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Is It Really Bad to Grease Your Scalp?

By January 27th, 202121 Comments

Is It Really Bad to Grease Your Scalp?

by Nicole Hollis of Hair Liberty

If you grew up in a traditional African American household, a jar of hair grease was never too far away. Oiling the scalp with thick grease was thought to be a staple of any good hair care regimen. Today, experts advise against oiling the scalp, but many African American women still believe that hair grease is a part of obtaining healthy hair. But is it really helpful? Or can it cause more damage than good?

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Is all oil bad? 

One of the problems with oiling your scalp has to do with the type of oil used. Hair grease (examples include Bergamot, Blue Magic, Ultra Sheen, and TCB) is usually made of petrolatum, mineral oil, and/or lanolin. Those substances create a heavy barrier on your scalp and hair. When you oil your scalp with hair grease, it just sits on top of the skin, clogging your pores and hair follicles. This “grease barrier” also makes it difficult for water and other moisturizers to penetrate your hair and scalp. So, hair grease should definitely be avoided, but grease isn’t the only reason to stop oiling your scalp.

If you are someone who applies oil regularly, it’s probably because you’re trying to moisturize your hair and scalp. It’s true, your scalp does need to be moisturized (just like the rest of your skin), but you take care of that when you wash and condition your hair.

How do I get rid of dry scalp, then? 

Often times, people put grease or oil on their
scalp because they believe it will relieve a dry and flaky scalp. But
to Dr. Kari
, a licensed trichologist, “If you are experiencing the symptoms
of a dry or flaky scalp, it is more likely a result of an imbalance in your
scalp’s pH or a dysfunction of the sebaceous glands.” Therefore, if you want to
solve the problem of dry flakes, it’s best to apply something that will balance
the pH of your scalp, which is
grease. You can use an apple cider vinegar rinse or a pH balanced shampoo and

Give yourself a scalp massage instead

A healthy scalp is soft, flake-free, and not oily – just like the skin on your face. If you cannot break the habit of oiling your scalp, just shift your efforts from oiling to massaging. Massaging your scalp can slowly stimulate hair growth, especially in areas that have thinned due to tight hairstyles like weaves and braids.

Follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Start by avoiding products that contain large amounts (first five ingredients) of mineral oil, petrolatum, or lanolin.

Step 2: Replace hair grease with pure, natural oils like coconut, olive, avocado, castor, or jojoba oil.

Step 3: Use about 1 tablespoon of oil to lubricate the area of your scalp that you plan to massage. For an extra boost, add 2 drops each of rosemary, lavender, cedarwood, and thyme essential oil.

Step 4: Apply the oil, keeping your fingers planted and moving them in a circular motion. Just like when you get a light back rub or shoulder massage. Don’t scratch!

Step 5: To stimulate hair growth, massage for 2-5 minutes daily or as often as possible.

Step 6: After your massage, wash hair as usual so that oil will not clog your pores.

This article was originally written in April 2011 and has since been updated for grammar and clarity. 


  • Anonymous says:

    Lots of Asians actually use Almond oil (among other kinds) and so do Indians and some Hispanics.

    Don't understand why some people can comprehend we have different skin on our face and body (dry, oily, combination, sensitive) yet for our scalp it's all the same?? Clearly, someone with oily skin doesn't need heavy moisturizers while someone with dry skin does. So this is all about knowing your skin. Just because you have an oily scalp doesn't give you the right to assume everyone else does. There are too many children with hair down their backs whose parents wash (gasp) once or twice a month and grease their scalp with blue magic.

    That's why the sulfate shampoo didn't strip our hair people! we needed it to clarify. But they didn't make sulfate free shampoo back then, that's why we didnt wash every week.

    Grease isn't the devil. It just makes your clothes dirty and your hair heavy if you use too much. That's the most evil thing about grease.

    • Charmaine Williams says:

      I agree I could’ve said It better. When I was growing up my mom washed my hair towel dried and didn’t clip any ends. She greased my hair with blue magic and used sulfur 8 at times. My hair was straightened and it grew down my back ;I never had a problem at all with my hair not growing. Some people tell others what they want to hear. If grease was so bad why did so many black women and children have the longest thickest hair and that’s without clipping ends. I’m just going off of what I saw when I was growing up. I use to believe it until I went back to my roots…Dont believe the HYPE

  • Anonymous says:

    finally..someone is speaking the truth..grease on the scalp does not do anything and its a bad habit that needs to die ..its funny no one would dare put grease on their face(which is closest to the scalp) so why on our other race puts crap on their scalp so why are we?(yes are hair is different but are scalps are the same..)

  • Anonymous says:

    While I do agree that we should avoid using petroleum based products in our hair and on our scalp, I don't think there's anything wrong with oiling the scalp. Considering that most ppl oil their scalps either before or after they wash their hair and not everyday–I don't think that it's compromising the health of their scalp.

    Also there's a little ambiguity in the way the article is written. It says don't grease your scalp, and opt for scalp massages instead. How does one do a scalp massage? Put oil on your fingers and massage it into your scalp (Really, you've just oiled your scalp).

    I think sometimes we give our mothers and fore-mothers a bad wrap about how they cared for our hair. But most of the time, they oiled/moisturized our hair and put it in protective styles–things we know are keys to retaining length. They did they best they could with the products they had.

