Oiling Your Scalp Is Not Necessary For Healthy Hair

Woman touching scalp through her thick natural hair

What black woman cannot remember sitting between her mother’s legs as she parted, combed, brushed and (sometimes brutalized) our hair?

We were told we had to sit still, stop squirming and whimpering and most times called tender-headed. Honestly, is that even a real THING?

Anyway, if you remember all of that then you must remember getting your scalp greased or oiled as well. If you were like me then you absolutely hated it!

I hated it because all that the grease would do was make my scalp itch and no matter how much I scratched it would never stop itching.

It wasn’t until I was a grown woman and doing my own hair that I ditched that bad habit and began to realize not only was it not necessary but also counter-productive to my hair’s growth.

OK, you’ve already seen my take on this age-old routine that most black women have had to endure as children and I am sorry to say that in many households this is STILL occurring. Little black girls are still sitting between their mother’s legs getting their hair and scalps oiled.

The only difference is that it may not be with Ultra Sheen (like me and my sister had) and it even may be a coconut or olive oil, but the question is…is this practice even necessary? What is it really doing?

There is a difference between oil and hair grease. Hair grease is made up of oils but not the good ones that we should be applying to our hair. Good oils for hair are Olive oil , Coconut oil, Emu oil, Argan oil and Grapeseed oil, just to make a few. Bad oils are Petrolatum and Mineral oil and are mostly used in hair grease.

Hair Grease The Black Hair Enemy

Traditional hair grease (like Blue Magic and Ultra Sheen) are mostly made up of Petrolatum and Mineral oil. Hair grease does not promote hair growth despite what we have believed growing up.

Any healthy hair journeyer worth her salt will quickly cringe at those ingredients…Petrolatum and Mineral oil? Now, most of us have ditched those ingredients well into our first 6 months of starting a HHJ.

We know that all they do is coat the hair and attract dirt. They just sit on the scalp and hair and make it difficult for real moisturizers to penetrate the hair. They clog the pores and hair follicles while weighing down your hair.

Just because it’s what we have always used or have always done does not mean it is the best method or that we can never change. Also, the hair you had as a little girl is NOT the hair you have as an adult.

The bottom-line is that as we age the rate of our hair growth slows down. We as children have not been damaging our hair for decades as many of us do as adults. So comparing our hair as children to our adult hair is unrealistic when determining what worked for you then and what works for you now.

Originally posted 2014-02-18 15:00:15.

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About Sabrina Perkins

Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, http://www.seriouslynatural.org/ where the focus is on Natural hair, beauty and style. I became natural 8 years ago at the tender age of 35 and love sharing my ups and downs as I master this thing called natural hair. Married, with two kids (one being a natural herself) gives me a different perspective on our hair and why I love being natural. I want healthy hair, long hair and sexy hair! I'm an older natural---that's right---I'm grown and sexy, and I have much to share. I love fashion too and recently opened a clothing shop for beautiful black women at www.seriouslynatural.spreadshirt.com

About Sabrina Perkins

Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, http://www.seriouslynatural.org/ where the focus is on Natural hair, beauty and style. I became natural 8 years ago at the tender age of 35 and love sharing my ups and downs as I master this thing called natural hair. Married, with two kids (one being a natural herself) gives me a different perspective on our hair and why I love being natural. I want healthy hair, long hair and sexy hair! I'm an older natural---that's right---I'm grown and sexy, and I have much to share. I love fashion too and recently opened a clothing shop for beautiful black women at www.seriouslynatural.spreadshirt.com


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  1. MiSonia Moore
    MiSonia Moore

    Maybe it should say greasing your scalp is not necessary for healthy hair…the title is kind of misleading

      1. Sherry

        Thanks for sharing your experience. Everyone’s scalp is different. Some naturally produce more oil than others.

    1. Blessedfrom Above
      Blessedfrom Above

      My scalp use to be so flaky and I have researched and tried different oils…find the one that works best…black caster oil, coconut oil, olive oil, emu oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, carrot oil..just to name a few…

    2. Sabrina Richmond Perkins
      Sabrina Richmond Perkins

      Also a few drops of tea tree oil added to your shampoo or cleanser may help with the flaking scalp and for the dryness find products with water within the first 5 ingredients.

