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Is Greasing Your Scalp Necessary?

• Dec 4, 2011

By Jc of The Natural Haven

Many women grew up with a natural hair routine which involved applying oil to the scalp. This was often done after washing  or  applied to part lines in cornrows, twists or braids. Other times it was used to cover up flaking. However, given what is now known about hair care, is this oiling really necessary? The answer is Yes and No.

NO

There are two key reasons why oil is not necessary

1. Oil production for hair starts at the scalp

- Sebum is the natural oil that coats hair. Its production begins just under the skin of the scalp and therefore the scalp surface is naturally coated in oil. A gentle massage of the scalp can help to further distribute the sebum but in general the scalp produces sufficient oil and does not necessarily require a ‘top up’

2. Oils, especially natural oils can feed the fungus that causes dandruff

- Dandruff is caused by a fungus known as malassezia globosa. This fungus thrives on a specific oil known as oleic acid which is found richly in natural oils such as olive oil, coconut oil and shea butter. Reducing the use of oil on the scalp may help reduce dandruff.

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77 Comments on "Is Greasing Your Scalp Necessary?"

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BigSyd
Guest

Yes I use olive oil every three-four days only. It keeps my scalp from becoming dry. I do not have dandruff, and this seems to be working for me and I have been natural for almost three years. If I wash my hair and do not oil it, it gets dry and flaky, maybe it’s different for others??

Canteloupe_Brown
Guest

It’s necessary for me to grease my scalp. I didn’t grease my scalp at all for years, then developed a really bad case of seborrhic dermatitis. I started oiling my scalp with bhringaraj oil and rosemary oil, and the cradle crap went away. But, I learned I was allergic to both oils, and gave up using them on my scalp, thinking the problem was solved. Within a few months, the cradle crap returned. I now use only coconut oil on my scalp, but it seems to be doing its job.

Coily Africana
Guest

Thank you for this post JC

I went to a meet-up recently in Lagos and I was trying to explain (failed greatly=ineffective communicator) from experience why shea might not be a good idea for scalps with Psoriasis/Eczema and I suggested paraffin/Vaseline as well.
Also, the point is psoriasis is a condition that accelerates cell regeneration and shea encourages cell regeneration(which is why skin becomes smoother/clearer after repeated use),so it makes sense that for some psoriasis sufferers shea is a bad idea.

Omozo
Guest

I remember you trying to explain this at the meet-up in Lagos! Did you check out the post about the meet-up? Check it out here: http://onaturals.blogspot.com/2011/11/lagos-natural-hair-meet-up-was.html

Jc
Guest

You are welcome Coily 🙂

Natural Nigerian
Guest
I remember this too. I don’t think your failed at communicating it — although I understand it a whole lot better now. I remember we agreed that for certain conditions what you were saying was right. I think the problem is that once you say “use Paraffin/Vaseline on your hair” in a room full of naturals they tend to get defensive. I am going to have to go do a bit more research into Psoriasis/Eczema. Contact me, will you? We can pass the message across to the same crowd… As always, JC, great job. I try to read everything you… Read more »
Ce Ce
Guest
For some reason my scalp “breathes” better without oiling my scalp. Instead, I oil my hair then rinse out after 2 or more hrs. and wash then condition. My final step is applying a curl milk to my hair that contains natural oils. I happen to have seborrhea dermatitis and some may consider it a scalp eczema. I tried using the ointment that the doctor prescribed and it only exacerbated the problem. Since following my instincts my hair has grown by leaps and bounds. I use Africa’s Best Herbal Oil which contains A LOT of different oils including olive, castor,… Read more »
Katrice
Guest

Wow Permalink, I would have never thought to oil my hair before I wash and condition it. Do you also oil your scalp before you wash and condition your hair? What type of natural do you have? My mane is more coiled at the roots and then kinky toward the end. And what does the curl milk do for your hair?