  • Taneica says:

    I haave been natural my entire life and grease my scalp regularly. My hair gets so pissed and breaks when I dont use Doo Gro (petroleum based). Use what works in YOUR hair. Generalizing dos and don'ts for natural hair can be isnt a good idea. Everybodys hair is different.

  • Anonymous says:

    Seriously…the scalp is skin so anything that agrees with the skin on the other parts of your body can agree with your scalp. Everyone is different, and it's easier for the heavier oils and greases to migrate down the hair shaft, in place of the sebum that your body produces which can't migrate down the shaft of curly or kinky hair (so that's why straight hair will look greasy if it's not washed frequently).
    Use what agrees with your skin and hair. That might be B & B, or it might be Jojoba oil, or something else.

  • Carla says:

    Using petro on my skin caused a ton of breakouts on my face at a young age. We had no idea what was causing it at the time. Natural oils are not expensive (especially when purchased in bulk).

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't grease/oil my scalp. My scalp naturally produces oil already and I don't need to add more. I remember watching Oprah and her stylist said oiling/greasing was a no-no!
    I never understood it! Im from Louisiana and do not need hot grease on my scalp in 90 degree weather!

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with Anonymous @ April 12, 2011 12:17 PM. Oiling the scalp and greasing the scalp are basically the same thing. One can grease their scalp using a natural hair grease that contains only vegetable oils and essential oils. All "greases" aren't petroleum based. Some good examples of petroleum-free "greases" are Oyin's Burnt Sugar pomade and Qhemet's Amla Oil Pomade.

  • Tami says:

    I second what @lacquerglamour said. My scalp gets so dry, even with rarely using shampoo. I need to oil it and it needs to get wet often so that it doesn't feel dry and itchy.

  • LovelyB says:

    I oil my scalp with organic EVCO from Whole Foods [but heard I can order more online at amazon for cheaper so will be doing that next time!]

  • Anonymous says:

    I oil my scalp with coconut, castor, rosemary oil mix. I do that a few times a week. After washing and conditioning, if I don't, my scalp feels to tight and dry and itchy. Like when I don't apply lotion after I shower. I do massage daily and that makes it feel good also. I also use the OCM about 3 times a week and my face is fine with that too. I think oil is good in moderation.

  • Tana Marie says:

    *Bronner Bros.*

  • Tana Marie says:

    I found this article to be confirmation and I agree 100%! I grew up in Southern Mississippi & when I was a kid, getting the scalp "greased" was a priority and I swear I hated it especially in the summer! My scalp would get so hot & itchy from that grease melting! My mom raised 5 girls and she was great with our hair but that grease was TERRIBLE!!! She often used TCB(all varieties), Bronne Bros. & Blue Magic and they all would break down & run. She taught us how to care for our hair & as I got older, I left the hair grease out of my regimen. I figured I'd do my own DC treatments & didn't use much heat on my hair(as usual) and my hair grew even longer, really fast! I wasn't even using oils yet! Now I have a 3 year old & don't even think about buying it for her.

  • Anonymous says:

    @atribitt I use the oil cleansing method for my face and it works well and keeps it moisturized. So using natural oils doesn't necessarily mean that your scalp or face will be oily and unclean

  • Anonymous says:

    WOW- it is amazing that my and my sister's natural hair grew down our backs with my mother putting Afro Sheen on our scalps when she washed it.

  • atribitt says:

    wow, the statement that stuck out to me the most was…"A healthy scalp is soft, flake-free, and not oily – just like the skin on your face". THAT'S why i don't oil my scalp. i cleanse and condition my face and i cleanse and condition my scalp. great article!

  • Anonymous says:

    my mum always put grease on my scalp (Bluemagic or Dax) and my hair grew it worked for me.
    I think ppl should use what workes for them.
    Natural oils does not work for everyone.
    For example i tried castor oil and my scalp started to itch really bad and i got bumps..
    so i say use whatever works best for you

  • Anonymous says:

    I think there may be an ambiguity in the word "greasing". Some people use it to mean putting pomade on the scalp; others use "greasing" to mean just putting oil on the scalp. I know I say I grease my scalp when in actuality, I'm just putting olive or castor oil on it. I believe a lot of people use the words interchangeably.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Breanna says:

    I think there is nothing wrong with putting grease into the hair and onto the scalp. Alot of people still had healthy hair even with their parents putting this stuff into their hair as kids. Alot of this jumping onto the bandwagon of you shouldn't put this and that into your hair sometimes goes overboard. Also depending on where those products line up in the ingredient listings, it really doesn't hurt my hair. My thing is use what works best for your head and if it still grows and iis very moisturized keep it going and don't look back. Remember not all 2 heads are alike, but then again you can't knock a person down if they chose to use grease instead of oils. I will use coconut and grapefruit and jojoba oils, but not everyday because it would irriate my forehead skin to much. This Ga heat is brutal and having oil baking in your head and running down it is so unattractive.

  • Meishy says:

    I Totally agree, we once believe all those hair grease was good for our hair, Oh my dayz, could u imagine if we new all of this back then, our hair would say THANK U GOD 4 KNOWLEDGE!. I was once in that category of blue magic and sometimes when I see my family with I throw it away and give them understanding of what we are using on our scalp. Back then I had dandruff problem and today I have none. yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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