How to Apply Oil to Curly Hair: Easy Guide to Gorgeous Curls

Last updated on January 26th, 2023 at 04:45 pm

Natural oils are an essential part of any healthy hair care routine and can be used on all curl types. In this article you’ll discover all the ways you can use oils and how to apply oil to curly hair.

The biggest question people often have about using oils is, “What is the best oil to use in curly hair?” Let’s get that question out of the way right away.

The best hair oil you can use is the one that will help you to combat one or more of these conditions:

Basically, the hair oil you choose to use must have the properties needed to address the hair condition you’re wanting to improve.

How to use hair oils in curly hair

applying oil to curly hair

Oils can be used very successfully in all curl types. There’s myriad of ways to use hair oils in curly hair.

The methods outlined below will help you to address the conditions mentioned above:

To Pre-Poo

At least an hour before washing your hair, apply an oil like coconut oil or an oil blend throughout your hair for a pre-shampoo treatment.

Doing hot oil treatments

Distribute an oil or oil blend throughout your hair and put on a plastic cap; then put on a warm towel or heating cap for a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour. This will condition your hair for beautiful curls. Hot oil treatments are also great for low porosity hair.

Performing Scalp massages

A little at a time, distribute a natural hair oil throughout your scalp and massage it in. For even better results, warm the oil first and apply it to damp hair. This is a great way to prevent hair loss when using an oil that combats this condition.

Sealing in moisture

Using the LOC (liquid>oil>cream) method, apply an oil to damp hair before your hair care products: leave in conditioner or styling cream. This will put an end to brittle hair.

Lubricating your strands

This is a great way to prevent tangles in curly hair, especially curly hair that has tight coils. Hair oiling prevents tangles that lead to hair breakage. It also adds a boost of shine to dull hair.

To aid in detangling (specifically finger detangling)

If you need to lightly detangle your hair between wash days, using a bit of a good hair oil will help you to detangle with less breakage. However, it’s much better to detangle while. you are in the shower when your hair is loaded with conditioner.

Increasing “slip” in your conditioner

Sometimes a conditioner just doesn’t have enough slip, which isn’t good. You’re supposed to be able to use a conditioner to detangle your hair. However, if it’s lacking in “slippage,” it’s not a good conditioner for detangling. Adding a natural oil to it will improve the conditioner.

As a finishing touch

To add the finishing touch to a hairstyle that may be lacking in a bit of shine or luster. Oil can be applied to your curls as a final step to have shiny hair.

For DIY mixtures

Oils are wonderful for creating DIY mixtures like serums. A blend of oils is a good alternative to a silicone serum.

For a closer look at each of these ways to use oil in curly hair check out this related article:

Multiple uses for oils on natural hair

How to Apply Oil to Curly Hair – Step by Step

First, to prepare your oil for use, you need to decide how you will distribute it to your hair. There’s two ways you can prep your oils for use:

  1. Put the oil in an applicator bottle for direct application from the bottle
  2. Put the oil in a bowl and use a brush like that used to color your hair

To apply oil to your or someone else’s curly hair, there’s a step by step process you can follow for adequate and full coverage.

You can follow these steps regardless of why you are using the oil or oils:

  1. Remove any rings or other jewelry from your hands
  2. File your nails. Alternatively, you can use plastic gloves to prevent your nails from snagging in your hair.
  3. Drape a towel over your shoulders. It should be a towel you don’t mind getting stained with oil.
  4. Using your fingers, carefully section your hair in 4-6 sections (more or less depending on your hair’s density)
  5. Clip each section of hair up and only work on applying oil to one section at a time
  6. Distribute the oil to each section using the applicator bottle or the brush

Different Natural Oils to Try

how to apply oil to curly hair

There is no shortage of oils to use at your disposal. Oils range from light oils to heavier oils. You can use any of these oils at different times for any of the specific needs mentioned above.

Most of these oils are good for use year round. Although, during the cooler months you get even better results when using them in your hair.

The following natural oils can be applied to curly hair with great benefits. They are each rich in fatty acids:

  • Argan oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Castor oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Sweet Almond oil

Let’s take a closer look at each of these oils and the different ways you can use them in a curly or coily hair routine.

Argan Oil

A plant based oil, Argan oil is native to Morocco.

It is beneficial for reducing the instance of split ends, promoting thicker hair, and softening. You can use it on wet hair to condition and seal in moisture. On dry hair, you can use it to smooth frizzy hair, add shine and strengthen the hair.

Rich in vitamin E, Argan oil is good to use on curly hair types when straightening because it provides some natural protection from heat damage caused by super hot blow dryers.

Good quality Argan oil can be a bit expensive but its worth it.

Avocado Oil

Known for nourishing dry parched strands, avocado oil is a lightweight oil great for use on curly hair types. It’s the best oil to use when struggling with dry hair.

You can use avocado oil as a hot oil treatment. After cleansing your hair, apply avocado oil to it after you leave-in conditioner for long lasting moisture retention.