Hyspin
Guest
No but slightly yes. I do not directly oil my scalp but I do oil rinses (EVOO) and I do oil my hair (shea butter, or olive) and usually end up messaging my scalp in one of those process which will transfer a little deposit of oil on the scalp. But I don’t don’t directly apply it. Now if I were to cornrow or braid my hair with extensions. then at that time I will directly oil my scalp, but that becuase my scalp exposed the drying, wind, or winter/autumn air. Other wise there is no need for me. Also… Read more »
Risée
Guest
Agreed. Mineral oil and other petroleum based products just leave my hair smelly, and filled with debris. To mosturise I drench my hair in an olive oil/shea butter/honey/aloe/vitamin E oil mix that I make in my kitchen. I wash my hair, then apply about a teaspoon of the mix to my hair, warp my hair in plastic, do housework for an hour and then rinse. My hair feels soft and moist and it isn’t necessary for me to add any additional oil until my next wash which is usually in three days. I also have seborrheic dermatitis and I find… Read more »
Nia
Guest

I don’t find it necessary for me. My scalp produces enough natural oils so I find that I don’t need to. Because my hair is highly textured, I oil the shaft of the hair instead…and of course the ends.

Kara
Guest

Great post! I recently started greasing my scalp after being natural for two years. I started using Bronner Brothers Super Gro because it was what my grandmother used on my hair the last time I was natural (7 years old) and I actually greased my scalp. 🙂

V
Guest
When I went natural, I stopped oiling my scalp because I thought I didn’t need it. When my scalp was dry (which was rare), I took that as a sign to wash. But recently I had a trusted friend and talented braider give me box braids. She commented on how my left side and the top of my scalp was dry and it is much easier for me to see that with the braids. These areas are also more sensitive… I say all that to say, I’ve started oiling my scalp recently. I’m not sure if its the winter (1st… Read more »
Lola
Guest
I am still not sure what to think of the whole oiling debate…I have lived almost all my life in a tropical country and my mom used to religiously slather my scalp with oils and vaseline( I was a natural) and my scalp had no objection. Few years later,I permed my hair but continued the oiling process,still with success.Then,we all moved to Canada and while my routine stayed the same, my scalp started producing an embarassing ammount of dandruff and itch like the devil!!!! The funny thing is that as soon as I returned natural,peace was restored on my head… Read more »
Kitt
Guest
I think (like everything else in the world) it depends on the indvidual (and their genetics/ DNA). For me, It is necessary for me to periodically put an oil on my scalp. But, not everyone will need to. I worked on a research project at the National Institue of Health (when I was an undergrad) and the ONE thing I learned from that experience is that ALL studies are controlled AND that they (researchers) focus on what they’re trying to prove, not what their trying to disprove. I said all that to say that IF a researcher was interested in… Read more »
Jc
Guest
Ok this is why I value my PhD studies. One of the most important lessons is how to critique. This has two parts 1. Read what is written (not what you think is written, but what is actually written down) 2. Judge if it addresses all key arguments (in the simplest form pro/anti). I am assuming that you did not flip to the yes argument but to correct some myths 1. The sebum quantity produced in people of African origin is actually thought to be higher than in caucasian hair. Caucasian hair tends to distribute the oil better down the… Read more »
Natural Nigerian
Guest

Interesting point about Sebum distribution on the different heads of hair. I guess that ours is not so efficient going from the scalp to down the strand because of all the kinks and bends of natural Afro hair.

Marcia
Guest

Excellent point!

HomeGrownHairGirl
Guest

I use oils daily to seal in moisture, but I don’t oil my scalp in the traditional sense. The oils I use (coconut, argan, etc.) are applied directly to the hair strands. I do not part my hair and put oil on my scalp.

Deb
Guest

I grease my scalp every 3 or 4 days with Sulfur 8 because it really strengthens my hair. I am one of the few people who actually likes how it smells…lol.

Bklyn515
Guest

I used to before my second set of locs. I would use Jane Carter’s Nourish and Shine and found that i did not have to do a serious comb through afterwards. When I loc’d again i would oil with coconut oil and i had all kinds of dry scalp but once i removed the locs again i have not put any oil or anything on my scalp just my hair and ends. But not that the winter months are here and my scalp is acting up I may try olive oil and stick with my sheabutter mixture.

monisola
Guest

I need to apply some kind of moisture to my scalp right after a wash or else my scalp itches so badly i scratch it to the point of getting scabs…NOT CUTE.I don’t use oil..but my spritz on my scalp.

