Game Changing Essential Oils For Curly Hair

May 29, 2023


Verna Meachum

Find out what the best essential oils for curly hair are.

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Curly hair is beautiful on anyone, but it can be a handful to manage. So many products are available on the market, but finding natural, quality ones can be challenging. Did you know natural products like essential oils can be used to nurse your hair back to health?  

Essential oils like rosemary, chamomile, sandalwood, geranium, lavender, ylang-ylang, tea tree, and cedarwood work best for the health of curly hair. The oils help to tame frizz, reduce breakage and dryness, and promote growth. Using it with shampoo, conditioner, or carrier oil is best.

Essential oils are game-changers for curly hair. Plus, they are fantastic if you prefer natural products. Read on to find out what essential oils do for your hair and which are best. 

Essential Oils: The Connection To Cosmetics 

Historically, the word ‘Essential” stood for “Essence” due to the robust aromatic aroma of these organic liquids. It also means that the oil contains the essence of a plant, its fragrance. 

Essential oils have a distinct essence or fragrance that has been recognized for its aromatic qualities and therapeutic benefits. People use them as natural home scents, add them to cleaning products, use them to heal headaches and sinuses, and even promote better sleep. 

Over time, essential oils have become more popular and frequently sought as cosmetic ingredients for skin and hair care products. They are helpful for acne, scars, and hydration and deliver a wide range of cosmetic benefits to the hair fiber and scalp surface.

Today, scientific advancements and continuous research in cosmetic actives have produced a long list of important oils with numerous applications for hair and scalp care formulation. 

Why You Should Choose Essential Oils For Curly Hair 

Curly hair types require special attention because of their fine protein fibers and unique structural features that distinguish them from other types. Their diameter varies significantly along the shaft, and the hair is thin at the curvature site.  

This diameter variation is due to variation in cortex cells inside the hair shaft. Because of its distinct features, curly hair is more fragile than other hair types and needs customized hair care formulations. 

Curly hair lacks moisture, according to scientific reports making it highly vulnerable to fluctuations in external temperature and humidity levels. They are high in porosity and thus absorb externally applied actives very quickly. 

This makes essential oils a good choice for curly hair types. They provide the required nourishment without suffocating hair the fibers. Additionally, due to their lighter texture and volatile nature, they do not make the hair greasy or oily like regular hair oils.

It should be noted that careful selection is required to examine the chemical composition of oil, its texture, and its physiological impact. As a consumer, you should also examine the nature of essential oil concerning external weather conditions. 

Certain essential oils have a specific physiological effect. For example, when applied, black pepper, cardamom, clove bud, ginger, and rosemary demonstrate a warming sensation. In contrast, eucalyptus, chamomile, peppermint, and lavender are cooling during and after the application. 

Essential oils are known for strong anti-inflammatory benefits and are best for the compromised sensitive scalp for wound healing and cellular regeneration. Ginger and lavender are the top listed for this purpose, and Horsetail stimulates blood circulation and promotes hair growth. 

Choosing The Right Essential Oil For Your Curls 

You now know that essential oils can work wonders for curly hair, but how do you pick one for your hair type? 

  • Always be objective when choosing an essential oil for your hair.
  • Examine your hair fibers, their dryness, porosity, and frizz. 
  • Examine your scalp surface for dandruff, itchy patches, and red spots. 
  • Determine your curl needs and scalp requirements. (Do they have emollience or moisture?) 
  • Carry out a patch test to establish the compatibility of essential oil and skin response. 

The Best Essential Oils For Curly Hair With Benefits 

Maintaining healthy curls by keeping them hydrated without letting your hair turn greasy can be daunting. Many regular curly hair products either don’t work well enough, contain silicones that weigh your hair down, or are too oily and make your scalp greasy. 

It requires some juggling to balance taming frizz and keep the volume of bouncy curls. And while there are many things you shouldn’t do to your curls, you can use essential oils to care for your hair to achieve a natural balance of hydration and lusciousness. 

We have a list of the best essential oil picks for curly hair. Simply put a few drops into your shampoo, conditioner, or carrier oil, and massage it into your scalp. 

Game-changing essential oils for curly hair: 

Essential oils for curly hair - rosemary


This fragrant herb has long been used in beauty products because it stimulates hair growth. Rosemary essential oil can help promote a healthy scalp and encourage new hair growth. Rosemary is even the latest TikTok sensation, with people raving about its benefits for hair health. 

Essential oils for curly hair - chamomile


This oil is known for its ability to soothe and calm the scalp. It helps to add shine and definition to curls. Chamomile essential oil also strengthens your hair and prevents split ends, adding more bounce to your locks. 

Essential oils for curly hair - sandalwood


This oil is perfect for dry, frizzy hair. It helps to add moisture and definition to curls. It also helps reduce dandruff, a common occurrence with curly hair due to product build-up or excessive dryness. Sandalwood is great for reducing split ends, another problem many with curly hair have. 

