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4 Cheap Oils That Work Incredibly Well

Avatar • Jun 29, 2012


By Christina (pictured above) of The Mane Objective

When looking for products to preserve moisture, add shine, seal, or treat dry scalp, we often hit the nearest Target or local beauty supply store in search of a bottle of “Random Ingredients Moisturizing Spray”, or “Miracle Oil Mix”. Often times, these products tout heavyweights like coconut, tea tree, olive, or grapeseed oil on their labels. If you’re lucky, you might even find some natural-based fruit or tree pictured on the label that leads you to believe you’re making a quality purchase, and that featured ingredient is the star of the show.

Product Deception

Turn that bottle over, scan all the way to the bottom and check out the ingredient list. Where is your fancy oil on that list? Did it make the top 5? Chances are if it didn’t, you’re wasting your time (and money). According to top science-based blogger, JC of The Natural Haven (check out the article here), the first 5 ingredients in any product are the most potent, and will have the most impact on your hair. So if you’re looking for the miracle scalp clearing qualities of tea tree oil, but your product has it listed 3rd from last, you’re probably not getting the most bang for your buck.

For example: take Organic Root Stimulator’s Olive Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion, available at Target, Sally’s, and most major retailers for about $6 for an 8.5oz bottle. You can clearly see OLIVE OIL emblazoned across the front of the bottle. The manufacturers even give the hair lotion a green tint, to seal the deal in convincing you that this is an olive oil based product, and will therefore give you the lustrous benefits of olive oil. Then, we turn the bottle over and take a gander at the list of ingredients:

Water — Aqua, Coconut Oil — Cocos Nucifera, Sorbitol, Trimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol , Petrolatum, Cyclomethicone, Peanut Oil — Arachi Hypogaea , Castor Oil — Ricinus Communis, Cetyl Esters, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Olive Oil — Olea Europaea, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, DMDM Hydantoin, Propylene Glycol, Methyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben, Carbomer , Cetearyl Alcohol , Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, PEG-25 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance — Parfum , Benzyl Alcohol , Benzyl Salicylate , Geraniol, Hexylcinnamicaldehyde, Lillial, D’Limonene, Linalool, Lyral, Alpha Isomethyl Ionone, BHT , Blue No. 1 — CI 42090, Yellow No. 5 — CI 19140

Olive oil, olive oil…where for art thou olive oil? Oh wait, there you are! Coming in at #11 on the ingredient list is “Olive Oil — Olea Europaea”. Let’s see here, coconut oil comes in at #2…there’s even more petrolatum (which is a concern in and of itself) in this bottle than there is olive oil?! That seems a little misleading, to say the least.

What’s A Girl to Do?

In this arena, conventional wisdom often holds true: it’s cheaper to do it yourself. To save yourself some money, heartbreak, and possibly hair break, here are some commonly used oils that can be acquired for cheaper (and often in greater quantities), that will do what they’re supposed to do. You can mix and match, or use them straight (with the exception of tea tree oil) to achieve the desired effect on your hair.

COCONUT OIL

Coconut oil is brandished across many product labels, but very few list it high on the ingredient list. Instead of reaching for a coconut oil jar or bottle that has a petroleum, mineral, or other oil base, head to your nearest Whole Foods or Sprouts for a jar of Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil on the cooking aisle. A jar will run you from $7 to $10 dollars for a 16oz jar, depending upon what brand you use. At all costs, try to avoid purchasing Coconut Oil in health food stores like Vitamin Shoppe, or on the “health” aisle at other stores. These jars are often overpriced, yet they are exactly the same as the one on the cooking aisle.

OLIVE OIL

While you’re grabbing some coconut oil on the cooking aisle, you might as well swipe a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, too. Bottles of Olive Oil range from $4 to $10, depending on the size of the bottle and the brand you buy. Once again, check for “Extra Virgin” status. Natural oils are most effective and retain the most of their nutritive properties when they are cold-pressed. Stop settling for 11th-listed, and go straight to the source!