Everyone is different. These guideline-type posts are a combination of really helpful and really silly because everyone is different.

Joan B. in S.C.
Guest

monisola, may I ask what you use in your spritz?

MsPomegranate
Guest

Yes and No.…I never grease my scalp in the spring and summertime, even when I straighten. However, in the winter, everything about my hair is dry! I may flat-iron my hair or leave it curly, but my scalp is dry and itchy the NEXT DAY after a wash. “Greasing” is a must during these winter months, for me…but I try to use a light oil instead of the heavy stuff momma used to use when I was a kid. 🙂

Angie
Guest

I have to. I have very dry hair and a very dry scalp. scalp gets flaky and hair crunchy if I do not. I just use olive oil

dani
Guest

No.
Ever since I stopped greasing my scalp, I have NO dandruff… none at all. And, you know that smell your hair gets after a few days of not washing it. Mine never smells like that anymore.

Christi
Guest

I use coconut oil as a prepoo treatment every two weeks. If not my scalp begins to itch.

LM
Guest

After i complete my wash routine, i massage shea moisture’s curl enhancing smoothie into my hair and scalp, and repeat with olive oil. Afterwards, I only massage my scalp with either the shea moisture or olive once again that week before wash day. so that’s 2 oilings in one week. I think the fact that I wash with a sulfate-free shampoo helps balance things out. Otherwise I’d either have product build-up or a really dry, itchy scalp.

lala
Guest

I LOVE Sheamoisture! I don’t use any of their hair products but I love their line of soap/body washes.

cocobakerchica
Guest

I have eczema on my scalp, and have been lately using a combination of tea tree, rosemary and castor oil for thinning sections, but I’ve noticed an improvement on the eczema too. I think I’ll add a bit of mineral oil for my scalp. I’ve also noticed that not using oleic acid based oils on my scalp and only on my hair has also helped.

merry
Guest

no oil for me.

if i see flakes, usually in the front, or feel itching, it’s time for a wash or a dousing of dilute acv.

i exercise so i have to be on top of it a bit more.

lala
Guest

I oil my scalp when I need to, which isn’t that often. If I do, I oil it with my olive/coconut/grapeseed oil blend.

Abi
Guest

Way off topic but the little girl in the picture reminds me of my little sister. She’s absolutely gorgeous :O and her hair is so beautiful…

Ally
Guest

I pre-poo with EVOO and sometimes I do scalp massages with JBCO. If I oil ym scalp I always use natural oils, rarely products that contain petroleum or mineral oil

SoFrolushes
Guest
Yes I grease my scalp. It has to be done. If not I would need to wash my hair every few days and that is not possible in this UK winter. My scalp can get so dry that it gets sore. I tend to oil my scalp once a week. The oily oils do not work for me. They make my scalp itch for some reason. So I stick to traditional hair grease to oil my scalp. When I was younger my mum used green dax and royal crown. Nowadays I am using Blue Magic Organics and Bellrose Pink. They… Read more »
Tamara
Guest

I do a pre-poo with coconut oil (or caster oil) and honey so that seems to help with any dandruff that i might get. But after that, i try not to put any oils on my scalp. Now i figure that if my scalp is dry, its time to water it (i.e. wash).

Since i live in a dry climate now, i tend to try and adjust my eating/drinking (lots of water, good fats, cod liver oil) and wearing hats/scarves to compensate.

Onia
Guest

this is really interesting and informative. I have eczema and don’t oil my scalp and there are definitely times when my scalp has itched badly enough for me to whip out my meds and slather them on a spot.…I will defintely try spraying my oil mix on my scalp regularly to see if that helps.

ABdS
Guest

I have a normal healthy flake free scalp that sometimes gets itchy and I take that as a sign of dryness. I oil it with a combination of olive, coconut, rosemary, sage, lavendar and tea tree essential oils every few days or so. And or spritz with may water/oil essential oil mixture just as frequently.

My scalp craves moisture of some sort or it gets a little itchy so that’s what I do and it works for me.

