Do I Need to Oil My Scalp?

Updated 04/11/19
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This scenario may sound familiar: A child sitting between a mother's knees, as the mother parts and oils their scalp as they prepare to style the hair. It was a childhood ritual. Maybe you even had that ubiquitous jar of Ultra Sheen sitting in your bathroom. Oiling your scalp was the rule back then. But do you still need to do that today?

It's really up to you if or when you should oil your scalp. For some people, it simply feels good to apply a light oil to your fingers and massage your scalp before styling your hair. Some people have dry scalps that benefit from the moisture.

However, it's not totally necessary to oil the scalp. You may have an oily scalp that doesn't need any additional oil. (Yes, you can have dry black hair with an oily scalp.) In that case, it's your hair that requires moisture, which is why you should apply products to it and not necessarily to your scalp.

If you like the feeling you get from applying oils to your scalp, feel free to do so, keeping these points in mind.

Avoid Petroleum-Based Products

Be your own hair care advocate and look at the list of ingredients on every product you buy. All too often, you'll see petrolatum listed as a top ingredient. It's that old "hair grease" that many of us grew up using, but it doesn't do anything for black hair besides coat it and attract dirt. Don't put this stuff on your scalp unless you want to clog your pores and weigh your hair down.

Use Natural Oils

Fortunately, it's easier than ever to find natural oils. In the recent past, it was hard to find anything besides olive oil in your local grocers. Anything as "exotic" as almond or coconut oil were usually only available at health food stores or organic markets. There are many options in natural oils, including jojoba and coconut. Jojoba oil is very similar to the sebum that your scalp naturally produces. It's not only good for your hair, you can also apply this oil to your entire body as a moisturizing treatment. Other great scalp-massaging oils include:

  • Grapeseed
  • Castor (Jamaican Black Castor Oil is touted for increased growth)
  • Avocado
  • Argan

Oil as Needed

You may not need to oil your scalp every day, even if this was common practice for you as a child. Learn to recognize your hair's particular needs, which may differ from season to season and can be very different from other people in your own family. Examine your scalp: Is it tight? Does it itch? Then maybe you could benefit from a light application of oil. If it feels smooth, it's not flaky, and it's clean, then skip the oil. You may need to oil your scalp once a week or once a month. In winter, you might require a weekly scalp oiling, and you might skip it altogether in the summer. The bottom line on scalp oiling: do what feels right for you, your scalp, and your hair.

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