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.
1. Coconut Oil
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 extra virgin (EVCO). 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.
2. Olive Oil
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.
3. 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. This less refined version can be used to encourage hair growth as well as protect and seal your ends.Shelf life: indefinite.
4. 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.
5. 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. Shelf life: can be indefinite.
MORE: The Beauty of Jojoba
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.