Le Le
Guest

I haven’t oiled my scalp in SO long. Like over a year, and it is fine. I sometimes spray it a here and there with my Sta-Sof-Fro, but it isn’t usually dry. My hair is much drier than my scalp, so I focus on that.

Mimi
Guest
I’ve experimented a lot when it comes to the great question of “Greasing or not to grease?” Since I have dreads, I don’t wash as often as other naturals to avoid over twisting my hair. Because of this, daily oiling is a no no. I had major build up within two weeks after washing when I tried out that system. However, when I do not oil at all, my scalp feels so brittle and upset. Instead of following a set schedule, I just listen to my hair. Sometimes I can oil my scalp three days after a wash with no… Read more »
Ms. Sassy
Guest

I grease my scalp sometimes with a mixture of grapeseed oild, jojoba oil, and tea tree oil. I usually wait until its time to wash again before doing so.

Rou
Guest
I came to a realization recently that my scalp detests being oiled. It does not matter if I’m using coconut oil, mineral oil, jojoba oil, or any other oil for that matter. The end result is always dry, itchy, flaky scalp. My scalp needs to be left alone. Therefore, I only apply oil to my hair and skip the scalp area. The only time I put oil on my scalp is when I’m using Carol’s Daughter Lisa Hair Elixir on my scalp a few minutes before I wash it out with shampoo. So far, this method has helped me keep… Read more »
SailorMoon
Guest
Me too Deb, may go back to the sulfur and trying out some natural items. But off and on more on though I grease my hair. I tried for about a year with nothing on my scalp, beacause others said, “O it will mess up your hair, clog the pores”, xyz reasons. O hell no, at 1st it was okay then wow my hair was dry and scalp was worse. I don’t use much products on my hair anyways. For years I been using soft grease/creams with no issues and I’m heavy handed and later learned to use less. Honestly… Read more »
jjleb85
Guest

And I know some will/do say “Well won’t that make it worse? or “But we have natural hair oils..” My scalp didn’t get that memo…” LOL!My scalp didn’t seem to get that memo either!

E
Guest

Walgreens has got alot of good ethnic products here in the Garden City,GA near Savannah,Ga area. I saw Talijah woods products, African Pride Olive Miracle Products, Hollywood Beauty Argan Products, Elastqp products, Cream of Nature Argan OIl products,Nunaat Karite and Nunaat Brazilian products, Twisted SIsta, and SHeamoisture Repair /Transition kit and Curl and Shine Kit all of these at walgreens who knew. ALso Organix shampoo/condish bogo free products and the full line of 12 different sheamoisture product line.

Natalie
Guest
it’s so strange, but it has taken me 4 years to finally relent with myself and admit that the beginning of my hair moisture regimen starts with clean hair and my well moisturised scalp. no matter how much water i drink, vitamins i take, work from the inside out, i can only keep the length of my hair moisturised and shiny by starting at the scalp / base of my hair out to the ends. if i use any other technique, it’s like i’m punishing my hair (dull, crunchy, dryness) and in turn my scalp (dry and itchy). not a… Read more »
mee mee
Guest

i started greasing my scalp recently,my hair usually get dry.now that i grease my hair its muxh heakther. my hair in particular need to be greased,i use coconut oil.my hair was thinning now it has thickened up.i like the thought of greasing my hair before washing and conditioning,must try.

candi
Guest
When I was relaxed I would sometimes grease my scalp, but I could never keep up with it. Now that I am natural I don’t anyone. I have done research on haircare and found out that greasing your scalp does little for your hair. It real just clogs the pores especially the ones that have petroleum jelly in them. Grease and oils do not moisturize your hair. Water is the only true morsturizer. It is good to use oils when your hair is wet to seal in the moisture. It is best to use natural oils for this like olive,… Read more »
Rosina
Guest
I think that its better for everyone to do what works for them. To say generally that grease clogs pores and does nothing for ones hair and scalp is not entirely true. As has already been illustrated above — grease works for some while oil works for others, while others prefer to have nothing at all on their scalp . Everyone to their own poison is what I would rather say. I use grease to grease my scalp & hair, but only after spritzing with water. I think that is the generally recommeded thing. First moisturise with water and then… Read more »
Penelope
Guest

Very, very Interesting however I have not had dandruff period.

