Editor’s Note: This list is SUBJECTIVE and based on the experience of the author. It serves as an EXAMPLE of how to critically assess products in your hair regimen.
By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom
In general, having many products (product junkies) many of which you do not use is not encouraged. However, without trying several products, you may not find what really works for you. My rule is to buy small sample pots whenever possible, this allows you to have enough to test and little to waste. Over the years, I have used many oil and many oil combinations. I have loved some, felt indifferent to others and outright hated some. In the end by trying out these out I have ended up knowing which oils work for me and those that do not. Here is my grading system:
Coconut oil – A
Did you guess the top grade would go to coconut oil? I did not really start using coconut oil until about 3–4 years ago when I read scientific papers on how useful it could be (prevention of hair breakage). It remains my permanent favourite for everything from pre wash treatments to the final step in moisturising. Some people do not like the coconut scent but I love it. I also like light and easy to spread oils as my hair is fine strandwise but plentiful. Coconut oil fits the bill as it melts easily and not much is required.
Jojoba oil – A-
Jojoba oil is another favourite given. It is actually a liquid wax and it is actually easier to apply than coconut oil. It is slightly more viscous, which means that it is easier to spread over a strand as one column. This makes it quite useful for the ‘sealing’ step in moisturising. I do not purchase it anymore as I have streamlined my purchases but would do so if I could not find coconut oil.
Avocado butter – A-
This oil is remarkably similar to coconut oil. It is normally solid at room temperature but melts easily in your hand. It is slightly heavier than coconut oil but is not particularly greasy. The main differences are that it generally does not have a strong scent and it has a very pale green colour. This butter is often assumed to have the same protective properties of coconut oil. Although there is no firm evidence, I do think that they do behave in a similar way. The reason for the lower grade is because it is a speciality product and is harder to find.
Shea butter (processed) – B+
I like white processed shea butter mainly because it does not have a nutty smell. It is a heavy butter for my hair and I only use it in combination with coconut oil. I find it greasy and hard to spread on its own. It requires a lot of fiddling so I do not purchase it anymore but it does work well enough, in the event that I cannot find my favourites.
Olive oil – B
Although I like light and easy to spread oils, olive oil is not one my favourites. I found that it has a tendency to cause my scalp to flake and it is not that effective for sealing hair as it has a tendency to rub off hair. Many naturals use olive oil because it is widely available and generally cheaper than other oils. If it worked better for me, I would select it too for those reasons but it does not. I would use olive oil if I ran out of oil or was away from home and had to improvise.
Raw shea butter is similar property wise to avocado butter in my opinion but it has a very strong nutty scent. Personally, the scent of raw shea butter is really off putting even though it does fade away after an hour or so. I have never repurchased it as a result even though it was the only butter/oil that had a softening effect on my hair.
Castor Oil — D
Castor oil is a huge favourite for many naturals. Many love the thickness of the oil but it is actually this property that makes it difficult to love for me. I like light spreadable oils and castor oil is the antithesis of this. I adjusted to using a small amount and applying it on wet hair but this did not work for me either as after the hair dried, it still felt sticky.
Mango butter, Coffee butter and Cocoa butter – D
I purchased these butters simply because I liked the sound of them. Coffee butter and Cocoa butter both have enchanting scents but mango butter is much more subtle. However, all of these really did nothing for my hair. I found them all to be quite greasy, overly shiny on hair and it took effort to spread evenly. Interestingly though, they do work quite nicely on legs despite failing on my hair. To finish the jars I would combine them with coconut oil which helped to get over the heaviness of the indivual butters.
Sunflower Oil, Mineral Oil and Silicone Serums – E
Although these three oils get a failing grade, they only do so because I do not use any heat on my hair. If I used heat I would consider silicone serums for protection prior to heat application and mineral oil to help with resisting humidity afterwards. For normal regular washing, conditioning and moisturising, I do not rate any of these oils highly.
Ladies, what would your list look like? Which are your most and least favorite oils and butters?