Should I oil my scalp?
Reader Question: I have regularly applied pomades and hair oils on my scalp since childhood. Now that I have gone back to natural hair, I am told that oiling the scalp is actually unhealthy. This is confusing – how can I prevent scalp dryness?
A: Oiling the scalp is a common hair practice and has some great benefits when done correctly. It is different from greasing the scalp. Greasing the scalp can actually be detrimental to your hair growth and overall scalp health.
It all depends on the type of oil used. Hair grease or pomades like what we grew up using, are usually made from ingredients like petrolatum, mineral oil, and or lanolin.
Those ingredients do not allow water or other moisturisers to penetrate.
They thus create blockage by forming a heavy barrier on your scalp and hair. When you oil your scalp with these hair pomades, the moisture is not absorbed. Instead, it sits on top of the skin, clogging your pores and hair follicles. Grease may also attract dust and dirt.
Hair grease has its benefits but not for the scalp. Before swimming, you can try using hair grease as an external sealant to your or your child’s hair. The seal it forms may reduce chlorine damage, especially when followed with a shampoo and deep conditioning treatment.
Ditch the heavy oils and moisturisers. Use light natural oils that will not weigh your hair down. Examples are coconut oil, olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, moringa oil and jojoba oil. Use a nozzle applicator so you have control over how much you are putting.
For maximum benefit and hair health, apply the oils and then massage your scalp.Oil your hair three times a week and massage it daily. Use the balls of your fingertips to make gentle circular movements. A regular scalp
massage can greatly stimulate your hair growth and overall scalp health by boosting circulation
to the region. A daily two to five-minute massage with dry or lightly-oiled fingers is very beneficial.
Give extra attention to problem areas.
Especially the hairline and the crown, as these often suffer from thinning hair. A healthy scalp should not feel oily to the touch nor should you experience any itching or flaking – rather it should be smooth, soft and clean.
For an extra boost to your massage oils, add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender, rosemary, tea tree or peppermint oil. For scalp issues, neem oil (muarubaini) mixed with a carrier oil has medicinal properties. If your hair has braids or a long-term protective style, oiling your scalp is especially important. Oiling the scalp works well as the second step after you apply your regular moisturising spritz. Note that castor oil is quite heavy so concentrate it mainly on your hairline or dilute it with a few lighter oils before applying on the scalp.