It doesn’t matter whether I use the ayurvedic oils in my scalp or

castor or coconut I have absolutely no dandruff. I was always under

the impression that dandruff was a mild skin disease. I have type 4

kinky hair but have never had dandruff even when I used chemicals years

ago.

Ruth
Guest

I used sumtin called a ‘hair booster’ sort of…& it itches like crazy.Each time i scratch my scalp with my nails,it comes off.I think it is blocking my pores.Im thinking of using ‘Indian Hemp’hair conditioning lotion on my scalp,what do u guys think?

Raisa
Guest

I think this all depends on your hair and scalp. I find that scalp is not necessarily dry, and my hair is fine, I do better when I don’t grease it, and it breaks less sans-grease. However, when it comes to my daughter’s hair which is super, super thick and coarse, and she has a very dry scalp, her hair and scalp begs to be greased every 3-days.

Raisa
Guest

my daughters hair loves this hair grease: http://www.blackeyepeacreations.com/divinehairfood.html

cassi
Guest

I have to grease my scalp, because it’ll get dry if I dont. Im mixed so my hair is a little different, but I only grease it (not oil) once a week. I wish I didn’t have to grease it at all, because I hate the grease feeling, but it has to be done.

Chosen
Guest
Someone please help me! I have two daughters who have lots of hair but it stays sooooooo dry! Nothing I do works, greasing the scalp, oiling the scalp, washing continously, dermatologist visits, etc. The scalp itself is dry, flaky, itchy, sometimes redness, and sometimes pus bumps which I think I cause beacause I do tighten the rubberbands a little much. The dermatologist gave me meds but it just keeps my babys scalp broken out. I had to take one of my daughters to the hospital and she had to get a shot! Then her scalp cleared and nothing since but… Read more »
MG
Guest

So what is then a healthy alternative to mineral oils?
As much as i dislike greasing my scalp i slowly came to find out that i must do it… During every wash i do an oil post-poo as i discovered that worked best for me in terms of moisture. but 2–3 days later i am back to my flaky, itchy scalp, it make braids not last and that is a pity because i spend so much time braiding them 🙁

HELP!!!

Thin and Natural
Guest

Before oiling my scalp I had so much dandruff I thought the abominal snowman was taking refuge in my hair. Since I’ve been using ayurvedic oils my scalp has never looked or felt better. To each his own.

jjleb85
Guest

Lol abominable snowman,yea I know the feeling. Which ayurvedic oils do you use?

Tenisha
Guest

I realized it was my shampoo causing my scalp irritation even when I was relaxed and even as a natural. Thought I need to oil in some form until I removed a very long list of chemicals from being allowed in my head (not just the obvious ones)

DarlenDolloneLoveMcKinney
Guest
DarlenDolloneLoveMcKinney

@Black girl with long hair how can I email this article to my sister?She had just told me about this recently & gave me some things to use on my hair.I wanted to shave it all off because the top center is nearly gone & the rest is @ my shoulders.No perm use in7yrs.She just didn’t have all this info reasons why & what else to use. Only that it wasn’t good to use oil on your scalp we made it naturally.SOOOO CAN YOU HELPPPP ME SEND THIS????

Jack
Guest

Just copy and paste the web address in the email, text, or instant messenger.

DolloneLove
Guest

It is really hard trying to convince African-American women that this is true.The 1st time I said it they looked @ me like I lost my mind same way I felt when my sister told me.I’m glad to have reasons & facts so I can break it down to them when I give them the news!!THANKS BGWLH!!!3

Miss J
Guest
Still trying to determine whether oiling/greasing is better for my hair or not. I workout several days a week & I sweat alot in my scalp. After working out, I moisturize my hair. I oil (or sometimes, grease) my scalp one to three times a week, to keep it from drying out, because I’ve noticed dry patches in a few areas of my scalp. However, I do notice that my scalp tends to itch after I oil/grease it. But when I don’t, it sometimes gets dry. Where do I find the “happy medium”? Should “oil replenishment” (for the scalp) be… Read more »
NaturallyLovenMyHair
Guest

I pre-poo my scalp and hair weekly with oil. I use olive oil, castor oil, coconut oil, rosemary oil and tea tree oil. I massage my scalp with these oils, then I coat my hair with coconut oil. I wrap my hair with a plastic bags and leave this on over night. The next day I wash my hair. My hair is thriving, shedding less and easier to manage. I don’t have dandruff, which is something that I have suffered with on and off all of my life. This regiment is working VERY well for me. Peace and blessings :).

