Oils and hair care

22 Feb

I thought I would do a post on oils in general and their use in the care of African hair.  My post will be general but I will do follow up posts where I will focus on one or two oils at a time.  This will enable you to get to know the oils and will also help in choosing the oils that best suit your hair and any condition you may want to address.

As I have mentioned before, I use castor oil on my hair.  I have been mixing about a teaspoon or so of it to my deep conditioners as well as using it sparingly on my scalp about twice a week.  I apply it to my scalp when my hair is dry as I find this easier.  I have been doing this for just over a month now.  I will continue to do this until my next relaxer in May when I will assess if there are any changes to my hair.  As of now though I think my hair is definitely softer that it used to be.

Now back to oils.  There are essentially two types of oils used in hair care, essential oils and carrier oils.

Essential Oils

An essential oil is a water-insoluble liquid containing volatile aroma compounds of the plant from which it is extracted.  They are lightweight, volatile oils with high capabilities for scalp and skin penetration.  Essential oils are extremely potent and only should be used 3-4 drops at a time.  Women who are pregnant or nursing should take special care to note which essential oils are not recommended for use during pregnancy.  You should consult a doctor before using any essential oils if pregnant or breastfeeding.   When used on the scalp and other sensitive skin areas, the essential oil must be diluted with a thicker oil to prevent irritation.  This thicker oil is called a “carrier oil” because it carries or holds the essential oil.  It is very important that you do not use essential oils directly on the skin without a proper carrier oil.  Burning, irritation and skin discomfort may occur from using these essential oils without a base.  If you have never used a specific essential oil, it may be a wise precaution to do a skin patch test to ascertain if you have any allergic reaction to it.  Some examples of essential oils are:

  • Rosemary Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Thyme
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Lavender
  • Jasmine
  • Cedarwood Oil

You will recognize essential oils in shops because they are usually sold in small bottles with “droppers” so you don’t use too much.  The bottles resemble those of eye or ear drops.

Carrier Oils

Carrier oils are oily in consistency and come from vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  These oils can be used in a variety of ways, for example, as a pre shampoo treatment, mixed into conditioners or deep conditioners, used directly on the hair and scalp or blended with other carrier oils or essential oils.  These oils are excellent to add to your routine / regimen to achieve and maintain healthy hair and scalp.  Examples include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Olive oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Castor oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Wheat Germ Oil
  • Flaxseed oil

Which oil to use depends on what hair condition you wish to address, your personal preference, your hair type and your hair texture.  Women with thick hair can use almost any oil but those with thinner hair tend to prefer lighter oils as thicker ones weigh down their hair.

These oils can be found in pharmacies but the most variety is available in health stores.  I buy my castor oil in Clicks for about R12 for a bottle.


4 Responses to “Oils and hair care”

  1. Pattie 06 March, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    i use castor oil too…dont think it really works for thickening the hair though. but i have naturally thin hair, and it hasnt made a difference

    • Tendayi 06 March, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

      hi Pattie
      Watch this space Pattie. I will be weighing in with my castor oil results in 8 weeks time. Watch this space. As of now though what I am experiencing is a better scalp. It has stopped itching since i started using castor oil. It’s too soon for me to comment about hair thickness though.

      • nondi 23 March, 2013 at 8:10 am #

        Hey Ms T

        I know this might be an old post to comment on but i feel I should share this with everyone.

        For the past two weeks I’ve been oiling my scalp since i have box braids. The first week I used a castor, coconut and olive oil mix. I have to be honest, my scalp was very itchy the whole time after that.

        This week I decide to do a different mixture. I mixed: castor, coconut, olive, jojoba, sweet almond and eucalyptus oils.

        I can definately say my scalp has been itch FREE!!!

        Now like you always say, what works for one person may not work for the next person.

        I hope this helps someone.

        (Will be washing the braids today!)

      • Tendayi 23 March, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

        Thanks for the tips 🙂

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