By Chin­we of Hair and Health

When it comes to hair care, it is vital to know how cer­tain ingre­di­ents work on our strands. Hav­ing this knowl­edge reduces the “tri­al and error” involved in both build­ing and adjust­ing a hair care reg­i­men.

Below is a quick guide for the more pop­u­lar, main­ly nat­u­ral ingre­di­ents involved in do-it-your­self (DIY) hair care. Do keep in mind that what works for most indi­vid­u­als may (or may not) work for you.

1. When you want to take advan­tage of the humid­i­ty:
Glyc­er­in, hon­ey, aloe vera juice
Why: Humec­tants (mois­ture reten­tion).
How to use: Add to a mois­tur­iz­er or a leave-in.

2. When you want an oil-based sealant:
Soy­bean oil, grape­seed oil, cas­tor oil, avo­cado oil, sweet almond oil
Why: The­se oils can reduce mois­ture loss.
How to use: Use sep­a­rate­ly or add some to your mois­tur­iz­er.

3. When you want a light sealant:
Jojoba oil, grape­seed oil
Why: The­se oils are light com­pared to oth­er oils.
How to use: Use sep­a­rate­ly or add some to your mois­tur­iz­er.

4. When you want a heavy sealant:
Olive oil, shea but­ter (melt­ed) mixed with any oil
Why: Olive oil is one of the heav­ier oils. Many but­ters (such as shea) con­tain fat­ty acids like oils but are heav­ier than oils.
How to use: Use sep­a­rate­ly or add some to your mois­tur­iz­er.

5. When your scalp is itchy:
Tea tree essen­tial oil, aloe vera juice
Why: Some find either of the­se sub­stances to be sooth­ing to the skin.
How to use: (Tea tree) Use a few drops with water or a car­ri­er oil. (Aloe vera) Use straight or mix with water. NOTE: If you are preg­nant or have a health con­di­tion, please con­sult your doc­tor before using essen­tial oils.

6. When your scalp is dry:
Jojoba oil, aloe vera juicegrape­seed oil
Why: Jojoba oil is light and said to be very sim­i­lar to our sebum. Aloe vera juice is light, mois­tur­iz­ing, and sooth­ing to the skin.  Grape­seed oil con­tains a high amount of linole­ic acid, which has been shown to pro­tect again­st mois­ture loss (British Jour­nal of Derm. 1976 Sept;95(3):255–64).
How to use: (Jojoba, grape­seed) Mas­sage a few drops into the scalp. (Aloe vera) Use straight or mix with water.

7. When you want a mois­tur­iz­ing or soft­en­ing oil:
Grape­seed oil, saf­flow­er oil, cas­tor oil, argan oil
Why: The­se oils tend to leave the hair feel­ing soft and moist.
How to use: Use sep­a­rate­ly on damp hair or add some to your mois­tur­iz­er.

8. When you want a mois­tur­iz­ing or soft­en­ing non-oil:
Glyc­er­in, aloe vera gel/juice, rose­wa­ter, hon­ey, water
Why: Glyc­er­in and hon­ey are humec­tants (good for mois­ture reten­tion). Aloe vera gel/juice and rose­wa­ter are mois­tur­iz­ing. Water is the best nat­u­ral form of hydra­tion.
How to use: Use sep­a­rate­ly, add to your mois­tur­iz­er, or mix one (or more) ingre­di­ents to cre­ate a mois­tur­iz­ing spritz. Glyc­er­in and hon­ey work best when applied to damp hair or mixed with water.  NOTE: Adding water, aloe vera juice, or rose­wa­ter to a whipped but­ter can cre­ate an envi­ron­ment for bac­te­ri­al and/or fun­gal growth.

9. When you want shine or sheen:
Cas­tor oil, coconut oil, avo­cado oil, apple cider vine­gar
Why: Cas­tor oil has been shown to impart sheen (J Cos­met Sci. 2003 Jul-Aug;54(4):335–51). Coconut oil, avo­cado oil, and apple cider vine­gar are ones that many nat­u­rals swear by.
How to use: (Cas­tor, coconut, avo­cado) Use sep­a­rate­ly or add on top of your mois­tur­iz­er. (Apple cider vine­gar) Use as a post-wash rin­se with cold water for 5 min­utes.