TEA TREE OIL

Tea tree oil is generally more expensive than other oils, and you tend to get a lot less of it. But fear not, tea tree oil is very potent. A few drops in a couple of ounces of carrier oil (like coconut or olive) is more than enough to treat your scalp with. When shopping for tea tree oil, be sure to read the label carefully to ensure that it is 100% tea tree oil. You can find tea tree oil at Whole Foods or Vitamin Shoppe, for $9 for a 1oz bottle. It doesn’t seem like much, but a little bit of tea tree goes a long way.

GRAPESEED OIL

Don’t leave the cooking aisle just yet! Grapeseed oil, which is high in Vitamin E and linoleic acid, sits right alongside your EVOO buddy. A bottle of cold-pressed grapeseed oil costs between $5 and $10, depending on the size and brand you select.

What’s your recession-proof oil of choice?

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About The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

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Jasminicole
Jasminicole
8 years ago

Christina hit it spot on! i concur! plus that info about Tea Tree oil, so true. a 1 once bottle lasted me 9 months. 1 dollar a month!
Thanks for the reminder Christina!

Rami
Rami
8 years ago

WOW! Amazing article Christina good job.. I actually have the ors “olive oil”(now I put in quotes lol) its been sitting in the shelves since last year. I use it like once in 2 months n its just ok not great. I just use it when my leave in has run out. Now I feel cheated. Never buying it again and I’ll be checking products from now on and incorporating natural oils in my regimen. Thanks. Great article. I wish I’d rate it. I’d give it 5 stars bc it should be common sense to use natural oils and checking product… Read more »

Michele Antoinette
Michele Antoinette
8 years ago

I use the cantu shea butter leave in conditioner.…not the best list list of ingredients but far from the worse; shea butter is number 6 on the list, I think. I love what it does for my hair. The rest of the list is mostly stuff like sage, kiwi, and rosemary etc

Michele Antoinette
Michele Antoinette
8 years ago

mostly, not all—-I wanted to clarify because–being well versed in human nature—someone’s gonna come along and say, “nuh-uh, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff”

Rami
Rami
8 years ago

Hahahahaha especially people that comment here…someone who ‘knows more’ is gonna come trying to spark a debate n then there’s a million bickering comments lol

Zenith
Zenith
8 years ago

Coconut oil!

laughing808
laughing808
8 years ago

I’ve added almond oil to my staple of oils on hand. I get it the same time I purchase my grapeseed oil from GNC.

Rekaya Gibson
8 years ago
Reply to  laughing808

Thanks, I wondered where I could find almond oil.

Vonnie
Vonnie
8 years ago

Very informative. And coconut oil is my go-to 🙂

Marie
Marie
8 years ago

Very good article i guess double checking before buying is a must these days ilove me some Extra Virgin Olive Oiland Coconut Oil. I bought a product that claimed it had Raspberry in it and the ingredient is MISSING! ‑_- I have emailed the respective company and currently awaiting a response. The product is sold in England and is Alberto Balsalm Sunkissed Rasberry Condtioner: Aqua (Water),Cetyl Alcohol ‚Cyclomethicone ‚Juniperus Communis Fruit Extract ‚Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract ‚Panthenol ‚Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine ‚Stearalkonium Chloride ‚Cetrimonium Chloride ‚Glyceryl Stearate ‚Benzophenone‑4 ‚Citric Acid ‚Propylene Glycol ‚Ethoxydiglycol ‚Lactic Acid ‚Glucose ‚Biabolol ‚Butylene Glycol ‚Alcohol Denat.… Read more »

Maryam
Maryam
8 years ago

If you live near a Trader Joe’s they have all the oils mentioned, good quality for a lot less! I got my grapeseed oil for $3.

Andrea
Andrea
8 years ago
Reply to  Maryam

I was about to post the same thing! I just bought my tea tree oil for about $6 and my coconut oil was about the same.

Toya O
Toya O
8 years ago

This will sound weird, but my hair LOVES vegetable oil. . just plain old vegetable oil…sometimes I put rosemary or lavender in it (for the smell), but I had NO other oils one day and decided to just try it as a treatment before shampooing…BEST POST SHAMPOO TWISTOUT EVER! I’m addicted to it now!

