What These 12 Natural Oils Do For Black Hair – & How To Use Them

Nateisha Scott

In 2020, natural oils are considered to be a superior, healthy hair option compared to their synthetic counterparts (such as petroleum and mineral oil), which have traditionally reigned supreme in the black hair community.

When it comes to achieving your very best natural hair, many professionals place a focus on moisture - and oils definitely do the job. Not only does a great oil deliver replenishment and renewal but it aids hair growth, too, and works as a barrier against the elements.

“Textured hair is naturally drier, so using an oil coats the hair and results in a much smoother cuticle," says hairstylist, Charlotte Mensah. "Natural oils soften the hair's outer layer and allow moisture to penetrate deeply. As well as a nourishing treatment they can be used as a styling primer too," and that's what makes them better than serums or creams.

As a result, more brands are sourcing out new and natural oils that will help support the strength and growth of natural hair. From coconut oil to grapeseed oil and everything in between, it is important to find an oil that works for your hair's needs, whether you want to enhance shine, health, softness, flexibility or all of the above.

Ahead, three of the best black hair experts explain the properties of 12 natural oils, and why you need to add them to your hair routine.

Castor oil

“Most people with afro-textured hair would have grown up on this one I'm sure," says celebrity hairstylist, Dionne Smith. "It’s one of the go-to oils for afro-textured hair types. It helps to combat dryness and adds moisture to the hair. It's also known to strengthen hair and to stimulate hair growth." Dionne mentions it's also great for alleviating scalp and skin conditions such as an itchiness and dandruff.

This oil can be quite thick and hard to shampoo out, so be careful not to overuse it. A 20p sized amount is ample. Also, be mindful of your bed sheets, as it can potentially stain.

Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil, $, available at Amazon
Jojoba oil

Known for being close in molecular size to the natural sebum produced by the scalp, jojoba oil is rapidly absorbed into the skin. Hairstylists consider it to be one of the best sealants, as it locks in moisture, resulting in silky lengths without the heavy or weighted feeling some other oils leave behind.

This one in particular conditions and soothes the scalp, all while moisturising strands. It also protects against breakage and teamed with tea tree, provides antibacterial properties.

Cantu Shea Butter Tea Tree & Jojoba Hair & Scalp Oil, $, available at FeelUnique
Coconut oil

Arguably the most popular natural oil, coconut oil is made up of very small molecules, which are able to slip into the hair shaft and condition hair from the inside out. Celebrity hairstylist Lorraine Dublin adds, "Coconut oil is good for the scalp and skin to keep it moist. It also consists of vitamins and essential fatty acids, which nourish the scalp and help to remove sebum build-up from hair follicles. For a mini mid-week moisture injection apply coconut oil to your hair and scalp and then cover with a shower cap for 3-5 minutes.”

Coconut oil is best in its rawest form. Apply this oil in place of a conditioner for extra moisture.

Perfectly Pure Extra Virgin Pure Coconut Oil, $, available at Holland & Barrett
Argan oil

Considered to be one of the best oils for natural hair, argan oil helps fight frizz and imparts a great shine on once dull and lacklustre hair. The secret to mastering this oil is to source a 100% percent argan product, but argan oil can be used in accordance with your shampoo and conditioner to soften the hair if preferred not to use alone. Try Dizziak's Deep Conditioner, £22.

"I love argan oil," adds Dionne. "Especially the shine it gives to hair in a few drops and how it's easy to distribute evenly. It blow-dries in nicely, improves elasticity and makes hair soft and silky."

Dizziak Deep Conditioner, $, available at Cult Beauty
Olive oil

Renowned for its nourishing properties, olive oil relieves dry skin and helps to promote both shine and manageability. It can be used as a hot oil treatment, mixed with conditioner or added to other oils such as castor oil for a moisture surge. This isn't greasy on the scalp unlike others, and thanks to the nozzle, can easily be applied without mess.

ORS Olive Oil Exotic Hair Oil, $, available at Superdrug
Tea tree oil

More of an antibacterial oil, tea tree has the ability to nourish roots as well as unclog hair follicles. Known for being potent, experts don't advise applying tea tree directly to the scalp.

This product is an oil mix, and so won't irritate skin or hair. It cleans up flakes and banishes itchiness while charcoal gets rid of any excess product build up. It also features witch hazel to balance oil production and aloe vera to soothe.

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment, $, available at Cult Beauty
Grapeseed oil

Grapeseed oil is best applied to hair is wet. It is lightweight yet effective at locking in moisture, and is especially useful for those with finer hair textures.

This silky oil envelops hair effortlessly and delivers hydration to strands that need it the most.

Now Foods Grapeseed Oil, $, available at Amazon
Shea butter

Shea butter becomes an oil once melted and it's thick consistency contains fatty acids that protect hair from the elements (such as extreme cold or the sun) and keep it thoroughly nourished. Ouai Hair Oil, £24, is infused not only with shea butter but jojoba seed oil and sweet almond oil to protect hair.

Ouai Hair Oil, $, available at Cult Beauty
Monoi oil

If you want to bring your natural texture back to life, monoi oil is the ingredient all hairstylists rate.

This is technically a serum but it's just as powerful as a concentrated oil. It breathes vitality into dry, heat damaged hair when used regularly. It's also featherlight and silicone-free, if that's what you're after.

Carol's Daughter Monoi Oil Repairing Sacred Strengthening Serum, $, available at House Of Beauty World
Manketti oil

"This is designed for all curly hair types and employs organic, ethical and sustainable oil," says Charlotte. "It is a powerful emollient that is loaded with vitamin E (to moisturise and fight pollution) and a plethora of nutrients including calcium, magnesium, protein, zinc and copper. It is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids which act as a barrier to help prevent moisture from escaping from the hair for longer."

Plus, it smells divine.

Charlotte Mensah Manketti Hair Oil, $, available at Space NK
Lavender oil

Lavender oil is definitely one to have on your radar, according to stylists. “I love this oil," says Dionne. "It smells amazing. It's great for creating shine and encouraging hair growth. It also feels nice on the scalp and can be cocktailed with your favourite conditioner.” This also boasts ultra-nourishing olive oil and almond oil.

Afrocenchix Soothe Lightweight Scalp Oil, $, available at Holland & Barrett
Avocado oil

Packed with vitamins A, E and B5, as well as antioxidants, biotin and essential fatty acids, avocado oil helps to smooth over damaged hair strands and strengthen and moisturise hair. This co-wash leaves hair feeling healthy and restored.

Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Nourishing Co-Wash, $, available at Antidote Street

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