    1. Panama M America
      Panama M America

      how do u get past neem odor? I did like it but, I just could’t stand the unrefined neem oil odor. plz share ur secret:)

      1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

        Maybe add a few drops of an essential oil you like? I hate the smell of olive oil and have to add a few drops of lavender to mask it. Hope that helps.

    2. Sabrina Richmond Perkins
      Sabrina Richmond Perkins

      You can mask the smell with a favorite essential oil. That’s what I do with Olive oil. I HATE the smell and add a few drops of lavender oil and I can tolerate it.

    3. Panama M America
      Panama M America

      you know pure Neem oil is a smelly beast. i’m essential oil hoarder. i tried it every which way mix combos, i could think of with my collection. that pure neem is as strong as garlic,onion if anything much more intense.lol it did make my hair feel soo soft. i tried so hard to work with it. it got on my pillow case. i had to throw out my pillow too. its bad odor. on different level than tea tree. its funky. if there is another way to cut thru it and get it under control. ill try it again for sure.

  2. Teyara Smith
    Teyara Smith

    I rarely oil my scalp. I can go a whole year without doing so and my hair grows just fine and seems pretty healthy. I do lots of cowashing though.

  3. Charmel A. Bennett-Bloodsaw
    Charmel A. Bennett-Bloodsaw

    when you put oils on you hair and brush your hair…it transfers to the scalp. At least it does for me. If I put oil directly on my scalp I get no length retention and flaky scalp. Skincare 101 the scalp mimics the the skin on the face.

  4. Consuela Uno
    Consuela Uno

    I stopped “oiling/greasing” mine many, many moons ago, while I was still relaxing. It made mine itch more and I hated the build up. Whatever I put on my hair finds its way to my scalp and that has been enough for me, even after returning to natural. 🙂

  5. Shani Adams
    Shani Adams

    Everyone’s scalp is different. What works for me may not work for the next person. If I do not put oil on my skin and scalp it will become dry, flakey, and itchy. It works for me.

  6. Joya Felton
    Joya Felton

    It really depends on the persons scalp. Some have a very dry scalp so oil is very necessary. But myself, maybe once a month.

  7. See Jay
    See Jay

    You don’t need oil on your scalp to retain length. But I sure need it for my dandruff

    1. Sabrina Richmond Perkins
      Sabrina Richmond Perkins

      Using natural oils are best but to keep dandruff away there are dandruff shampoos or a few drops of peppermint or tea tree oil add to your shampoo will help with the dandruff.

  8. Tiara Vian
    Tiara Vian

    I never use to oil my scalp and my scalp was not healthy nor did my hair grow very fast (lots of flakes/dandruff). Now that I’m transitioning and I oil my scalp with jojoba and lavender oil for my itchy scalp, my hair growth has improved dramatically as has my scalp. I don’t do it regularly, but when needed. I also use jojoba oil in my deep conditioners and it works wonders. My itchy scalp hasn’t been completely eradicated, but it’s getting there. No to the grease, yes to the natural oils!

  9. Blessedfrom Above
    Blessedfrom Above

    I use to oil my scalp for many years because we didnt know any better…however now with the oils that penetrate the hair I find that I dont have to oil my scalp…its not dry, flaky, or itchy…

  10. Tonya Brooks DeBrow
    Tonya Brooks DeBrow

    It all depends on the type of hair/scalp. Some hair holds moisture and it’s own oil very well which doesn’t require constant oiling. other types not so much. My scalp requires it 2-3 times a week. It’s like it drinks it up. Just listen to your hair it tells you what it needs. I use coconut oil raw unrefined cold pressed kind, olive oil, jojoba oil and castor oil.