10. When your sham­poo is dry­ing:
Coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil
Why: The­se oils are mois­tur­iz­ing and lubri­cat­ing.
How to use: Pre-poo with any of the above oils or add to sham­poo.

11. When your sham­poo is not cleans­ing enough:
Bak­ing soda
Why: Eas­i­ly lifts oils and dirt.
How to use: Mix a lit­tle with your sham­poo. (Be sure to fol­low up with an apple cider vine­gar rin­se.)

12. When you want more slip in your con­di­tion­er:
Shea but­ter (melt­ed), coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil
Why: Lubri­cat­ing.
How to use: Add some to your con­di­tion­er.

13. When you want a more mois­tur­iz­ing con­di­tion­er:
Glyc­er­in, hon­ey, shea but­ter (melt­ed), argan oil
Why: (glyc­er­in, hon­ey) mois­ture reten­tion; (shea but­ter) emol­lient.
How to use: Add some to your con­di­tion­er.

14. When you want a more strength­en­ing con­di­tion­er:
Coconut oil, gelat­in, oth­er hydrolyzed pro­tein (e.g. ker­at­in, col­la­gen)
Why: Coconut oil has been shown to pen­e­trate the hair and reduce ker­at­in loss (J Cos­met Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr;54(2):175–92). Hydrolyzed pro­tein, includ­ing gelat­in, pro­vides rein­force­ment by tem­porar­i­ly patch­ing the cuti­cle lay­er.  For max­i­mum strength­en­ing, go for con­di­tion­ers con­tain­ing hydrolyzed pro­tein.
How to use: (Coconut oil) Best used as a pre-poo to min­i­mize break­age, but may also use post-wash. (Gelat­in) Mix with an avo­cado, yogurt, and/or oils to cre­ate a strength­en­ing con­di­tion­er. (Oth­er hydrolyzed pro­tein) Find a com­mer­cial con­di­tion­er with this ingre­di­ent.

15. When you want more hold and def­i­n­i­tion:
Shea but­ter, man­go but­ter, beeswax, flaxseed gel
How to use: Add some to your mois­tur­iz­er or use sep­a­rate­ly.

16. When you want to add fra­grance to your mix­ture:
Laven­der essen­tial oil, jas­mine essen­tial oil, rose essen­tial oilorange essen­tial oil
Why: The­se oils are some of the bet­ter options for specif­i­cal­ly adding fra­grance.  Laven­der, jas­mine, and rose have flo­ral scents while orange has a cit­rusy scent.
How to use: Add some to your mois­tur­iz­er or spritz.

17. When you want a lighter, less oil-based whipped but­ter (e.g., warm weath­er):
Aloe vera gel, jojoba oil
Why: mois­tur­iz­ing, but light
How to use: Mix a 1:1 shea but­ter and aloe vera gel mix­ture (or a vari­a­tion of this recipe).

18. When you want a heav­ier, more oil-based whipped but­ter (e.g., cold weath­er):
Olive oil, coconut oil, grape­seed oil, avo­cado oil, cas­tor oil
Why: mois­tur­iz­ing and seal­ing
How to use: Mix a 1:1 or 2:1 shea but­ter and oil(s) mix­ture.

Ladies, what nat­u­ral ingre­di­ents do you look for in hair care prod­ucts?


Empow­er­ing wom­en of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin.

Leave a Reply

56 Comments on "25 Popular Oils, Butters and Natural Ingredients and How To Use Them on Natural Hair"

Notify of

loved this arti­cle!


I’m look­ing for oils that will real­ly mois­turise my hair because what­ev­er I use, my hair drinks it all up. And an hour lat­er it is dry again plus liv­ing in Canada makes it even hard­er to keep my hair hydrat­ed. I’m also look­ing for oil that will pre­vent my hair from break­ing, just to strength­en my hair. And this arti­cle real­ly helped me under­stand all the ben­e­fits each oils have to offer. Thanks ????????


