6 Underrated Oils and Butters + How to Use Them on Natural Hair

I think it is safe to say that almost every natural knows about coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil and shea butter for hair care.  While each of these oils and butters are great, there are some relatively lesser known ones that might be worth trying..

1. Aloe Butter

Aloe butter is extracted from the aloe vera plant using fractionated coconut oilIt is not to be confused with shealoe butter but does have some similarities.


– It is not expensive compared to shea butter. If you find the right source, aloe butter can be as much as 25% cheaper than shea butter, if not comparable in price.

– It is light, moisturizing, and not too greasy.  Some love this butter because it is moisturizing like shea butter but without the greasiness.  It is also very light, melts immediately on the skin and will not weigh down the hair.

– There is no “nutty” smell.  You know how unrefined shea butter can have a strong nutty smell?  Well you won’t have that with aloe butter.


– Use it straight or mix with other butters.  Aloe butter can be used alone (since it is already soft and moisturizing on its own) or mixed with other butters.

– Use it to enhance your moisturizer. Add some aloe butter to your moisturizer to make it even more moisturizing.

2. Babassu Oil

Like coconut oil, babassu oil is extracted from a kernel of the palm tree family – the babassu tree, to be exact.  More importantly, it has a similar composition and proportions of fatty acids to that of coconut oil.  (The fatty acids include lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, and oleic.) If you desire some the benefits of coconut oil but (for whatever reason) dislike the actual oil, you might want to continue reading …


– It’s lower on the comedogenic scale.  One downside to using coconut oil is that it is high on the comedogenic scale.  Babassu oil, on the other hand, supposedly doesn’t clog the pores as much.  If you are prone to getting acne from coconut oil, try  babassu oil instead.

– It does not leave a greasy feel.  Unlike coconut oil, babassu oil lacks a greasy feel after application. Some even say that it appears to penetrate better than coconut oil.

– It is not expensive.  Depending on where you make your purchase, babassu oil is comparable in price to coconut oil.


– Use it to seal your ends.  After a fresh wash and condition, apply a little bit of the oil to your ends.  A little goes a long way.

– Use as a pre-shampoo treatment or to enhance a conditioner.  Use babassu alone or with other ingredients as an overnight pre-poo treatment.  Add some melted babassu oil to your conditioner for an enhanced conditioning treatment.

– Use it to whip shea butter.  Mix a little babassu oil with shea butter (and other oils, if you wish).

3. Cupuacu Butter

Cupuacu butter is starting to attract some popularity but has been underrated for a while.  If you don’t know much about it, you might want to continue reading …


– It is an excellent emollient.  Cupuacu butter has softening and soothing properties almost like shea butter, but some claim better.  It also has an amazing ability to retain water, thus retaining moisture in dry hair.

– It has emulsifying properties.  This butter is said to aid in the stabilization of an emulsion.  (An “emulsion” is a system — as fat in milk — consisting of a liquid dispersed with or without an emulsifier in an immiscible liquid usually in droplets of larger than colloidal size.)


– Use it straight or mix with other ingredients to make a whipped butter.  Cupuacu butter can be used alone (since it is already soft and moisturizing on its own) or mixed with oils, others butter, or aloe vera gel to create a whipped hair butter.

– Add to a conditioner.  Add some cupuacu butter to your conditioner to make it more moisturizing.

– Use as a styling agent.  Cupuacu butter can be used alone or mixed with a gel for twisting, twist outs, braids, braid outs, or for use as a general styling agent.

4. Lanolin or Lanolin Oil

(Disclaimer: Lanolin is not recommended for use by those who have wool allergies.)

Lanolin is a natural, waxy substance extracted from the wool of sheep (and in rare cases, other wool-bearing animals).  Unfortunately, it has been labeled a “bad” ingredient in certain hair care communities, possibly because it is a barrier to water.  However, that “barrier” property of lanolin can be very useful in other arenas of hair care.


– It seals in moisture.  Lanolin is secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep in order to protect the skin and wool from the harsh environment.  It would then not seem unreasonable that lanolin would work well as an effective sealant on our own hair.  Though this waxy, thick substance locks out moisture (i.e., preventing water from penetrating the hair) it also locks in moisture (i.e., retains water that is already present in the hair strand).  NOTE: If you have fine strands, lanolin may feel too heavy; try the oil form (of lanolin) instead.