  11. melanie washington

    I wouldnt use hair grease but with temps dropping into 8 and below lately I have been using my natural oils more. This has been the toughest winter for my moisture balance and its not over yet

  12. Alx Edg
    Alx Edg

    Nope! Oiling my scalp works for me. The misconception I had up to about 3 wks ago was that oiling meant I was moisturizing my hair.

    1. NubianPrize

      Same weather here plus very dry air & tons of snow !! I found that i was using up my expensive Qhemet too fast & decided to seal over it or a leave in with grease. Don’t fear using it. Dax & Blue magic will keep hair moisturized for days & you can refresh with water or SCurl between wash days

  13. Krista


    Let me say something about silicones, petrolatum and mineral oil. They are not BAD, they are occlusive, there is a difference. They can weigh hair own and stifle scalp if over used. But if lightly use they are OKAY!! These substances create a thick layer on the hair, that doesn’t let water in or out. Consequently things with mineral oil for example can be very effective sealants. This is why for some people products with these ARE effective in maintaining hair health. I would dare to say that they are okay to use for MOST hair types. The issue presents if you have fine hair, use lots of products or wash your hair infrequently (for example monthly). In these situations occlusive agents will promote product build up and can compromise the integrity of the hair and scalp. The term BAD connotes an idea that these things are somehow going to ruin you hair health, which can be true depending on use. However, if these substances are included in a product this is not license to assume the product is bad for your hair. If you listen to you hair’s needs, darn near anything can be effective, and your hair will thrive. So please can we put to bed the term BAD when referring to Petrolatum, Mineral Oils and silicones.


    A Scientist Hairlista

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      THanks for sharing but for many women they do attract dirt and clog the scalp as well as keep water from getting in so to me and many they are considered bad for the hair.

  14. shelly

    Yea, this does not go for everybody. If I do not oil my scalp then its flakeville soon after my hair dries. I understand scalp very well as I suffer from scalp eczema and researched a lot. Using natural oils to oil my scalp is necessary. It also does not make dandruff worse as the post stated. If I do not oil then the dandruff will come.

    **Also adding tea tree oil to your oil bottle helps dandruff tremendously.

    1. Panama M America
      Panama M America

      feel cleaner w/o all the unnecessary extra goo+odor. ppl get used to the odors, relying on the hair products scent to carry to them2 next wash day. builds up after day2 add the layers over days. heads stinky.lol

  15. Shelley Washington
    Shelley Washington

    Yes I also added a scented oil I added vanilla waited 2 day cause its very potent and takes a bit for aroma to settle. Love it !!! I add castor oil, neem oil, avacado oil, coconut oil, argan oil, almond oil and 5000 mg biotin capsule along with fresh rosemary leaves let it all marinade for 2-3 days and apply to hair ends, scalp when needed and conditioners. I 2-strand twist out nightly with water spritz and oil plus leave in and put on bonnet and massage my scalp with bonnet on my head so no scalp irritation.

  16. Shelley Washington
    Shelley Washington

    I also use t-shirt on my pillow at night and use that same t-shirt on co wash days then wash it and dry back on for next 3-4 days soaks in oils and repeat every 3-4 days.

  17. Shelley Washington
    Shelley Washington

    I always get compliments asking wats that im wearing lol I use coconut oil on my skin daily and I use Egyptian musk oil so I guess it blends in well with the oils that are in my hair.

  18. Cynthia Lawson
    Cynthia Lawson

    My scalp itches a lot more when I use oils, so I don’t do it anymore. At first it felt strange, but I am embracing it now. It really is about what works for the individual.

  19. Delores Richards
    Delores Richards

    @Panama, I only use about three drops of neem oil whenever I use it and I add a lot of peppermint or lavender oil along with grapeseed oil or almond oil. I usually massage this mix then co wash but I’ve left it in before and I could only smell the peppermint, not the neem. Hope this helps.

