Loc Maintenance: Oils -- Essential and Other
What Oils Are Good
In a previous article regarding loc maintenance, I mentioned several oils -- essential and otherwise -- that can be good to have in your loc maintenance arsenal. Included in the list were:
Jojoba Oil: A carrier oil; closely emulates the natural oils produced by the sebacous glands
Sweet Almond Oil: also a carrier oil
Rosemary Essential Oil: assists with hair growth; should not be used by pregnant women
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: used for hot oil treatments; can be a carrier oil
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil: very aromatic; used to stimulate
The following herbs, which can be purchased as essential oils as well, should also be considered as part of your hair care regimen:
Chamomile: used to bring out the highlights in lighter colored hair
Horsetail: has a high silica content which helps relieve dry, brittleness; very moisturizing
Mint: stimulates the scalp
Nettle: a stimulant and helps with dandruff
Sage: used in hair rinses to remove dandruff; helps to restore color to hair that is graying
Thyme: treats oily hair and dandruff
You must be very careful in your use of essential oils. Improper or overuse of essential oils can have adverse affects on some. Please be sure that you fully understand the use of essential oils before incorporating them into your natural hair care regimen. There are plenty of resources out on the Internet that can assist you in learning the proper use and storage of essential oils.
One of my readers asked if all the oils listed needed to be used and how should they be used. This article is in response to her questions, and also to further elaborate on how these can be incorporated into your hair care routine.
Carrier oils are healthy oils used as a base for other products. They "carry" the essential oils which are added to them to your hair, scalp and skin when a recipe calls for an essential oil to be infused or diluted. Two carrier oils that are great for your locs and natural hair are jojoba oil and sweet almond oil.
Jojoba Oil: Jojoba oil mimics the natural oils that the scalp's sebacous glands excrete. However, care should still be taken to not over-use this or any other oil. Over-use will cause build up, resulting in dull, grayish locs that attract lint and dirt. This isn't what we're aiming for! Use a small amount of jojoba oil in your misting bottle to keep your tresses moisturized. Adding some ylang ylang for fragrance, as well as it's uplifting properties will invigorate your hair and mind.
Sweet Almond Oil: This light, penetrable oil is also a great carrier oil. It also can be used in your misting bottle to moisturize. However, I suggest you use either jojoba or sweet almond -- not both in the same misting bottle. Please remember that this oil is extracted from almonds. Those with nut sensitivities/allergies should be aware.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Although not recommend, extra virgin olive oil can be used as a carrier oil. It is a much heavier oil than jojoba or sweet almond, and therefore is not recommended for this purpose. Extra virgin olive oil is best used as a hot oil treatment, which would be thoroughly rinsed from your tresses, and as an ingredient in conditioners that will also be rinsed out of the hair.
I cannot stress enough that one must understand the proper storage and use of essential oils. Misuse of these products can cause ill effects. Please read, learn, and understand all precautions of using any essential oil you may choose before incorporating them in your recipes and spritzes. The Internet holds a wealth of information and guidance on this subject. One site that I have used in the past is www.fromnaturewithlove.com. I am in no way associated with this site other than being a customer.
Rosemary: This essential oil has been noted to assist with hair growth. I recommend using weekly/bi-weekly. Some have been known to use daily; however, excess use may cause side effects. Rosemary is not recommended for use by pregnant women or those who may think they are pregnant.
Thyme: Used to control oil and dandruff, incorporating a weekly spritz of thyme can promote the healthy production of oil, while preventing dryness to the point of dandruff.
Nettle: Also used for the treatment of dandruff. This essential oil is known to promote hair growth.
Sage: Another remedy some use for dandruff control, sage is also known as a color restorative to hair which is graying.
Chamomile: Chamomile is known for its benefit to light colored hair -- it enhances the natural highlights without chemicals.
Horsetail: Hair that suffers from brittleness can benefit from the essential oil, horsetail, via a bi-weekly spritz. The high amount of silica present in horsetail helps to soften and condition dry, brittle hair.
Adding a drop or two of Mint essential oil to any one above in your misting bottle will energize your scalp. Mint is a scalp stimulant, and stimulation is of course beneficial to blood flow and a healthy scalp.
How To Use
The question posed by the reader is "do we have to use them all and how?" The simple answer is "no." However, there are some things one should consider...
If your hair has multiple, different symptoms of stress such as severe dandruff and brittleness, you may opt to treat one symptom at a time. This will ensure that you can accurately determine if the method you have used to treat the problem is working for you. It should help also to curb any instances of making one symptom worse while trying to alleviate another.
Let's say you are having trouble with both brittleness ane dandruff. I would think that the first remedy you would like to attempt would be to get rid of the unsightly dandruff. So you would institute in your regimen methods that alleviate dandruff -- a good, moisturizing natural shampoo known for its properties to combat dandruff. Then you would choose one of the essential oils mentioned here (or another that you have learned of elsewhere) which have properties that alleviate dandruff and, following proper care and handling instructions, infuse that essential oil in your spritz bottle or other recipe for your hair. You would stick with this regimen for at least 30 days in order to see if it resolves the dandruff issue. If not, you may have to try a different essential oil which is conducive to combatting dandruff.
Once you have gotten the dandruff problem under control, then you turn your concentration to the brittleness factor. Infuse a few drops, handled properly, in sweet almond oil and spritz your hair with this mixture once a week. I would not recommend using it more than weekly, else you may find yourself with a build up problem since this is an oil-based spritz and not water-based. Make sure to thoroughly spritz your tresses without saturating them. A gentle massage down the length of your locs will help ensures your tresses can easily benefit from this moisturizing spritz.
Now that you have both problems under control, you want to adjust your regimen to a "maintenance" level to avoid product build up or the adverse affects of over-use of your essential oils. Any product that is over-used, whether it contains essential oils or not, can be damaging to your hair, scalp, and or self. Never overdo it. Moderation is key. Maybe your maintenance can be as simple as a once a week spritz with the essential oil that combats dandruff, daily water spritzing, every-other-day spritzing with a water + humectant such as organic honey, and bi-monthly deep conditioning hot oil treatments with extra virgin olive oil.
I also suggest a bi-monthly ACV rinse (apple cider vinegar), especially if you are putting product in your hair daily (essential or other oils, herbal remedies, etc.). This will prevent product build up and dull looking locs. The rinse is easy enough to make and use yourself -- one-part ACV with three-parts distilled water; while holding your head over a large bowl placed in the sink, pour the ACV rinse over your tresses making sure they are all saturated, repeating the process until all of the rinse is gone then rinse hair thoroughly with lukewarm water.
No, you do not have to use all of the oils mentioned here in your regimen. Choose the oil(s) that will treat the condition(s) you are dealing with or the oil that will produce the benefit you are looking for (i.e., more sheen, softer locs, aromatic scents, etc.). Use of too much product can cause build up. And, again, please be sure you know the proper use and handling of any essential oil you choose. Know if there are other ingredients that you should not mix a particular essential oil with.
You must educate yourself on what you put in your hair before putting it in there! From Nature with Love is an excellent resource for information on the proper use and handling of essential oils. Do some research and learn what is best for your tresses.
Most importantly -- Listen to your Locs! They will speak to you. They will tell you what they need and what they are getting too much of. They want to thrive for you. Help them become the beautiful head of natural hair that you have envisioned for yourself throughout your loc journey.