FaceIt
FaceIt
8 years ago
Reply to  Toya O

My hair LOVES veggie oil too!!!
I seal w/it after BS washing.
I add a smell good oil to it as well.
I get BLING with it!!

At_Ease
At_Ease
8 years ago
Reply to  FaceIt

What is BS washing?

I used canola oil with a cheap conditioner to detangle before washing last week and it was GREAT 🙂

K
K
7 years ago
Reply to  Toya O

lol. First time I heard that one. I definitely will try, some days I run out of my staples. 🙂

Landry
Landry
8 years ago

My hair LOVES grapeseed oil! I spray my hair with water and seal with a drop or two of grapeseed oil and twist nightly. My hair stays moisturized, healthy, and soft, without being weighed down. I love that grapeseed oil is not too light or too heavy and that it is odorless. I buy the Spectrum Organic brand from Krogers. LOVE IT!

12tnob
12tnob
8 years ago

Well i dig, macadamia nut oil $8, avocado oil $6, hempseed oil $10, seasme oil$7, castor oil $7 soybean oil$4 and my list could go on..
Thanks for the article

Infinee
Infinee
8 years ago
Reply to  12tnob

sesame seed oil…really??? How is it on your hair?

Belinda
8 years ago
Reply to  12tnob

I was thinking castor oil should have been on this list of inexpensive, bang-for-your-buck oils. Thanks for mentioning it.

Jasmine
Jasmine
8 years ago

I purchase all of my oils from Camden Grey. Even with the included shipping costs all of my oils come out cheaper than if I were to buy them on land and the quality of the oils can’t be beat.

Infinee
Infinee
8 years ago

I just got hip to the importance of oils…besides using those cheap hot oil treatments that I won’t touch now. I always have evoo and ev coconut oil on hand…as in I make sure theres atleast one closed bottle as backup, just in case…lol.

I just saw grapeseed oil in my local grocery store, 24oz bottle for $5. I’m on it my next visit.

LisaB.
LisaB.
8 years ago

Grapeseed oil and avocado oil have been good to me. I use both on my skin and hair. Grapeseed oil is an excellent makeup remover — especially eye makeup. I use it on my skin daily — especially my feet.

LiberianGirl
LiberianGirl
8 years ago

Great article!! I always and only opt for the natural oils when it comes to sealing my hair! What a difference it makes 🙂

anonymous
anonymous
8 years ago

if you get coconut oil from and indian or ethnic market its even cheaper than Sprouts or Whole Foods.

merry
merry
8 years ago

castor oil is great.

Trini
Trini
8 years ago

Great back to basics post. Olive and grapeseed oils my staples. I also use tea tree to combat itching. I’ll eat all things coconut, but on my hair it’s a coco no.

Annie L.
Annie L.
8 years ago

*Swoons* over Christina’s high-gloss, buttery soft locks in the pic above! Fantastic hairstyle! I don’t know if my choices are recession-proof but I now research the devil out of each oil. Being as informed as possible saves me heartache later. I make sure the oils I use are non-drying, or at least only semi-drying and prefer high-fat, heavy oils. I search boards, company sites and herbal manuals to see what they consist of, their traditional use, how high-porosity hair responds, if they’re anti-bacterial, how they’re produced, blah, blah, blah. And I look out for ingredient hierarchies so if I have a… Read more »

Cacey
Cacey
8 years ago

really? coconut oil is not considered cheap. maybe it’s just where i live, but that stuff is so expensive and you can hardly find it just anywhere. grapeseed oil is the cheapest on this list. olive oil is cheap, but tea tree? def not. They need to rethink the title to this. how deceptive!

