Essential oils aren’t just used for their health benefits. They are a special treat for those of us with curly hair, natural curls. Yet, there are so many of them. How do you know which are the best essential oils for curly hair to add to your hair care regimen?
Benefits of Using Essentials Oils in Curly Hair
Before we get into the best oils to use, let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits of using essential oils in curly hair. Actually, most of the benefits also extend to those who have straight hair.
Essentials oils have many benefits for those of us with curly hair. Depending on the oil you use, the properties within the oil can address or support improving conditions such as:
- stimulating hair growth
- hair loss
- dry hair
- dry scalp
- itchy scalp
- certain scalp infections
- irritated scalp and improving scalp health
- helping to buffer the effects of hair damage caused by free radicals
Many essential oils also have a calming effect and soothing properties. This is great for curlies with scalp conditions.
Now, let’s look at the top essential oils listed by benefit and how they can help improve the quality of your hair.
Best Essential Oils for Curly Hair – By Benefit
Stimulates Hair Growth
- Rosemary Oil is the “goat” of hair growth stimulating essential oils. It’s likely one of the best hair oils and the most used in curly hair routines to support the natural glory of our hair.
How to use this EO: Anything goes really. You can add 3-5 drops to your shampoo, a hair mask, conditioner, whipped hair butter. It’s super versatile and blends well.
- Peppermint Oil is right up there with Rosemary.
How to use this EO: Can be used exactly like Rosemary. Another suggestion is to add 4-5 drops to Jamaican Black Castor Oil for a powerful scalp massage. You can actually add both Peppermint and Rosemary together.
- Clary Sage Oil is rich in vitamins that support healthy hair growth. Its properties help with stimulating blood flow in the scalp and this promotes hair growth.
How to use this EO: Add a few drops to a sulfate-free shampoo and use a scalp massaging brush when cleansing your hair and scalp.
- Lavender Oil helps to prevent fungus from growing in the scalp as well as promotes hair growth. it has a calming effect and studies have shown to help with conditions like alopecia. Here’s one such study conducted on lab mice: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843973/
How to use this EO: Add lavender essential oil to a DIY hair mask or clay wash. It can also be added to a leave in conditioner specifically designed for curly hair
- Ylang-ylang oil is very rich in fatty acids. That’s why it’s often referred to as a natural moisturizer. Because it supports moisture in curly hair, it helps with length retention. Anything that encourages moisture in naturally curly hair is a supporter of hair growth.
How to use this EO: Apply Ylang ylang oil to a few drops of coconut oil and massage into your scalp.
- Sweet Orange Oil is rich in Vitamin C and is not as popular as the others for stimulating hair growth but still effective. It also improves the texture of your hair strands while deeply nourishing your hair follicles.
How to use this EO: Mix up a hair butter or oil blend with a few drops of Sweet Orange. You can massage your scalp with it or use it to seal in moisture.
- Clary Sage Oil has properties that lend itself to being a softening oil. It has the ability to soften hair and reduce the appearance of frizz.
- Lemon Oil can turn the dullest head of hair into shiny and nourished. It has a low pH balance, making it perfect for use in curly hair
How to use this EO: Add 3 or 4 drops to a blend of carrier oils and use as a hair serum
- Clary Sage Oil helps to regulate your scalp’s natural sebum production and in turn provides scalp support to fight off dandruff.
- Geranium Oil is another essential oil that helps with balancing sebum. When you have curly hair, having too much sebum producing will weigh down your curls and make them appear dull. It’s the same for wavy hair. Too much sebum will cause your hair to become oily and weighed down. The result is flat hair that lacks volume.
How to use this EO: Mix 1-2 drops into your shampoo
- Jasmine Essential Oil is a well known essential oil dating back to Biblical times. It has antiviral and antimicrobial properties that help with scalp infections and soothing dryness. However, use this precious oil with caution. Especially, if you have a sensitive scalp.
How to use this EO: Best used as a scalp treatment or hair oil. You can mix a few drops of Jasmine Oil with Argan or Jojoba oils and apply to the hair and scalp.
- Lemon Oil is also a potent essential oil that has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps with hair growth due to its vast support of scalp care. Use with caution as it can also lighten the hair.
- Sweet Orange Oil is a fave for combatting scalp conditions as well as other skin conditions like eczema.
How to use this EO: Create a hair spritz by mixing about a half teaspoon of it with a cup of distilled water.
- Tea Tree Oil is a potent essential oil for a healthy scalp and can also improve curl uniformity.
How to use this EO: Mix with one of the carrier oils listed below and add to a conditioner. You can also add it to your shampoo. Lastly, it mixes well with rosemary and peppermint.
Other Essential Oils for Curly Hair
This list of the best essential oils to use for curly-haired people like myself is by no means exhaustive. I simply shared the ones I’ve found to either be the most popular or ones I’ve used in my own curly hair.
Other essential oils to consider include Neroli oil, Cedarwood oil, Sandalwood oil, and Palma rosa oil (also spelled Palmarosa oil).
For example, Palma rosa is not well known but its benefits include supporting healthy moisture levels. This is quite important for curly hair.
Lastly, many of the essential oils listed above have overlapping benefits. This is why you’ll see some listed more than once under the various sections of benefits.
