By Jc of The Natural Haven

Many women grew up with a natural hair routine which involved applying oil to the scalp. This was often done after washing  or  applied to part lines in cornrows, twists or braids. Other times it was used to cover up flaking. However, given what is now known about hair care, is this oiling really necessary? The answer is Yes and No.

NO

There are two key reasons why oil is not necessary

1. Oil production for hair starts at the scalp

– Sebum is the natural oil that coats hair. Its production begins just under the skin of the scalp and therefore the scalp surface is naturally coated in oil. A gentle massage of the scalp can help to further distribute the sebum but in general the scalp produces sufficient oil and does not necessarily require a ‘top up’

2. Oils, especially natural oils can feed the fungus that causes dandruff

– Dandruff is caused by a fungus known as malassezia globosa. This fungus thrives on a specific oil known as oleic acid which is found richly in natural oils such as olive oil, coconut oil and shea butter. Reducing the use of oil on the scalp may help reduce dandruff.

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77 Comments on "Is Greasing Your Scalp Necessary?"

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LM

After i complete my wash routine, i massage shea moisture’s curl enhancing smoothie into my hair and scalp, and repeat with olive oil. Afterwards, I only massage my scalp with either the shea moisture or olive once again that week before wash day. so that’s 2 oilings in one week. I think the fact that I wash with a sulfate-free shampoo helps balance things out. Otherwise I’d either have product build-up or a really dry, itchy scalp.

lala

I LOVE Sheamoisture! I don’t use any of their hair products but I love their line of soap/body washes.

Christi

I use coconut oil as a prepoo treatment every two weeks. If not my scalp begins to itch.

dani

No.
Ever since I stopped greasing my scalp, I have NO dandruff… none at all. And, you know that smell your hair gets after a few days of not washing it. Mine never smells like that anymore.

Angie

I have to. I have very dry hair and a very dry scalp. scalp gets flaky and hair crunchy if I do not. I just use olive oil

MsPomegranate

Yes and No….I never grease my scalp in the spring and summertime, even when I straighten. However, in the winter, everything about my hair is dry! I may flat-iron my hair or leave it curly, but my scalp is dry and itchy the NEXT DAY after a wash. “Greasing” is a must during these winter months, for me…but I try to use a light oil instead of the heavy stuff momma used to use when I was a kid. 🙂

monisola

I need to apply some kind of moisture to my scalp right after a wash or else my scalp itches so badly i scratch it to the point of getting scabs…NOT CUTE.I don’t use oil..but my spritz on my scalp.

Everyone is different. These guideline-type posts are a combination of really helpful and really silly because everyone is different.

Joan B. in S.C.

monisola, may I ask what you use in your spritz?

Bklyn515

I used to before my second set of locs. I would use Jane Carter’s Nourish and Shine and found that i did not have to do a serious comb through afterwards. When I loc’d again i would oil with coconut oil and i had all kinds of dry scalp but once i removed the locs again i have not put any oil or anything on my scalp just my hair and ends. But not that the winter months are here and my scalp is acting up I may try olive oil and stick with my sheabutter mixture.

Deb

I grease my scalp every 3 or 4 days with Sulfur 8 because it really strengthens my hair. I am one of the few people who actually likes how it smells…lol.

HomeGrownHairGirl

I use oils daily to seal in moisture, but I don’t oil my scalp in the traditional sense. The oils I use (coconut, argan, etc.) are applied directly to the hair strands. I do not part my hair and put oil on my scalp.

Kitt
I think (like everything else in the world) it depends on the indvidual (and their genetics/ DNA). For me, It is necessary for me to periodically put an oil on my scalp. But, not everyone will need to. I worked on a research project at the National Institue of Health (when I was an undergrad) and the ONE thing I learned from that experience is that ALL studies are controlled AND that they (researchers) focus on what they’re trying to prove, not what their trying to disprove. I said all that to say that IF a researcher was interested in… Read more »
Marcia

Excellent point!

The Natural Haven
Ok this is why I value my PhD studies. One of the most important lessons is how to critique. This has two parts 1. Read what is written (not what you think is written, but what is actually written down) 2. Judge if it addresses all key arguments (in the simplest form pro/anti). I am assuming that you did not flip to the yes argument but to correct some myths 1. The sebum quantity produced in people of African origin is actually thought to be higher than in caucasian hair. Caucasian hair tends to distribute the oil better down the… Read more »
Natural Nigerian

Interesting point about Sebum distribution on the different heads of hair. I guess that ours is not so efficient going from the scalp to down the strand because of all the kinks and bends of natural Afro hair.

