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Beauty & Fashion

How To Use Oils Properly If Long And Healthy Hair Is Your Goal

Not too long ago, I was talking to a senior Black woman who has super long, healthy hair about what her secret was. Her immediate response is what inspired me to pen this because, low-key, I couldn’t agree more with what she said. “I know everyone thinks that the internet knows every damn thing these days, but I still grease my scalp. It worked for my grandmother, it worked for my mom, it works for me and my own daughters and granddaughters.”


LISTEN. And what’s wild is, when it comes to Black haircare, few topics are more polarizing than whether you actually need oil — or not (Google “should you grease your scalp” to see what I mean). While I do agree that, for the most part, you should avoid things like mineral oil and petroleum-based products because they can clog your hair follicles, weigh your hair down, and sometimes even make your hair drier and harder (because the oil is sitting on top of your hair instead of actually penetrating it), I firmly believe that certain oils can perform all sorts of miracles and wonders for your hair and scalp. It’s all about knowing your hair type, what it needs, and how to apply oils properly and effectively.

How To Use Hair Oil Properly

Are you ready to learn how to do that? Let’s get into it.

Massage Your Scalp

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Let’s start with the foundation of your hair: your scalp. First up, if you want to reduce stress, pretty much anywhere on your body, a massage will help make that happen. In fact, there are even studies to support that a scalp (head) massage can also help lower your blood pressure and ease headache and migraine tension. As far as hair growth goes, using your fingers to rub your scalp can also reduce hair shedding and increase the thickness of your hair (by slightly stretching out your hair follicles) over time.

And here’s the thing: If you warm up an oil like rosemary to massage your scalp with, thanks to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that are in it, it can help stimulate your hair follicles. Also, if you battle with dandruff on some level and you bring a few drops of tea tree oil into the mix, its antifungal properties can help to bring relief to itching and flaking while actually reducing some of the fungi that create dandruff in the first place.

(For the record, some other essential oils that are great for fighting dandruff and overall scalp irritation include frankincense, peppermint, and cedarwood.)

Pre-Poo

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It’s kinda wild, the small steps we will skip, thinking that they are no big deal when they actually are. In walks, pre-pooing. I’m thinking that a lot of you know something about the concept; however, just to be on the safe side…since shampooing can oftentimes strip your hair of the moisture that it needs, pre-pooing is all about applying conditioner, a hair mask, or some type of hair oil to your tresses, before washing them, in order to retain hydration. Since this article is all about oil, I’ll focus on some of the ones that are great for moisture retention as far as pre-pooing goes.

Once you’ve selected the oil of your choice, divide your hair into 4-8 sections, generously apply the oil to dry hair (you can dampen it a bit if you’d like), and allow it to penetrate your hair for about 20-30 minutes before you shampoo your hair. That way, your hair will still be soft, manageable, and pretty protected as far as dryness goes before the shampoo starts doing its cleansing thing.

Add Some to Your Conditioner

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Listen, I don’t care who you are or what your hair type is; if there’s something that you definitely should be doing, it’s deep conditioning your tresses. As someone who does it religiously, to do a thorough job, you’re gonna need about an hour just to accomplish that. So, what if you’re pressed for time? Another thing that you can do is add some oil to your hair conditioner, apply it, put on a thermal heating cap, and leave it on for, say, 10 minutes or so. The mixture of the oil with your conditioner and heat while your hair is already damp will penetrate your cuticles and make them feel like you did a pretty solid version of deep conditioning.

Oils that are great for this? Thanks to all of the vitamin E that it contains, argan oil; if you want to add some additional shine, macadamia oil, and if you’re looking for something that will help to reduce the damage that hair dyes can cause (like drying your hair out), camellia oil.

Lock in Moisture (with Layering)

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Speaking of adding (additional) moisture to your hair, something that many sistahs do is either take the LOC (Liquid, Oil, Cream) or LCO (Liquid, Cream, Oil) approach. It’s pretty explanatory yet the bottom line is, if your hair is particularly dry, layering a liquid with a cream or oil could help you keep moisture in your hair for longer. As far as whether LOC or LCO is best for you, LOC fans typically have high porosity hair (meaning that your hair both takes in and loses moisture quickly because there are “holes” in your hair’s cuticle), and LCO is best for low porosity (which means it’s hard for their hair to get moisture to penetrate).

As far as the cream goes, it can be anything from a creamy hair conditioner to a hair butter like mango or shea butter. Oils that are effective include evening primrose oil, pumpkin seed oil, and moringa oil because they all help strengthen your tresses.

Seal Your Ends

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Because the ends of your hair are the oldest parts of it, you need to be intentional about giving them as much TLC as possible; that’s the only way that you’ll ultimately be able to retain length long-term. One way you can do that is by sealing your ends, which simply means that you apply some oil to the ends of your hair while it’s damp. Sweet almond oil deeply hydrates dry hair without weighing it down, soybean oil is full of fatty acids, and Jamaican black castor oil is also a deep moisturizer.

For tips on how to seal your ends properly, check out this instructional video here. Oh, and if some of you were waiting for me to mention coconut oil, although it doesn’t personally work for me, there is a YouTuber who shouts it out as far as hair sealing goes here.

Add a Bit of Oil At Night

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Probably until each and every cow comes home, there’s gonna be a debate about whether or not it’s beneficial to apply oil to hair while it’s dry. Personally, to get the most lasting effects, when it’s damp is always gonna be best. Oh, but don’t sleep on applying a bit of oil to your hair at night before turning in, too. I’ve been doing it for quite some time now and I’ve noticed that it’s helped to pamper my ends in between wash days. What I like to do is cornrow my hair (to keep it stretched out without the use of any heat) and then apply oil to the ends before tying it up and turning in.

Oils that I recommend? Carrot seed oil helps to prevent split ends, hemp seed oil helps to strengthen your hair and reduce breakage, and grapeseed oil is a potent moisturizer that also reduces frizz.

BONUS: Blue Magic, Anyone?

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As I wind this down… back to the whole, “greasing your scalp” thing. A few years back, I wrote “Looking For Hair Growth? It Might Be Time To Bring 'Blue Magic' Back” for the platform because if there is one woman whose hair is something magnificent out in these internet streets, it’s a woman whose YouTube channel is EfikZara. When I tell you that she ain’t tryin’ to hear nobody tell her to give up petroleum and mineral oil? Not one bit. Anyway, one of her videos is inside of the article if you want to check out her regimen.

What I will say for now is I tried it on my mostly 4B hair, and I hard passed. Blue Magic ultimately made it hard and stiff. HOWEVER, I know some people with 4-type hair who have low porosity, and when they applied grease to damp hair, they said that it kept their locks soft and moisturized longer than just about anything else.

Bottom line: Figure out what works for you and stick to it. And chile, if that happens to be hair grease…so be it, sis. DO IT.

____

I’m hoping that I did a thorough enough job to where, if someone tells you that oiling your hair is futile, you can immediately refute those claims. Oil can be a real godsend — so long as you know what you’re doing.

Hopefully now…you do.

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