Moisturizing Oils and Curly Hair
Updated: Jan 25
So there's a debate that oils are great for curly hair OR they're horrible for curly hair. My take on this honestly, is to do what is best for YOUR hair.
I'm not saying ignore a professional's opinion (especially if you are seeking medical attention and or have a scalp condition), I'm saying know your body.
This blog post is all about learning:
Why some oils may work for your hair
Why some may not work well for your hair
What oils I have tried and work great for me
Why some oils work for your hair and some don't...
Moisturizing oils vs. sealing oils.
One of the first steps in figuring out which oils to use, is determining if an oil is a sealant or a moisturizing oil, or both and what their benefits are.
Moisturizing oils penetrate the hair while sealing oils lock in the moisture (or help the hair retain moisture).
Combining sealants with moisturizing oils can help those with dry scalps and hair! Here are a few examples:
Castor Oil - sealing oil that can be great for stimulating hair growth, improving overall strength
Coconut Oil - moisturizing and sealing oil that is a natural anti-bacterial, so it can naturally cleanses, adds shine, and help retain moisture
Jojoba Oil - sealing oil that contains various minerals (such as zinc) and vitamins (like vitamin C, B, and E) that can strengthen and thicken hair (and is said to help prevent hair loss)
Argan Oil - sealing oil that contains vitamin E, fatty acids, and can soften hair (arguably considered a moisturizing and sealing oil)
Grapeseed Oil - sealing oil that's similar to a serum, it adds shine, strength, helps retain moisture (and also argued to prevent hair loss)
Rosemary Oil - moisturizing oil that is full of benefits that help stimulate hair growth (such as vitamin E, fatty acids, and more. This oil often hides in growth serums and I think smells wonderfully earthy.)
Almond Oil - sealing oil that helps lock in moisture for hair and scalp, contains high levels of vitamin E promoting shinier hair, stronger hair
Olive Oil - moisturizing and sealing oil with anti-bacterial, promotes softer and stronger hair
Avocado Oil - moisturizing and sealing oil, full of fats that help retain and moisturize hair, in addition to providing a lot of shine
Knowing how to use/combine oils is also greatly beneficial. This may be a trial and error, as each curly is different and has various needs. So figuring out the best combination for your hair really boils down to trying them out.
Know your skin, scalp, and hair type.
The next step is knowing how your skin/scalp may interact with moisturizing or sealing oils.
For example, I love coconut oil because it works well for my hair.
However, I know that coconut oil (see benefits above) can clog MY pores (scalp and skin), because of my skin type.
Oils differ per person based on their skin's pH balance, type of skin they have (oily, dry, combination, or a variant such as oily acne-prone, or dry sensitive, combo sensitive skin etc.).
My skin is mostly oily (over my eyes is dry and eczema-prone and my scalp is oily—period lol) so coconut oil works well for my hair in very small doses.
This means, I don't need to use a lot (and I never use pure coconut oil, I use products that have it has an ingredient) and I make sure I wash my face well before going to bed (and keep a steady clay mask schedule).
Knowing your skin and hair type allows you to be aware of how oils are interacting with you. In total, understanding:
Skin and scalp type
And, considering your hair's length
All can assist you in finding the best oils that work for your curls! Specifically, acknowledging these factors can allow you to:
Understand which oil(s) to use
How much oil to use (or if you don't need to use oils at all)
When to use which oils for your hair
And, understand how your skin may react to it as well
Another factor in knowing how oil will interact with your skin and scalp is researching the comedogenic scale of an oil.
Comedogenic (or pore clogging) oil scales can help one figure out (before buying) which oil may be best for their skin type.
Know the comedogenic scale of each oil.
Castor oil is another thick oil that works so well for my hair (see benefits above) and though some say it's too thick for the scalp it's rated as low on the comedogenic scale.
There are many websites that display comedogenic scale ratings. I use two websites (that specialize in herbal use for their products, and) that show scale ratings, to help me figure out what would work for my oily skin type.
Each scale also speaks on the composition of each oil (such as it's different acidities) and specifically Herbal Dynamics names which are great for which skin types.
My favorite oils and how I moisturize my hair.
My favorite oil from the start was and still is castor oil. This thick oil really helped moisturize and stimulate my hair's growth.
My second favorite, that I have just recently tried is grapeseed oil. (I also enjoy rosemary oil. I haven't used it in so long, but it's an oil that smells amazing to me and really soothes the scalp.)
And I haven't used it in quite some time, but I did enjoy Alikay Naturals Essential 17 Hair Growth Oil (it contains various oils that help lock, retain, and moisture hair as well as stimulate growth).
Why I love these oils!
Since my scalp is naturally oily, castor oil helped lock in moisture (as it's a sealant) and retain moisture that could reach my hair (my hair is medium porosity) and allow it to absorb both the natural and castor oils.
Grapeseed oil is a great moisturizer for my hair because of how light it is. It's like a serum that promotes shine and adds a little slip for protective styles.
How I moisturize my hair in general.
In general, I use moisturizing products, such as smoothies and light butters, to moisturize my hair. As I've mentioned, my scalp is naturally oily so typically, I don't use oils after wash day before styling with a styling product.
I get out the shower and use smoothie-like products or my homemade Flaxgel.
I don't use any oils because the product itself is enough for my hair.
Sometimes I half-rinse conditioner out of my hair.
This helps when my hair needs some extra definition or hydration (and is similar to a leave-in).
The only time I moisturize with oils are during my bentonite clay mask (clarifying day).
I use oils in the mask recipe and may put some on my scalp after clarifying because my scalp and hair are very dry afterward.
Another great way I moisturize/lock in moisture after using my clay mask is doing a steam treatment or deep conditioning treatment!
All in all, moisturizing curls are unique to the curly. The whole curly journey is about finding what works for you and your coils!
There's no need to add new products or oils because someone said you "should be" using them, if you're hair is already healthy and you have a regimen that already works for you—DO YOU!
—Until next time!