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

• Nov 30, 2013


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?

About Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more!

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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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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.


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

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… 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.

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… Read more »
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.


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


Very informative,
Thank you


What hair type does the girl in the picture have?


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.


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.

Just Joy

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

Soothing heaven! ?

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 »

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.


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


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).

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.

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.


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.


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 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?


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


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



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.


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!

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