When it comes to maintaining your curly hair, you may be seeing lots of products bombarding the market touting all sorts of ingredients. Especially when it comes to the sheer number of natural hair oils, it can be confusing to know which one may work best for your hair. Although you can learn by trial and error, it’s always a good idea to do a little research before trying new ingredients.
To give you a brief introduction on hair oils, there are a couple main types of oils you’ll come across: carrier oils (vegetable/nut/seed derived oil, usually odorless, can be used alone or used to transport or “carry” the scent and properties of an essential oil) and essential oils (highly concentrated scent, contain specific therapeutic benefits, normally extracted from plant sources and diluted with carrier oils).
Examples of essential oils widely used in the natural hair community are rosemary, tea tree, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender and sandalwood. Of course there are many others, but these are found in many natural hair products for their healing and restorative properties.
On their own, carrier oils have their own individual benefits and are extremely popular among curly girls. Whether you have type 2 waves, type 3 curls, or type 4 coils, there’s an oil out there that can benefit your tresses. To help you navigate, here’s a list of some of the more popular, and a few obscure, natural oils on the market.
- Coconut Oil (Extra Virgin) Light and non-greasy, coconut oil can easily be used by all hair types. Coconut oil is one of the few oils that can actually penetrate the hair shaft. There are several types of coconut oil available, but go for the cold pressed, virgin. This oil is typically clear in its liquid form and a white color that is solid at room temperature. Shelf life: approximately 1-2 years.
- Olive Oil (Extra Virgin) This multipurpose oil is a staple in many naturals’ hair care regimens. Not only is olive oil a great pre-poo and hot oil treatment option, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) works wonders to seal moisture in and can add a kick to your conditioning routine too. If you have finer hair you may want to use just a small amount in order to not weigh the hair down. Shelf life: up to 2 years.
- Castor Oil (Jamaican Black Castor Oil) A heavier oil great for tighter coils, castor oil can be great for sealing moisture into your hair. Many have also used this oil to help regain thickness around thinning hairlines. A little definitely goes a long way with this oil; too much can leave your hair heavy and weighed down. Another popular variation is Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO). This less refined version can be used to encourage hair growth as well as protect and seal your ends. Shelf life: indefinite.
- Grape Seed Oil This super light and moisturizing hair oil can benefit all types of curls. A natural heat protectant, grape seed oil can actually be used as a thermal agent up to 425 degrees when blow drying or flat ironing. Apply a bit throughout the hair before applying heat to give your hair added shine and protection. This oil works great to strengthen each strand, increase manageability and can also be used to combat dry scalp and dandruff. Shelf life: approximately 1 year
- Jojoba Oil Closely matching the sebum, your hair’s natural oil, jojoba oil is a great staple in your natural hair care routine. This hair oil can be used to balance oil production at the scalp, aiding overproducing glands that cause oily hair. Jojoba is also non-greasy and gives your hair a healthy shine. At this time, however, jojoba oil is very scarce and that is reflected in the skyrocketing price. Shelf life: can be indefinite.
- Sweet Almond Oil This light, all-purpose oil is great for all hair types and offers many benefits to naturally curly hair. Sweet almond oil works great as a sealant, so apply a small bit on top of your moisturizer to lock in the moisture. It’s also great for improving manageability by smoothing the hair shaft. Shelf life: approximately 1 year.
- Avocado Oil This super nutrient rich oil is heaven for thick haired curlies. Chock full of natural goodies like amino acids, minerals, and vitamins, avocado oil can help strengthen hair and enhance deep conditioning treatments. Try mixing a bit of this hair oil with your favorite conditioner as a deep treatment, adding a plastic baggy or heat cap for added conditioning. Since this oil is a bit heavy and slightly oily, it’s best for thicker or more tightly coiled strands. Shelf life: approximately 1 year.
- Argan Oil This rare oil is making waves in the natural hair community for its moisturizing properties. Easily absorbed and quite nourishing, this oil is great for your hair, skin, and nails too. For curly girls, argan oil helps with manageability and can also strengthen the hair. It can be pricey, but a little goes a long way. Shelf life: approximately 2 years.
