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Moisture is top of mind for most of us when it concerns our haircare routine. We want to know what it is, how to get, and how to keep it in our hair. Sometimes we need to know why we can’t keep it there, either. Such is the case for those of us with low porosity hair. Our cuticles pile one on top of the other, leaving little to no room for water (also known as actual moisture) or anything else, such as leave-in conditioner or curling cream to fully penetrate and do its job. We need penetrating hair oils and sometimes, we need the best sealing oils as well to ensure everything is locked in place. (But not too much, because buildup is a beast.)
This back-to-basics oil guide delivers a quick rundown of the most common type of hair oils for natural hair. While none should be the primary source of moisture for your hair–that’s the job of good, old-fashioned H2O–they do help facilitate and sustain hydration over a longer period of time. Hair oils can also help prevent split ends and other damage, encourage length retention, and restore softness. The benefits far outweigh the negative side effects but whether your hair flourishes or flounders depends on how you use hair oils. On a surface level, you’ll know you’re headed in the right direction if your hair doesn’t feel weighed down or heavy. You can also school yourself on which oils penetrate the hair or simply coat the hair.
Penetrating hair oils are especially helpful for hair that struggles to retain moisture and is prone to layers of buildup. Think coconut oil, olive oil, and argan oil. Sealing oils, on the other hand, simply lock in whatever moisture has already been put into the hair. In most cases, experts recommend combining a sealing oil with the last step of your hair routine while being mindful of the amount you use, according to how buildup-prone you are. The most popular sealing oils–black castor oil, grapeseed oil, tea tree oil, jojoba oil, and soybean oil–are the most popular ones. Shop one or all of them below.
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Tropic Isle Living Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Use this popular multitasker to lock in hair moisture, hydrate the cuticles, soothe the skin, and more.
Botanical Beauty Grapeseed Oil
Mix this all-natural oil with your daily moisturizer to keep your curls shiny and soft.
EDEN BodyWorks Peppermint Tea Tree Hair Oil
Spray this refreshing spritz on your strands or directly to the scalp to lock in moisture or calm itchiness.
Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil
A head-to-toe solution for dry hair, a flaky scalp, and dry skin.
Noble Roots Non-GMO Soybean Oil
Add this vitamin E-rich oil to your hair conditioner or use alone to address split ends or keep your hair soft.