– It can aid in styling.  Due to the waxy consistency of lanolin, it can help to define twist outs, braid outs, and roller sets.  It can also help to smooth down any frizzies or stray hairs and add shine (or sheen).


– Use it to seal your ends.  Depending on your hair texture and density, lanolin may or may not be too heavy for use.  If it is too heavy, try using it sparingly or opt for lanolin oil instead.

– Use as a pre-shampoo treatment or to enhance a conditioner.  Use lanolin (or lanolin oil) alone or with other ingredients as a pre-poo treatment.  Add some melted lanolin (or add lanolin oil) to your conditioner for an enhanced conditioning treatment.

– Use it to make a styling pomade or grease.  Lanolin can be used alone or mixed with butters and/or oils to create a pomade or hair grease.

– Use it as an anti-humidity agent.  Because lanolin can act as a barrier between your hair and the environment, it can work well to protect your styles from being ruined by humidity.

5. Grapefruit Essential Oil

Grapefruit essential oil should not be confused with grapeseed oil.  The former is an essential oil and pressed from the grapefruit.  The latter is a carrier oil and pressed from the seeds of grapes.  Grapeseed oil is growing in popularity in hair care, but grapefruit essential oil is relatively less known.  Now for why this particular essential oil is underrated …


– It has a sweet, light fragrance.  While peppermint essential oil can be a bit strong in aroma and lavender a bit weak, on this scale, grapefruit essential oil sits between the two (though relatively closer to lavender).  Grapefruit essential oil has a citrusy scent similar to lemongrass essential oil, but weaker and much sweeter.

– It blends well with other essential oils.  Grapefruit essential oil can be mixed with many other essential oils to create interesting blends.  It blends especially well with lavender essential oil.  Some also state that grapefruit blends really well with the essential oils of bergamot and basil.


– As a hair deodorizer/perfume.  Add several drops of grapefruit essential oil to a few ounces of water in a spray bottle.  Spritz your hair and scalp to hold off on wash day a bit longer.  Grapefruit essential oil has the right intensity of aroma to leave your hair smelling fresh and sweet without being overpowering.

– As a fragrance for a moisturizer.  Add several drops of this essential oil to give your moisturizer a sweet, citrusy scent that is subtle.

6. Safflower Oil

Many naturals use olive oil, coconut oil, and even castor oil on their hair in some fashion, but few use or know about safflower oil.


– It is inexpensive.  Compared to your more popular hair oils, this one is fairly inexpensive.  Depending on where you purchase safflower oil, it can cost almost 20-50% less than extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil.

– It is very moisturizing.  The safflower oil sold for cooking purposes is generally high in oleic acid, which is a fatty acid that possesses conditioning and moisturizing properties.

– It is fairly light.  The consistency of safflower oil is somewhere between that of jojoba oil and olive oil, and somewhat similar to grapeseed oil.  Thus, if you find olive oil to be too heavy and jojoba oil to be too light, safflower oil may be worth a try.


– As a light sealant.  Depending on your hair, safflower oil may work just fine as a sealant after a good wash and deep condition.  I used to use this oil as a sealant in humid weather when my hair didn’t require a heavy product.

– To enhance a moisturizer.  This oil can be used to enhance your current moisturizer.  It works really well in whipped butters.

Ladies, have you tried any of these?  What other “underrated” oils or butters do you use?

Picture of Chinwe


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33 Responses

  1. I love Safflower oil. I had a random bottle of it for a while and decided to try it, it left my habit very moisturized and shiny, I definitely recommend it. Now sad to say I wanted to try aloe butter (why sad?) because it is known to have coconut oil as mentioned, used to get it whipped into a butter state. I cannot use it, coconut oil doesn’t like my hair, glad I read this, but sad that I found that out. Thanks form the great post!

  2. I use rice bran oil on my face after cleaning. It is fantastic for dry skin. Not too heavy and not too greasy.

    Haven’t tried in my hair yet. I’ve been using coconut oil for my ends and castor oil around my edges.

