How to Use Oil for Curly Hair: A Comprehensive Guide

July 27, 2023


Verna Meachum

Image of my curls with three oils for curly hair - Righteous Roots Oils, Briogeo Oil, and Feakkai oil.

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Last Updated on September 30, 2023 by Verna Meachum

Using oil on curly hair has been turned into a trend, but there is a long history of oil used for hair care. While some believe oils are too heavy for curly hair, science explains how oil can retain moisture and help with hair health. So, how do you use it for curly hair?  

Oil for curly hair can serve several benefits, like moisturizing, detangling, protection, and styling. The scientific and biological technicalities of hair mean that oil can help to supplement sebum as curly hair struggles to allow its natural oils to pass down and feed the hair strands.  

I’ve sought the insights of my friend, a hair scientist and cosmetic formulator with a PhD in chemistry, to decode all the information on hair oils and butter and their characteristic properties, and to help you understand why oil is helpful for curly hair and offer guidance on the best ways to use it. After all, he’s the expert in this field!

Oils and Butter in Haircare Products  

To understand what oils and butter mean in hair care products, taking a moment to understand the science behind them helps figure out why they benefit curly hair.  

Oils and butter are esters of long-chain fatty acids known as triglycerides. In this instance, triglyceride stands as “tri means three,” while glycerides represent “glycerin.”  

That means that oils or butter are esters of long-chain fatty acids with glycerin. Three molecular chains of fatty acids are bonded to one glycerin molecule, as depicted in the structure below.  

Oil for curly hair that shows a typical structure of saturated fatty acid triglyceride. Three carbon chains bonded to one glycerin unit.
Figure 1: A typical structure of saturated fatty acid triglyceride.
Three carbon chains bonded to one glycerin unit.

Oil and butter are chemically the same materials but have different physical states at room temperature. Oil is a liquid, and butter is solid.

Just like olive oil is liquid, and cocoa butter is solid. There is a difference in their chemical composition which contain varying amounts of different fatty acids.  

Oils contain primarily unsaturated fatty acids, while butter is generally saturated. The presence of one or two unsaturated fatty acids double bond lowers the melting point of oils and keeps them in the liquid state.  

Double bond refers to carbon-to-carbon bonding ( – C = C – ). This is where two carbon atoms are tightly held. The double bond molecules demonstrate a lower melting point like it is with olive or sunflower oil.  

On the other hand, butter has more saturated carbon bonds that facilitate their crystallization and boost their physical texture and melting point.

This difference dramatically influences their properties and performance in hair care formulations. We discuss this in more detail throughout the article.  

For a deeper dive into the chemistry of oils and their benefits, I invite you to explore my other blog post, “Oils for Hair: The Chemistry and Choices for All Hair Types.”

Are Curly Hair Oils and Butter New to Haircare?  

Close up of curly haired girl applying oil to curly hair.

Oils and butter are not new to hair care. The practice of using oils for hair for softening, detangling, and styling treatments, and promoting hair growth is confirmed by historical records. Using oils for scalp massages was also popular in Ancient Egyptian culture.  

From the first-ever documentation of methods for conditioning hair, oils and natural butter were pivotal ingredients. Remember when enslaved Africans used bacon grease, lard, butter, and even kerosene on their hair to make it softer and more manageable? It’s always been there. 

Hair oiling is an age-old ritual, passed down from early generations and still sued today. For centuries, Asians have viewed oil and butter as essential components in their hair care practices. I vividly recall my mother extracting coconut oil from fresh coconuts every week to nourish and protect my and my sister’s hair against damage and hair loss.

South Asia boasts renowned Ayurvedic medicine, which contains some of the world’s most potent beauty remedies crafted from natural ingredients. Undoubtedly, oils and butter have an extensive history in hair care. This is merely a glimpse into their remarkable past!  

The Relation of Oils to Hair Care Technology Today  

Current hair care technology takes advantage of the benefits offered by natural oils, either alone or in an emulsion with reduced particle size for oil droplets.  

Plant-sourced oils or fats are excellent emollients for skin or softening the hair. If you look at the ingredients list of any hair care product, you will likely find several emollient oils or butter included in the formulation.  

Almost every product on the market will have one or two natural oils or butter. This is a testament to how effective they can be!  

Olive, Coconut, and Shea butter have been used for ages for skin and hair care. Although some people disagree, many actually rave about oil for hair.

Either way, oil, and butter are beneficial emollients for curly hair, as they provide nutrient-rich nourishment to follicles and the scalp.  

