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 prov­ing… 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 strand which actu­al­ly… 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 nat­u­ral… 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 I… 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 put out… 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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