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.

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

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


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


[…] 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 […]


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


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


Hon­est­ly I use this as my hair BIble/Dictionary:

Their con­di­tion­er isn’t half bad either.


[…] 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 — […]


[…] 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 […]


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…


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.


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

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…


Great arti­cle!


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


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.

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 »

I dis­tilled water isn’t used.


Great Arti­cle!

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 »

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 ????????


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…


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


loved this arti­cle!


I’m very anti-store prod­ucts. They have too many tox­ins.

I keeps it real, no filler ;) My sta­ple ingre­di­ents…

- BAKING SODA: to wash hair
— APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: To con­di­tion; add plain yogurt for deep con­di­tion
— OLIVE OIL: Use after wash
— JOJOBA OIL: to spruce up shine mid-week
— CASTOR OIL: to com­bat dry scalp (rare)

I mix: Shea But­ter Pomade (twist outs) and Flaxseed Gel (edges) via Nap­tural85 recipe

This nat­ur­al hair thing is quite sim­ple if you let your hair do what it do and give it what it needs: Mois­ture, Groom­ing, and Respect.


Ooooooh, I’m lov­ing this list! Thanks for shar­ing.



A great list. Going to keep copy and save it for future ref­er­ence.


This arti­cle is so awe­some. I’m not much for mak­ing my own stuff but this has helped me to under­stand why I like cer­tain prod­ucts. I now know how to be more judi­cious in prod­ucts I buy. So infor­ma­tive. Thanks for all your hard work. The girl’s hair in this post is AMAZING! Who is she?


Just gave myself a fab­u­lous greek yogurt/black molasses/banana pro­tein dc yes­ter­day and my hair came out sooooooo smooooooooooootheeeee and stroooooooooonggggg! OMG I thought yogurt was only effec­tive in soft­en­ing up my hen­na, but noooooo. And I have plen­ty left over. A store would have charged a for­tune for this sim­ple recipe.


This is a great ref­er­ence guide! 

I am feel­ing you on point 8, the note about beware of aloe vera/water/rosewater in prod­ucts. I learned this the hard way (found mold in it after a few weeks). Now I only put my aloe vera gel/juice in prod­ucts that have a fast rota­tion. And for spray, I put it in a tiny, trav­el size spray bot­tle, know­ing I’ll go through it quick­ly from dai­ly use, refill after about a week, rins­ing between refills, while I keep the main jug of aloe vera juice/gel refrig­er­at­ed at all times.

I love these types of arti­cles because I love to make my own hair con­di­tion­ers and this info will make things eas­i­er for me. For some rea­son my hair does not like store bought con­di­tion­ers. My favorite con­di­tion­er is a home­made banana con­di­tion­er which recipe I got from anoth­er BGLH arti­cle. I also use a lot of oils but I think I am aller­gic to jojo­ba oil so I had to stop using it. Right now I love Coconut, Olive and Canola oils. I also use lots of hon­ey, aloe vera (I live in the Caribbean and in my back­yard… Read more »

Can you write/link the banana recipe? Also, do you have to make it every time or can it last in the fridge?


Here is the link. It works won­ders for my 4A/B fine hair. The only thing I changed was that I sub­sti­tut­ed the glyc­erin (not avail­able where I live) for Aloe vera. A very impor­tant advice is to use a blender if you use a banana instead of the baby food because if not you will have banana bits on your hair for ever.

Bye to Dry naptural

Great info, and as said, what works for one may not work for some­one else. Hair is as unique as per­son­al­i­ty. I love shea but­ter and oil mix­tures even in sum­mer, because my hair is so thick and dry.
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nappy headed black girl

Great post. Ingre­di­ents I look for are water first and I’m becom­ing a fan of aloe vera. I avoid beeswax, gel, and shea but­ter (too heavy for my lik­ing).


Thank you so much for shar­ing what all these oils are good for. I also make my own prod­ucts and am always look­ing for new infor­ma­tion and tips on what works well. I am in love with cas­tor oil when I need some­thing that is going to lock in the mois­ture for a long time and jojo­ba oil when I need some­thing light. 

Check out my blog

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Look, I’m keep­ing it sim­ple with some good old Blue Mag­ic. I tried using dif­fer­ent oils etc but now I real­ize I have to keep it sim­ple. If it’s good enough for lit­tle girls (and you see how long and healthy their hair tends to be) then its good enough for me. Hon­est­ly, I retain more mois­ture with Blue Mag­ic (blue grease, not the green).


I got thumbed down for that? lmao its my hair. If I want to use hair grease thats my busi­ness. Saves mon­ey too.


I think you got thumbs down main­ly for the fact that you say that using hair grease in a child’s hair helps it grow longer. When in actu­al­i­ty it’s the fact children’s hair tend to be longer than an adult woman main­ly because a lot of women don’t do much to their children’s hair. Grow­ing up it wasn’t uncom­mon for my moth­er to braid my hair or put it in plaits to last the school week. Keep­ing my hair in pro­tec­tive styles is what helped my hair to grow. The hair grease just gave me a head full of dan­druff


I think its a com­bi­na­tion of the hair grease and pro­tec­tive styling I use it when I twist my hair and leave it in for 2 weeks. Per­son­al­ly, I’ve used prob­a­bly half the oils list­ed up there. Coconut oil, jojo­ba oil, sweet almond oil, seal with shea etc. I end­ed up broke with dry hair. So, I took it back and got even more sim­ple with it.