You must know which oil/butter your hair needs and how to apply it for the best results.  

Understanding Oil and Hair Protein Interactions  

Oil or butter are hydrophobic materials. That means they do not dissolve in a water solvent. They are water-repellent and form a water-resistant film preventing any interaction with water. The same happens when we apply oil or butter to the hair surface.  

Hair comprises keratin protein, with its cuticles forming the outermost layer. This surface contains an extremely thin coating of oily material known as the F-Layer. This hydrophobic barrier provides natural lubrication and water-repellency for the hair.  

Our hair’s F-Layer comprises a fatty acid layer and lipids, giving it its smooth, soft texture. Natural oils and lipids make this shield hydrophobic, thus preventing water from passing through or escaping easily.  

Sebum is an oily material naturally secreted by the sebaceous glands and provides extra lubricity, shine, and protection from the elements and oxidative damage. Sebum has a tough time traveling down the bends and curves of curly hair.  

Illustration of hair follice. How to Use Oil for Curly Hair: A Comprehensive Guide.

Oil can be applied to replace the sebum missing from the hair, thus providing it with moisture and protection. Applying oil to your hair acts as natural sebum would, creating an additional protective coating, and also nourishing the hair follicles, which can be beneficial for maintaining healthy hair.

This molecular adhesion is based on the interaction between these products and the F-layer of your hair due to their non-polar nature, which binds them together through dipole-dipole interactions (a weak chemical bond created by hydrophobic groups).  

Though this chemical bonding is weak, it’s still enough for oils and butter to bind oil molecules with hair. The amount they adhere to depends strongly on their ingredients, viscosity level, and density.  

There are a variety of natural oils and hair butter on the market for hair care. They vary in chemical composition, texture, color, viscosity, and density. Their chemical composition defines their performance, efficacy, and behavior when applied to the hair or skin.  

The chart show that oils contain high levels of unsaturated fatty acids, while butter is rich with saturated fatty acids, when discussing oil for curly hair.
Figure 2: Data of Chemical Composition of Popular Oils

The chart show that oils contain high levels of unsaturated fatty acids, while butter is rich with saturated fatty acids, when discussing oil for curly hair.
Figure 3: Data of Chemical Composition of Butter

The data from both charts demonstrate that oils contain high levels of unsaturated fatty acids, while butter is rich in saturated fatty acids. This explains why oil remains liquid at room temperature, and butter remains solid.  

Oils generally contain more oleic acid (mono-unsaturated), giving them a liquid consistency. Butter contains more palmitic or stearic acid, resulting in its semi-solid state.  

Additionally, shorter carbon chains in fatty content provide a fine coating without greasiness. Long-chain carbons are dense and a stronger lubricant, but they can be difficult to apply and may leave a heavy feel or residue.  

Curly Hair: Oils That Penetrate Vs. Coat the Hair  

Hair oil can be broken down into two distinct types: Oils that penetrate (Moisturizing Oil) and oils that coat the hair (Sealing Oil). This indicated that oils for curly hair should not just be chosen randomly or arbitrarily.  

Some oils are better than others at penetrating the hair shaft and providing nourishment deep within the cuticles. Other oils may coat the hair, providing temporary shine and a protective layer but not penetrating the hair shaft.  

Vector illustration of the hair shaft.

Oil with a lower molecular weight, such as jojoba or grapeseed oil, can penetrate the hair shaft more effectively than oil with a higher molecular weight. But thicker consistency oil such as castor oil provides an additional barrier layer of protection on the hair surface, locking in moisture and preventing further damage.  

The data above (figure 2) demonstrates that the fatty acid composition influences hair fiber penetration.  

Hair Porosity and Oils  

We can’t talk about oils and butter without including hair porosity. It is vital to understand what hair porosity and how it affects your hair to choose the products and treatments that will best preserve your hair’s appearance and texture,  

Hair porosity is a term used to evaluate the physical condition of your hair. It determines how easy it is for moisture to pass through the cuticle layer, which can differ from one person to another due to its naturally porous nature.  

Porosity is generally divided into three groups: high, normal (medium), and low. The pore size, volume of pores, and number of pores on a surface determine porosity levels.  

Image of hair cuticle showing low porosity, medium porosity, and high porosity.

Abundant open pores, larger pore size, and abundant spacing between the cortex matrix layers characterize High Porosity Hair. This type of hair has lifted cuticles that allow it to absorb moisture quickly. But retaining hydration efficiently also makes for a fast loss if not managed correctly.  

