Look, I already know that some people are probably gonna be all up in the comments section protesting how "irresponsible" this article is. I mean, how in the world can I promote anything that has—gasp—petroleum/mineral oil in it?! Don't I know that it clogs up hair follicles? Haven't I heard that it repels moisture? As a naturalista, how can I resort to something so low on the totem pole of hair products and then—gasp again—publicly write about it?
Uh-huh. I hear you. But before you try and cancel me, take a moment to look at the video below. That stunning Nigerian woman right there? On her socials (and YouTube channel), she goes by EfikZara and that outrageously gorgeous Afro? That is all hers, baby. Yeah, and do you see what she's holding in her hand? It ain't Aunt Jackie's or Shea Moisture; it's grease. Good old-fashioned hair grease. As I've been trying to figure out the perfect formula to get the natural hair results that I personally want, EfikZara is someone who has been influential in getting me to return back to what most of us used back in the day, thanks to her videos like "5 BIG LIES The Natural Hair Community LIED About GREASE!!" and "The TRUTH about GREASE + How I Use It To GROW Low Porosity 4c/4b/4a Hair".
Then, once I saw that there are more and more naturalista influencers who are rising up and singing grease's—more specifically, Blue Magic hair grease's—praises (you can check out a few good ones here, here and here), I was like, "Let me make a run right quick and cop me a jar" (which is more like a small tub).
The TRUTH about GREASE + How I Use It To GROW Low Porosity 4c/4b/4a Hair | EfikZarawww.youtube.com
And y'all, I can't believe I left what my hair clearly missed and loves.
Not to diss the commercial—emphasis on "commercial"—hair care community or their findings. But when something works for you, sometimes you need to buck the system and stick with that. Basically, just like Jasmine Saunders, author of "Two Reasons Why Petroleum Is Used in Hair Products", penned at the end of her piece—" If your favorite natural hair products contain mineral oil, and you are happy with the results they produce then there is no reason to stop using them. I would just keep in mind the occlusive nature of mineral oil and structure your hair regimen accordingly." Yes. That right there.
So, are you ready to read why it can't hurt to put a little Blue Magic back into your own hair care regimen? Let's do this.
It’s Inexpensive AF
Again, since I'm going to assume that at least a couple of people in the natural hair care industry are going to read this and not be too happy about this endorsement, when it comes to the (sometimes horrendous) price tag that comes on some hair products, I'll leave specific names out. What I will share is a quote from an article on the topic that stated, "It is estimated that the natural hair care industry was worth $684 million in 2012 and was projected to reach $761 million by the end of 2017." Bottom line—hair care is a business and businesses love to make as much money as possible. Therefore, it shouldn't be shocking that even natural hair care lines would want to do all that they can to put more money into their pockets.
And indeed, what a lot of people who are returning to hair grease are saying is perhaps we were convinced or even "scared" to leave grease alone because while a 12 oz jar of Blue Magic costs me $3.99, I literally have some popular natural hair care items that are $35-40 for a 6-8 oz jar. Not only that, but the latter hasn't worked nearly as well as the former.
So yeah, if there's no other reason to consider grease—or grease again—the second to none price tag would definitely be a very valid one.
If You’ve Got High Porosity Hair, It’s the ULTIMATE Moisturizer
When it comes to length retention, what my own natural hair journey continues to teach me is if you don't know your own hair's porosity, you're probably not going to get (or keep) the inches that you seek. While I will probably do a full article on this at some point, if you're wondering what the difference between low, normal and high porosity hair is, I'll give a brief breakdown. When you have low porosity hair, that means your hair's cuticles are closed which makes it hard for moisture to get into your hair. Normal porosity means your hair gets and keeps moisture fairly well. Then there's my kind of hair; the hair that drinks up moisture with the quickness but two days later will look at me like it hasn't seen water in weeks. This happens with high porosity hair because there tends to be holes in the hair cuticle; this means that those of us who fall into this category have to be hyper-vigilant about keeping our tresses moisturized.
I'm telling y'all, I've tried creams, butters, the LOC method—you name it, and nothing has kept moisture in my hair longer than grease has. I literally wash my hair, deep condition it and while it's damp, apply some Blue Magic from root to tip and style. Afterwards, my hair remains soft and manageable until the next wash day (which for me is seven days later). The reason why is because there are two things that petroleum does for your hair. First, it locks in the moisture that you already have. Second, it prevents any more from getting in. The second point is why a lot of people claim that grease is bad for you. I'll get more into that in a sec.