- Ayurvedic Oils For ages these hair oils have worked wonders across the globe and they’re a wonderful option for naturals. Some of the more prominent oils are amla, neem, brahmi, and bhringaraj; each of these distinctive oils offer their own unique benefits for your curls. For example, amla oil is great to strengthen and condition the hair, neem oil is excellent for tackling dandruff, brahmi can be used to stimulate hair growth and bhringaraj is great to combat shedding and breakage.
- Rose Oil A lightweight oil, rose oil is perfect for wavies or those with thinner hair. Rose oil strengthens hair at the root, protects against frizz and adds shine.
When it comes to incorporating natural hair oils into your regimen, there are a few rules of thumb. First, research the shelf life of the oils before you purchase them and make sure you use them before they go bad. Essential oils will not turn bad, but carrier oils can go rancid. Rancid oils may turn colors or develop odors so it helps to pay close attention to the date of packaging.
Next, when you’re shopping for carrier oils, you’ll want to look for those that have been cold pressed or expeller pressed. This means that no additional heat was used to extract the oil, thus keeping the vital nutrients intact. Lastly, you should make efforts to purchase your ingredients from reputable companies. If you prefer buying on the ground, you can look at Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe or other health/nutritional stores. You may find better prices online from such retailers as CamdenGray.com, MountainRoseHerbs.com, TexasNaturalSupply.com and NewDirectionsAromatics.com.
Take some time to assess your hair and determine which hair oils may benefit you the most. You can even combine different oils to create your own treatment. This is just a handful of options available to you, so do a little research now and your hair will thank you for it later!
Castor oil mixed with coconut oil makes for a great frizz serum and end sealer. I use coconut oil to pre-poo.
Which oils are you loving?
I am using olive oil along with As I am Co-Wash for my midweek co-washes. I use Jojoba oil daily in the morning. I use JCBO – lavender scented for my deep conditioning on the weekends. I then use a mixture of the JCBO, olive oil, and jojoba oil and apply directly to scalp every other night. Plan on incorporating the sweet almond oil soon into the mixture.
I use Argan oil like religion. I wash my hair once a week with Ouidad Curl Quencher shampoo & than put Argan oil all over my hair while wet & cover up with a shower cap for 30 minutes. Than rinse & deep condition with either a Hair Mayonnaise (brand I cant remember) or Cantu Shea Butter for another 30 mintues with or without heat. Than I seal my hair with Argan oil & I go switch off depending on the day between Ouidad Curl Quencher Hydrafusion Intense Curl Cream & Cantu Shea Butter; than Style using Argan again to seal my ends. And since I do alot of braid outs & twist outs with perm rods I use Jamaican Black Castor oil on my scalp inbetween the parts.
Long way of saying that my hair is alwayssssssssssss soft due to the Argan oil. And my hair has grown alot from the Jamaican Black Castor Oil on my scalp. So oils plays such an important in my hair.
I had previously used Olive Oil & Tee Tree Oil and they both left my hair so dry. So I started experimenting with other oils until I found something that worked. I plan on trying Shea butter to seal my ends & Jojoba in the future. But I really love the system that I have going.
Can I mixed: RTC 100% Pure coconut oil, Zaika Almond Oil 100% natural, Jamaica Black castor and extra virgin olive and put on my hair for hair growth as my hair is breaking. Can someone help me.
I like EVCO to prepoo my hair. Started mixing castor, jojoba and EVOO for my scalp – keeps my hair moisturized longer. Use jojoba and olive oil for my children – when I used plain olive oil but they would have a dry scalp (applied about twice a week). After adding jojoba oil, their scalp has not had dryness.
I make my own oil mix of oils. I use equal parts olive oil, grapeseed oil, and then either sweet almond or a little bit of jojoba. I use my mix to moisturize and before I apply any heat. I live in the way-too-cold upper midwest, so although it seems greasy, the wind and cold him can really, really strip my hair, leaving it so broken! The oils are the only thing I have found that helps. I use coconut as a pre-wash treatment — it is too heavy to apply before using a flat iron. But coconut oil works well when I am just adding moisture to the ends during the summer, when I just wear it curly. I'll have to try castor oil on my thinner areas, though — I hadn't tried that!