Essential oils for curly hair - geranium


This oil is perfect for adding shine and definition to curls. It can help to reduce frizz, add volume, and strengthen hair. Geranium also balances the scalp’s pH level and sebum production. It is also a fantastic scalp cleanser, so adding a few drops to your shampoo works wonders. 

Essential oils for curly hair - lavender


This sweet-smelling oil is known for its calming and healing properties, but it also does wonders for your hair. Lavender oil is incredibly nourishing and helps to hydrate dry strands, reduce frizz, and add shine. It also smells terrific and can amp up your shampoo or conditioner.  

Essential oils for curly hair- ylang ylang

Ylang Ylang

This oil is perfect for adding moisture and shine to curls. Ylang-ylang motivates healthy and thick hair growth and regulates sebum production. It can also help reduce frizz and add definition. It is best added to a carrier oil and applied on the scalp and strands down to the hair ends. 

Essential oils for curly hair - tea tree

Tea Tree

This oil is great for all hair types but is especially beneficial for curly hair. It helps hydrate and nourish the scalp while reducing dandruff, removing lice, and promoting healthy and thick hair growth. Adding a few drops to your shampoo, conditioner, or carrier oil is helpful. 

Essential oils for curly hair - cedarwood


This oil is perfect for adding shine and definition to curls. It helps to reduce frizz and add volume. Cedarwood oil increases circulation to the scalp, strengthening the hair follicles to promote healthier hair. It works great by adding to a carrier oil and leaving it in your hair for a few hours. 

How To Use Essential Oils

Essential oils should not be used in its pure form (as it is). It is highly concentrated and can irritate your scalp if applied directly.

It is best to dilute them in a suitable material like water-insoluble oils or lipids. In the cosmetic industry, they are called carrier oils. The choice of carrier oil depends upon the nature of the essential oil, the targeted application, and your desired results. 

For example, sandalwood oil can be diluted with sweet almond oil. A carrier oil should be a light texture liquid with good mixing ability for essential oil and not give any sedimentation.  

Sometimes, you may need several trials before choosing a carrier oil to suit a particular essential oil. Watch the YouTube below to see how you can dilute essential oils to get the most benefit. 

Video credit: Plant Therapy

Top-rated carrier oils for curly hair are: 

Sweet Almond Oil 

Apricot Kernel Oil 

Macadamia Nut Oil 

Grape Seed Oil (check out my blog for information about Grape Seed Oil). 

Argan Oil 

You can also use essential oil for your hair by adding a few drops to your shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, or serum. 

The Function Of Essential Oil 

Understanding the chemistry, mechanism of action, and benefits essential oils can deliver is necessary. It is also vital to determine which essential oil is appropriate for your hair – especially curly- to use it correctly for maximum benefit. 

What Are Essential Oils? 

Essential oil is a water-insoluble aromatic liquid obtained from plants. Some examples are lavender, mint, rosemary, sandalwood, and rose. They are volatile liquids that offer characteristic aroma fragrance. The chemical composition varies for different plants and depends on the plant’s body part. 

They are extracted via steam distillation under vacuum conditions to preserve volatile compounds and prevent their evaporation during the extraction process. This creates a highly concentrated oil with strong properties. 

How Essential Oils Differ From Other Plant Oils 

Plant-sourced oils (coconut, argan, etc.) and essential oils are different materials with different physical and chemical properties and compositions. Essential oils are volatile and highly aromatic, while plant oils are esters of long-chain fatty acids.  

Essential oils are light in texture and evaporate quickly, leaving almost no residue on the skin or hair surface. Plant oils are more viscous and leave a fine lubricating coating on the hair or skin surface because plant oils do not evaporate. 

The aroma of essential oils is significantly distinct. It is a primary component of aromatherapy and helps with various benefits. The oils can be a natural fragrance for personal and home care formulations. 

Conversely, very few plant oils have an aroma, e.g., natural coconut and argan oils have characteristic scents, but they are not as potent, long-lasting, and concentrated as essential oils. 

Essential oils are also multifunctional materials, and studies have demonstrated their self-preserving properties boosting the preservation of the formulation itself. This also highlights their anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. 2


Essential oils are becoming increasingly popular for naturally improving hair health while being a game changer for curly types. The best essential oil will vary depending on your hair type and needs. But the essential oils listed above are a great place to start experimenting! 


1.  Abelan, U. S.; de Oliveira, A. C.; Cacoci, É. S. P.; Martins, T. E. A.; Giacon, V. M.; Velasco, M. V. R.; Lima, C. R. R. d. C., Potential use of essential oils in cosmetic and dermatological hair products: A review. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 2022, 21 (4), 1407-1418.
2.  Kunicka-Styczyńska, A.; Sikora, M.; Kalemba, D., Lavender, tea tree and lemon oils as antimicrobials in washing liquids and soft body balms. Inter. J. of Cosmet. Sci 2011, 33 (1), 53-61.
3.  Varvaresou, A.; Papageorgiou, S.; Tsirivas, E.; Protopapa, E.; Kintziou, H.; Kefala, V.; Demetzos, C., Self-preserving cosmetics. Inter. J. of Cosmet. Sci 2009, 31 (3), 163-175.


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