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Tutorial: How to Oil Cleanse for Stronger, Longer Natural Hair

• Feb 20, 2015


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Shutterstock Images

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?

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

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


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

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… Read more »

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.


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?


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.


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.


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

Reece Wynter

Aka oil rinsing


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.


Does it combat build up?


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.


[…] Cleansing: You may have heard about the oil cleansing method for the face, but have you heard of using oil to cleanse hair? Recently, my mom told me how my grandmother used warm mineral oil to cleanse her waist-length hair […]

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