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6 Incredible Oils for Your Natural Hair (and 6 you should avoid)

by Shellie Reneé

May 2022

Today, let’s tackle carrier oils — you know, the oils that are oftentimes used in order to dilute the potency of essential oils.

Because there are a variety of different ones to choose from, I thought it would be a good idea to break down six that are, hands down, really good for your hair and then six others that do have some benefits yet also come with a few cons that you should really hear about.

Are you ready to become a carrier oil expert, thanks to this lil’ cheat sheet? Let’s do this.

Rosemary oil is incredible for natural hair

I won’t lie — out of all of the oils on this list, probably my favourite one is rosemary oil. I’ve been using it on my skin for a couple of years now and it’s the ultimate moisturiser, breakout reducer and anti-aging oil.

As far as your hair goes, rosemary is pretty awesome due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to increase blood circulation to your hair follicles.

Both of these benefits are what make it a leading oil, not only when it comes to restoring hair loss but promoting hair growth and soothing an itchy scalp as well.

I will say that because it’s a bit on the thicker side that you might want to use it as sealant for your ends and you definitely don’t want to “oil your scalp” with it on a daily basis; it could leave your hair limp and greasy if you do.

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RETHINK: Coconut Oil

If you’re looking at your screen and wondering if you read this one right, hear me out first.

Yes, coconut oil does have some “pros” to it. A big one is the lauric acid that’s in it because it’s a fatty acid that helps to protect your hair’s roots.

Plus, coconut oil contains properties that can help to keep bacteria at bay. However, it makes the “eh” list because the protein in it can lead to product build-up.

Also, having too much protein in your hair can lead to overkill which can result in your hair becoming hard and brittle (which can lead to breakage). Not to mention the fact that it’s the kind of oil that’s a solid unless it’s around a certain amount of heat which can be somewhat inconvenient if you’d prefer a liquid base.

For instance, I’ve purchased homemade oil blends with coconut oil in them and I’ve had to put the bottle in some hot water with every use. #annoying

Grapeseed oil is a great choice for your natural hair

Another oil that I like a lot is grapeseed oil. It’s loaded with fatty acids and Vitamin E which makes it ideal for your skin, hair and nails. It protects against free radicals. It reduces inflammation. It has antifungal properties that can help to keep dandruff at bay.

It’s also a pretty good moisturizer, and since it’s a fairly light oil that absorbs well into your skin and scalp, it’s ideal if you want to use a little of it daily or if you’re looking for an oil to give your scalp a massage with.

Aunt Jackie’s conveniently makes a complete Grapeseed oil collection which you can check out too.

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RETHINK: Olive Oil

I’ll be honest — the main reason why I’m not a fan of olive oil is because of the stench (kinda like stale peanuts?).

It’s not super overwhelming and it typically wears off after an hour or so but still, that’s enough to make me want to “hard pass” it.

And while olive oil does contain the chemical elements oleic acid, palmitic acid and squalene which can help to soften your hair, antioxidants to strengthen it and it’s not bad as a moisturiser for hair that’s been chemically processed, if your hair is fine, it definitely will weigh it down.

Also, it contains some ingredients that yeast likes the feed off of; problem with that is Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus that causes dandruff.

So, if dandruff is something that you struggle with, olive oil could actually make it worse.

Also, if you use it all of the time, it has the potential to clog your hair follicles over time. Also, you should never use it while applying heat because it could quite literally “cook” your hair (no pun intended).

Jojoba Oil – A solid multi-vitamin hair oil

Talk about a multivitamin for your hair. I say that because jojoba is packed with vitamins A, D, E, copper, zinc and fatty acids.

All of these nutrients work together to moisturise your hair and scalp, slow down premature again (especially the copper), fight off potential scalp infections, reduce frizz and stimulate hair growth.

Some people like to add a couple of teaspoons of jojoba oil to their shampoo or conditioner because it can serve as an emollient which means that it can soothe your scalp and moisturise your hair.

So, if you’re looking for an oil that will hydrate a dry scalp or help to reduce hair breakage, jojoba has totally got your back.

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RETHINK: Argan Oil

Argan oil comes from the argan tree in Morocco. Over the past several years, it has become pretty popular because it’s got the fatty acids oleic acid and linoleic acid in it that can help to reduce frizz while boosting shine.

It also contains anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants which are always helpful if you want your hair follicles to thrive.

