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Curly Nikki

Mineral Oil for Reducing Frizz and Damage in Natural Hair

By January 27th, 2021No Comments
Mineral Oil for Reducing Frizz and Damage in Natural Hair
by Ktani

Curly hair, and African-American hair in particular, can be dry. Products aimed for the latter used to contain not only mineral oil, but petrolatum, lanolin and sometimes vegetable oils. Petrolatum is greasy and contains wax; lanolin is a greasy, sticky wax and both can be hard to remove from hair without clarifying.

Cosmetic (USP/BP) mineral oil used on its own can enhance curls, seal in moisture and can be removed easily and completely with one wash with sulfate-free shampoo or conditioner only, when used in small amounts. It is a non-drying oil, not a liquid wax like jojoba oil. A drying oil can leave “a dry, hard and tough film” on hair and have environmental consequences as well.

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Because of its emollient and detangling properties, using mineral oil for hair can reduce the friction and breakage that manipulation can cause when using styling aids (whether combing, twisting, or braiding frequently). Better curl formation (on wet or damp hair) can result by using mineral oil alone, without the need of styling aids.


Mineral oil can help to rehydrate dry hair. If a small amount (small drops) is evenly applied to very damp or fairly wet hair for curly girls, the oil can help keep moisture in the hair by slowing down moisture evaporation and allow good curl retention. It also slows, but does not seal out, access to the hair by atmospheric moisture, helping to prevent frizz. For hair with a good moisture level, it can be used on dry hair to help maintain that level.

There is no reason why mineral oil should not help to keep moisture in even severely damaged hair caused by chemical processing, or heat styling, when used on very damp or wet hair. Damaged hair can be very dry. The cuticles, having been compromised by the damage, are unable to keep moisture in the hair well, even if they are closed with an acidic rinse. Mineral oil cannot repair damage. No product can do that. It can help keep moisture in the hair, making it feel softer, aid in detangling and add shine.

*for more info on the hydrophobic properties of mineral oil and its ability to effectively seal moisture into the hair (compared with coconut oil), click HERE

Mineral oil is not sticky. Used in small amounts it is not greasy either, which can result in hair looking stringy. Mineral oil can reduce and eliminate tangles and is antistatic. It can work effectively on hair that has been conditioned or unconditioned. It works most effectively when hair does not have a lot of conditioner on it at one time, or residue (build-up), and when it is not combined with other oils. Reapplication between washes is usually not necessary. The hair can be moisturized and sealed enough, to not feel or look dry.

Mineral oil is known to seal moisture into skin more effectively, than vegetable oils or silicones. It is also known in the cosmetic industry for: ease of spreading; shine; and slip thereby reducing friction.


The best choice of mineral oil is one with the least ingredients because it is the mineral oil itself that is the effective ingredient wanted. Other ingredients may cause build-up or cause hair to look greasy. Baby oil is often sold with just two ingredients, paraffinum liquidum (mineral oil), and fragrance. Sometimes tocopheral actetate (vitamin E) is listed. It is used as a stabilizer for cosmetic mineral oil and is often not listed.

USP/BP mineral oil is safe, classified as natural, can be biodegradable, and by using it in such small quantities, it is managing a limited resource very well.

References 1. “Petrolatum/Petroleum Jelly” 

2. “Understanding the Drying Capacity of Oils” 
3. “Hair Breakage in Normal and Weathered Hair: Focus on the Black Patient” 
4. “Clinical Evaluation of Baby Oil as a Dermal Moisturizer” 
6. “Effect of oil films on moisture vapor absorption on human hair” 
7. “European Commission Health and Consumers Cosmetics – Cosing, Mineral Oil” 
8. “Myths About Mineral Oil :: Part 2” 
9. “Food Grade/ White /Oils” 
10.”Petrochemicals: Confusion and Hypocrisy” 
11. “The oil industry” 
12. “About Vegetable Oil Spills” 
13. “Mineral Oil Cleared of Pimple Rap”

CN Says:
I took cosmetic grade mineral oil with me to deal with the humidity situation in the islands and it served me well. The one time I sealed with my castor/coconut oil mix, I experienced the swollen-rough-poofy-not-niceness struggle.  The mineral oil (plus my hat!) really helped keep my cuticle smooth and the frizz under control by improving my hair’s ability to retain the moisture from my leave-in.  My (dry) twist-outs actually kept their definition despite the ridiculous dew points.  For more info on mineral oil, click HERE

Have you experimented with mineral oil? Share your experiences below!

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