There has been much debate about the re-emergence of one old school product that was once on the “Natural No-No” list: hair grease.
Who would have thought that of all ingredients from silicones to sulfates, grease would be the one to come back? When we think of grease, we think back to the days of being between our mothers laps having our scalps ‘scratched’ and greased, or sitting in kitchens having our hair prepped with grease before being pressed.
For some, the grease days are reminiscent of longer, healthier hair, and for others, grease stains left on furniture, greasy foreheads and overly shiny hair. But with so many women singing the praises of a product that's cheap and easily available, it makes you wonder, is grease really our enemy, or could it be that because of our and our parent’s lack of knowledge, we failed to reap the benefits of it long ago?
This question will probably always spark debate, but it is interesting to note exactly how curlies are implementing hair grease into their daily regimens.
Just about the first thing you learn when joining the online natural community is the art of moisturizing and sealing. Most of us know that sealing the moisture in is critical for maintaining healthy hair. While light oils may work for some, there are women out there — like our high porosity sisters — who need more to lock in moisture.
Many women have attested to having well-moisturized hair for days after sealing with hair grease. This may be due to the fact that grease is a lot heavier than its natural counterparts and doesn't dissipate easily. This means that when you apply that barrier of grease, you can trust that it is not going to go anywhere, and neither will your moisture.
Think back to your childhood days when you undid your plaits on wash day and had lovely definition. Of course, it was combed out since our mothers had no clue about what a twist or braid out was, but the definition was there.
As curlies, we have come to expect that definition comes only with creams and gels. I bought into the hype too, until one day, out of sheer desperation from running out of my styler, I used some grease and twisted my hair up expecting nothing more than limp, lifeless locks. Imagine my surprise to awake the following morning to a fabulous twist out! It seemed that the stickiness of the grease was just enough to give me the soft, touchable hold I craved.
I'm not surprised that many women are experiencing the best styling days of their natural haired lives using hair grease. It can be quite gooey and sticky, which can be just enough to lock in a curl pattern, minus the hefty price tag.
Almost every curly who has tried a wash-and-go can remember having hair that came out too crunchy at least once. They've probably also whipped out just about every oil and pomade in an effort to “scrunch the crunch.”
After perusing the hair boards, it seems that many women have eliminated that problem by using good old hair grease. The trick is to use it after the moisturizing step, but before the gel or styler. This barrier of grease helps to prevent the gel from hardening, and also seems to help with curl definition.
The thickness of grease is probably why it is so good at eliminating this problem. Many leave-ins and moisturizers simply aren’t thick enough or are easily absorbed by the hair as opposed to grease which cannot be absorbed by the hair and will therefore sit on it, providing the long lasting barrier that the hair needs from gel.
I also think back to my own experience the last time I was natural as a little girl, having my hair twisted with a mixture of gel and beeswax or grease. This was a miracle mixture for twists back then and it still is today in St. Lucia. It gave me and my sister’s twists good hold that would last for weeks at a time, and give our hair a lot of shine without ever being crunchy. But this mixture was only used when our hair was dripping wet.
Words of Caution
Despite the praises I've sung about hair grease, keep in mind that it's not for everyone. Some may hate the smell and texture, and fine haired curlies should beware the product!
But let’s face it, for $2 to $3 a jar at your local beauty supply store, it's worth a try. Here are a few extra things to keep in mind if you want to add hair grease to your regimen.
- Less is more! If you think you've taken enough out of the jar, put about half back and then apply the rest to your hair. Hair grease is very concentrated and can make your hair an oily mess very quickly. Try layering very, very small amounts of grease, and if you feel you have applied too little, it probably means you're using just enough.
- Don't use it on your scalp! Hair grease should not be applied to your scalp, since it can block pores, irritate your scalp and cause a whole host of issues. Make sure to use it only on the length of your hair.
- Use sulfate shampoos and wash more often! There's a catch to using hair grease. Due to its chemical makeup, co-washing isn't enough to remove grease from your hair. Only a sulfate and/or clarifying shampoo will work to remove grease from your hair. If you fail to heed this advice, you can find yourself suffering from really bad build up.
- Use a water based moisturizer first! Regardless of how our parents used it back in the day, hair grease is NOT a moisturizer. In and of itself, grease has no moisturizing properties. It should only be used as a sealant after applying a water based moisturizer. It should never be used alone unless your trying to lock in water after having saturated the hair.
Join the CurlTalk conversation: Are you using grease? How are you using it?
There you have it ladies — the breakdown on hair grease. As I sit here contemplating whether or not I’ll begin to start using grease again, I’m keeping my eyes open for the post on Jherri curl juice as a leave-in.
By the way, if anyone knows where I can purchase some Soul Glo, please leave a comment below. I like to be ahead of the trend because I have a feeling that this one will be making a comeback too.