I know Canada weath­er oh too well. You must lay off the humec­tant s when its cold. Like glyc­er­in rich prod­ucts and lim­it your hon­ey and aloe uses. Remem­ber lim­it, not cease unless nec­es­sary. Try invest­ing in a hair steam­er and I am almost pos­i­tive you will see a dif­fer­ence


Remem­ber that oils will not “mois­tur­ize” your hair, but rather seal in the mois­ture. Get a real­ly good leave-in and seal in with a rich oil and/or but­ter. Oth­er­wise, just apply­ing oil with no mois­tur­iz­er will do more harm than good, because you’ll actu­al­ly be block­ing the mois­ture out…

Ms Marcy
Thank you for this infor­ma­tive ingre­di­ents chart. I am a 50 year old, 4C, thick and dense haired wom­an. I have tried to go nat­u­ral, at least, 5 times in my life. I nev­er felt com­fort­ed not accept­ing or under­stand­ing a part of me. This last jour­ney, thanks to you beau­ti­ful young peo­ple has been the most suc­cess­ful. Although I had a set back last year when I was iron and vit­a­m­in D def., my hair has grown back thick and healthy. You girls made a scary time in my life doable with all of your hair advice and You… Read more »

Great Arti­cle!


I’m curi­ous. Why would adding water to a whipped but­ter cause bacteria/fungal growth? Most prod­ucts w/ shea but­ter has water as the first ingre­di­ent.


I dis­tilled water isn’t used.

It’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly the water that pro­motes bacterial/fungal growth. Most prod­ucts on the mar­ket that have an oil and water mix­ture have preser­v­a­tives in them to keep them shelf sta­ble and to pre­vent the pro­duct from spoil­ing. If you make your own but­ters and creams (like I do), you have to always include a vari­a­tions of a preser­v­a­tive (Potas­si­um sor­bate, vit­a­m­in E). Just think of it this way, when you cre­ate an oil mix­ture and then add dis­tilled might be okay for a few days, but then you start dip­ping your hand in the mixture…thus intro­duc­ing germs that can… Read more »

Very infor­ma­tive. I would also add Mafu­ra But­ter to the list. It is excel­lent for soft­en­ing and mois­tur­iz­ing


Great arti­cle!

Mind of B

#8 is great for me, espe­cial­ly since I have a scalp that is severe­ly sen­si­tive to oil. I pre­poo with honey/floral water solu­tions, along with apple cider vine­gar to increase the antibac­te­ri­al and anti­fun­gal prop­er­ties. Doing so’s been a big help this win­ter. Oh, the dry skin human­i­ty…


Repost. Repost. Repost. Repost. This arti­cle is straight to the point, infor­ma­tive and what every nat­u­ral wants to know. Good!


I love this arti­cle, I’m actu­al­ly fol­low­ing this arti­cle as my guide to have a healthy head of hair, I’m so excited,I’m also using a stim­u­lant. Wish me luck


Which stim­u­lant are you using. I apol­o­gize in advance if I read your mes­sage incor­rect­ly.


I was with you all the way to num­ber 15. Beeswax is not good for hair it clogs the fol­li­cle, which stunts hair growth and caus­es break­age. But every thing else was okay…


[…] year, I post­ed an arti­cle on “25 Pop­u­lar Oils, But­ters and Nat­u­ral Ingre­di­ents and How To Use Them on Nat­u­ral Hair.”  The list con­tained a num­ber of well-known oils — such as olive, coconut, and […]


[…] year, I post­ed an arti­cle on “25 Pop­u­lar Oils, But­ters and Nat­u­ral Ingre­di­ents and How To Use Them on Nat­u­ral Hair.” The list con­tained a num­ber of well-known oils — such as olive, coconut, and avo­cado — […]


[…] year, I post­ed an arti­cle on “25 Pop­u­lar Oils, But­ters and Nat­u­ral Ingre­di­ents and How To Use Them on Nat­u­ral Hair.”  The list con­tained a num­ber of well-known oils — such as olive, coconut, and avo­cado — […]


Hon­est­ly I use this as my hair BIble/Dictionary:

Their con­di­tion­er isn’t half bad either.


[…] • That being said, dif­fer­ent oils have dif­fer­ent ben­e­fits. I recent­ly came across this nifty lit­tle guide on Black­Girl­Long­Hair. […]


Which do you guys prefer for mois­tur­iz­ing and seal­ing shea but­ter or argan oil??


[…] than coconut oil. When it’s hot and humid, I’m almost exclu­sive­ly a coconut oil girl.This arti­cle lays out even more uses for but­ters and […]


[…] in com­mer­cial hair prod­ucts. If you want a list of DIY, nat­u­ral ingre­di­ents, I would rec­om­mend this arti­cle on Black Girl Long […]


Very nice arti­cle. I cer­tain­ly appre­ci­ate this web­site. Stick with it!