 / 2:48 am

      Though applying sesame oil on our face and body will not drastically increase the color of the skin we are born with, it does act as a natural sun protector and prevents tanning. It also reduces dark spots, dryness and prevents skin aging if massaged onto the skin regularly….

  7. Gopi Ravi
    December 12, 2015 / 8:46 am

    Whether Sesame Cooking oil can be used for Back Pain Massage. Normally what hers has to be mixed with Sesame oil for massage.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      December 19, 2015 / 4:51 pm

      Yes, you can use sesame oil for back pain massage. Add dry ginger and turmeric to it as they both have anti inflammatory properties and sweet flag can also be added as it has pain relieving properties…

  8. bala
    December 26, 2015 / 7:40 am

    U made me remember my childhood about oilbath, and I was not aware which oil this post cleared all the doubts and thanks for sharing information to everyone ,twitter share link is not working can u correct it

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      January 8, 2016 / 3:14 pm

      Hi, I am very glad this post brought back fond memories. Use the twitter link that is below the post for sharing, I checked and it works fine…

  9. Home Living Styles
    March 11, 2016 / 11:11 am

    Great post! I appreciate you investing the time to write such great article. Sesame oil is indeed mostly used for cooking purpose, but it also offers plenty of benefits for human health. When applied properly, the oil provides nutrients for human skin, hair, and bones!!!

  10. Ramya Venkateshwaran
    July 14, 2016 / 3:13 pm

    Yes, you can use sesame oil on acne prone skin but try using unrefined sesame oil…

  11. Anonymous
    August 9, 2016 / 10:22 am

    Can you suggest me a tip to control hair fall and bald head hair regrowth

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 18, 2016 / 4:56 pm

      Try this home remedy for hair growth & baldness: remedy

  12. sri preethu
    August 11, 2016 / 1:20 pm

    My baby girl has very dry skin. Can we use this oil for massage.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 18, 2016 / 5:18 pm

      Yes, you can use pure unrefined sesame oil for massaging her skin every day before bath…

  13. dharma
    October 19, 2016 / 12:51 am

    Anybody tell me that idhayam gingelly oil is refined or unrefined.

  14. sindhu ravi
    November 10, 2016 / 3:29 pm

    Hi wats best to stop hairfall problem

  15. Anonymous
    March 3, 2017 / 7:09 am

    Is sesame oil has cholesterol …?

    • Shanthi R
      March 5, 2017 / 2:35 pm

      None of the vegetable oils contain cholesterol.

  16. Anusha
    May 8, 2018 / 12:43 pm

    Hi Ramya,
    Excellent information as usual. Can you u please tell, how is the gingelly oil prepared at home. Are the sesame seeds roasted or unroasted or dried in sunlight and different types of sesame oil ?. Also, there are 2 kinds of coconut oil one prepared with dried coconut shells (cold pressed one) , the other with fresh coconut. which is best for health and cooking?Thanks

    • Rampriya (Wildturmeric)
      May 8, 2018 / 1:35 pm

      Hi Anusha, For making gingelly oil at home, the best seeds are selected, cleaned well, sun dried and then taken to oil mill for extraction. Generally cold pressed coconut oil is the best as it retains all the nutrients but if you find it too expensive for regular use, you can use unrefined coconut oil. But try not to use refined coconut oil….

  17. Anusha
    May 9, 2018 / 5:45 am

    Thanks Ramya, for the reply.
    Can we grind the sesame seeds with water, extract sesame seed milk and boil it at low temperature until it is left with oil and residue, just like we do with the coconut milk to extract virgin oil?

    • Rampriya (Wildturmeric)
      May 9, 2018 / 8:34 am

      No Anusha, I would not suggest that method as the oil we get from sesame seeds is very less that way. I would suggest either buying sesame seeds in bulk sun drying and extracting it in an oil mill as you will get the full oil extraction or buy unrefined sesame oil from shops…..

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