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Natural oils are Mother Earth’s secret weapons for not just our body externally or internally but for our hair as well. Most curlies know that mineral oil, petroleum oils, and their derivatives are not necessarily the best options for sealing our hair and applying to our scalps. Now, many of us know that essential and carrier oils are miracle workers on our hair and scalp. They can moisturize, seal, stave off infection, add shine, and even make our hair healthier, but let’s address what makes these oils different. 

Read more: Has Mineral Oil Gotten a Bad Rap?

Essential oils

An essential oil is a liquid that is generally distilled from the leaves, flowers, bark, roots, and stems of plants. They contain the true essence of the plant, making them highly concentrated. This is one reason they are often diluted in carrier oils and contain therapeutic benefits. Some essential oils include lavender oil, tea tree oil, and rosemary oil.

Carrier oils

A carrier oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant and usually comes from the kernels, nuts, or seeds. They are also called vegetable oils, fixed oils, and base oils. They are often referred to as carrier oils because when essential oils are diluted in them they carry the essential oil to the skin. Carrier oils can go rancid, but essential oils do not. Essential oils oxidize and lose their therapeutic benefits, but they do not go rancid. Examples of carrier oils include coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil.

Here are some common problems curlies suffer from and the natural oils to alleviate them.

Dandruff

According to the Mayo Clinic, dandruff is a common chronic scalp condition of flaking of the skin on the scalp. It is neither contagious nor often serious. People with dandruff produce new skin cells at a faster rate than average. Co-owner of Medical News Today Christian Nordqvist says that dandruff can also be a symptom of an underlying illness or condition like psoriasis or seborrhea dermatitis. 

Since many curlies try to steer clear of the dandruff shampoos that are too harsh on our curls, here is where Mother Nature comes in.

  • Tea Tree oil is a powerful antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial essential oil that will kill bacteria, yeast, and germs that can accumulate on the scalp and cause dandruff. I usually add a few drops to a handful of shampoos and wash my hair as normal. If diluted with a carrier oil, this can also make a great pre-poo scalp treatment.
  • Lavender oil is another powerful essential oil with anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties that keep fungus at bay. Mix about 7 to 10 drops of lavender oil with your favorite carrier oil and massage into scalp. Leave in overnight to soothe an irritated and cleanse in the morning. Do weekly for a month for the best results. 
  • Coconut oil is a deep moisturizing oil that effectively treats a dry scalp and dandruff with its anti-fungal properties. Take five tablespoon. of coconut oil and add one tablespoon of lime juice. Mix together and apply to scalp while massaging gently. Allow to sit for 30 min. before washing out and styling as usual. You may need to repeat for another one or two wash days to see significant results. 

Detangling & Moisturizing

A pre-poo treatment helps manage massive detangling sessions. The treatment will help to release the tangles for a smoother wash day. The pre-poo helps to keep the shampoo from stripping too much of the necessary oils from the hair and it will amp up the moisture levels. Just apply favorite oil to hair prior to cleansing, cover your hair with a plastic cap, and allow the oil to do its magic for at least 30-45 min. or longer.

  • Olive oil is a top-notch oil for pre-pooing, as it seals in moisture and will release tangles. 
  • Castor oil is a thick oil that is great for tighter coils and curls. It is not only a great pre-poo choice but also another favorite for sealing in moisture. 
  • Coconut oil makes this list because it is light and non-greasy, conditions, combats hygral fatigue, and penetrates the hair shaft.
Read more: Do You Over-Moisturizer Your Hair? Understanding Hygral Fatigue

Sealing

Curly hair tends to be dryer than straight hair, so our hair no needs more moisture. Some confuse moisturizing with sealing but they are not the same. Moisturizing is adding the hydration to the strands with water or products formulated with water while sealing is retaining that moisture. The best sealants are oils and butters when applied on wet, damp, and freshly spritzed hair. You need the moisture before you seal it in, because applying oil to hair without traces of moisture will leave you with dry, greasy hair. Here are some great oils for retaining moisture in your strands.

  • Sweet almond oil is a light, all-purpose that is great for all hair types. This oil works exceptionally well as a sealant on naturally curly strands. It will smooth the hair shaft while locking in your hair’s added moisture. 
  • Avocado oil is another lightweight oil that is easily absorbed into the hair and scalp while being chock-full of nutrients and vitamins. It is a natural humectant, so not only does it help to draw in moisture, but it also captures it and keeps it in. 
  • Argan oil is a natural humectant that absorbs moisture from the air and then locks it in while also acting like a natural SPF. It is great for deep conditioning and adding shine.  

Combatting breakage

Breakage is a common problem that many curlies experience due to overmanipulation, too much tension, heat applications, chemical processing, various illnesses, hormonal imbalances, or stress. Hair breakage may require consulting a professional like a trichologist, dermatologist, or a physician, but if you are looking to see what Mother Nature has to offer, then you may want to try these three oils.

  • Rosemary oil is effective at promoting your optimal hair growth. Its caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid can help to prevent hair loss. It stimulates hair growth by dilating blood vessels and that in turn stimulates hair follicles. This oil is also ideal for a dry and itchy scalp with its natural soothing effect. 
  • Lavender oil is great for treating dandruff and improving blood circulation to the scalp. Simply add a few drops of lavender oil to your favorite carrier oil and massage the mixture into your scalp. 
  • Jojoba oil is light oil quite close to our body’s natural sebum that moisturizes the hair follicles making them stronger and healthier. 
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How do you incorporate oils in your regimen?