I love coconut oil. Vatika oil is my favorte because it has alma, henna and other herbs already in it. It is fairly cheap. I get mine from a local indian store, but you can get online for cheap too, just have to pay shipping. For deep conditioning I use olive oil. I use castor oil on my thin crown area. I also like sweet almond oil, but it is kind of expensive for such small bottles of it.
For Ayurvedic Oils, try Henna Sooq's Cocoveda Hair Oil. It contains the following oils: Coconut oil, ginger, brahmi, bhringraj, henna, amla, methi, nagarmotha, neem, shikakai, hibiscus.
If you're looking for something cheaper, try Dabur Vatika Hair Oil containing Henna, Amla, Harar, Bahera, Neem, Brahmi, Kapur Kachari, Lemon Oil, Coconut Oil, and Cow's Milk.
You can buy Desert Essence Jojoba Oil for roughly $9 at Shoprite.
@Jerseygirl, this is where I purchase my Unrefined virgin Argan Oil, http://www.organic-creations.com/servlet/the-Oils-Carrier-%26-Fixed-cln-Argan%2C-Virgin/Categories
Please if you use Aragan oil, please make sure that it is 100% refine and pure. There are lots out there saying that they are Aragan oil but it's not real and full of other oils and cones. I get mine from Amazon for 16ozs for about $70.00. It's average about $10.00 a ounce. I all so get JBCO from Amazon for 8 ozs for about $10.00 too. Amazon has alot of great oils and hair products for a great prices.
My hair has thicken up from using JBCO on weekly fesh washed scalp/hair. I wearing my hair straight for the winter 1st time ever and Aragan oil is the best for my winter straight hair. EVOO, I use to seal my hair everyday. I use a Avocado, egg, Honey and a mix of oils mixed into a hair mask weekly and it has done wonders for my hair. I am a all natural product girl and it saves me money too! I color with henna 2x a month. I use Tresemme Naturals Shampoo and conditioner with no cones! My hair in 2 1/2 years is mid back length from a BC. I am doing something right. I love being natural and is always asked is my hair real and how did I get my hair so beautiful. I use Maxiglide Steam Flat Iron is kind to straighten and Caruso Hot Roller Steamer for curls and I pin curl my hair for the rest of the week. Water is the body and hair best friend. Happy being all natural!
My hair absolutely loves oils of all sorts, EVOO, EVCO, Avocado Oil, Argan Oii, Hemp Seed Oil, Vatika Oil , Brahmi Oil, Amla Oil, Bhringraj Oil and Neelibhringadi Oil. As far as essential oils, I always keep Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Clary Sage, Lavender, Tea Tree and PPO. Having all of these oils at my disposal allows me to pamper my hair and make some of the most decadent hair treats for myself…
EVCO for the love of all things hair, EVCO !!!! My number 1 oil my hair is simply is simply in love with it. And not like puppy love like til death due part love.
Grapeseed Oil helps serve as a heat protectant and stretch out my EVCO (generally do a 50/50 mix apply to scalp and ends after washing and when hair is in need of a boost)
Jojoba Oil for face = heaven; not greasy and gives wonderfully soft skin
other oils: I dabbled in ayurvedic oils, vatika was my first love but once I started using straight EVCO I didn't see the point, however if I did ever have to suggest just one it would be NAVRATNA Oil aka the holy grail of ayurvedic oils and works wonder just check to make sure you get the pure one not the one with mineral oil-grack!
@Miche'al YES YES YES to using Grapeseed Oil to straighten hair! Although I recommend using it before you blow dry (don't worry there will still be enough left on your hair to protect after drying completely) or if you don't air dry on your dampened hair. Only because when I used directly before flat ironing it was TOO easy to be heavy handed and ended up with weighed down limp hair. But if I put it on before giving it enough time to soak in a bit it works wonders.
I like Grapefruit Oil, Coconut Oil, African Pride Strengthening Oil, Megacare Sheabutter Oil and Wild Growth Oil.
I have used Castor Oil (Jamaican Black Castor Oil)as my staple sealing my ends. I love it
Jojoba Oil,Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, and Ayurvedic Oils are in my rotation. I use Grapeseed oil to moisturize my face, but I am going to give it a try to flat iron my hair.