  3. What’s better for the hair, in terms of conditioning, but also the lightest butter: aloe, shea, or mango? I saw mango butter online and was intrigued. Anyone know the difference between these butters?

    1. they can all be used for the same purpose. I tend to get confused when I see ladies say they use butter for conditioning, cause I don’t believe its for that. But if you can use one butter for conditioning, you can do the same with the rest.

    2. Mango is lighter than shea but you can use it and whip like shea. I haven’t used aloe.
      With alot of these oils and butters, try ebay and sites where you can buy supplies for making your own soaps and candles etc

  4. I got a free sample of Babassu oil at Whole Foods one day.
    I plan to buy more, but it’s not cheap. 🙂

    I can’t try lanolin, because it’s not cruelty-free.

    1. There’s nothing cruel about lanolin. It is gotten from the wool after the sheep have been sheared. If the wool was to be left on the sheep during hot weather they would actually overheat and die.

  5. the only oil i see myself trying is safflower oil, as its the only oil that I can get from stores. as for the others, i guess ill stick to my easily accessible olive oil, coconut oil and the like
    great post though, also very educative

  6. Just bought some BABASSU OIL to incorporate in my Whipped Butter. I’m always looking for new butters and oils to try and this article was a great read :C)
    shop.kinksandall.com / kinksandall.com
    Come check us out!

  7. about Babassu oil as an alternative to coconut oil, does it have the same drying effect in the winter? Does it harden in the cold, or is that(not hardening in the winter) another advantage it has over coconut oil?

  8. I appreiciate this post because I have been looking for something to replace Murray’s pomade(lanolin; mineral oil and petroleum is does the job but isn’t good for you)and coconut oil (Babassu Oil; unfortuantely Coconut Oil irritates the eczema on my hands). Thanks!!!

  9. Soybean oil(sometimes simply labeled as vegetable oil)in the cooking section at your supermarket is cheap (less than $3.00 for 48 ounces) and amazing for 4c hair. It makes hair soft. When combined with olive oil it maintains its ability to soften hair. It is the oil you have been searching for.

    The subscribe box that pops up and forces you to enter an email address to view the site, is too much.

  11. Great post, I am so used to the well-known oils and butter. I am eager to try some of these, especially since the price is good too.

  12. This was such an awesome post! I’d never even heard of two of the oils. Definitely off to see what Amazon has got on some of these oils. Thanks for the great info! God bless!

    1. Yeah, I’m surprised the author didn’t mention the strong smell of the lanolin. I have it, but it’s way too heavy for my fine 4c hair. I’ve added a dime-sized amount to my coconut oil and glycerin mix, and that was quite good as a thick but not too heavy winter humectant. I’m now intrigued by the aloe butter, but I’ll research some more products before making an Amazon order. Is there a way to purchase products via a BGLH affiliate link so that you all get a commission? Thanks for this wealth of info and such great articles!

  13. Lanolin is a HUMECTANT, an incredibly strong humectant with moisture retaining properties greater than vegetable glycerin. It softens and seals. It isn’t an occlusive like petroleum jelly, moisture does actually penetrate. There’s also a difference between pure lanolin (anhydrous), lanolin with water and sometimes glycerin (hydrous) and lanolin oil.

  14. I have grapefruit essential. I never really knew the benefits… its pretty plain as far as benefits but smells great. I use it in my diy greek yogurt deep conditioner (no problems) and used it in my box braid spritz and it made my scalp itchy. Maybe I used too much or my scalp just doesn’t like it.

  15. I would love to try the Aloe Butter and the Cupuacu butter as well as the Babassu oil. I have already tried the Safflower oil and it is great. I use the safflower along with the olive oil and I find that the two together are quite moisturizing. I really wish that I knew where to buy both butters. If they were sold in stores, it would be great. However, I guess I will have to try online. If anyone knows where they can be found in stores, please let me know.

  16. I made a Cupuaçu whipped butter with coconut oil and added a lemon smell to the whole thing. It works very well actually.
    I use it to seal my ends and deep condition on winter. Love it!!

    I might try the Aloe butter some day…


    1. I mix my Cupuaçu with Coconut Oil also, along with grapeseed oil. This is a very underrated oil!

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