Step Away From the Oil

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The end of this month will mark 18 months in my natural hair journey.  It seems like I have to change up something in my routine every 6 months due to seasonal changes and the challenges that new length brings.  The one thing that has been constant throughout my journey is moisture retention.  It is a struggle to keep my hair moisturized and not end up with dry crunchy hair.  It will look nice and shiny and healthy, but it will feel dry and crunchy.  I have done consistent deep conditioning, I have tried oil pre-poos and I have always sealed my hair with an oil.  I have used heavier oils like castor oil and olive oil all the way to lighter oils like grapeseed, coconut and jojoba oil.  The heavy oils were too heavy and although I have very thick hair (density and strand size) over the majority of my head, they would weigh my hair down and leave it looking “blah.”  Lighter oils worked a lot better, but I kept feeling like the moisture was evaporating out of my hair leaving me with dry, crunchy AND oily hair.

I honestly felt that any moisturizing I was trying to do midweek or in between washes was in vain.  In my mind, if the oil is supposed to help seal the moisture in by acting as a barrier, wouldn’t it act as a barrier to prevent the moisture from getting in as well?  If I used a water-based product to try to add moisture, in theory, I still had to seal it in with oil.  That would leave me with oil + product + oil, which left me with heavy coated strands of hair that would feel dry again later in the day or by the next day.  If I used water only, as a moisturizer, I would have oil + oil after the water seemed to evaporate and my strands were dry and crunchy again.  I was starting to get really frustrated with the whole dry, crunchy and oily hair and was starting to contemplate cutting out oil all together.

The final straw was when I went on vacation to Miami, FL and spent a lot of time in the sun and on the beach.  I assumed that the moisture in the air would help my dry situation.  It did at first, when I was under an umbrella sitting on the beach, but when I was touring South Beach in the rays of the sun, the moisture was sucked dry from my hair and I felt like my strands were frying with the oil.  Every morning I would shower without a shower cap to try to soak up the moisture from the steam before heading out.

When I got back home, I decided that was it.  No more oil!  When I thought about it, I remembered that when I was relaxed, I could never use grease on my hair because it made it look stringy and I looked like a grease monkey.  Any time I visited a salon (which was rarely), I always had to ask them not to add any oil or oil sheen.  Because my hair is so thick, people have always assumed that it needed oil or could handle it.  I noticed that when it came to products and oils, my hair acted more like fine hair would; get limp and look “blah.”  I hopped online to see if there was another way to “seal” in moisture without oil and came across a Youtube video of a finer haired, looser curly that was having similar problems with sealing.  She was using aloe vera juice to seal.  “Ah, ha,” that made a lot of sense.  Because of the pH (it is acidic), you can close the cuticle.  I almost always have some aloe vera juice on hand in my refrigerator, so I decided to fill a small spray bottle and test the idea out.

I washed my hair like I normally would and when I was ready to style, I added my leave-in and sprayed some aloe vera juice on each section and braided my hair up for a braid-out.  Because I was anxious to see the results, I took my hair down the next day.  Normally I leave it braided or twisted for a few days and wear cute hats and scarves (it’s the only time I can wear a hat!).



The results…perfect!  My hair was NOT dry or crunchy.  Best of all, it was not oily and that made me very happy.  It even stayed moisturized for about four or five days.  Just to be sure this wasn’t a fluke, I washed my hair again this past weekend using the same method to seal and I got the same results.  Nice fluffy, moisturized hair.  I feel better about trying to moisturize later in the week if I need to, because there is not a protective barrier of oil to keep the moisture out.

I don’t know if anyone else has been having problems with dry and oily hair after moisturizing, but I encourage you to try using something acidic to close your cuticle to seal instead of oil.  I would even think that a cold rinse might do the trick as well to seal in water moisture.

Does anyone else have a dry, oily situation?









Freelance Graphic Designer, Lifestyle Blogger, Natural Hair Enthusiast and Fitness Convert...yeah, I wear a lot of hats. :)

  • Tonya @tnwtoday

    i used aloe vera juice when i washed my hair and in did indeed make my hair soft. i used it right before conditioning.

    i also made a hair cream with it in but did not like it. i wasn’t sure what to put in it to keep it from going rancit mixed with all the other oils i used and i wasn’t sure how to keep it from separating.

    i still have the aloe juice. i have a huge jar. i will try it as a spray leave-in and see what happens for me.

    this is so well written.