Ndy
Ndy
8 years ago
Reply to  Cacey

Cacey in regards to the title of the article, I do know what you mean, coconut oil is not everywhere like grapeseed or olive oil but if you consider the price coconut oil and how long you will use the jar for, it is overall cheap. And the tea tree oil like most essential oils are more expensive but like the author explain they are usually really potent and you are suppose to dilute a few drops in a carrier oil. I use rosemary oil which I bought for 10 dollars and it has lasted me over a year now… Read more »

Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty

I’ve yet to try Grapeseed Oil. I know a lot of naturals hail it as a protectant for flat ironing but I think I’ll stick with products created just for the purpose of protecting. I believe synthetics can sometimes be more effective…depending on what it’s for.

Jojoba oil should be on this list. It’s soooo light. It’s cheap and great for naturals with fine hair because it doesn’t weigh the hair down. Plus, it seals beautifully

Alexandra
Alexandra
8 years ago

+1, when I run out of EVOO and Coconut oil good ‘ol jojoba oil is always there.

Alexandra
Alexandra
8 years ago

Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Coconut always #1 for Sonnie (my hair) ( =

Ndy
Ndy
8 years ago

My go to oil is evoo with a few drops of Rosemary. I went for the real thing after using a product that had rosemary and was olive oil based for months. Although this product was wonderful on my hair I worried about the other ingredients on the list and after my last bottle almost two years ago. I went and bought a bottle of evoo and some rosemary and made my own mix (basically just added a few drops of rosemary to evoo in a spray bottle). It is also very travel friendly as all I have to do… Read more »

Andrea
8 years ago

I love, love, love EVOO, Tea Tree Oil, and Castor Oil. I use the tea tree oil because it’s a natural antiseptic and in the past I’ve had a problem with an itchy scalp and dandruff…Good bye dandruff. Tea tree oil works wonders and so it’s no question why I use it in all my mixtures! It cleans my scalp and stimulates growth. The castor oil is also another one of my favorites because it is a natural oil for thinning hair and baldness. Since I wore weaves for three years in the transition to natural hair my edges and… Read more »

Tony
8 years ago

Here in Australia we have a saying ‘oils ain’t oils’ and that is certainly true of tea tree oil. Did you know that there are many oils offered that claim to be tea tree oil but are in reality cheap adulterated rubbish. Learn more about Pure Ausatralian Tea Tree Oil at our new face book site here: http://www.facebook.com/PureAustralianTeaTreeOil/app_223624311073057. Like us ans spread the word please.

Braelynn Blue
Braelynn Blue
8 years ago

Jojoba oil is NOT cheap. For 16oz., you pay about $25.00. 16oz. of coconut oil will run you about $7–9 depending on the brand. You will also pay that much for 4 oz. of Jojoba oil (about $9), so it should not be on this list as a cheap oil. Effective, yes. Cheap? Not so.

I do love my coconut, olive, and castor oils.

Michelle
Michelle
8 years ago
Reply to  Braelynn Blue

So do I.

Aoimango
Aoimango
7 years ago
Reply to  Braelynn Blue

I get 16 oz of jojoba oil cold pressed for $10 free shipping from a seller on eBay…it lasts me a long time and I never had issues. Maybe you should research more if you really like the oil and want to save money?

Michelle
Michelle
8 years ago

I apply olive oil to my hair and coconut oil to my scalp. It is a lot cheaper than buying products that CLAIM they have in olive and coconut oils, which to the best of my knowledge (and the detriment of my pocket) only had really yummy smells and the promise of oil! I use castor oil on my hair as an overnight hot oil treatment before I wash my hair the next day but that’s the only time I use it, and I’ve never considered using either tea tree oil or grape seed oil on my hair but I’ll think… Read more »

Mona
Mona
8 years ago

I loved reading all the great post. I used Wheatgerm Oil today. Used it as a deeper conditioner and left it on my hair for a couple of hours. Washed by hair and then put on my regular leave in conditioner. My hair has not been this soft in years.

Ai
Ai
8 years ago

Oddly, I’ve found that Vitamin Shoppe has it kind of cheap (about $8). Everywhere else I find it’s never under $12. I only hate that there isn’t one close enough to me to warrant a trip for one product.