Still, I’m not a fan because whenever I use it, it makes my hair dry. From what I’ve read, it’s because argan oil the tendency to create a barrier on your hair. So, while it can help to shield your hair from damaging UV rays (good), it can also keep additional moisture from getting in which could dry your hair out — which is exactly what I’ve experienced, every time that I’ve used it.

Avocado oil is another great shout for natural hair

An oil that is a good source of vitamins A, D and E along with protein, fatty acids and beta-carotene is avocado oil.

That’s why many skin experts sing its praises because it can protect your skin from the damage that sun can do while also increasing collagen production, so that you can slow down the signs of ageing.

What makes this particular oil so awesome for your hair is it helps to reduce dandruff, it can prevent breakage and it’s a non-drying shield when it comes to protecting your hair from the sun, pollution and even chlorine.

Ideally, this is the kind of oil that you would use as a main ingredient for a DIY hair mask or conditioner.

Just a slight word of caution — if for some reason, you are allergic to latex, you might want steer clear of this. Oftentimes people who fall into that category are allergic to this particular oil too.

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RETHINK: Hemp Seed Oil

The good news is hemp seed oil contains lots of fatty acids, Vitamin E and even chlorophyll (chlorophyll can help to slow down the greying process). Something that is kinda cool about this oil is, if you apply it to damp hair, it can help to reduce breakage because it actually helps to strengthen hair whenever it’s wet.

Some also say it has increased volume to their strands. So, why is hemp seed oil on the rethink side? It’s low-key got the reputation for being an oil that can dry your hair out; especially if you use it all of the time. So, if you must add this to your hair regimen, the biggest takeaway is to use it sparingly.

Sweet almond oil is another multi-vitamin powerhouse

Another oil that totally and completely makes me smile is sweet almond oil. It’s got Vitamin A, E and zinc in it which is great for your skin and hair.

I use sweet almond oil often on my skin because it’s a solid moisturiser yet light enough to not clog up my pores.

Plus, it’s a great oil for acne and softening the appearance of acne scars. I also apply it to my hair from time to time because it softens my tresses without leaving a heavy residue, it helps to reduce breakage and split ends and it even helps to treat scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis. You will never regret using this oil for your hair care needs.

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RETHINK: Camphor Oil

Camphor oil is an oil that’s extracted directly from camphor trees. A lot of people like it because it contains properties that help to relieve chest congestion while reducing body inflammation.

There are a few reasons why it gets the “thumbs down” as far as hair is concerned, though. For one thing, it has a really strong odour that’s a lot like menthol (kinda smoky menthol). And while it can help to slow down the greying process and soothe and itchy scalp, camphor oil can also irritate your skin and scalp too.

Plus, if your scalp happens to have any abrasions or cuts from it (like from scratching a lot or your styling tools affecting it), applying camphor oil could indirectly cause your system to absorb toxic levels of it; totally not worth the risk, if you ask me.

Jamaican black castor oil – a solid and popular choice

If there’s one carrier oil that’s pretty darn popular within the Black community, it’s Jamaican black castor oil.

The backstory on it is it’s made up of Jamaican castor beans and the properties in it are absolutely amazing when it comes to strengthening your hair, thickening your strands, increasing blood flow to your scalp, helping to prevent hair breakage and treating scalp issues like eczema, dandruff and dry scalp.

In fact, if you make a point and practice to apply it to your scalp a couple of times a week, you should notice thicker hair in about three months.

The main thing to keep in mind about this oil is it’s really thick; that’s why I prefer to use it to seal my ends more than anything else. That said, a line that I will shout-out is Sunny Isle, mostly because it comes in a variety of different “add-ins” including Xtra Dark, lavender and rosemary. I’ve used several and have enjoyed them all!

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RETHINK: Castor Oil

Now, how could I just sing all of those praises of Jamaican black castor oil and then turn around and not recommend castor oil?

Good question. First, let’s touch on the differences between the two. At the end of the day, not only is Jamaican black castor oil a much darker colour, it also is processed differently (castor oil is prepared with no heat) and the ash that’s in Jamaican black castor oil has clarifying properties in it that are good for your hair and scalp.

Anyway, as far as castor oil hair benefits go, while it does have a texture to it that can help to moisturise your hair, many health professionals say there aren’t any solid claims to say that it helps to promote hair growth or prevent hair loss (this goes for your eyebrows and eyelashes too). So, why waste your time and money on something that doesn’t have any backup evidence that it will actually help you?

There you have it y’all — 12 oils and why you should strongly invest in some and think long and hard about others. Hope this shed some light and assists you on your hair growth journey. Many have definitely helped me out with mine!