How to Use Essential Oils in Your DIY Hair Products
While essential oils are quite beneficial for curly hair, they are also quite potent. They shouldn’t be applied directly to your skin or hair on their own.
Depending on the type of DIY hair product you are making, you’ll need to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil.
Some popular carrier oils to use include:
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Grapeseed oil (high in linoleic acid which helps improve hair texture)
- Argan oil
- Jojoba oil
- Sweet almond oil
Mixing up an essential oil or two with the right carrier oil will “carry” essential nutrients needed to your hair follicles.
DIY Hair and Scalp Oil
If you want to create a hair and scalp oil using essential oils, it’s as easy as mixing up the desired amount of a carrier oil with an essential oil.
An example would be 8 ounces of a carrier oil or two + 5-10 drops of the essential oil of your choice
Whipped Hair Butter
A great way to use essential oils in natural products like Mango Butter or Shea Butter is to create a whipped hair butter.
You whip up the “Butter” of your choice with half the amount of a carrier oil like coconut, olive or grape seed oil. Then, add some vitamin E for natural freshness followed by the essential oil of your choice.
Related: How to Use Shea Butter in Fine Hair
Here’s a simple whipped Shea butter recipe that you can create to use as a protective layer for your hair in the winter:
- 1/2 cup of Shea Butter
- 1/4 cup of Coconut Oil
- 1/4 cup of Olive Oil
- 4-5 drops of Rosemary and/or Peppermint Essential oil (to stimulate blood circulation in the scalp)
There are so many easy DIY recipes for whipped hair (and body) butters that you could try.
Here’s a really easy and interesting recipe for a whipped green tea hair butter shared by Cecil Vig on YouTube:
DIY Hair Mask
One of the most common ways of using essential oils in curly hair (next to a hair oil) is to whip up a hair mask.
What’s great about hair masks is they can be made from completely raw ingredients or they can be customized by combining commercial hair care products with essential oils and/or other ingredients.
You can even add one of oils to your favorite shampoo or conditioner.
The results of adding essential oils to hair products for a lot of people with curly hair is simply gorgeous curls!
Organic Brands of Essential Oils
Due to the potency of essential oils, you want to make sure they are high in purity. This is why if you’re going to be regularly using them, you want to make sure you are using the best of the best essential oils for curly hair.
Organic, therapeutic grade is it.
Here are some Certified Organic brands of essentials oils that are easy to obtain (no MLMs) for use in your curly hair:
Note: some of the brands above also carry non-organic oils. For purity sake, it’s best to go with the ones that are organic only.
How to Store Essential Oils
The final thing to consider when deciding to use essential oils in your hair care regimen is how you should store them.
Always store your essential oils in a cool, dark place. This is why you will see essential oils being sold in dark colored bottles like amber.
Light and heat will destroy the potency of your oils. I store my essential oils in this case. I keep it in my kitchen cabinet at the far end, away from the stove:
Frequently Asked Questions About Essential Oils & Natural Oils
All of the oils listed above are good for natural hair. When determining what essential oils to add to your hair routines, take into consideration the specific benefits of each of the oils.
If you’re looking to stimulate growth in your natural hair, then rosemary or peppermint are the top choices. Seeking to have more shine in dull natural hair? Lemon is a good choice.
It’s all about about examining the properties and benefits of the oils.
African American hair falls under the umbrella of natural hair but specifically people of African decent. Those with Afro-textured hair have similar challenges including dryness, frizz, and hair breakage.
Natural oils that are super nourishing and help balance moisture levels in the hair include Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil and Argan Oil.
Then, there’s castor oil which is a super sealant. Read All About Castor Oil for Curly Hair Care.
Essential oils that help with these conditions are Eucalyptus, Sweet Orange, and Sandalwood.
Oils do not moisturize hair. Oils can help with moisture retention by sealing in moisture but they do not infuse moisture into the hair because there’s no water in them. Water is the ultimate moisturizer.
Oils like coconut oil can penetrate the hair shaft to protect your hair’s moisture/protein balance but in and of itself, like other oils it can not moisturize.
Oils also have the ability to lubricate the hair and carry nutrients into the hair shaft.
Natural hair is prone to getting the most frizz. Frizz is actually caused by 1 of 2 things: Lack of moisture or shorter hairs that don’t lay down.
Assuming your hair is not frizzy because of shorter hairs, the essential oils you use won’t impact frizzy hair. Making sure your hair is moisturized is what will tame the frizz. You can seal the moisture into your hair with an oil mixture containing a carrier oil like sweet almond or olive oil and combine with an essential oil with properties that support moisture retention. One such essential oil is Ylang ylang. Another is Clary Sage oil.
As you can see, the best essential oils for curly shared above have the benefits us curly hair types need.
Just remember that essential oils are very potent and can cause scalp irritation if you use too much.
They are concentrated. This is a good thing but also something to be mindful of because it’s possible to have an allergic reaction from using them.
While most people don’t have any negative side effects from using essential oils in their hair, it’s still good practice to do a patch test on your skin.
Dilute the essential oil with one of the carrier oils mentioned and test it on an inconspicuous area of your skin. Behind your ear is a good spot.
Testing the oil on your skin will let you know if it’s safe to use it throughout your hair which comes into contact with your scalp.