Low Porosity Hair has significantly fewer openings with smaller pores. This makes it highly difficult to absorb and retain moisture, making styling and hydration a tricky task for anyone trying to maintain this type of hair texture. Its cuticles are densely packed and lie flat and smooth.  

Medium Porosity Hair is the perfect balance of open cuticles and pores, enabling it to absorb both active ingredients and water with remarkable efficiency.  

Methods Used to Determine Hair Porosity  

There are several ways to test your hair porosity: the float test, spray bottle, slide, tangle, product, and stretch test. To understand your hair porosity accurately, you will need a specialized device such as the gas adsorption method.  

The gas adsorption technique is the best method for accurately determining porosity, as it can reveal both specific surface area and pore size. The float test can also help you form a highly accurate estimation. Although numerous variables might make the test inconclusive, it can still provide a general overview.  

Albeit these tests may not be entirely precise or reliable, they can still act as a valuable beginning point and helpful guide.  

How to do the float test:  

  • Take a single hair strand.  
  • Fill a jar with water at an ideal temperature of 25-30 degrees Celsius. This range is especially critical for wet hair as it can significantly change the result.  
  • Carefully insert a single hair into the water, paying attention not to disturb its surface.  
  • Pay close attention to the time it takes for all hair fiber to fully submerge.  
  • Hair with high porosity will absorb moisture in a flash, sinking faster than low-porosity hair, which takes longer to take up the water. If the hair is caught between the glass’s top and bottom edges, it signifies that its porosity level lies somewhere in the middle.  
Image of float test.

Oil in Relation to Hair Density  

Another physical hair property that can affect oil selection for curly hair is hair density. This is defined as the number of hair fibers per unit area of the scalp. It indicates that many hairs are growing nearby, while low hair density shows fewer strands occupying the same area.  

Your hair density will be high if you have a substantial amount of hair (thickness). On the contrary, thinner strands indicate low hair density. Hair density is generally predetermined by genetics. But in particular excessive shedding or balding cases, other factors may result in low hair volume.  

How to Measure Hair Density  

Curly girl parting hair with hand to show hair density.

Accessing precise hair density requires the assistance of a buddy, hairdresser, or anyone you know who can help. To get accurate results, they should map out an area on your scalp and count how many strands are inside that area.  

For example, if you mark 1 cm x 1 cm area and you have 250 fibers there, the hair density would be = 250/ cm2  

Then validate the results by conducting another experiment by selecting a new area on the scalp. Duplicate your procedure and take an average. Remember that with more hair (density) comes a higher number.  

If you have high-density hair, it can probably take on heavier oil formulations like castor oil or shea butter to keep it properly hydrated and nourished.

For those with low-density strands, lighter oil alternatives, such as Jojoba oil, Sunflower oil, Grapeseed oil, etc., might be the way to go.  

How to Choose the Right Oils and Butter for Your Curly Hair  

Selecting the optimal oil or natural butter for your hair and curl type is vital. Always consider the diameter of your hair shaft, porosity level, and natural sebum production. These factors substantially impact the results, and a wrong choice may lead to greasy, dull hair that lacks shine.  

That said, if you experience an undesired outcome, it does not signify that all oils or butter harm your hair. It may simply be that you used the wrong oil at the wrong time or methods that were never recommended in the first place.  

By carefully assessing your hair and the natural constituents of various types of oil and butter, we can determine which is best suited to nourish your hair. We all have different hair types, so let’s look at how to choose the best oil.  

Avoid applying oil, especially in large amounts, for high sebum secretion or oily hair. If you still want to use them, use oils with a higher unsaturated fatty content (refer to the above).

Olive, argan, grapeseed, or sunflower are excellent choices but use them in small amounts and less frequently.  

For fine hair with a smaller diameter and with low hair density, use a small amount of highly unsaturated fatty oil.

Use more saturated fatty acid for thick, dry, or excessively damaged hair (especially chemically treated). Shea butter and Mango butter are excellent.  

Asian Straight Hair  

Asian hair is usually straight and fine, so it can quickly become weighed down. To combat this issue, we recommend using either Argan or Sunflower oil as a weekly treatment for your hair – once or twice per week should be enough to keep your hair.  

If you have chemically treated, bleached or colored hair – mix Shea butter with Argan oil for a superior coating and shine.  

Wavy Hair  

Wavy hair has a slightly higher degree of curvature. Scientific reports suggest they are weak at specific points along the hair shaft. If you want a more natural look and bouncy curls, we advise using oils in small quantities to avoid heaviness.  