    • NaturalArtMaven

      I’ve been trying to figure out a solution for preserving the shelf life outside of the fridge too! For now, I keep the spray bottle in the fridge. I have been thinking about trying to whisk in some honey to see if that helped preserve it and do small batches.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Jae

    I do too and never put two and two together. Literally twisted my hair the other night and normally use olive oil or coconut oil but it ends up making my soul glow if you know what I mean and still feeling dry. Thanks so much!

    • NaturalArtMaven

      I knew I couldn’t be the only one. It really is true that you have to evaluate what works best for you and your hair, even if it goes against “sage” advice. :)

  • WaxingPoetica

    i hated grease and oil as a permy too, but i find that my natural hair likes the lighter oils like apricot and grapeseed. I’m not sure if it’s the locs or what, but i do know that i use fruit of the earth aloe vera gel to twist my locs and to whip up my daughter’s hair. Aloe is definitely our friend!

    • NaturalArtMaven

      I used to use grapeseed oil because most other oils were too heavy, jojoba was too light and coconut oil just sat on my hair. Lol. I’ve continued with the aloe vera for sealing and it seems to making a world of difference for me. My hair feels better and not as dry. It seems to be holding moisture better. Sometimes I do not even use a leave-in and just spray the aloe juice on top of damp or wet hair. I still get a good twist-out or braid out. I am going to experiment some with doing a wash and go with the Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel and the Aloe Juice to see if I get less frizzies. I had to take a break for a while because my hair was starting to get tangly and I do like to be able to feel my scalp every now and then. Shrinkage makes it super dense!

  • Jack30

    I am so glad I found this. I have always been natural but I have never had nice hair. It grows fine but it breaks :/. After I learned how to properly take care of my 4B/C hair I made changes like better combing methods with proper combs, wearing satin caps at night. Washing at least once a week. Deep conditioning regularly. Using leave in conditioners and sealing. You all know the game. However after 5 years my hair is still not nice to the point I feel comfortable wearing it out. My hair is always dry . The only time it feels moisturized is right after I put a leave in conditioner in and that feeling goes away as soon as the product drys. It also feels moisturized if its really dirty. Like if I had it braided up for several weeks not putting and product on it at all. Oils or butters haven’t worked for me to seal. I just have dry, crunch oil hair and its starting to make me really sad. Is the aloe Vera juice still working for you? I think in going to try this next.

    • Colleen Eakins

      Try it and see if that works better for you. I can totally relate to the crunchy and dry feeling hair! One day I ran out of aloe vera, so I decided to spray some ACV mixed with water that I had been using as a toner for my skin instead. That seems to be working pretty well for me and I have been using that method for about a year now. I think the trick for me is to use pH (acidity) to seal instead of oil.

  • felicia

    so glad I found your blog. I’ve been having this problem for the longest and it’s really getting old. I’ve grown tired of trimming all my hair work and consistency in the trash (my hair…lol). I’m wondering if this would also work with aloe vera gel/water mix? I have a big bottle to use up. have you experimented with aloe vera gel on this matter?

    • Colleen Eakins

      If the aloe gel/water can be sprayed easily, it will probably work about the same. You may want to try testing the mixture with pH strips to make sure it still has an acidic value after the dilution with the water. I’m not sure whether or not that would change the pH.

  • Christine

    Thank you so much for your post! I have been having the same results with oils, dry crispy greasy hair! I’m definitely going to try aloe Vera juice and see how it works. I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

    • Colleen Eakins

      It’s the worst isn’t it? People still look at me crazy when they ask what oil I use and I reply, “none.”

  • Faraja Christina

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been having the same problem with my natural hair. It feels oily but dry & brittle when I comb it, like the oil is just sitting on top. I’m trying out Aloe Vera gel as a sealant instead of an oil to see how that works.

  • Carmen Mangue

    I have the same problem with my hair , I think oil is not for everyone, Some hair don’t tolerate it. I thought it was just olive oil was making my hair crunchy, so I try with coconut, karite, alamon and is the same my hair look crunchy and fry, sos deffely I’ll stop using oil and tri aloe . And I do remember that it used to work well on my hair.
    thank you for the post it was very useful