It’s an Amazing Sealant
If you're someone who believes deep down in your soul that Black women—particularly Black women with 4-type hair—can't grow long hair, please take a moment to watch this video, this video, this video, this video and this video. Other ethnicities (or hair textures) don't have the upper hand when it comes to gaining inches. No matter who you are, you typically grow between ½" to 1" of hair a month. The reason why a lot of us don't see the length that we want is either because 1) our shrinkage makes us think that our hair isn't as long as it actually is or 2) we aren't taking good care of our ends. This is why it is essential that you seal the ends of your hair on a consistent basis.
Sealing is basically one of the most effective ways to prevent the ends of your hair (which is the oldest part of your hair) from becoming dry, brittle and developing split ends (which you can't repair; you always have to cut off). Even if the thought of applying grease to your entire head seems like a no-no to you, at least consider applying it to your ends. Remember, petroleum locks—or seals—in moisture and the more protected your ends are, the easier it will be for you to see six inches of progress by the end of the year.
Grease Isn’t “Bad” for You. It’s All About Using It Properly.
So, why is it that so many people frown upon good ole' hair grease? Why do a lot of them say that all it does is weigh their hair down, leave grease stains and actually result in hair being drier than ever? Don't blame that on the grease; blame that on not applying it properly. Since grease provides a barrier, it's not really the best idea to apply it to dry hair. You will get the best results if your hair is wet, has already been conditioned and you apply a leave-in condition before putting the grease on top of it. All of this might sound like a lot at first (sometimes it feels like it too) but trust me, as your hair dries, it will go from feeling "heavy" to feeling really soft and smooth. You just always have to keep in mind that since petroleum seals, it will keep the moisture that your hair has in, but it will also keep new moisture from penetrating. That's why oiling your hair with grease every day is usually counterproductive. Since your tresses are already dry, the grease isn't doing it much good.
And what about greasing your scalp? Eh. I don't use grease for that but some naturalistas sing its praises for soothing their scalp when they apply it on wash day. My take is to remember that your scalp is skin. If your skin doesn't show out when you apply Vaseline (which is also petroleum) then your scalp probably won't either. Still, I think it would be best to not apply grease to your scalp when your scalp is dry; seems like it would leave more residue than you are bargaining for if you do.
Your Mama (or Auntie) Used It When You Were a Child…Right?
Hmph. I don't know about y'all, but I have some very distinct memories of being a little girl, sitting in front of a stove and getting my hair pressed with some good old-fashioned hair grease. You know what else I recall? My hair having some real length to it too. That's why I think the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" certainly applies here.
Listen, by no means am I saying that you should toss your natural hair products or go on a personal boycott of popular commercial brands. My point is simply that grease IS NOT the devil and if it has personally worked for you in the past, I don't see why you should stop using it now. Because, again, do you see EfikZara's hair in the feature shot? Blue Magic helped to get her there. That's enough for me to add it to my regimen. And I have. And it's been all good on the mane tip ever since. My hair thanks me. My wallet does too.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
7 Essential Oils All Naturalistas Need For Their Hair
10 Things Your Natural Hair Needs In The Winter
These Foods Will Give Your Skin & Hair The Moisture They Crave
Feature image by Getty Images
- No Lye - Why You Should Think Twice About Relaxing Your Hair ... ›
- Best Wash Day Routine, Natural Hair - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Why Won't My Natural Hair Grow? - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Do Vitamins For Hair Growth Work? - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Tips To Maintain Your Natural Hair This Winter - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- What Your Hair Needs In Winter Cold Weather - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- How To Grow Your Hair Fast, Faster Hair Growth - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Top Products For High-Porosity Natural Hair - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Best Hair Products For Low Porosity Hair - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Is Grease REALLY Bad for Natural Hair? | Natural Hair Rules!!! ›
- Dr. B. Davis says: Everyone Else's Hair is growing...Are Hair Grease ... ›
- How to Use Hair Grease | CurlyNikki | Natural Hair Care ›
- How Hair Grease (Yes, Grease!) Can Help Retain Length in Natural ... ›
- What You Should Do If You Use GREASE in Your Natural Hair ... ›
- How Hair Grease (Yes, Grease!) Can Help Retain Length in Natural ... ›
- Hair Grease for Natural Hair? Blue Magic-Does it Work - YouTube ›
- The 24 Best Products for Natural Hair ›
- The Natural Hair Community LIED About GREASE!! | Lipstick Alley ›
- Why I Finally Broke Up With The Natural Hair Community - Fashionista ›
- the unspoken PROBLEM in the Natural Hair Community we NEED ... ›
- 5 Unwritten Rules of the Natural Hair Community | NaturallyCurly.com ›
- 5 BIG LIES The Natural Hair Community LIED About GREASE ... ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Take Our 2-Minute Wellness Quiz To Up Your Self-Care Game!
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images