You prob­a­bly got dan­druff because your scalp was greased with it. I only grease my hair. Not my scalp and I nev­er had a dan­druff prob­lem.

I am going to book­mark this arti­cle because it is just…dare I say it: per­fect. Most of this infor­ma­tion is already out there for peo­ple to absorb, but this is an excel­lent com­pi­la­tion of every­thing float­ing around the world wide web. A great ref­er­ence guide, if you will. I didn’t know shea but­ter could be used for that many things, which is prob­a­bly why I nev­er real­ly used it in my hair. I ruled it as being too heavy for use when there are so many options for incor­po­rat­ing it in my mix­es. I am also more tempt­ed to try… Read more »
Just Joy

Anoth­er sug­ges­tion for #5: “When your scalp is itchy”
Pep­per­mint essen­tial oil, and Vit­a­min-E oil.

Sooth­ing heav­en! ?


Just be VERY care­ful with Jas­mine and Ylang Ylang– more care­ful than you might be with oth­er essen­tial oils. I don’t know if it was just the brand I use or what, but those two scents are STRONG. I put TWO drops in about six ounces of water and oils to scent my spritz (two drops!) and I was clear­ing rooms it smelled so strong. So use very, very lit­tle of those two and be care­ful with it. 

Some of the EOs you can get away with being heavy-hand­ed.… Not those two in my expe­ri­ence.


Thank You for this. I may print this off and post it on the fridge for future ref­er­ence. Ever since I became nat­ur­al many years ago now I have nev­er kicked my love of play­ing mix­tress in the kitchen. A lot of these ingre­di­ents can improve the skin as well. I tried out a tea tree and acv ton­er recipe that was pret­ty good. Except glyc­erin which I didn’t like at first, I like all the ingre­di­ents men­tioned above. I think I will retry the glyc­erin now that I have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of how it works.


What hair type does the girl in the pic­ture have?


Very infor­ma­tive,
Thank you


Oth­er great fra­grance essen­tial oils: lemon­grass, berg­amot, and ylang ylang.

JJ Williams

I find these arti­cles help­ful in that they give me a start­ing point. I know what I’ve tried and hate I know what I like these arti­cles just give me oth­er ideas.


I enjoy read­ing your arti­cles BUT some­times it can be over­whelm­ing and more of a “preach­er like” arti­cle. Your not a true nat­ur­al if you don’t have ABC. If you want your twist out to last longer do steps 123. It’s not real­is­tic. Nat­u­rals have at least three tex­tures. I find it hard to enjoy the jour­ney when it’s oth­er nat­u­rals say don’t be a prod­uct junkie BUT you need this. I try not to look to deep in these arti­cles but, it’s start­ing to sound like a revolv­ing door.

I think Curly­Blue pre­sent­ed her cri­tique respect­ful­ly enough not to deserve all the thumbs down.  True, many stress that all the advice in the world doesn’t mean did­dle if your hair is say­ing some­thing else, how­ev­er the tone of some arti­cles around var­i­ous hair boards at times becomes guru-like. It’s annoy­ing. But I don’t think the issue is hubris or a ‘cult men­tal­i­ty’, but rather a need for more edit­ing, a dis­tance by the writer from their piece.  I like the sug­ges­tions in the arti­cle. Some may also want to try lau­ric acid (coconut and palm ker­nel oil) as a strength­en­er.… Read more »

I agree. Thats why I keep it sim­ple with Blue Mag­ic hair grease. No shame. It keeps my hair mois­tur­ized longer than shea but­ter and coconut oil.


Like every­one else is saying…you have to use what­ev­er works best for your hair. I mean Phoxxie says that she only uses blue mag­ic to “mois­tur­ize” her hair. But since petro­le­um jel­ly (which is all blue mag­ic is) acts more like a sealant, prod­ucts like Blue Mag­ic actu­al­ly seals out all oth­er forms of mois­ture when­ev­er I apply it to my hair which always leads to exces­sive dry­ness and break­age. Not too men­tion the fact that it makes my scalp itch like crazy.


Nope. Didn’t say that. I said it keeps my hair mois­tur­ized. As in after I wash it, con­di­tion, then slap the hair grease on. It keeps my hair mois­tur­ized for the whole week until I wash again. Also, I would­nt say that it keeps out mois­ture all togeth­er. Cer­tain­ly in the first 2 days. Some­times but not too often, on day 3 or 4 I spritz with water, rub olive oil in, then my curl n style milk then blue mag­ic. It seals every­thing in until Im ready to wash again.

The Natural Haven
Hon­est­ly, I feel like com­ments like yours Curly Blue are based on per­cep­tion and not real­i­ty. This arti­cle start­ed off by men­tion­ing two key prin­ci­ples: 1. Tri­al and error 2. I quote here ‘Do keep in mind that what works for most indi­vid­u­als may (or may not) work for you’ Every arti­cle in this blog with hair advice in gen­er­al will make a sim­i­lar pro­vi­sion to say that what is writ­ten is gen­er­al­ly true but if you expe­ri­ence oth­er­wise, do trust your hair.  I per­son­al­ly liked this arti­cle a lot because it gives an expla­na­tion as to why an ingre­di­ent may work. No… Read more »

They are just sug­ges­tions or recommendations.…you are not required to do anything…take it or leave it. It’s all good. :)