  20. NubianPrize

    I quit oiling my scalp many years ago. Mom used to do it when i was a kid but never with a heavy hand. Anyhow, Last fall I went back to using grease as a sealant after shampooing & conditioning my hair. The winter weather was wreaking havoc on my hair last winter & even worse this year. Last year we had no snow & I just used my Qhemet & wore a wig all winter. This year we’ve had a LOT of snow & the breakage got worse & I needed heavy duty protection, so i got some Blue Magic, Dax, & Kuza. Had to see which worked best since I’d never used any of them. Long story short, my hair stays moisturized & soft for days. I just refresh with water,rosemary tea or S Curl. I’m also retaining length very well & no more split ends & breakage. I only use it on my hair with a very light hand…a fingertip tip … on 10-12 sections before twisting it up. very little ,if any, gets on my scalp. Hair doesn’t get greasy at all. From now on it’s grease in fall & winter !!

  21. Courtney

    I have kinky hair dry scalp naturally. I tried everything to make my hair grow and my scalp less flakey. Over the past three year I have been using 100% jojoba oil on my scalp (just put in a color applicator) and herbal complex 4 on my hair every night and wrap it. It’s the perfect combination. My hair is now down my back with little to no breakage. If your hairs breaking it’s dry. If you try and mosturize it and it’s still breaking you need a hair cut and a better mosturizer. The kinkier you hair is the more moisture it needs. Just my opinion of my hair type 🙂

  22. Courtney

    Oh one more thing I do have a perm. And I only go to the hairdresser for perms.

  23. Angel Park
    Angel Park

    I don’t believe it clogs pores !!! My momma used grease on my scalp all the time when I was young. My hair was sooo long! I’m having a harder time getting it that long using all this natural stuff. I think I’ll go back to the basics..grease and h20

    1. Wendy Jean-Louis
      Wendy Jean-Louis

      Same here. My mom used to mix the grease with castor oil and my hair was long and thick. Now with this oil stuff it barely grows. I have yo put it in braids to grow. Lol. I just went to but my trusty grease and call it a day

  24. Mercy Dolo
    Mercy Dolo

    Everyone hair is different. I have a sister that uses “bad oils” and her hair grows beautifully. I have another sister whose hair grows only with conditioner and no grease. My hair grows only with castor oil or sulfer. You just have to find what works for you!!

  25. Fallon Pryce
    Fallon Pryce

    No matter how much I deep condition. And oil my hair and scalp. My hair is always dry! Even of I slather a handful of ORS olive oil or castor oil. Literally within 15 mins my hair has soaked up everything and is bone dry. Help!

    1. Nicole Geduld
      Nicole Geduld

      You should try oil rinsing. You can find a “how to” on youtube. My hair is also very dry and this really works for me

    2. Fallon Pryce
      Fallon Pryce

      Thanks for that! Ive just checked out a few YouTube Videos about it. i will be trying that method today! Xx

    3. Rodemirma Viljean
      Rodemirma Viljean

      Try the Blue Magic collection (perferably the castor oil). Had the same issue. Went back to the grease . It worked best.

    4. Sherrie Tamara
      Sherrie Tamara

      You may want to add a water based moisturizer like As I Am double butter. Oils and grease don’t moisturize but seal and coat the hair.

    5. Fallon Pryce
      Fallon Pryce

      Ok I’ve just tried the oil rinse. And I deep conditioned my hair twice. I’ve put ORS castor oil on my scalp and ORS olive oil moisturiser from root to tips. It’s been about 3 hours now and my hair had retained the oil/moisture and not just soaked up all the products 🙂

  26. Tasha Tasha Tasha
    Tasha Tasha Tasha

    I don’t grease in the summer but when the weather changes so should the hair routine. Greasing only clogs your pores if you go without your weekly wash…other than that this 4b/c of mine just eats it up…no time to clog a pore.

  27. Theresa Marie Bryant
    Theresa Marie Bryant

    I’ve learned that u can’t use just oils. After my wash routine I’ll moisturize my hair by first putting on my olive oil and following that up with my Cantu Shea butter conditioning hair lotion.

  28. Sandra Brooks
    Sandra Brooks

    When I was a teenager. My friend pranked me and greased my scalp with beeswax. Within a week my hair grew two inches. I now use beeswax.

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