Got alove for ma hair
Guest
Got alove for ma hair
Actually I just started caring for my hair about 2 years i’m 15 by the way and I grew up with greasing my hair I use tea tree oil or triple gro products and a softener or my hair. I’ve read many of the articles and would love to try some o the recommended products however, because I live in the Caribbean not may of them are available.. But the grease works for me I don’t have dandruff or dry scalp, and the softener prevents breakage, but my hair tends to be very greasy and I’m worried about the product… Read more »
Sapphic Seduction
Guest

Personally i find greasing the scalp to be time consuming and unnecessary. my scalp does fine left to its own devices (:

Bridget
Guest

When ever I grease (oil) my scalp I get a dandruff, itch and raised. I do stopped greasing my scalp around the time I stopped relaxing my hair. When I was growing up people would say I have growing dandruff but in reality I was having a reaction to the products my mother was placing on my scalp.

Miss J
Guest
I don’t need any scalp oil because my scalp naturally produces a healthy amount of oil. When I did apply some, I felt more itching and less comfort generally on my natural, short hair. I could literally feel the grease build up! Other reasons I don’t apply scalp oil is because I already use a sizeable amount of coconut and castor oil on my hair (mixed with other ingredients) so after a while it will find it’s way down to the scalp. A great way to keep the scalp healthy is to not do vigorous shampooing and having pre-shampoo treatments… Read more »
Isis_mane
Guest

I’m a little confused. I like using scalp oil cause I’m heavy handed with grease. So if I use natural oils I can add to my dandruff, but if I use the thicker stuff for echzema then it will retain the moisture? However I have read that using mineral oil and petroleum isn’t good for the scalp. Hmmm…
In the winter is when its the worst, so right now to keep my hair moist I use coconut oil, but for my scalp I’m using Carol’s daughter scalp oil.

Jack
Guest

I think it depends on how your scalp responds to the products. Like, if you’ve been diagnosed with eczema you can try oiling your scalp with mineral oil and see how it works.

EmpressZombie
Guest

Coconut oil, olive oil and shea butter have oleic acid which the fungus that causes dandruff thrives on. Mineral oil does not have oleic acid which is why it’s good as a barrier.

Paris
Guest

I usually grease my scalp when I get out the shower , after I washed it , and after I get out the pool. Basically , when it gets wet. Doing so has given me tremendous growth and shine. I only use Dr.Miracle and hair food. I’m natural , too. When I do twist-outs , I grease my scalp. But other than that , greasing your scalp isn’t all that important.

Jack
Guest

I stopped putting any products on my scalp because after I went natural and tried to used grease on my hair my scalp had a serious reaction repeatedly to the grease and anything else that gets on my scalp. It builds up into the ugly, sticky, and sometimes flaky dandruff and product buildup. I just oil (coconut) my hair and not my scalp. Whenever my scalp gets itchy and irritated it’s because some product I’ve used go on it.

natty
Guest

Whenever I use oil on my scalp, I get terrible build up and itchiness. I also get a white film at the roots of my hair which is very hard to remove, even after shampooing it’s still there.

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reanna richardson
Guest
Before when I used to grease my scalp I would get nasty flakes and dryness. I would scrape off the flakes then reapply the grease on my scalp. Then two days later I would get flakes. I read up on JBCO and heard it had anti-fungal properties. It must be true because its been three years I’ve been using JBCO and I’ve never had flakes or dryness since. I even look through my scalp to see if I have any flakes, nothing! I can comb thru my hair and not worry about flakes getting stuck in my hair. JBCO is… Read more »
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[…] many other natural haired folks, I grew up knowing the importance of “a greased scalp“. We were taught by our older family members to moisturize our scalps with the classic blue […]

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