Massaging a few drops of Sunflower, Olive, or Jojoba oil should be enough. Applying hair butter may likely not work and cause hair greasiness.

We recommended using butter in an emulsion system (i.e., conditioner or mask) where the droplet size for butter has been reduced with the help of emulsion technology.  

Natural Coily Hair  

Natural coily hair is significantly curly, fragile, and dry. This hair type has a small diameter and can be more challenging to detangle and style.

Those with natural coily hair understand their hair’s unique requirements for a concentrated formulation that provides extra moisturization and conditioning.  

Hair oils are ideal for this type of hair. Butter can be applied directly to the hair, as they are rich in saturated fatty acids.

Shea butter is a perfect recipe due to its semi-solid texture and lubricity. It also provides gloss. Argan Oil is also an excellent choice due to its high oleic acid content.  

Chemically Treated Hair  

Chemically treated hairs are more porous, fragile, and difficult to comb due to the rough cuticular layer at the hair shaft’s surface.

They require a strategy with moisture and preservation to maintain the hair moisture level. Fine oils with low tackiness, like sunflower or grapeseed, are highly recommended.  

How to Avoid or Control Oil Build Up  

Oils and butter may cause build-up on the hair shaft due to the repeated oil application in relatively large quantities.

And as a result. Your hair can quickly become greasy. This attracts pollution particles to the surface of the hair fibers that, cause them to feel dirty, sticky, and look lifeless.  

Here’s what you can do to control oil build-up:  

  • Choose your oil carefully while keeping in mind your natural sebum secretion.  
  • Don’t use an excessive quantity of oils and butter.  
  • Apply in small portions, massaging thoroughly using your fingers.  
  • Only apply when needed.  
  • Avoid excessive, repeated applications.  
  • Wash your hair regularly, especially after applying oil.
  • Preferably clarify your hair with a clarifying shampoo before the next application.  

Methods to Use Oil for Curly Hair  

This is me smoothing in oil to my curls below.  

Oil for curly hair, when used correctly, can provide excellent results such as moisturization, detangling, and styling. There are several methods to use oil for curly hair, depending on your needs.  

Here are those methods:  

Pre-shampoo oil treatment: Oil can be used before shampoo as a deep conditioning treatment. This oil treatment is ideal for dry, curly hair that needs a moisturization boost.  

Detangler: Oil can be used to glide the comb (or your fingers) through your curls while detangling them. This oil treatment is perfect for people with thick, coarse curls that require more time to detangle.  

Add it to deep conditioner: Upgrade your conditioner with a few drops of oil! Oils are the perfect ingredient to turn your regular deep conditioner into a deep treatment. It is easy to do and will help restore moisture and give you softer, healthier hair.  

Styling: You can use oil as the final step in the styling routine. After your hair is fully dry, apply a tiny amount of oil to the hair. You can also use it to scrunch out the crunch of a gel cast, which is the crunchy feeling your hair gets once thoroughly dried.  

LOC or LCO: These are hydrating styling methods. LCO stands for liquid (leave-in conditioner), cream, and oil. The LOC method stands for liquid (leave-in conditioner), oil, and cream. These easy-to-follow steps can help you achieve hydrated curls and provide long-term moisturization.  

Best Oil for Curly Hair: Our 10 Picks 

Here is a round-up of multi-purpose oils for curly hair:  

1.    Righteous Roots Oils  

Image of my Righteous Roots Oil. How to Use Oil for Curly Hair: A Comprehensive Guide

This vegan and cruelty-free natural blend of natural and essential oils provides superior hair care and styling benefits.

It is a unique formula with a powerful combination of eleven different natural hair oils, each carefully chosen to provide nourishing and protective benefits for all hair types.  

The blend contains anti-frizz and thickening agents, allowing users to easily achieve smooth and sleek styles. It also helps detangle curls and offers additional protection from breakage.

The blend’s natural ingredients also help soothe an itchy scalp, making it ideal for those prone to irritation.  

I use this oil on wash day, before wash day, and honestly, anytime my hair needs a boost; it’s truly a multipurpose gem!

2. Ouidad Mongongo Oil Multi-Use Curl Treatment

This oil is packed with 100% pure and natural Mongongo oil. It is a fast-absorbing oil that helps add shine without harmful chemicals or additives like silicones, parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, phthalates, petroleum, gluten, or glycerin.  

