So Should You Oil Your Scalp Or Not?
We had this following question from a reader recently:
Firstly I would just like to thank you so much for providing this very sensible, no nonsense and completely free website. I am looking forward to telling & posting my story on your website. I wanted to ask you two questions, first question: Do I oil my scalp or not? And… If not why not, only I hear so many conflicting stories so I am confused. I currently oil my scalp with Jamacian black castor oil or pure coconut oil 3-4 times a week. I heard on YouTube that we need this oil on our scalp because unlike white people we do not make enough natural oils to adequately moisture our coiled hair pattern. Question 2: I clarify my hair with a brand named shampoo (first wash only which is designed for daily use) once a week is this ok? I always follow with a DPC & steam. By the way I do wash my hair and DPC twice a week but I only ever clarify once per week. Thanks in advance.
A Polarizing Subject
The subject of oiling scalps is polarizing for black women. When we were younger, getting your hair and scalp greased after a wash was a given for us black kids sitting between mum’s knees. Yet we never really questioned the necessity of this practice. Today, I will attempt to clarify this issue for you.
This reader is right in saying that our scalps do not produce enough oil but many ladies forget the purpose of the natural oil we product, sebum. When a straight haired person produces sebum, it will slide down the strands to moisturize the hair during styling or brushing. So looking at things that way, it would seem that we are kind of missing the point when we plaster lots of oil or grease directly to our scalps rather than on our strands where it is needed.
From a personal point of view, before I began healthy hair care practices, my scalp used to be really dry; even straight after washing I would see flakes and I assumed that I had dandruff and that I needed oil. However after a few weeks of twice-weekly washings, my scalp started to produce its own oils and I found that if I added more oil, I would itch uncontrollably because of clogged pores!
This has not only been my experience but also that of my mother and sisters when they all started their healthy hair journeys. Now like clockwork, every 3-4 days my scalp will start to itch from my own oils clogging my pores so I know it’s time for a wash or a clean again.
Yet not everybody is the same, some people will still feel that their scalps require at least some oil to remain healthy. Think about it this way, just the same way that some people have greasy skin that would hate additional oils but others have dry skin that loves it, our scalps are exactly the same.
What About Dandruff?
Then there is also the question of dandruff. Dandruff is an overgrowth of harmless yeast in the scalp that causes the accumulation of the dead skin flakes that you see. Although many people do not know it, oil can actually exacerbate the dandruff problem by feeding this yeast. In this situation, oiling your scalp multiple times a week without shampooing will make your dandruff much worse.
Oil Based Hair Growth Aids
This brings us to the question of oil-based hair growth aids. We all know the power of castor oil and essential oils in hair growth. Heck, even we have a fantastic hair growth oil blend that has had great reviews. But still, even among all the positivity, there are some who are not able to replicate the results being achieved by others. I genuinely believe that this comes down to, among other things, how clean the scalp is.
Think about it for a second, regardless of what is being used a hair growth aid, your scalp is unlikely to absorb more than a couple of applications until it is clean again. You wouldn’t put oil on your skin every day without having had a shower first! But when it comes to hair, I understand that it’s not always practical to wash it daily, particularly when you are natural.
Weekly seems to be the most popular option that schedule is ideal but even so, not everyone can manage weekly washes. If this is you, it means that if you want to be successful with oil-based hair growth aids then you will have to think outside the box about scalp cleanliness. Using witch hazel with a cotton ball to keep your scalp clean is a particular favorite method of mine that I can vouch for when I find myself unable (or unwilling) washing my hair at the weekend.
On the question of clarifying, I would usually say that once a week may be too often to clarify your hair but based on the amount of oil being used then you may find it necessary to clarify weekly as long as you pay attention of the moisture balance in your hair too. Usually, a regular shampoo will do the job just fine and the use of a clarifying shampoo is only necessary every 3-6 weeks. You could try a non-sulfate shampoo for your weekly washes followed by an ACV rinse if necessary and you will be surprised at how clean it gets your hair and scalp.
In essence, oiling your scalp should depend on how often you shampoo or clean your scalp. If you are shampooing at least once a week then you can probably get away with oiling daily. However, if you are shampooing less often then save the oil for straight after your wash day or after you have used an alternative way to clean your scalp eg using witch hazel. The oils will penetrate better and you will notice a huge improvement in efficiency of your scalp treatments or hair growth oils.
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