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For many wom­en with nat­u­ral hair the most tedious part of their hair care rou­tine is wash day. Now, while I haven’t yet fig­ured out a way to short­en my 1–1 ½ hour rou­tine (which is much short­er than it used to be) to 20 min­utes, I have learned to make cer­tain steps much eas­ier. Oil cleans­ing, for me, has been a great way to min­i­mize both the time it takes to clean my scalp when wash­ing and the oil need­ed for my dry scalp after wash­ing. Oil cleans­ing can also be a great sub­sti­tute for your full wash day rou­tine when you’re strapped for time or sim­ply want to quick­ly refresh your hair.

So what is oil cleans­ing? Sim­ply put, you coat your hair with an oil of your choice pri­or to wash­ing. You then rin­se the oil out using only water (or a mild cleanser) so that some of the oil remains absorbed by your hair. The type of oil you use and the method you use when apply­ing the oil can lead to vary­ing lev­els of suc­cess.

Method of Oil Cleans­ing

Things You’ll Need

There are a num­ber of meth­ods that you can use to oil cleanse your hair. How­ev­er, my per­son­al favorite is the root to tip and seal method.

1. Light­ly damp­en hair using a spray bot­tle then sec­tion hair into four.

2. Next, use a col­or appli­ca­tor to apply the oil to your scalp, then the length of your hair. Be sure to coat the ends of your hair, which often suf­fer the most dam­age and dry­ness.

3. Once each sec­tion has been oiled, cov­er hair with a dis­pos­able show­er cap for 15 min­utes. (I find that detan­gling with con­di­tion­er after this step is sig­nif­i­cant­ly eas­ier. The oil makes hair much more pli­able and loosens knots.)

Best Oils to Use

You know your hair bet­ter than any­one else so you will best able to deter­mine which oil to use. For my hair, which is usu­al­ly mat­ted and tan­gled after a week or two, I find that coconut oil or amla oil work best. The key to deter­min­ing the oil that works is its abil­i­ty to coat the hair (oils like saf­flow­er oil and jojoba, for exam­ple, tend to be absorbed by my hair) and will add slip. When styling, I don’t typ­i­cal­ly use oils that leave my hair feel­ing greasy, but for oil cleans­ing the­se oils are per­fect. Not only do they aid in detan­gling, but I find that even after I wash my hair with a mild cleanser, my hair remains nour­ished and needs very lit­tle added mois­ture pri­or to styling.

Oil Cleans­ing and Hair Growth

Hair growth is deter­mined by how quick­ly hair grows from your scalp. Hair length is deter­mined by your abil­i­ty to pre­serve the 3–4 inch­es at the ends of your hair. Adding oils to your hair dur­ing cleans­ing, is one way to insure that your ends are healthy and that your need to trim and/or unin­ten­tion­al break­age becomes less of an obsta­cle as you pur­sue your hair growth jour­ney.


Do you use oil cleans­ing in your reg­i­men? What oil(s) do you use? What impact has it had on your hair?


Island girl raised in the most roy­al of NYC’s bor­oughs. Proud nerd, social sci­en­tist, edu­ca­tor and recov­er­ing awk­ward black girl. When not lis­ten­ing to NPR, try­ing to grow spir­i­tu­al­ly, or detan­gling my fro, I’m search­ing for the best shrimp and grits in the Queen City.

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14 Comments on "Tutorial: How to Oil Cleanse for Stronger, Longer Natural Hair"

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Can some­one help me? How do I mois­tur­ize in the win­ter? I have very dry 4C hair and I usu­al­ly spritz in the morn­ing or night and some­times I add leave in. But, it’s so cold now, when I spritz and leave for work my head and body freezes and at night it’s the same because I’m not get­ting enough heat in my apt (nyc land­lords suck). How do I keep my hair mois­tur­ized when it’s so cold? Thx


You may want to invest in an humid­i­fier. Also spritz­ing and not seal­ing that mois­ture in with an oil will make your hair feel crispy like. Try using the LOC method. You have the L part down just add a light oil to keep from get­ting greasy and fin­ish with your leave in as the cream.


Does it com­bat build up?


I have been doing the oil cleans­ing but for me I have to sham­poo my hair after doing it because the grease sets in with the dirt on my scalp. I would real­ly like some tips on mak­ing my hair stronger. I leave behind of lot of hair every­time to touch it.

Reece Wynter

Aka oil rins­ing


I just tilt the whole olive oil bot­tle and pour it onto my sec­tions.


Sounds like a hot oil treat­ment that just hap­pens to dou­ble as a pre-poo. Y’all need to stop renam­ing things that don’t need renam­ing. This is ridicu­lous.


Didn’t know this had a name. I do a short­er ver­sion — ful­ly wet my hair (in show­er) add oil mix (usu­al­ly cas­tor, evoo, hon­ey), put on show­er cap do 10min steam and par­tial­ly rin­se out.


I think you missed a few steps. What should I do after step 3? Just rin­se out and style as usu­al? Wash and con­di­tion? Just rin­se and con­di­tion?


Can some­one with a relax­er try this method as well?


Yes it’s called pre-poo on oth­er sites and any­one with any type of hair can do it.


Are we call­ing this oil cleans­ing now? I thought it was a pre­poo? New name, same old thang.

Nadege JUSTE
oil cleans­ing is a bit dif­fer­ent tha a pre­poo or even oil rins­ing. 1-The pre­poo is done before wash­ing to pre­serve the hair from the cleanser 2- The oil cleas­ing acts actu­al­ly as the cleanser, and it’s impor­tant to choose oil that has antibac­te­ri­al prop­er­ties like coconut oil/castor oil. You do not have to use cleanser after that nor a con­di­tion­er. But some wom­en do 3- Oil rins­ing is done after cleas­ing. Some­times between sham­poo and con­di­tion­ner. Some­times you can even skip the con­di­tion­er phase. You can also do it after con­di­tion­ning and the excess of oil it kind act both… Read more »

Lol right! Also known as hot oil treat­ment. Yes dif­fer­ent names for an old school trick.