By: Natasha Eziquiel-Shriro
Let’s talk about hair goals. Whether natural, treated, or in transition, you want to care for your locks with products you can trust to get you the healthy and strong strands you want.
Trust is about more than a brand name. It’s about top notch ingredients that can nourish and protect hair. While what you eat and drink, hormone balance, and stress all play a role in hair health, we can’t ignore the truth: lousy products can cause damage and great ones get us results.
Oils for hair growth come in different forms. Essential oils, infused oils, and carrier oils. Each have their own role to play in toxic-free hair care. Many botanical oils improve hair growth and length retention when used correctly. Plain and simple.
What makes toxic-free hair care worth the investment? While mainstream products include botanical oils in small amounts, giving you just enough to lure you in, toxic-free products rely on these effective ingredients.
So, the more you know about which ingredients to look out for, the easier it’ll be to do right by your tresses.
Are you ready to go #toxicfree on your hair growth journey?
A Toxic Legacy
For too long, we’ve been told that there is something shameful, unprofessional, or unattractive about our natural hair. Not only has this led to hairstyles that increase hair loss, but it's also shaped the hair care marketplace.
A 2016 report by the Environmental Working Group explained that Black women spend more dollars on beauty care products, a majority of which goes to hair care, than other groups. OK, fine. But the report goes on to say that despite our spending, we’re given fewer toxic-free choices. Chalk it up to brand loyalty and advertising gimmicks?
Flash forward to 2019. Thanks to a growing demand for alternatives to the typical products that have been marketed to us, it’s finally getting easier (and more fun!) to be a product junkie for non-toxic Black hair care.
Show ya self a little extra love by reaching for the goods that won’t do you harm (and earn bonus points if made for us, by us).
Getting Past the Hype
Do you want hair that can achieve your favorite length? Has minimal breakage? Is resilient as can be to your styling adventures? Then put hair goals front and center by letting go of brand loyalty and seeking out effective ingredients.
Here’s the low-down on botanical oils known to help grow healthy hair.
1. Rosemary, Peppermint, and Thyme
Yes, these classic kitchen herbs do more than just add flavor. Rosemary, peppermint, and thyme are also medicinal plants with numerous benefits for hair.
- Rosemary has been proven to heal the scalp, reduce dandruff, promote circulation, and encourage hair growth.
- Thyme is stimulating and cleansing, and while that’s great for anyone wanting a healthy head of hair, it’s been proven to help treat alopecia.
- Peppermint is an anti-inflammatory plant that is being researched for its ability to increase follicle number and depth.
Peppermint, thyme and rosemary oils can be found in a number of scalp oils, cleansers, overnight treatments, or made into a tea for a DIY herbal hair rinse if your up for it!
2. Tree Extracts
Cedarwood, basalm, and tea tree are examples of trees with essential oils that are great for hair growth because they do magic for the scalp.
Tree essential oils are extracted from tree roots, bark, wood or leaves. While each oil does have unique benefits, they tend to be anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial -- meaning they help keep the scalp clean, balanced, dandruff-free, and prevent overgrowth of fungus or bacteria that can cause hair loss. Essential oils like these can even help treat alopecia.
Tree oils are also known to increase blood circulation to wherever they’re applied. More blood flow means more nutrients heading to exactly where you want them: to feed those hungry, hungry hair follicles.
Essential oils are very strong, so it’s best to find these in a blend meant for a scalp massage.
3. Fatty-Acid Rich Plant Oils
These plant oils offer hair a holy trifecta: moisture, slip, and strength. Rich in various nutrients that the hair craves, plant oils like argan, avocado, castor, coconut, jojoba, and sweet almond, are key for hair growth. They protect our precious strands, improve manageability, and add shine.
How do they do so much? In addition to the ability of an oil to lock in moisture by creating a barrier, fatty oils help to smooth and seal the hair cuticle. This surface coat over hair shaft assists with detangling when styling, which can often lead to breakage, and can help prevent knotting that leads to split ends, nutrients like vitamins E and A are carried by fatty oils, and our body requires E & A to make new hair and skin cells.
Adding hair oiling to your hair for a pre-wash, before bed routine, or morning refresh can be a major upgrade to your regimen that will help to protect hair from weathering and over-watering. The idea is that excess water causes the hair shaft to swell and become more vulnerable (damage! breakage!), but a regular oil regimen makes it hard for water to soak in to deep.
It’s always best to pick an oil that matches your hair needs. For example:
- Coconut oil is a good choice for an oil treatment to prevent breakage of dry, brittle hair
- Sweet almond is more lightweight, and great for scalp massages
- If you use a lot of heat on your hair, a mask with avocado oil may be a good choice
Back to Basics
There are many plant oils featured in toxic-free products, for which we can thank our ancestors. So much of our knowledge about how to use botanical oils for hair care has origins in family and cultural traditions. Next time you reach for a product for hair growth, check the ingredients and remember that every ingredient matters.
What botanical oils do you seek out in your hair care products? How do you like to use them? Let us know in the comments below.