The powerful nutrients in this oil also help improve hair health and form a protective barrier against heat styling and UV damage.

Not only is this product vegan and cruelty-free, but it has excellent results, which can be seen after just one use.  

Ingredients: PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate Coconut Alkanes Coco-Caprylate/Caprate Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Seed Oil Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil Hydrogenated Castor Oil/Sebacic Acid Copolymer Schinziophyton Rautanenii Kernel Oil Tocopheryl Acetate Fragrance (Parfum) Red 17 (CI 26100).

3. Pantene Gold Series Intense Hydrating Hair Oil

This oil blend is an advanced hair care solution that instantly absorbs weightlessly into your strands, providing an intense hydration boost.  

This revitalizing formula fortified with argan oil helps heal fragile strands, leaving them shiny. Plus, it’s free from parabens, sulfates, and dyes. If you’re following the Curly Girl Method, this contains silicone, which is not for you.  

Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, Isododecane, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Fragrance, Panthenol.

4. OUAI Rose Multi-Purpose Oil

This all-in-one oil is a must-have for anyone looking to restore moisture and hydration to their skin and hair.

Its hydrating formula contains a rosehip, shea, and absinthium blend, providing deep nourishment for dry, dull skin and hair.  

This multitasking oil can be used as a body moisturizer and hair protectant that helps keep your locks looking healthy and shiny.

Not only does it provide superior hydration, but it also fights frizz and leaves you smelling like our luxurious rose fragrance Melrose Place.  

Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, C15-19 Alkane, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Oil, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Rosa Moschata Seed Oil, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Camelina Sativa Seed Oil, Olus Oil (Vegetable Oil, Huile Végétale), Tocopherol, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta Bark Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Flower/Leaf Extract, Eclipta Prostrata Extract, Benzotriazolyl Dodecyl P-Cresol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Bht, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Parfum (Fragrance), Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool, Benzyl Salicylate.

5. Flora & Curl African Citrus Superfruit Hair Oil

Formulated with a concentrated mix of Tangerine, Papaya, Avocado, and Watermelon fruit oils, it helps to form an invisible protective layer around each strand of hair while delivering a sweet, refreshing scent. It smells amazing!  

The blend also includes African Saharan plant oils such as Jojoba, Kalahari, Crambe, and Baobab, which contain rich antioxidants and UV-protective properties for restoring natural sheen. Perfect for daily curl protection.

Ingredients: Vitis Vinifera (Grapeseed) Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Abyssinica (Crambe) Seed Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Persea Grattissima (Avocado) Fruit Oil, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Oil, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon/Kalahari) Seed Oil, Proprietary Blends of Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange) Oil, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Oil, Citral*, Limonene*, Linalool*.

6. FEKKAI Super Strength+ Everstrong Oil

Image of my Fekkai Super Strength+ Everstrong Oil.How to Use Oil for Curly Hair: A Comprehensive Guide

If you need a super lightweight oil that will not weigh down your hair, this is the ONE! I love, love this oil! This oil blend is among the best oils for severely damaged, broken, and dull hair due to chemical treatments, coloring, or hot tool usage.

This oil smells like tonka beans, almonds, and creamy wood. It offers up to 72% less frizz and 5x smoother hair.

When applied to damp hair, it helps strengthen your locks by up to 4x more with 74% less hair breakage. It even repairs 84% of split ends after just one use!

The key ingredient in this oil is the PowerBond scientifically proven bond cure technology that penetrates your fibers and repairs broken disulfide, hydrogen & ionic bonds. Argan oil adds extra hydration and shines while increasing elasticity.  

The oil is entirely vegan, sustainable, and cruelty-free. Lastly, Morin adds antioxidants that protect against environmental aggressors like UV rays and humidity.

Heads up – this oil contains silicones, so if you’re following the Curly Girl Method, it is not the right product.  

Ingredients: Dimethicone, Isohexadecane, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Phenyl Trimethicone, Water/Aqua, Amodimethicone, Butylene Glycol, PCA Dimethicone, Disodium PEG-12 Dimethicone Sulfosuccinate, Trideceth-12, Aminomethyl Propanol, Fragrance/Parfum, Coumarin, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene.

7. Carol’s Daughter Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend

This oil blend is a luxurious hair and scalp treatment that helps to protect strands from breakage and split ends.

Formulated with Castor Oil and Black Cumin Seed, this hydrating oil blend soaks into the scalp to provide long-lasting moisture. It also helps strengthen hair, making it look healthy and strong.  