Luna
Luna
7 years ago

Grapeseed oil works best for me. It makes my hair really soft and is just 4 dollars at Wal-Mart. It keeps my hair moisturized all through school though it’s very light. I have very coarse coily dry hair, so finding something that keeps my hair moisturized and isn’t super greasy is all I really care about.

Lisa
Lisa
7 years ago

I love them all,but using Castor and Coconut oil for my hair and Jojoba for my skin seem to work very good. I get all my oils and beauty products on iherb.Com You can also use reward code ZQL811 and checkout and get $10 discount on your first purchase.Check it out girls 😉

Jur'Ney
Jur'Ney
7 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

I agree, Caster Oil is the best!!!

mangomadness
mangomadness
7 years ago

I love coconut oil and castor oil!

I use Parachute Coconut Oil ($7, 16.9 oz bottle, Indian grocery store) and Now Solutions Castor Oil (~$6, 16 oz, iherb.com).

I finger-detangle with coconut oil. I use castor oil to deep condition, seal my ends and soften the hold of my gel.

Robin
Robin
7 years ago

Hi good article
Just fully natural since June 2012. Have found that the natural oils work best in my hair. Can find 54oz 100% organic coconut oil at Costco for 16 bucks! Also find large extra virgin olive oil there as well ~16 bucks. I’m a thrifty shopper so I look for good deals and like to pass them on. Homegoods store has avocado oil and olive oils as well along with Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Hope this helps someone else.

denise
denise
7 years ago

Help i am just starting to use natural oils on my hair so my question is can these oils be mixed together i was thinking of tea tree,coconut oil,and grape seed and use on my natural hair and my daughter relaxed hair

Darlene
Darlene
7 years ago
Reply to  denise

Yes you can mix those together

Darlene
Darlene
7 years ago

I love castor oil, olive oil, almond oil, and coconut oil. I justed purposes grapeseed oil and I use in my pre poo or deep conditioner. I love all the oils but castor, olive and coconut are my favorites

Mia Darling
Mia Darling
7 years ago

My coconut oil stays liquid due to the tropical climate i live in…my parents keep telling me it will make my hair rancid. And it doesn’t help my hair with its dryness even when i use it a s a deep condition or use it to lock in moisture. My hair is really very dry and i don’t know what to do with it and i’m moving to university in a few months…HELP!!!!!

Tamel
Tamel
7 years ago
Reply to  Mia Darling

Coconut oil did the same thing to my hair. It made my hair very hard and dry. I just recently found out (through trial and error) that my hair is low porosity and protein sensitive, which is why it didn’t do so well with the coconut oil. I recently started using grapeseed oil and my hair loves it. It makes my hair really soft and moisturized. The brand I use is NAPA VALLEY, it can be found at Marshall’s Dept. store. I hope this helps you!

Colalover
Colalover
7 years ago

I just started with the Olive Oil and I see why others rave about it. I have many issues with some breakage in the middle back so I have been more careful and can see the olive oil working to prevent further damage. I am dying to try jojoba oil!:-)

Zion Flippin
Zion Flippin
7 years ago

I surely do not know why castor oil is not on this list. It is awesome for growth to thinning and bald hair and scalp.

Alycia
Alycia
7 years ago

I LOVE COCONUT OIL. It’s always been a favorite of mine along with EVOO. However, I have found that I can get a jar of coconut oil at the Vitamin Shoppe for about $8–9. GNC however was selling it for over $20. Ridiculous right?!

They are both great oils by themselves or for adding to my shea butter whips. In the winter, I love using castor oil because it’s so thick. My hair doesn’t dry up for at least 4–5 days using castor oil. I love it.

unex.es
7 years ago

Hello to every single one, it’s actually a good for me to pay a visit this web page, it contains valuable Information.

