For many women with natural hair the most tedious part of their hair care routine is wash day. Now, while I haven’t yet figured out a way to shorten my 1–1 ½ hour routine (which is much shorter than it used to be) to 20 minutes, I have learned to make certain steps much easier. Oil cleansing, for me, has been a great way to minimize both the time it takes to clean my scalp when washing and the oil needed for my dry scalp after washing. Oil cleansing can also be a great substitute for your full wash day routine when you’re strapped for time or simply want to quickly refresh your hair.
So what is oil cleansing? Simply put, you coat your hair with an oil of your choice prior to washing. You then rinse the oil out using only water (or a mild cleanser) so that some of the oil remains absorbed by your hair. The type of oil you use and the method you use when applying the oil can lead to varying levels of success.
Method of Oil Cleansing
Things You’ll Need
There are a number of methods that you can use to oil cleanse your hair. However, my personal favorite is the root to tip and seal method.
1. Lightly dampen hair using a spray bottle then section hair into four.
2. Next, use a color applicator to apply the oil to your scalp, then the length of your hair. Be sure to coat the ends of your hair, which often suffer the most damage and dryness.
3. Once each section has been oiled, cover hair with a disposable shower cap for 15 minutes. (I find that detangling with conditioner after this step is significantly easier. The oil makes hair much more pliable and loosens knots.)
Best Oils to Use
You know your hair better than anyone else so you will best able to determine which oil to use. For my hair, which is usually matted and tangled after a week or two, I find that coconut oil or amla oil work best. The key to determining the oil that works is its ability to coat the hair (oils like safflower oil and jojoba, for example, tend to be absorbed by my hair) and will add slip. When styling, I don’t typically use oils that leave my hair feeling greasy, but for oil cleansing these oils are perfect. Not only do they aid in detangling, but I find that even after I wash my hair with a mild cleanser, my hair remains nourished and needs very little added moisture prior to styling.
Oil Cleansing and Hair Growth
Hair growth is determined by how quickly hair grows from your scalp. Hair length is determined by your ability to preserve the 3–4 inches at the ends of your hair. Adding oils to your hair during cleansing, is one way to insure that your ends are healthy and that your need to trim and/or unintentional breakage becomes less of an obstacle as you pursue your hair growth journey.
Do you use oil cleansing in your regimen? What oil(s) do you use? What impact has it had on your hair?