Castor Oil

Castor oil is a super thick oil which is cold pressed. Jamaican Black Castor Oil is a variation of castor oil derived from roasted castor beans.

It can be used for scalp massages to stimulate hair growth. It’s also a great oil for use on winter wash days. Because it’s a super thick oil, if you’re going to use it on your curls, you only need a few drops of oil.

Castor oil can also be added to your deep conditioner to boost it’s properties to improve your hair texture.

Coconut oil

One of the most popular oils, coconut oil is most beneficial for protecting your hair’s protein/moisture balance.

It is however not usually used in the best way.

It’s best to use Coconut oil as a pre-poo treatment. For the best results using this oil, you’ll want to distribute completely throughout your hair. Then, put on a shower cap and allow it to “marinate” in your hair for at least an hour. Some ladies even leave it in over night.

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Straight out of the kitchen, EVOO is one of the most widely used lightweight oils. It’s easily a go-to curly hair oil because of rich botanical nature.

Extra virgin olive oil contains antioxidants. You can add a few drops of this easily accessed oil to a DIY hair treatment or mix it up with other natural ingredients to create an oil blend. You can use this oil blend to lubricate, seal or massage into your hair.

Grape seed oil

A great source of vitamin E, Grape seed oil adds shine and helps reduce frizz in curly hair.

Grapes seed oil has been used by some as a heat protectant before using a flat iron. While it does have some natural properties for heat protection, it’s not sufficient on its own.

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil is a waxy substance that’s much like the natural sebum that your sebaceous glands produce in your scalp. It’s great at lubricating the scalp and hair.

It also has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It can soothe scalp conditions and even fight the growth of certain bacteria.

Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet Almond oil is great for increasing shine and helping the hair to feel softer. It also helps to improve manageability.

This “moisturizing” oil is a great option for applying to dry curls. A small amount goes a long way. It doesn’t really moisturize the hair but it’s great at locking moisture into the hair.

Scientific studies have shown that when used regularly, sweet almond oil penetrates the hair strands. The result is smoother hair and better curl definition..

In addition to these oils which are also referred to as carrier oils, you can use essential oils to improve or support your hair health.

Related: Best Essential Oils for Curly Hair

Other Hair Oils to Apply to Curly Hair

The above list of oils is not a full list. There’s a host of other natural oils you can use in curly hair. These are less popular but still pack big benefits:

Sesame Oil – Sesame oil helps to encourage healthy growing curly hair by fostering a healthy scalp. You can mix it with other hair oils for Hair Oiling Therapy.

Camellia Oil – This oil is great for adding to your DIY hair mask recipes as it softens the hair. I love adding a squirt to one of Henna Sooq’s Herbal Hair Masks before use.

Rose hip Oil – Its benefits are very similar to that of Sesame Oil. Rose hip Oil helps reduce scalp inflammation, fostering a healthy scalp which is necessary for hair growth. It works right down to the hair’s follicles.

Apricot Oil – A very nourishing hair oil, Apricot is a bit heavier than most oils (except for Castor) and can soften dry, brittle curls, making them more pliable.

Borage Oil – This lesser known oil is used to treat inflamed hair follicles that have been damaged due to an infection. Like Sesame and Rose hip, Borage oil is a health support for the scalp so curls can grown in beautiful and healthy.

Macadamia Nut Oil – Providing a natural boost of protein to damaged curls, this oil coats the hair strands while improving manageability.

DIY oil blend recipes to whip up

diy oil blend

Now that you know how to apply oil to curly hair, let’s look at some oil blends you can whip up to incorporate into your hair care routines.

Below you’ll find sample recipes of easy oil blends that you can use to seal moisture into your hair. With the wide variety of oils that you can use in your hair, these are blends that you can use in virtually any way.

Try them to find the right hair oil blend that your curls respond to best:

#1 Oil Blend: 1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive + 1/2 cup of Avocado Oil

#2 Blend: 1/4 cup of Sweet Almond Oil + 1/4 cup of Coconut Oil + 1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

#3 Oil Blend: 8 oz of castor oil + 5 drops of an rosemary essential oil

#4 Oil Blend: 8 oz of coconut oil + 5 drops of an essential oil

#5 Oil Blend: 3/4 cup of Carrot seed oil + 2 tablespoons of Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Warm Oil or Room Temperature?

You can use any of these oil blends at room temperature. However, they will better stimulate blood flow in your scalp if you warm them.

Just don’t use a microwave to warm the oils. The microwave destroys the property of the oils.

All you need to do to warm up your oils is to put them in an applicator bottle and allow it to sit in a cup or bowl of hot water.

Bookmark or Pin this page so you can refer back to the steps shared on how to apply oil to curly hair, as well as the oil blend recipes.

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Michelle Smith

Michelle is a Christian natural hair enthusiast. She's been natural for 20+ years and shares natural hair care tips and easy hairstyles for those with low density or thin fine natural hair. It's her joy to inspire you to live by faith in God while caring for your "crown."

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