Grease – Is It Necessary?

Like many other black girls, both past and present, I was taught that if you wanted to grow hair long and have healthy scalp that you needed to “grease” the scalp. But now as we realise many of our “old time” hair practices were actually ineffective or even damaging – I begin to question once again whether greasing (or oiling) the scalp and hair is beneficial in anyway.

If look at the ingredient list of hair grease products you will find that many (if not all, lol) contain either mineral oil (or paraffinum liquidum) or petrolatum. Mineral oil and petrolatum are used in products to seal moisture in the hair therefore keeping it moisturised. However many point out the fact that as well as sealing moisture in the hair, mineral oil also seal outside moisture from entering the hair  and because mineral oil builds up and is very difficult to wash off – often leaves the hair dry in the long term. On the other hand, scientifically the purpose of any oil is to block water inside and outside (source) and consequently mineral oil is practically doing the same job as coconut oil or jojoba oil or any other oil. Personally, I choose not to use products with mineral oil because it is a cheap ingredient that can be found in a garage products because “Mineral oil or liquid petroleum is a by-product in the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline and other petroleum based products from crude oil” (source) – I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that in my hair. Plus, I’m sure there are some studies into the actual safety of these ingredients in beauty product

Many people oil/grease their scalp in order to prevent or treat dry scalp but oil is not a remedy for dry scalp. In fact oiling/greasing the scalp can worsen dry scalp, mask the problem and prevent curing the dry scalp (source). The truth is for the most part your scalp can look after itself without any help; sebaceous glands in the scalp produce sebum – our hair and scalps natural oil. If you do have dry scalp issue please consult this post (The 411 on... Dry, Itchy Scalp) for advice on how to treat it.

Another point although slighty off-topic, is despite the fact your scalp can go without help, the ends of our hair is where our focus needs to be as sebum finds hard to reach the ends of our hair especially because of the kinks and curls. Though I wouldn’t suggest using a hair grease instead just a natural oil or natural oil mixture or lotion using natural oils will do the trick moisturising hair.

So back to the initial question – Is grease necessary for black hair? No.

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