Lola
I am still not sure what to think of the whole oiling debate…I have lived almost all my life in a tropical country and my mom used to religiously slather my scalp with oils and vaseline( I was a natural) and my scalp had no objection. Few years later,I permed my hair but continued the oiling process,still with success.Then,we all moved to Canada and while my routine stayed the same, my scalp started producing an embarassing ammount of dandruff and itch like the devil!!!! The funny thing is that as soon as I returned natural,peace was restored on my head… Read more »
V
When I went natural, I stopped oiling my scalp because I thought I didn’t need it. When my scalp was dry (which was rare), I took that as a sign to wash. But recently I had a trusted friend and talented braider give me box braids. She commented on how my left side and the top of my scalp was dry and it is much easier for me to see that with the braids. These areas are also more sensitive… I say all that to say, I’ve started oiling my scalp recently. I’m not sure if its the winter (1st… Read more »
Kara

Great post! I recently started greasing my scalp after being natural for two years. I started using Bronner Brothers Super Gro because it was what my grandmother used on my hair the last time I was natural (7 years old) and I actually greased my scalp. 🙂

Nia

I don’t find it necessary for me. My scalp produces enough natural oils so I find that I don’t need to. Because my hair is highly textured, I oil the shaft of the hair instead…and of course the ends.

Hyspin
No but slightly yes. I do not directly oil my scalp but I do oil rinses (EVOO) and I do oil my hair (shea butter, or olive) and usually end up messaging my scalp in one of those process which will transfer a little deposit of oil on the scalp. But I don’t don’t directly apply it. Now if I were to cornrow or braid my hair with extensions. then at that time I will directly oil my scalp, but that becuase my scalp exposed the drying, wind, or winter/autumn air. Other wise there is no need for me. Also… Read more »
Risée
Agreed. Mineral oil and other petroleum based products just leave my hair smelly, and filled with debris. To mosturise I drench my hair in an olive oil/shea butter/honey/aloe/vitamin E oil mix that I make in my kitchen. I wash my hair, then apply about a teaspoon of the mix to my hair, warp my hair in plastic, do housework for an hour and then rinse. My hair feels soft and moist and it isn’t necessary for me to add any additional oil until my next wash which is usually in three days. I also have seborrheic dermatitis and I find… Read more »
Ce Ce
For some reason my scalp “breathes” better without oiling my scalp. Instead, I oil my hair then rinse out after 2 or more hrs. and wash then condition. My final step is applying a curl milk to my hair that contains natural oils. I happen to have seborrhea dermatitis and some may consider it a scalp eczema. I tried using the ointment that the doctor prescribed and it only exacerbated the problem. Since following my instincts my hair has grown by leaps and bounds. I use Africa’s Best Herbal Oil which contains A LOT of different oils including olive, castor,… Read more »
Katrice

Wow Permalink, I would have never thought to oil my hair before I wash and condition it. Do you also oil your scalp before you wash and condition your hair? What type of natural do you have? My mane is more coiled at the roots and then kinky toward the end. And what does the curl milk do for your hair?

Coily Africana

Thank you for this post JC

I went to a meet-up recently in Lagos and I was trying to explain (failed greatly=ineffective communicator) from experience why shea might not be a good idea for scalps with Psoriasis/Eczema and I suggested paraffin/Vaseline as well.
Also, the point is psoriasis is a condition that accelerates cell regeneration and shea encourages cell regeneration(which is why skin becomes smoother/clearer after repeated use),so it makes sense that for some psoriasis sufferers shea is a bad idea.

Natural Nigerian
I remember this too. I don’t think your failed at communicating it – although I understand it a whole lot better now. I remember we agreed that for certain conditions what you were saying was right. I think the problem is that once you say “use Paraffin/Vaseline on your hair” in a room full of naturals they tend to get defensive. I am going to have to go do a bit more research into Psoriasis/Eczema. Contact me, will you? We can pass the message across to the same crowd… As always, JC, great job. I try to read everything you… Read more »
The Natural Haven

You are welcome Coily 🙂

Omozo

I remember you trying to explain this at the meet-up in Lagos! Did you check out the post about the meet-up? Check it out here: http://onaturals.blogspot.com/2011/11/lagos-natural-hair-meet-up-was.html

BigSyd

Yes I use olive oil every three-four days only. It keeps my scalp from becoming dry. I do not have dandruff, and this seems to be working for me and I have been natural for almost three years. If I wash my hair and do not oil it, it gets dry and flaky, maybe it’s different for others??

Canteloupe_Brown

It’s necessary for me to grease my scalp. I didn’t grease my scalp at all for years, then developed a really bad case of seborrhic dermatitis. I started oiling my scalp with bhringaraj oil and rosemary oil, and the cradle crap went away. But, I learned I was allergic to both oils, and gave up using them on my scalp, thinking the problem was solved. Within a few months, the cradle crap returned. I now use only coconut oil on my scalp, but it seems to be doing its job.

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