Beverley has a degree in science and additional certifications in nutrition and aromatherapy. She's published on and offline.
Our Black hair varies in coarseness, thickness, curl pattern, strength and color. It can be very fine, very straight, very coarse, very tightly bonded, very weak, very strong, and appear in various shades of blacks, browns, blondes and more.
Black hair is also brittle and susceptible to breakage because, as stated in an online article on Black hair and culture, “every twist in [nappy] hair represents a potential stress point.”
The development of hair care products designed to “help” Black hair look and style more like that of white Europeans, only served to damage the natural hair quality.
European hair styling remains popular today, but we also proudly embrace our ancestral hairstyles. We wear braids, dreadlocks, twists, fades, back-to-the-60s afros, and so on. Can natural oil conditioners keep our hair healthy however we style it? Let’s take a deeper look at the makeup of hair.
What Does Hair Consists of?
Hair is made of the protein keratin. As with any other type protein, keratin consists of amino acids and in this case, at least 15 of them.
Keratin forms the tubular filaments we call hair. Every strand of hair grows from its own follicle. The portion we see is considered “dead.” The alive portion is found down inside the follicle, which is in the deep dermis layer of our skin. How can conditioners, including natural oils, help African-American “deceased” hair?
How Do Conditioners Help Black Hair?
Shampoos, hair dyes, other chemicals and environmental elements such as sun, light, heat and hard water tend to dry out our hair, especially at the ends.
It is left tangled, brittle and susceptible to breakage and hair loss. We learned in the introduction that the bend or twist in African hair creates “stress points” which make it extremely vulnerable to damage.
Additionally, dermatologists suggest that the Black hair shaft is flatter. That makes it even harder for moisture and oils to reach the shaft.
Conditioners penetrate and lock in moisture and natural oils in the strands of our hair. This helps to restore hydration and add smoothness, softness and shine. Do natural oil conditioners work better on kinky hair?
Natural Oil Conditioners VS Chemical Conditioners for African Hair
Numerous experts believe that natural oil conditioners are more beneficial for the African hair type because they provide natural proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These nutrients allow them to do a better job of moisturizing, detangling, smoothing, protecting, stimulating and creating healthy, beautiful-looking Black hair.
Unlike chemical conditioners, natural oil conditioners do not contain unhealthy, synthetic ingredients. Which natural oils should we be using to condition our hair?
Four Natural Oils that May Condition Nappy Hair
There are at least six different types of hair conditioners currently on the market: moisturizing, cream rinse, deep, protein, instant and leave-in. The latter four are usually recommended for those with tighter curls. Whichever type of conditioner you use, you want to make sure it has natural oils that will leave your hair healthy, manageable, silky and great-looking. Industry experts recommend using pure, unrefined, extra virgin, cold-pressed oils for optimum results. These four may have the efficacy you need.
Avocado fruit is not only for guacamole. It makes a pretty good oil, which may benefit hair. It is loaded with good monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid, vitamins A, B5, B7/ biotin, D and E, minerals iron, magnesium and zinc.
Though more research is needed, studies show that avocado oil may help
How to/ Easy DIY Avocado Deep Conditioner
Side Effects and Safety Concerns of Avocado Oil Conditioners
Research indicates that individuals who are allergic to latex may be allergic to avocado oil. Symptoms may include rashes and irritation.
Today coconut oil is used in cooking, nutrition and health products and skincare. The outstanding hair-boosting nutrients in this nut/ fruit/ seed include a cache of fatty acids: lauric acid, myristic, capric, oleic and palmitic. With the exception of oleic acid, the rest are saturated fats. Though some pundits claim they’re unhealthy for us, saturated fat is necessary and for hair, they provide the efficacy we seek in a conditioner.
Additionally, coconut oil contains vitamins E and K and the mineral iron, which have antioxidant properties. Overall, this rich emollient:
. Gives superb shine and softness
How to Apply Coconut Oil to your hair
Side Effects and Safety Concerns of Coconut Oil Conditioners
Though fairly safe, coconut oil can build up, make your hair appear dull and greasy, and clog the pores on your scalp.
Olive oil, also popular in culinary uses, is touted as a superb natural conditioner. Olive oil, derived from olives, has a rich vein of monounsaturated fats. A whopping 71 percent of it is oleic acid. It also contains omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, saturated fats, powerful phenolic antioxidants, and vitamins E and K.
According to hair and beauty industry experts, olive oil is excellent for
. Preventing hair breakage by strengthening the follicles and shafts
Straight Talk Series: DIY Honey & Olive Oil Deep Conditioner
Side Effects and Safety Concerns of Olive Oil Conditioners
Though generally safe, olive oil can cause skin allergies: irritation, rashes, acne. The dermis effect is due to the oil’s thick, greasy consistency, quick absorption and pore-clogging potential.
Avocado, coconut and olive oils as prominent ingredients in hair conditioners and other beauty products may have already been familiar to you. How about marula oil? It is one of the latest oils lauded to have the properties for best hair quality and appearance.
Marula oil is derived from the fruit of a South African native tree. Claims are that it has 60% more antioxidants than argan, the other cosmetically-serenaded South African oil. Its potent hair nutrients include vitamins C, E and omega-9 fatty acids as well as a decent supply of magnesium. It also has a light consistency, which users find helpful.
What is marula oil’s potential benefits as a natural conditioner for Black hair, especially the kinky type? It
. Moisturizes dry, frizzy, brittle hair
. Smooth’s hair without leaving the greasy feel
Belle Bar Organic Witch Hazel Tea Rinse: Moringa and Marula Oil Review and Demo
Side Effects and Safety Concerns of Marula Oil Conditioners
Marula oil is generally safe to use, but some individuals may be allergic. Symptoms could range from scalp irritation to rashes. Health professionals warn it can harm eyes.
Best Natural Oil Conditioners for Kinkty Hair
There’s little doubt that Black hair regardless of type needs to be conditioned. Whether we use the deep, leave-in, protein, moisturizing or cream rinse variety, the conditioner has to lock in moisture and natural oils to prevent damage, while providing easy styling ability, sheen, smoothness and a gorgeous, healthy appearance. Unrefined, extra virgin, cold-pressed, naturally nutrient-rich oils like avocado, coconut, olive and marula may be the conditioners our African hair need.
Consult hair care professionals and dermatologists before using any hair care product, including conditioners.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Beverley Byer
Beverley Byer (author) from United States of America on June 04, 2021:
Indeed! Thanks, Dora!
Dora Weithers on June 04, 2021:
I appreciate the informative details you share here on these products for black hair. Too often we don't understand why we do what we do. Your article is very helpful.