It seems there are an infinite number of nut and seed oils to choose from when it comes to dressing up your salad, and deep-conditioning your hair. But not every oil is right for every hair type. Although I have thick, coarse, curly hair, I find some oils to be too oily, leaving an unpleasant residue that dulls my hair–quite the opposite effect I was trying to achieve. (Disclaimer: I am evaluating oils as stand-alone conditioning treatments. When these oils are ingredients within a formulated conditioner, they will have different effects.)
The best way to see if an oil works for you is to try it yourself, of course. But if you try the wrong oil, it can leave your hair feeling greasy or wiry for days on end. So in the interest of making your deep conditioning oil treatment more pleasant, I have compiled a list of oils that are beneficial for your hair, how they worked in my hair, and how they might work in yours:
Olive Oil: Good, ole olive oil. Rich in vitamin E, olive oil is a beauty and nutrition staple of the beautiful Mediterranean. I have never had luck with this stuff. Olive oil in its purest form left my hair greasy and dull. If you use a sulfate-free shampoo, you might have to switch to a sulfate shampoo in order to remove all the residue. Verdict: For those with coarse to very coarse and thick to very thick hair, sparingly.
Sesame Seed Oil: Similar to an olive oil in consistency and effect. Has a slightly more pleasant smell than olive oil, but still not appealing like other oils. Again, use a sulfate shampoo to remove all residue for a shiny lustre. Verdict: For those with coarse to very coarse and thick to very thick hair, sparingly.
Sweet Almond Oil: Can I just say… I love this stuff. For my 2c/3a hair, it’s the perfect consistency. I can put this stuff in my hair on days it’s just slightly too dry, et voilà! It will not be greasy or leave an unpleasant residue or build-up in my hair (and it smells sweet and delicious). It seems to simply penetrate the hair shaft and give my hair a nice shine. When I first started going natural with my beauty products, I only used almond oil to style my hair, and it did an impressive job. I can mix it with other styling products, or do a deep conditioning treatment before my shower. Verdict: For those with fine to medium coarseness and thickness, as much as necessary.
Jojoba Oil: This oil is very much like sweet almond oil in consistency, maybe just a hair lighter (see what I did there?). It has almost no smell at all and tends to sink in or penetrate the hair shaft (and the skin) quite easily. Verdict: For those with very fine to medium coarseness and thickness, as much as necessary.
Avocado Oil: Avocado oil is rich, much like olive and sesame seed oil. It contains vitamins A, B, C and E, and a host of strength-building amino acids. It does have a kitchen-worthy smell, but if you’re looking for a deep conditioning treatment with an oil that has strong protein qualities, this might be the oil for you. For me it was too thick as a stand-alone treatment, but it has been very beneficial for my hair in conditioning products I use in my shower. Verdict: For those with coarse to very coarse and thick to very thick hair.
Coconut Oil: I absolutely love the scent of coconut oil. I rub it into my dry elbows and knees, I put it in my cereal, I make raw desserts with it, I even eat it by the teaspoon! But, it just doesn’t work for my hair. I read that it can be rubbed into your scalp as a natural dandruff treatment, and I tried this. But all it did was make my scalp greasy, which made me have to use a sulfate shampoo to remove the excessive oil, which defeated the purpose of using oil in the first place. Perhaps if you use it sparingly on your ends when you really need a hydration fix, coconut oil can be your friend. Since coconut oil is hard at room temperature, you can bring a small plastic cup of it into the shower, and run the bottom of the cup under hot water to melt the oil. Alternatively, rub the oil through your warm hands to melt before applying to your hair. Verdict: Sparingly at ends, or if you have very coarse, very dry, and very thick hair.