Plus, it makes no compromises regarding its ingredients–it contains absolutely no artificial colors, petrolatum, or mineral oil. A godsend for weak, breakage-prone hair!  

Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Parfum (Fragrance), Limonene, Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Linum Usitatissimum (Flax) Linseed Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Geraniol, Linalool, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Citronellol, Citral, Isoeugenol, Citric Acid. F.I.L. D237146/1 Vegan formula: No Animal Derived Ingredients.

8. Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosehip Argan Coconut Oil Blend

This oil blend is an essential hair care product that helps to restore health and vitality to stressed-out strands.

It’s formulated with ultra-nourishing oils like coconut, argan, and rosehip oil to help replenish your hair’s natural sheen and improve its overall texture.  

The coconut oil seals split ends for a smooth, healthy finish, while the argan oil acts as a conditioner to bring back its luster and reduce frizz. The antioxidant-rich rosehip oil protects against UV rays and other environmental damage.

Ingredients: Raphanus Sativus (Radish) Root Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Abies Sibirica (Fir) Oil, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Tocopherol*, Tocopheryl Acetate*, Fragrance (Parfum) * Coconut, vegetable, or plant-derived.

9. CURLSMITH – Shine Oil

This is a lightweight oil for curly hair that helps to give your hair a soft, shiny, and glossy look. This oil is made with a unique blend of next-generation weightless oils that instantly absorb into the hair without leaving it feeling weighed down or greasy.  

It then locks in moisture and seals the cuticles to prevent frizz, dryness, and a crunchy feel. Additionally, this product contains highly shiny actives that help reflect light for an extra glossy finish.

Plus, this oil is vegan, cruelty-free, clean, and curly girl friendly, containing no sulfates, silicones, or drying alcohols.  

Ingredients: Hydrogenated Ethylhexyl Olivate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Shea Butter Ethyl Esters, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Seed Oil, Orbignya Speciosa (Babassu) Kernel Oil, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Oil, Tocopherol.

10. Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil

This luxurious blend of Argan and Jasmine Oils adds lightweight shine, reduces frizz, and protects strands from environmental pollutants and UV damage.  

The proprietary blend of Sandalwood Extract, Amur Cork Tree Bark Extract, and Barley Extract stimulates the hair, helps improve moisture retention, repairs split ends, and provides overall improved health for the hair.  

And with the added protection of the Oribe Signature Complex, this oil helps defend hair from environmental elements and oxidative stress that can lead to photoaging or deterioration of natural keratin. If you are following the Curly Girl Method, this oil is not for you as it contains silicone.  

Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Coconut Alkanes, Dimethiconol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Tocopherol, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Litchi Chinensis (Lychee) Fruit Extract, Orbignya Speciosa Kernel Oil, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Wood Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Seed Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Oil, Leontopodium Alpinum Flower/Leaf Extract, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, TBHQ, Parfum/Fragrance, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Citral.


Can I apply oil to my curly hair?  

Hair oils are essential in helping nourish and keep the hair moisturized. Curly hair is drier than other types and struggles to pass the natural oils down to the strands. Oils help to supplement the sebum and restore moisture to the hair and scalp.

When should I apply oil to curly hair?

Oil can be used before cleansing your curls as a pre-poo treatment for extra nourishment. After styling your curls, it can also be used as a finisher to help lock in moisture and keep them shiny. It can also be used as a treatment to protect your hair from the elements.  

What is the best oil for curly hair and frizzy hair?

For curly and frizzy hair, some of the best oils include coconut oil, argan oil, and almond oil. These oils provide hydration, enhance curl definition, and help tame frizz, leaving the hair smooth and shiny.


When selecting the best oil or butter, consider your hair type, natural sebum levels, and curl texture. This will determine the most suitable option. You might need a bit of trial-and-error before you find that perfect combination specifically tailored just for your hair.  

Further Reading

1. Schueller, R.; Romanowski, P., Conditioning Agents for Hair and Skin. Taylor & Francis: 1999.
2. Fregonesi, A.; Scanavez, C.; Santos, L.; de Oliveira, A.; Roesler, R.; Escudeiro, C.; Moncayo, P.; de Sanctis, D.; Gesztesi, J. L., Brazilian oils and butters: The effect of different fatty acid chain composition on human hair physiochemical properties. J. Cosmet. Sci. 2009, 60 (2), 273-280.
3. Rele, A. S.; Mohile, R. B., Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. J. Cosmet. Sci. 2003, 54 (2), 175-192.
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