Wow what a thorough analysis! Love reading CN, takes the hard work out of the natural hair equation, the works been done for us!
Thanks for the breakdown 🙂
Great article! I'm loving avocado oil!
I like grapeseed oil, avocado oil and castor oil. I've tried neem oil but the smell is terrible! You can add vitamin E to carrier oils to avoid them going rancid
Nice oils I have recently bought some of these listed above, and many of them are very good, but this one article helped me to decide which one I will use in the future to keep my hair naturally and to improve the quality of my hair. The also nice thing is that I have a good natural hairstyle that I really love. Nice article 🙂
My favourite oils are castor oil, grapeseed oil and hemp seed oil in that order. Even though my hair hates coconut oil, it can support vatika oil (only on my scalp though) When I combine the first three oils, my hair is softer and I don't have to re-moisturise as often especially with the castor oil.
Hair loves: vitamin E, argan, jojoba and neem (I apply to hair once it's dry, no sealing for me).
Hair is not so in love with: castor or coconut, so I sometimes use these as body moisturizers.I don't have JBCO, but not sure if that is any different than the results I had with cold pressed castor.
My favorite right now is evco by far. I also like castor oil for certain styles
I was so excited to try Jamaican Black Castor Oil, I had been using Vatika oil and loved it but found it wasn't thick enough to seal in the moisture for more than a day as the colder weather began…so I raced to my local hair store in search of some JBCO…I got my bottle and got an applicator bottle and I must say my hair is IN LOVE!!!! My hair is soft, shiny, moisturized, my hair feels stronger and I can see some new hair growth around edges that were thinning before…I probably won't be able to use it during the summer because its so thick but for the dreadful cold winter months—this is my ish! ( I use it on damp hair and after applying creme brulee for kinks curls and coils: perfection!) My hair is super defined also
I'm in love with jojoba, grapeseed, coconut, & Argan oils:)
Coconut Oil: pre-shampoo hot oil treatments
(Cold-Pressed) Castor Oil: sealing edges and ends
I use a number of oils too. I love oils for a number of reasons. I like that it allows my hair movement
Vatika Coconut Oil (also contains henna and amla) – Prepooing
Jojoba – sealing the strand
EVO – just because
JBCO – sealing the ends
Argan – styling oil
Brahmi – added to my conditioner. it's supposed to help with clarity of thinking and dandruff
Absolutely love grapeseed, sweet almond oil, jojoba and evoo oils for everything from pre-pooing, conditioning to sealing.
Not a fan of coconut oil, makes my hair stiff and contributes to breakouts on my forehead and jawline.
I'm definitely reaping the benefits of castor oil, avocado oil, and Jojoba oil mixed with a few drops of lavender. My hair is definitely loving those three carrier oils. I prefer EVCO as a pre-poo. I like to use Monoi oil to undo my twists and braids because it provides a lot of shine to the hair. It is good to know that grapeseed oil provides protection from heat.
I have been using JBCO on my hair. I've always used jojoba on my skin, but I think I will try that on my hair now. At the beginning of my transition over one year ago coconut oil just did not work with my two textures. Now that I am 100% perm free I may revisit coconut oil again.
I'm the type that likes to stick with what works. So if it's not broke I don't fix it! I started my natural journey… 1 year ago today… using EVOO and that's the only oil that I used up until last week. I'm now trying coconut oil and so far so good!
Because it is winter my hair is loving JBCO, in the summer I may try hemp seed oil, my hair seemed to link that oil quite a bit a while back.
I use .. sweet almond,. EVCO, EVavocado oil, castor oil.. and i just made a herbal oil i just starting using on my hair..
i tried grapeseed and aragan oils and my hair didnot like them
I've learned that castor oil is the best thing for my hair.
I love jojoba, sweet almond, coconut, argan, and JBCO. Oh I add Vitamin E oil to any of the oils I may mix together.
Vitamin E Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil &
Africa's Best Herbal Oil its cheap and my hair loves it!
I love castor oil, myself.
I used jojoba oil when I was relaxing, but now it makes my scalp itch terribly, so.