Andre A. Pickett
Andre A. Pickett
7 years ago

Hello every one I have been reading a lot of websites and came across a oil called Emu Oil by Longview Farms. It cost about $14.00 for a 2 oz bottle, but it is suppose to be very good for the hair. The pure refined is suppose to be the best. I purchased mine from The Vitamin Shoppe and I have been using it since my big chop. My hair on the sides was coming out because I was having a problem with my scalp being very dry and a major build up of dandruff. I started using the Emu… Read more »

Patricia
6 years ago

I can also vouch for emu oil. It is not cheap but a little goes a long way and it does work for growth. I use it at my temples. (Also works on your eyelashes!) I am not a doctor, but it works for me 😉

sincereluv4life
sincereluv4life
7 years ago

I’ve been using Africas best oil mixed with water for yrs now to moisturize and its pretty cheap at 2 bucks. I love this stuff because its a really good sealant but I am a lil disappointed to find perfume as the second ingredient I

Jana
Jana
7 years ago

My go to is safflower oil right now. Medium weight, silky, nourishing and inexpensive.

Lucky
Lucky
7 years ago

I’m on that Trader Joe’s coconut oil. Hands down.
I use olive oil only for my scalp infusions (Olive oil + cayenne pepper + rosemary)

Krystal
Krystal
6 years ago
Reply to  Lucky

Yes I definitely use Trader Joes coconut oil as we’ll! It smells great and is only $5.

MrsCottonCurls
MrsCottonCurls
7 years ago

My hair is on the finer side & I absolutely adore grapeseed oil. Its light enough that it doesn’t leave my hair heavy & greasy like EVOO does. I do, however, use EVOO for hot oil treatments because it’s heavier. Coconut oil comes in a close second to grapeseed. But grapeseed has been my #1 since I discovered it about a year ago.

Tony2
Tony2
6 years ago

My favorite oil is soybean oil usually labeled as vegetable oil. It is a perfect inexpensive oil for 4C hair,

Gloria
Gloria
6 years ago
Reply to  Tony2

What do you mean by 4C hair?

raya
raya
6 years ago
Reply to  Gloria

4C meaning the curl pattern in the hair. 4C is mostly kinky and has no curl definition.

Rachel
Rachel
6 years ago

I have been transitioning for almost a year and I have found that coconut,grapeseed and olive oils have been my super products..affordable and they work !!!

Kimberley King
Kimberley King
6 years ago

What can you use to thin out out homemade hair butters and products.

Gigi
Gigi
6 years ago
Reply to  Kimberley King

You could use coconut oil in his melted form as it is quite light. You may need to pour out your butter in a bowl, add the coco-oil, whip it with your electric wisk for an even mix.

That’s how I have thinned mine for daily use. Best of luck.

May
May
6 years ago

I haven‘t see argan oil and its really good to make your hair soft and healthy . In my experience, I use one called Pro Natural’s moroccan argan oil and it’s amazing, not greasy at all, you put some on your hair after a shower and just leave it. it‘great!!

Danyelle
Danyelle
6 years ago
Reply to  May

that’s because its not cheap

Gloria
Gloria
6 years ago

What do mean by 4C hair?

Venus
Venus
6 years ago

I am looking for a pressing oil, creme and/or spray solution that will make my press last for a month without having to repress my roots. I am growing out a perm for about eight months now. I have very kinky hair and can sweat out a good pressing in a couple of days after pressing.

Rainbowfro85
Rainbowfro85
6 years ago

Thank you for writing this article…I have been trying to tell my roommate that packaging is for marketing but the ingredients list tells the real story (,most of the time). Maybe if I show her this she will finally believe it.

Rachel
Rachel
6 years ago

Plain Castor Oil is very good for regrowing your edges! I noticed a difference in just a few weeks of using. I buy it from amazon and the brand is Now Foods, it was like 5 dollars and it comes in a huge bottle. The “Jamaican Black” castor oil is much more expensive.

Sammie
Sammie
6 years ago

How can one stimulate hair follicles?

DLJC
DLJC
6 years ago

hi!
i have 2 questions.
1. is it possible to mix jojoba oil and coconut oil together? also, either of the previously mentioned oils with water as a spray for your hair before applying the daily leave in conditioner?
2. how long do you leave in mashed avocado as your conditioner.
thanks so much.
dljc

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